Many building materials companies measure the performance of their marketing programs by the number of inquiries or leads they receive.
When I ask how well their marketing is doing, I often hear comments like:
“We got 120 leads from the trade show.”
“We generate 10 online inquiries per day.”
What I almost never hear is how many of these leads actually convert into sales or customers.
When I talk to salespeople, they’re a lot less enthusiastic about those leads. They will tell me things like, “Most of the leads the company sends me are useless. I don’t have time to work through them to find the good ones.”
What the marketing people have to say isn’t much better: “We fulfill the requests from leads such as sending samples, literature, pricing or locating a dealer and our job is complete.”
Leads are treated like hot potatoes – whoever has them wants them out of their hands as quickly as possible.
This is how the building materials industry has worked for a long time. Now, it’s just another way it’s years behind other industries when it comes to improvements in sales and marketing.
Things Are Starting to Change
I have worked with a few companies recently who are getting great results by placing more value on the inquiries they receive.
One company turns 50% of their inquiries into sales for their high-priced exterior home product.
Another company has seen their in-house salespeople outperform their field salespeople in turning inbound leads into sales for a product used in commercial manufacturing facilities.
Both of these companies are achieving these results without using CRM and marketing automation tools like Salesforce and Hubspot.
Don’t get me wrong. Those are very powerful and effective tools – when used correctly.
Unfortunately, many companies turn to CRM and marketing automation before they’re ready to use them. That’s like buying a Ferrari before learning how to drive. They think it’s some kind of shortcut to success – like they can just write a check instead of doing the hard work.
Yes, they may be investing the time to learn how to make the system work, but they don’t know where they are going.
If you already have the formula for sales success, these systems can help you grow your sales faster and at a lower cost per sale.
But most companies don’t have an optimized formula. Instead of finding out how to improve their results, they invest in tools that will send out a mediocre message more efficiently to more people.
You need the right message before boosting it. That’s why my first goal when I work with a company is for me to be able to sell their product without any sales or marketing aids. It’s just two people having a conversation.
Once that works, then it’s time to bring in the fancy tools to help them amplify that message.
Otherwise, it’s like they’re entering that Ferrari in 100 random races instead of the 20 they are most likely to win.
Don’t Treat Your Leads Like Hot Potatoes
Instead of treating their leads like hot potatoes, the two companies I mentioned above are nurturing them as follows:
- Immediately following up on the initial inquiry
- Starting to build a person to person relationship by letting the prospect know what action has been taken, such as “Your samples were shipped today”
- Making it personal by introducing themselves and inviting the prospect to contact them directly with any questions
- Following up a few days later to confirm that the requested information arrived and to start a dialogue by email or phone (they are qualifying the prospect, learning more about them and planning next steps)
- They are not in a hurry to pass the lead on or to go for the close – the prospect determines the pace they move at and the next steps
- They never stop learning and they share what they have learned (both of these companies know a lot about their prospects and the sales process – their person-to-person approach allows them to keep improving)
These companies sell a building product that is different than the ones that are most commonly used. Their products are also more expensive.
Until they started nurturing leads, they were losing most sales at the local level, where the most popular solution would win the sale by default.
Both of these companies are now ready to benefit from CRM and marketing automation. They know how to drive their Ferrari to win. They are also evaluating their performance and making improvements on a regular basis.
If you want to grow while wasting less money, take a page from their book. Start nurturing your inquiries, learn how to improve your results and then expand your winning formula to a wider audience.