Why and how you should make regular contact with clients and prostpects
“I don’t have enough quality leads!” That is a common complaint. However, many cleaners and restorers think that when (or if) they get that problem solved, it will be plain sailing from here on in.
Not so. The truth is a large number of your prospects are going to be difficult or impossible to get hold of. Many will give you the dreaded ‘I’ll think about it’ response on the phone or in person. You can waste untold hours trying to bypass their voicemail to present your solutions to their requirement – but you don’t have to if you have a superior follow up procedure that systematically nurtures your leads, especially those not receiving your personal attention right now.
It is beyond the scope of this article to show you how to generate abundant leads but I will address how and why you should always follow up and make contact with your customers and new leads.
Sadly, in our industry there are countless people happy to rip off clients. Clients who had a bad experience of cleaning or restoration work done by unscrupulous companies, those who give poor service, even damaging property, leaving customers out of pocket and suspicious of all future cleaning service operators.
You need to sell a service which clients genuinely need, want and can afford, and which will provide your company with maximum profit. And for clarity, when I say ‘maximum profit’, I’m talking about earning their trust and their business.
With that point made, here’s the conundrum. Every prospect costs you money. You paid for advertising or earned it as a referral. Of course, not every lead will convert to paying clients. In fact a good deal of them probably won’t. Don’t you wish there were some way to really close those deals, so you gain the most profitable paying jobs from your marketing efforts?!
The ideal situation would be to convert every possible lead to a paying booking and cross or up sell to every client for more business in their household AND receive referrals who are pre-sold on how wonderful you are.
Well, a great way to getting that result is frequent (but not too frequent!) and good quality communication with everyone in your database. And to do that, you must have a great (but simple) follow up procedure which should meet these three criteria:
1. Be quick and easy – so that you actually bother to do it
2. Be reasonably priced and cost effective
3. Not be overly frustrating, difficult or require you to learn an entirely new skill set
Here’s some options on how you could follow up those lead:
• Call the customer/prospect
• By written letter
• Email (if you can add a ‘receipt request’ so you can be sure it doesn’t end up in a spam folder?)
• Leave a message on the answering machine
Will they answer the phone, return your call or open the letter or email?? Maybe. Maybe not. And how many attempts before you give up? Two tries? Half a dozen? It can be disheartening and unrewarding to call and email repeatedly and get little for your time and effort. Here’s another consideration, do you sometimes get so busy that you just can’t do it all?! (It happens to the best of us, leads gathering dust whilst we juggle other things, until it’s been so long it’s just too late and embarrassing to even try to follow them up.)
The single biggest hurdle you must overcome for effective follow up is gaining the attention of your audience. Solve that and you’re on your way to closing the sale and securing a job!
There are many ways to follow up, but a tried and tested method is the ‘client newsletter’, used as a primary follow up tool it is incredibly effective. No matter what other follow up methods you use, you shouldn’t give up no matter how many times it’s takes. I recommend you put every lead on your mailing list the moment you can (remembering the GDPR rules and getting specific ‘opt in’ agreements from all customers and leads.) There are many software programmes available these days to help you manage your database and mail shots (written or email) some free and some paid, it’s worth looking around to find one that suits your needs and budget.
You could try looking for someone who offers an off the shelf, done-for-you publication. To be honest, there are plenty out there, but they tend to be boring non-industry specific drivel. No one reads that stuff! We all see them on Twitter these days. No one cares about it, least of all your clients and prospects.
This is how you create your own and set about sending it to your clients and prospects. The formula for a successful publication for clients, prospects and contacts is is a good mix of special offers, then some company stuff – recognising referrals, word of mouth etc., plus a light-reading consumer education article.
Keep it light. People want to be entertained! Amuse them and you will gain there attention long enough to deliver your marketing message. Overwhelm them and they won’t read to the end of the first paragraph.
It’s how TV and radio work. You turn it on for the entertainment but at the same time you also absorb the messages of advertisers. In the same way with a really good client newsletter, light hearted and interesting gets the envelope opened. The consumer education information slides in effortlessly once you’ve gained their interest.
Not everyone employs this strategy, why? They simply don’t understand the concept or think it’s a waste of time and effort. Your direct competition may not be using this successful promotion tool. Utilise their lack of attention to fill the gap in marketing in your area for your own profitable gain.
An excellent client newsletter is (done correctly) the secret weapon in your marketing toolkit!
Most people will at least look at a leaflet through the door or interesting email (whereas most don’t want you taking up their time on the phone – unless they specifically asked for a call back.)
Done well, it prompts referrals and calls for your services from clients and prospects. Keep sending them, even if they’re not interested this month, at some point they will be.
But why is it that client newsletters are so successful? Bill Glazer, author of Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful, best summed up the value of a newsletter when he wrote:
“They (newsletters) tend to be read as informational, making them more welcomed when they are received. People tend to be more receptive to what you have to say in your newsletter because newsletters aren’t meant to be sales tools. Rather, they are designed to be a resource. People are conditioned to be less resistant to reading information, which is exactly what a newsletter should be. This is a huge marketing advantage”
A newsletter doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. In fact plain, simple versions can work better than authoritative articles, with coloured pictures in a slick publication. Why? Because your clients instinctively know that slick paper and fancy pictures means heavy reading or pricey services. And they know exactly what to do with that – put it to one side for when they have more time (which is usually never!) or put is straight in the recycling bin!
To be entirely truthful, the biggest drawback of a client newsletter is the time it takes to write it. If you do it yourself it does kinda negate the quick and easy point above for a superior follow up system. But once you get the hang of it (a little research and googling helps) for just a few hours a month you will be making valuable contact with all your customers and potential leads – and if you get so busy from all the work that’s coming in you could hire the service of a newsletter specialist, not a done-for-you out-of-the-box service, but a quality service provider who can tailor a newsletter to your needs with just a few points directed from you. Either way, a regular newsletter will soon have your name etched in your client’s memory – fostering a friendly familiarity with your business so that when they require services your name will be the first they think of.