Q: For those companies that have more than one salesperson, how do you distribute the leads that come in to the office?
A: We treat our incoming requests very carefully. They are the fruit of our marketing efforts, so we want them to be handled the best way possible. Our goal is to convert the best leads into clients, so we send the person that has the best chance of completing the sale. It’s not about being fair or taking turns.
We have a prospect form that is used so we don’t forget to ask the prospect for the critical information that is very telling and helps us decide who would be the best to be assigned to that prospect. The owner or CEO should see all prospects to make sure he or she is aware of every inquiry and can get involved when advantageous, either as a coach or just for follow-up purposes.
I’ve had more than a few knocks on my door from salespeople who think someone else is handling a lead they feel is theirs. To avoid this, we track every lead, and every salesperson reports every prospect he or she is pursuing. We always ask prospects how they happened to contact Yardmaster. If they saw our work or a job sign, were referred to us by someone or were a previous client, that is valuable information and gives us a clue as to which salesperson should respond to the prospect. If they found us on the Internet, saw our truck or one of our show displays, or just know of Yardmaster from media coverage or our presence in the community, then those leads are assigned by different criteria.
We find out the type of work prospects need and what their time frame is for having it done, and with that information, and their address, we assign the lead to the salesperson who has the highest skill level for the situation. I don’t want to tie up a veteran designer with a prospect that has lawn, drainage, or maintenance needs. On the other hand, I don’t want a maintenance expert meeting with a prospect that needs a complex design solution.
Your best salesperson will always be busy, and you’ll want this person handling the best prospects. They will have prospects calling and asking for them. They will bring in most of their own leads from previous clients or from referrals and from pursuing their favorite type of project.
Every salesperson should have a sales plan and should be bringing in business and not be depending on incoming leads. It’s important to train a salesperson how to properly qualify and interview a prospect. A lot of inquiries we get are for work we don’t want, and you don’t want to waste a valuable salesperson’s time chasing dead ends or bad work. On the other hand, I can recall more than a couple of inquiries that, on the surface, looked like dead ends but turned into great projects. We don’t like doing insurance estimates. We don’t like lawn installations unless it’s part of a planting or construction project. Many times, someone will call needing a new lawn but, as we probe deeper, we find out they have no patio or plantings either. You have to engage the prospect with the right questions.
Kurt Kluznik, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, YardMaster
Q: I am developing my annual budget, but I don’t know how much I should spend on advertising and marketing.
A: The fact is that the average landscape professional spends less than 1 percent of his or her gross annual revenues on marketing. So, the simple answer is, if you want to generate more leads than the average landscaper in your market, you will need to outspend them. The reality is that 1 percent is a very low percentage to spend for any business in any industry. The more complex answer is, you should base your budget on the amount you are willing to spend to acquire (or retain) a customer.
That amount would be some nominal percentage of the total lifetime value (in profit) of an average customer.
Jonathan Goldhill, The Goldhill Group
Have a question for the experts? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org