Leads are very important—indeed the lifeblood of sales and ultimately revenue. And yet, too often home improvement contractors don’t treat leads as the valuable assets they are.
A few contractors I’ve worked with over the past month had what I see as a common pitfall in contracting companies, especially companies large enough to have a full-time sales advisor. Namely, each comfort advisor (you might say “sales person”) was responsible for fielding (or returning) prospective customer calls and setting their own appointment times. Messages get taken, and calls get delayed…or don’t happen at all. I don’t consider this best practice.
Being human, comfort advisors have a pesky habit of setting appointments at times that are most convenient for them, rather than for the customer. That’s a mistake that gets in the way of sales. Another challenge presented by this is that the sales advisor will tend to pre-form opinions about the call and whether to even run the appointment! (And all of this takes important time away from the sales advisor when they could be building solutions for customers and getting agreements in place.)
Leads are way too valuable for this!
Enter the sales coordinator (some say “sales lead coordinator” or a few other terms). The sales coordinator is trained to take incoming calls (and emails and web forms) and schedule comfort advisors’ appointments.
In most companies, this role should be filled by one person, with one person cross-trained as back-up, for busy times or if the sales coordinator is out to lunch, sick, or on vacation. That is their primary job, and everything else is on the back burner while they are qualifying that lead!
Right at the top of the list of the sales coordinator’s duties is to find out why the customer called—both their perceived need and, very importantly, how they found out about you. (It’s important to ask, even if you use call-tracking numbers. Perhaps they called a unique number you have listed in your website, but they may have looked there because they saw you at a neighbor’s house or heard you on a radio ad, for example.) It’s important to capture this not only to be able to evaluate your marketing efforts but also to track information for referral and employee-generated lead programs.
The sales coordinator will also find a time that is convenient for the customer to fit into the sales schedule. Obviously, the sales coordinator thus needs to be fully aware of the comfort advisors’ regular schedules and any special schedules.
On the intake, the sales coordinator will try to understand the customers perceived needs, and the sense of urgency. The former is to help frame the initial sales conversation (although not to limit it!). The latter is particularly important during busy times when you need to know which leads to run right now, and which can be scheduled further out.
Hopefully you have a computerized customer database (CRM) system that the sales coordinator can capture all this information in. If not, it should still be captured on a standardized lead form. Ideally, only the sales coordinator (and backup) ever enter information into the lead system, and everyone in the company should be aware of how to funnel leads to them.
If you’re using a computerized CRM, reporting of leads and sales by source, and the comfort advisors’ sales performance can be standard auto-generated reports. If not, this becomes a function of the sales lead coordinator.
Often in smaller companies, the sales coordinator also helps with financing paperwork, program paperwork, and often as an interface between the comfort advisors and the production department in preparing installation folders. The sales coordinator often is responsible for “happy calls” after projects are completed.
The sales coordinator is often the first face of the company that customers interface with. They need to be well-prepared to connect with customers, professionally, enthusiastically, and with a sufficient level of knowledge about what the company offers. They should have at least a basic understanding of problems your customers face and how your company goes about diagnosing them and finding solutions to help prepare customers for the experience.
Properly taking in leads, preparing them for appointments, and scheduling those appointments to maximize the chance of a sale are critical elements of the sales process. And a sales coordinator helps you do that well.