Q&A from our January 2013 Webinar

We recently held our first home improvement webinar of 2013 which attracted hundreds of participants and yielded a bevy of excellent questions.

As is our practice, we address many of the questions that we did not have the time to cover during the program.

Q: Is telemarketing a dead dinosaur?

A: Far from it – – telemarketing is alive and well and being used effectively in most markets, probably yours as well.  Here are a couple of reminders and suggestions.

  1. If you’re using a “list,” be sure it’s scrubbed (all those consumers who do not wish to receive telemarketing calls are removed from the list).
  2. You can re-call your old leads for up to 90 days after the lead was received (this may vary in some states).  However, be sure you keep the paperwork verifying when the lead came in.
  3. You can call your old customers for up to 18 months after the installation is completed (old customers may be prospects for additional products you sell and can also provide referrals).
  4. In any case where you have a “face to face” contact (canvassing, home shows) where you made a presentation and no sale, have each prospect sign a release enabling you to call them.  This should also be included in your retail contract.
  5. Scripting is very important.  The failure in most telemarketing is the improper phraseology and the failure to ask the right questions. At a bare minimum, familiarize yourself with the concept of “Make vs. Take Marketing”.

Q: We have a showroom but don’t feel like we are getting the volume of business from it that we are entitled to.

A: Assuming that you have the proper displays and lighting, plus trafficking which guides a consumer to issues of interest, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • The showroom is structured to sell a “lead,” not a product.  All persons who enter the showroom have had enough interest to take the time to come to your place of business and spend time there.
  • Your showroom personnel have to be “scripted” so that they ask the right questions and understand what the homeowner is looking for and what their needs may be.
  • If you use your salespeople in the showroom, be cautious.  Salespeople most frequently try to “cherry pick” and decide which are the best leads.
  • If you process those who come in to your showroom with the ability to determine their area of interest and what prompted them to come to your showroom, it will increase your ability to determine their specific interest and their needs. If in your processing you determine what products they have seen, what they would like to know more about, the age of their home and similar information, you will build more leads.  The more you explore the information that comes from processing, the more you will learn about your prospect’s value system.

Each question, when answered, can lead you to more questions and will ultimately make that person coming into your showroom feel as if you have an interest in them and their project.  A good rule to remember:  If within 15 minutes of their visit you know more about them, their home and their values then they know about you and your company, you will get more visitors becoming “leads.”

Q: In a recent webinar you mentioned a client, who in addition to regular volume does over $1 million annually in “change orders.” Can you go into more detail on this?

A: We were referring to a medium sized company ($6 million annually), so $1 million in business represents over 15% of their annual revenue. Their owner trained his lead installers/crew chief to run over a “check list” on each job under construction in an attempt to determine what needs the owners might have which could be solved more easily and less costly while construction was going on.  This inspection method leads to change orders which can often be handled by installation personnel, sometimes in combination with a phone call to the office.

Bear in mind that irrespective of how the job is being paid for (i.e. cash or finance), most change orders should be paid by credit card at the time the additional work is arranged for.  This offsets the need to rewrite the entire contract for each minor change. 

A word of caution – – check with your legal adviser. Some states have requirements or consumer laws which have to be considered when setting up this program.

Q: How do we leverage existing customers and what is the best use of previous customer data?

A: Whenever you “intake” a lead, whether it’s over the phone or on a “face to face” basis, it is important to get more information then their name, address, and phone number.  Depending on the product/service you render, start to accumulate data on the prospect and save it in your database. (i.e. how long they have lived in the home, what prompted the need for the product/service of interest, etc.)

When a contractor or sales rep goes to a customer’s home, they should make note of the other conditions of the home.  For example, you’re there to talk about roofing, but note the condition of the siding, windows or similar.  So if this lead does not become a sale at that moment, when you re-contact the people by mail, e-mail, phone or in-person, you are working off of accumulative information which will be beneficial to you when establishing interest, want and need (remember want and need are not the same).

As this information increases in your database, you, your marketing and sales reps become better prepared to discuss “specifics” based on the information you possess.

Stay tuned for more Q&A on our blog as well as information about our next home improvement webinar in March.

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