Dead lead? There's no such thing!

It happens every day in construction service companies around the country.

Regardless whether they're selling windows, carpet, swimming pools, roofing, remodeling projects or constructing residential or commercial buildings, firms invest large sums of money to attract new prospects then fail to maximize the potential of those leads.

The scenario looks something like this: A residential remodeler purchases advertising in a local newspaper or on radio or television. Or maybe he invests in a direct mail campaign or increases his yellow pages advertising. Either way he is aggressively marketing his business as he is expected to do. And with the right mix of marketing and advertising the phone rings with new and interested prospects. Upon receiving the call an appointment with the prospect is set.

The day of the appointment arrives and during the meeting the contractor spends precious time uncovering the prospects needs, wants and hopefully budget. He then presents a detailed and concise bid for the work to be done in the most enthusiastic and professional manner he knows how. He's careful to explain the benefits of doing business with his firm, offers references and perhaps even financing options.

Of course the prospect wants to get two additional estimates. Often when the contractor follows up a few days later finds his competition has won the business.

Knowing that the completed work will probably last for years, if not a lifetime, the contractor does what many contractors do in this situation - discard the lead and move on to the next prospect despite the hundreds of dollars he has just spent to attract the prospect in the first place.

This is insane!

Regardless of the life expectancy of the work performed, there is never a good reason to discard a lead short of a formal request by the prospect that they be removed from your marketing data base. Leads are too difficult and too expensive to acquire to adopt a cavalier attitude about their potential future value. Discarding these hard fought-for leads, regardless of their age, indicates a short term perspective on your business and is most assuredly costing you plenty.
In the past contractors could and would argue that maintaining a growing database of inactive prospects was both time consuming and costly. However in the electronic world we live in that is simply no longer the case.

So what's the point of holding on to these aging leads?

It's a two part answer. First you paid for them and the cost of managing them is negligible and second, and just as important you never know where a lead might, well, lead.

Even if your prospect selected another firm to perform the work, the possibility exists that that lead is still a viable profit producing contact.

And there are several reasons why, such as:
Even if the product or service your prospect purchased came with a lifetime warranty, it's quite possible it failed to live up to their expectations and will have to be replaced in the near future.

 Often consumers will do a project in stages and for a variety of reasons tend to seek out new quotes and treat the additional work as an entirely new project.

On average, people change residences every five to seven years. By keeping your company in front of these people, you greatly increase your chances of earning future business on new projects.

People talk. They tell of their experiences with family, friends, co-workers, clubs they belong to, and neighbors. It's not at all unusual for someone to recommend a service provider they have never used personally based on how familiar they are with the company - more on this later.

Contractors and remodelers in particular, often add new products and services as their businesses grow.  Every new product creates an opportunity to do business with previously lost clients. New product rollouts give you a perfect reason to contact old sales leads.

And finally it's not uncommon to lose a bid then find out later the work was never done. There have been plenty of instances where a cancelled project suddenly comes back to life, one, two even three years after the original estimate was completed.

Contractors that keep their name in front of these people are more likely than anyone else to win these bids, even if they are more expensive. There is a perception among consumers that when contractors actively market to them they are more reliable, professional and likely to complete jobs on time and at or below budget. 

So just how do you keep your name in front of your aging leads and hot prospects alike without paying an arm and a leg?

Of course there are dozens of ways such as direct mail, phone calls, new product announcements and traditional newsletters but the simplest and most cost effective way is e-mail. Not only is e-mail cost effective and manageable, it's measurable in terms of results and easy to implement.

When a new prospect calls for an appointment ask for their e-mail address as part of the appointment process. Inform them that in the event you will have to reschedule the appointment you will call and send an e-mail confirmation. A growing number of people use e-mail as their preferred method of contact and you will be amazed how easy it is to capture this information.

Gathering e-mails also allows you to actively market to your leads without the intrusion of a phone call. E-mail "blast" software is not only inexpensive but several services are free.

E-mail marketing also allows you to send images of new products, before and after pictures of work you have done, surveys, industry news, changes in tax code that may affect their decision, solicit referrals, make time sensitive offers and send people your electronic newsletter. If your company has a blog you can invite your prospects to subscribe, which further deepens the relationship, which of course should be the goal of all your marketing.

Michael Hart is a speaker, author, talk radio host and shameless publicity hound. His marketing and publicity strategies have been featured in numerous magazines including: Selling, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Sales and Marketing Executive Report and many others. He is the co-host of the popular weekly home improvement radio program HOUSE STUDS. He can be reached at (866) 238-5294 or michael@MichaelHartSpeaks.com.

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