Prequalifying Leads: Gathering and Managing the Information
In the previous post we discussed why you should prequalify leads. This post discusses how to approach it and what to do with the information to make it work for you.
Strategy for the Phone Call
Prequalifying phone calls should be relatively tight calls. Get an idea of their budget and of how serious the prospects are about starting a project. Don’t get ahead of yourself, and avoid turning this first call into a design meeting — especially if the potential customer isn’t an immediate revenue opportunity.
Three fundamental goals of the phone call are:
- Establish the basic qualifying criteria – You want to determine up front: (1) Is the job they have in mind a good fit for your company? (2) Do they have the budget for what you’re discussing? (3) Does their schedule fit yours?
- Set a time limit – View these calls as purely informational in nature and future calls (if the relationship moves to that point) as the time to dig into the details. Keep your eye on the clock: A half-interested prospect could get 10 or 15 minutes of your time, for example, while an extra 20 or 30 minutes with a really eager prospect can be a worthwhile investment.
- Finishing the call with a definitive disposition – No matter what category the potential customer is in, a strong finish will help ensure neither their nor your time was wasted.
If this interested client candidate has a more distant time frame, point them to some compelling visuals on your website, and be sure to schedule a follow-up call.
For a prospect who just isn’t a good fit, consider recommending them to a more appropriate contractor. They’ll appreciate that, and are more likely to refer a friend to you in the future. Make sure you’re setting, and sticking to, the minimum criteria to push prospects down into the next level of the sales funnel.
Technology That Supports your Prequalifying Efforts
It is critical to keep track of references, prospects, future follow ups and current customers. You may have heard the term “CRM,” which stands for “Customer relationship management.” CRM is a combination of practices, strategies and technologies used by companies to manage and analyze customer interactions and information.
While there are many CRM software solutions on the market, one simple and free option is to use a Google spreadsheet. Like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets uses tables to track your data. It’s web-based and available via mobile app, meaning you can access & track your leads and customers in the office or on the road.
You can also share Google Spreadsheets across teams, so if crews are presented with a prospect they can drop the details into the document for follow up, or if you have a sales team they can use this tool to coordinate leads. A search online for CRM templates can give you ideas on how you can set up your document, and there are resources are available to help you get started. A contact form on your website is another way to help prequalify leads.
Having set parameters for people to submit for a quote can help you prioritize incoming inquiries from your website. There are plug-ins available that can be added to a site, or even setting up a Google Form for people to submit. If you’ve opted to use Google Sheets for your CRM, Google Forms can integrate nicely, putting the information submitted directly into your spreadsheet.
Evaluating your Tools and Strategy
There are elements of process and technology that you can put in place to optimize the prequalification process and make it part of your business toolkit.
- Do you have software in place for keeping track of your references, prospects, and customers? Keeping records on client touchpoints can save you valuable time and help you and the rest of the team be on the same page about how valuable certain clients could be to the business at any one moment.
- Does your digital marketing plan include the ability to track how people have found you and what their interests and demographics are before you pick up the phone?
Answering any of the above questions with a “no” suggests missing piece in your strategy, excessive manual effort to qualify leads and, ultimately, lost revenue.
No matter how you narrow down and track your likely prospects, you’ll want to get to the heart of a key question: When you think about your most recent jobs, or leads that fell through after the presentation — what do you wish you had asked them first, on the phone? Perhaps even more important, what would you like to know about your prospective clients before you even dial their number?