Lead Management: The 3-Headed Monster – Part 2August 3, 2023
In our last installment, we talked about measuring leads as part of a lead management system. But before we get the cart in front of the horse, we need to make sure the leads aren’t dead ends. And we do that by qualifying leads in multiple ways.
Now, I first want to say this – lead qualification/coordination is one of the most important and undervalued functions in a business. We can’t have just anybody jumping on the phone and setting that lead. In my company, we have a designated person, a lead coordinator who sits in her own office and her single most important responsibility is setting qualified leads.
So it’s a simple process. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s always easier not to do it. Another responsibility of the lead coordinator, to supplement qualifying the lead, is building a relationship with the homeowner. How do we do that?
Qualify You’re a Professional
You can only have one first impression. So we greet people with enthusiasm and excitement. “Thank you for calling ABC heating and cooling today. How can we serve you?” Something enthusiastic, something helpful, something that is service oriented. Tolstoy once said that service is the true meaning of life.
And so we need to have a servant’s attitude. We have to be willing to serve people. I mean, after all, they’re trying to give us their money in exchange for our service.
Set yourself apart strictly by the way you answer your phone and communicate with them. And then you want to start asking questions and building the relationship with the homeowner.
Qualify You’re Human
If you think back to the phone calls you’ve made as a customer, I’ll bet there are some where you hung up the phone feeling satisfied and taken care of. It may have been their demeanor, their personality, their positivity, or maybe they made a deeper human connection than most. For some reason, they left a good impression. That should be our goal.
Ask about their family. If you hear a baby crying, ask the baby’s name or age. Find a connection between their environment and yours. And as you learn about the customer, make a note of the information for your comfort advisor. It’s going to be very helpful for them in making them feel a bit more at ease.
You might hear a dog barking and ask its name or breed. How old is he? Start by asking questions that have nothing to do with the repair or service. This can go a huge way towards building the relationship and setting yourself apart from the competition. Maybe they’re in a particular area of town where you just completed an install. “Hey, we just did a job for Mrs. Jones over on Main Street. Do you happen to know her?”
Remember that customers buy from people they like. Additionally, customers buy from people who like them. So it’s critically important that you communicate to your homeowner that you like them or are interested. You’re not just trying to get them to like you by being polite and respectful and courteous.
Ask their advice about something they care about. Now, of course, this won’t happen on every call, but if the opportunity presents itself, then go for it. Who do you generally ask for advice? You ask people you like and trust.
This is important – listen to them like you like them and listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond. Try to identify with them any way you can.
Have you ever been talking to somebody and you can tell that they’re just waiting for you to take a breath so they can jump in? That’s how most people treat homeowners, right? It’s almost like the homeowner is just in the way. And as soon as the homeowner pauses, most salespeople head straight into, “I know what you need. We’re going to send somebody out.” Listen with the intent to understand; don’t be in a hurry. Pause; let them finish their sentences.
Ask thought provoking questions and show genuine interest in their questions and responses. Transfer this information to your comfort advisor. Imagine a scenario where your comfort advisor knocks on the door and the homeowner answers. The comfort advisor sees a puppy and says, “Oh, this must be little Spot that I heard about. I heard he just got back from the vet. I hope he’s okay.”
I live in a military town and it’s not uncommon for us to set an appointment only to find out through a little conversation that the husband had been deployed to the Middle East and now he’s coming back home. And so we’d make a note of that. So my comfort advisor can say, “I understand your husband just got back from Afghanistan. You must be terribly proud of him and excited that he’s home, right?” You start the conversation with things that matter and the heating and air conditioning discussion will soon follow.
Qualify You’re the Experts
Now, once the first step is done, it’s very important to establish your company as the authority, especially with industry standards, and how your company measures against those standards. And explain that you do everything according to the industry authority. In the HVAC industry, for example, one of the standards is Consumer Reports. The other is the Department of Energy. So you’ll want to let them know, “Here’s what the industry experts recommend. And oh, by the way, we adhere exactly to their recommendations.”
We are trying to establish ourselves as the authority in the products and services that we sell. So as an example, once you build the initial relationship, we’ll want to explain how and why we are the authority. So it might sound something like this, “Mrs. Homeowner, when we come out, we’re going to perform a comprehensive energy audit at no charge to you whatsoever, recommended by the US Department of Energy and Consumer Reports. We’re going to measure your house and windows, check the type of construction and check out your duct work and attic installation. All of these things are critical to properly sizing your system. We are required to do it on every job, but don’t worry. It is a complimentary service.”
We continue by saying, “The reason we do that is very simple. We offer a one year unconditional money back guarantee. So we must make sure the job is done perfectly.” (Now, if your company doesn’t offer the money back guarantee, I’m sure you do offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee, happiness guarantee, or some kind of service guarantee.)
Qualify the Time Commitment
“But in order to do it the right way and ensure there is no buyer’s remorse, we dot all of our i’s and cross all of our t’s. It does take longer to do it that way, but I’m sure that’s the kind of service and quality you expect.”
Never say the words, “Decision-making process.” You should always instead say, “Design process.” “Decision-making process” is a huge red flag for your homeowners. Research shows us that some buyers get offended if you imply one spouse can’t make a purchasing decision by himself or herself. So it is best to word it differently in order to convey that you’d like both of their opinions on the design of it all. This way, it feels like they are helping make creative choices and that the purchase really is a big deal.
“Mr. And Mrs. Homeowner, depending how long it takes to measure your home, depending on how many questions you have, the process could take 60-90 minutes. Is that going to be okay?” And they might express that it sounds a little long. That’s when you let them know they deserve the best service and that’s what you deliver as quickly as possible, but more importantly, as thoroughly as possible.
Those are some of the factors considered when qualifying leads. Next time we’ll look at managing the sales team using metrics. We also offer more in-depth training for sales-related topics.