5 steps to increasing your win rate and making the most of every lead

Having trouble turning prospects into customers? If so, there’s a good chance you’re skipping or undervaluing the power of lead nurturing — the sales and marketing process that converts quality leads into sales (and better yet, sales into lifetime customers and raving fans). Follow this five-step process from lead marketing expert Tim Musch, director of business development for MarketSharp software, to increase your win rate and make the most of every lead:

1. Generate interest:

Whether you’re using a lead generation tool like HomeAdvisor, attending home shows, or relying solely on your website and word-of-mouth referrals, the first step to lead conversion is generating the lead itself.

Simply put: Get your business in front of potential customers, and take care to show them you’re both available and qualified to do the work they need done. In turn, they’ll reach out to inquire about your services.

3 Tips From HomeAdvisor’s Customer Care Experts:

Follow up with a text message.
Even after submitting a service request, homeowners may be leery of answering a call from an unknown number. And sometimes, they’re simply unable to converse over the phone. A text will help busy homeowners understand who you are and remind them why they should talk to you about their project.

Reach out at different times of day.
Try reaching prospects at different times of the day over three days. This increases your chances of getting in touch at a time that’s convenient for homeowners who are ready to talk about their projects.

Ask for feedback after estimates.
If it seems like your win rate is sinking after you’ve given estimates, start asking for feedback via email. This is a great way to gauge your processes and make changes to increase lead conversion.

2. Convert interest into appointments:

Once you’ve generated interest, it takes a combination of response speed and skill to move forward to the next step: getting an appointment.

Speed: Responding immediately to customer requests is proven to improve your win rate. “78 percent of prospects convert with the first party to make contact,” says Musch. “So, you want to be first and make sure you have processes and systems in place to do that.” In fact, explains Musch, a sales optimization study conducted by Velocify reveals that responding within one minute of receiving an inquiry can increase your chances of lead conversion nearly 400 percent!

Skill: Getting a homeowner on the line is only half the battle. Next comes getting an appointment. People tend to think it’s necessary to sell the company’s product or services on first contact, says Musch. But really, this can bring the whole process to a halt. First, you have to sell the customer on the value of getting together so you can work with them to find a solution to their problem.

(If this doesn’t come naturally to you, training and scripting can give you the skills and confidence needed to effectively communicate the value of an in-person consultation, says Musch.)

3. Convert appointments into complete presentations:

Sometimes, things get in the way of a scheduled appointment — whether a homeowner changes their mind about a project or something else comes up on their schedule. To maintain homeowner confidence and guarantee follow-through on a complete presentation (i.e., an in-person consultation that fully presents the value of your skills and expertise as they relate to the customer’s wishes or problems), Musch recommends doing some things to warm a lead in between the initial contact and the scheduled appointment.

“Do some things to offer these particular prospects a level of comfort,” says Musch. “It can be simple things like sending them an email with a picture of the salesperson who’s coming to see them, confirming the appointment date and time, and other little things that can really reduce anxiety — maybe you even attach some sort of third-party consumer guide that they should review before you come so they can be a little better informed.”

4. Convert presentations into sales:

Sales alone is a metric many people focus on, and should, says Musch — but it’s not the only one to focus on anymore. What matters most is ratio — the percentage of presentations you make that are actually turned it into sales. And there are both “now” customers and “future” customers to consider as part of the equation.

The days of high-pressure selling are over, explains Musch, particularly in the home services space. And with less focus on an immediate sale, pros can use a mixture of persistence and trust building to later convert prospects who may not be ready to commit to doing business today — using email, direct mail, social media and other means of consistent communication.

“We’ve learned that over time (in fact, over a year), 60 percent of them ended up buying a similar project from some company,” says Musch. “So, big stuff happens and you can control that just by being there, being there and being there — and by making sure you’re nurturing those people over time to get your share of the business.”

5. Convert new customers into lifetime customers and raving fans:

Finally, make sure your customer experience and sales and marketing processes go well beyond your competitors to gain repeat and referral business from new customers. “Continue to communicate with people throughout the process — before they buy and after they buy,” says Musch, “This has a huge impact on what they think of your company and can lead to more online reviews and positive online reviews.”

Also, pay careful attention to your presentation-to-conversion ratio. If the ratio is low, says Musch, it’s time to consider whether you’re making the grade when it comes to speed, skill, presentation and follow-up.

“Maybe you’re finding out that your speed isn’t as good as it should be, but until you know and can monitor the performance you’re getting, you know, oftentimes you just are oblivious to what’s happening and not understanding how much is falling through the cracks in your business,” explains Musch. “So, have a mechanism so you can look at the numbers in your business, spot things, and make business decisions based on what you’ve learned; your business will grow that way.”