Lead Generation – What’s Your Strategy?
Last week I visited the vice president of a very successful Midwestern window company and among the things discussed was advertising and lead generation. “One of the first things I did when I came on board,” he said, “was pull out of television advertising.” It was a bold move on his part, I thought, because many of his key competitors are seen quite often on television. However, the money he saves on advertising has been reassigned into other key areas such as hiring and training additional salespeople and opening a new sales office in another part of the state. The gamble paid off, as both sales and profitability are on the rise!
Yes, sales growth and profitability define success. And as we enter May, door and window fabricators are now pulling out of the starting gate and bolting ahead into the busy selling season. The next six months will define their year. While industry forecasts predict a growth year for replacement and even new construction windows, a successful year is anything but a given. With the days of significant tax credits behind us, it is an extremely competitive marketing environment. Success is all about getting the leads and getting them first!
So I have been talking to window companies asking them how they get their leads. Many rely upon their own website as the main source of leads, but I am also shocked to see how many companies say that their website provides hardly any leads at all! If I was running a company and that latter was the case, I would definitely be seeking professional assistance from an outside website development service. I also hear of lead generation coming from sources such as door to door canvassing, referrals, home and garden shows, county fairs, job-site advertising and even neighborhood doorknob hangers. There are also third-party vendors who will rake in and sell leads to your company. These lead generation companies have several ways to get leads. Some set up telemarketing operations, while others rake in leads from the internet. For example, I did an exercise in which I “googled” the phrase, “I need a quote for replacement windows.” My search returned links to two window companies in the search’s top five results … Hansons and Larmco. Kudos to their webmasters! Also at the top of the list, however, were www.homeadvisor.com, www.replacementwindows.net and www.windowselect.net. These of course are not window companies but rather Lead Generation (LG) companies. These are services which gather and then sell leads to subscribing dealers and contractors. Their websites will ask you some simple questions such as your contact info, type and quantity of windows or doors you are looking for and then you will get emails or phone calls from whatever window dealer or contractor has contracted with the LG Firm to receive the window leads in your area.
Another form of lead generation that is quite popular in many areas of the country is the Consumer Review Service (CRS). These are powerful sources of leads which come to you totally free! No amount of advertising can save you from the truth nor can buy you the type of credibility that can be established from actual consumer experiences seen on a CRS website such as Angie’s List. Angie’s List is basically a reflection of your reputation in the marketplace. You get rated by verified consumer members who must pay a fee to subscribe to Angie’s List. Since a subscription fee is involved, the people that typically join are usually those who seek a lot of outside services. This means they usually know good service when they see it and they also reward the benefit of the doubt if it is so justified. An excellent rating from Angie’s List can be a powerful lead generation source especially if you are a well-established company with a solid reputation. City Grid, Shopping.com and Yelp are other such examples of these consumer review services.
But as the selling season descends upon us, it would be foolish to just sit back and wait for leads to come to you. Lead generation is absolutely critical. So, what’s your strategy?