Lead the Way: Five ideas to help you turn prospects into clients

Stacey Freed
June 27, 2014
| Strategies & Practices

“Leads are the most expensive thing we generate,” says Neil Sciacca, co-owner and president of New Jersey Siding & Windows. “Your lead costs can make or break you.” The tough part is turning those leads into clients. According to Sciacca, the whole process starts with “a good product, a good reputation and a sales force that believes in both of those.” And while there’s no magic bullet to converting leads into sales, there are some strategies that can help.

 

1. Differentiate

 
“If you don’t differentiate, you’ll have problems with people wanting to go with the lowest bid,” says industry trainer and consultant Rodney Webb. “Everyone is pretty much selling the same product, and you don’t want price to be the issue.” Webb suggests using the following technology to set your company apart.
 
Video inspections: taking video of the exterior of a prospect’s home “can help you create urgency” for consumers, showing them why they should buy windows now.
 
PowerPoint presentations: bring your laptop or iPad and do a remote PowerPoint to speed up your presentation, offer practical information and look more professional.
 
Heat lamps: although these come with your window kit from manufacturers, Webb says no one is using them today, and it’s worth going back to. “And get the customer involved; don’t just use the lamp meter that comes with the kit. Sell to the senses. If you can stimulate their five senses, it will make it less possible for them to say ‘no’ to you.”
 
There are other ways to set your company apart from the pack. Brian Elias, president of Hansons in Detroit, which does nearly $60 million a year in windows, doors, roofing and siding, says his company has a 24-hour service number consumers can call. It rarely gets used, he says, and it’s something his competitors don’t have. “It’s important to think like a consumer. They need to know they’re getting good value, that the product is manufactured well and that you’ll take care of them if there’s a problem,” he says.
 

2. Get Creative

 
Windows and doors can be an impulse buy for some consumers. These might be just onesie-twosie sales, but you might also make a customer for life. Rudy DeFinis, president of DeFinis and Sons Window and Door Co. in Philadelphia, came up with a clever way to show off his showroom. He has written four local history books, which he advertises in newspapers and via mailed postcards. The books can be purchased only at the showroom. DeFinis says people look forward to the nearly 300-page books with photographs, which cover various neighborhoods. “People come in to buy a book for $50 and they leave with a window or door [purchase] or a contract,” DeFinis says. “We’re reaching a different market that maybe hadn’t heard of us or wouldn’t pick up the phone to call.”
 

3. Limit Options

 
Narrow down selections before a sales presentation. “When you offer too many choices, things get complicated,” Elias says. “If they want something special, they know what it is and they’ll bring it up. If you bring it up, they will want time to think about it and discuss it with friends and family.”
 

4. Build Trust

 
People buy from those they “know, like and trust,” Elias says, paraphrasing Duct Tape Marketing founder John Jantsch. Elias suggests using testimonials to build trust: “Consumers will believe fellow homeowners who have similar homes,” he says. And use “expert testimonials—which lend third-party credibility—from building inspectors, industry experts or someone famous you did work for.”
 
Knowing about the client’s home before you arrive for a presentation can also build trust in your sales people. Beth Burger, vice president of Accurate Windows in Melbourne, Fla., says that she will use Google maps and a local property appraiser’s website before a home visit. “I’ll know what city they’re in for permitting reasons. We’ll know what the front of the house looks like so we can see if we’re dealing with radius tops or arches so we can bring samples of whatever might be needed for the home.”
 

5. Follow Up

 
You want to keep in contact before, during and after the project, says Chris Koss, owner of 1st Choice Home Improvements in Stillwater, Minn. And don’t give up, says Jake Zahnow, president of WindowPro, www.windowpro.com, with offices in Cleveland and Detroit. “People are in our system forever,” he says. “We actively pursue them until they tell us not to.”
Freed is editor of Window & Door. Write her at sfreed@glass.org