Every healthy business needs new sales opportunities: you need to talk with homeowners that are actively seeking the services you sell.

If you’ve ever bought even 5 leads, you know that the quality of leads varies. The tips below will help you make more money from the leads that you’re already buying. More importantly, these tips will help you evaluate new lead vendors, so that you can diversify and expand your lead sources.

Tips to Set more Appointments

The first critical metric you need to measure is your appointment rate. This is the number of appointments that you set divided by the number of leads that you bought. For example, if you set 7 appointments from 10 leads, you have a 70% appointment setting rate.

1. Call every lead within 90 seconds of when the lead arrives. At HVACLeads.com, we call every lead that we generate, and our stats are clear: we are 50% more likely to convert a lead if we call within the first 90 seconds. There are many reasons for this:

  • We’re more likely to be the first company that a homeowner hears from;
  • The homeowner is more likely to be in front of their computer and near their phone;
  • The homeowner is still in problem-solving mode.

Whatever the reason, you’re more likely to convert the lead if you call immediately.

2. Call every lead at least 6 times (or until you reach them). You won’t connect with every homeowner in the first 90 seconds. However, you can’t give up at that point, you need to continue to call the lead until you reach them.

3. Call from a local number. If they don’t recognize your number, and if it isn’t a local number, they’re less likely to answer the phone.

4. Send an email and a text message to your leads if you don’t reach them in the first 2 calls. You want to get your name (and your phone number) in front of the homeowner. If you text them, and then follow up with a call, they’re more likely to answer the phone.

This is a deceptively simple set of suggestions: to do a good job implementing them, you will need a dedicated person to make calls as soon as leads arrive. If you are a one-person shop, ask your lead vendor to text leads to your cell phone. Stop what you’re doing when leads arrive, and call them immediately.

Your job on the initial phone call is to set an appointment with the homeowner.

Tips to Get Homeowners to Keep their Appointments

The second critical metric you need to measure is your “sit rate” — the rate at which you and the homeowner actually sit down for the appointment. If you set 7 appointments, the homeowners aren’t home for 2 of them, and you had cancel 1 because the previous job ran late, you have a sit rate of 4/7 or 57%.

5. Have a system that allows the person setting the appointment to know when your salespeople are available. If you are a one-person shop, make sure you leave enough time to clean up and get to your appointments. There’s no good excuse for having a low sit rate if you are canceling appointments.

6. Call, email and/or text your leads to confirm the appointment you set.

7. Make sure the homeowner knows what phone number to call to reschedule the appointment.

Sometimes homeowners need to reschedule or cancel appointments. Make sure they know how to reach you. More importantly, make sure you have a process in place so that you won’t have to cancel appointments — nothing will shred your sit rate faster.

Tips for Closing More Sales

The third critical metric is your Sales Rate — the rate at which your leads hire you to provide them with a solution. So, if 2 of the 4 homeowners that you sat with hired you, you have a 50% Sales Rate.

8. When a homeowner declines your bid, politely ask them why they went with a different contractor. (This is a service that we provide to our contractor clients, upon request.)

9. Email your leads after the appointment to thank them for meeting with you. You might be surprised at the results: When we do followup calls, about 25% of leads don’t remember the contractor to whom we sold the lead. Get your name in front of the homeowner multiple times.

10. Have a documented Sales Process — any documented sales process.

11. Offer the homeowner a range of purchase options: one expensive, one in the middle, and one just a bit less expensive than the middle one

These tips barely scratch the surface of how to become a better salesperson. If you’re not closing sales in a majority of the appointments you set, find a coach that can help improve your sales process.

Tips for Getting More Value from your Lead Vendor

12. Make sure your vendors know what kind of leads you want to buy. If you don’t work with oil heat, tell your vendor you don’t want those leads. If you don’t want light commercial leads, tell your vendor.

13. Understand your lead seller’s credit policy, and request credits as appropriate. Not all of your leads will convert to appointments. (In fact, our data suggests that your best lead sources will only convert to appointments about 70% of the time.) Here are a few examples of cases where you should request credits from your vendor: bad phone number, lead is a renter, or if the homeowner didn’t request that contractors contact them. Every lead vendor has a different credit policy — but, good vendors don’t expect you to pay for crap. (Just be aware that your definitions of “crap” may vary.)

14. Test leads from multiple lead sellers. One vendor may seem great, until they sign up two of your competitors. Some vendors may provide few, but high quality, leads. Getting a mix of leads gives you better volume, and better pricing.

15. Always buy at least 5 leads from a vendor before you make a decision about whether to buy more leads. You can always get a couple of bad leads by chance alone — but, after 5 leads, you should know if this vendor can put you in touch with homeowners actively seeking your services.

16. Ask your Lead Vendors to market you to your leads. For example, at HVACLeads.com, we give a brief marketing pitch before we transfer a live call to a contractor. For example, we might say “I’m going to connect you with Classic Air. They’re a family-owned business with 30 years of experience and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.” Web-only lead generation companies often display a marketing message on the confirmation page that introduces the homeowner to your company. Work with your vendors to customize and improve those messages.

Tips for Measuring the Value of Your Leads

17. Develop a system to track your leads. This doesn’t have to be complicated, a Google spreadsheet works perfectly. Track which vendor sent you the lead, when the lead arrived, how much you paid for it, whether you set an appointment, whether you and the homeowner kept the appointment, whether you made the sale, how much money you made. Calculate your appointment rate, your sit rate and your sales rate.

18. When calculating the ROI of leads, include the cost of getting too slow. What’s the cost to you can’t keep your technicians busy, and they find another job?

19. Follow up with your leads (by email or phone) every six months. What else can you do for them? Ask for referrals. Keep your name on the tip of their tongue.

Long term, the most effective way to get more value from your leads is to have a good system for tracking those leads. A good tracking system lets you compare different vendors. It can identify places where your systems have broken down. (For example, if your appointment rate and sales rates are strong, but your sit rate is weak, you know where your system is broken.)