A Prescription for Improving Sales and Profitability

by Kyle Clapham

Definition No. 1
A Lead: A method to get someone interested in your product or service.

Definition No. 2
A Lead: Person or persons whose interest has been developed sufficiently, who will permit you to examine their project and give them a proposal.

Definition No. 3
A Lead: Someone who has exhibited sufficient interest and can be convinced to learn more about your product or service.

All Leads Aren’t the Same?

Often the difference can be measured by the way a lead is handled. Many companies and those within these companies fall short on the way this is done.

A prospect: Person who calls for an estimate or proposal is thought to be in the market and is often identified as a prime prospect. A prospect: Developed at a show or event may appear as only seeking more information is identified as a nebulous (less than definite) lead. Don’t be fooled—one of these is not necessarily better than the other.

The person who takes the information on an incoming lead has to be trained to use a script (if this offends you, so be it). There have to be questions, which lead you to understand why they contacted you and what their real needs are (vs. their stated wants). Simple structured questions lead the scripted person to quickly define how to sell. They sell the value of the visit!

A lead acquired at a home show needs to be perfected.

A high percentage of home-show leads don’t get followed up with an actual appointment at a specific time/date, so many never receive a product presentation and do not result in a sale.

Here is a quote, from our company, for a recent whitepaper and trade-magazine article, “Leads (inquiries) are the life-blood of the home-improvement industry.”

The majority of leads are the response from advertising and promotion. The misuse or mismanagement of leads creates a low level of customer satisfaction (rightfully earned), if mishandled or misunderstood.

A prospect’s values, concerns and needs are at the core of that prospect’s interests. When a contractor ignores the importance of the inquiry, it is callous. Thus, when a less savvy sales/marketing contractor submits a prospect to a sell-them-or-forget-them methodology, they show little understanding of what could be done with their leads to build their business.

Caution: Nothing in this statement denies the need for someone to use efficient sales methods and “ask for the order,” and sometimes more than once. It does call for a better understanding of how prospects think, feel and follow instincts created by customer-satisfaction marketing.

Led by John Pohl, Springs Connect is a Carlisle, Pennsylvania, company specializing in recovering, reviving and redeveloping new leads from those that did not become appointments, never got issued, could not be converted from “one-leggers,” or were presented but not sold.

The home improvement industry is a $325 billion juggernaut that grows faster each year. To increase sales, companies today spend millions on internet marketing, canvassing, television, direct mail, etc., to get leads. Many leads are flowing in and are being turned into sales. But at what cost and what are they missing?

According to Pohl, industry research indicates that only 35 percent of leads result in sales. So where are unsold or unissued leads going? If a lead is not converted to a sale, it is often not called back with proper customer-satisfaction scripting—leaving valuable, often costly, leads lying dormant. Some of the nation’s premier home remodeling companies possess thousands of leads in their database but fail to realize they are sitting on a goldmine.

In many cases, Pohl says, call centers are not properly staffed or they don’t have the expertise in calling what is termed “old data”. Many firms don’t emphasize modern recruiting or training with proper scripting. Or they simply don’t like calling the old data. Companies are not properly handling calls or internet leads that come in seven days a week.

Rapid, Automatic Response Methods

If a company fails to respond to web-form leads within the first 30 seconds, they might have a drop-off rate of 40 percent in conversions to appointments. And when a prospect calls for information, and it is not answered by a live person who can help—getting that prospect back on the phone may never happen up to 50 percent of the time.

There are solutions. One is a process called asset recovery. This is a means to bring in more sales from these leads that are already paid for. Another is putting an emphasis on recruiting and training. And still another is bringing in an experienced home-improvement call-center manager who is able to write new scripts and create new training methods. Here are the issues and the basics for what is needed:

  1. Measure the number of leads that do not get issued from direct-contact sources (shows, events, canvassing). Then add “no shows” and “not sold” leads.
  2. Modernize your lead-developing techniques with “one leggers” by utilizing scripts that make customers perceive a positive reason for two-party presence.
  3. Respond to the high need in most companies for an updated customer-satisfaction-oriented “revisit” program for those presentations that do not achieve a sale. Companies can achieve this without offering a lower-priced product option, which gains revenue yet reduces profit margins. Also, this requires scripting and performance that operates within Federal Trade Commission regulations for following up after a special pricing or a first-call close that did not produce a sale.

We’ve included two case studies of how this can be corrected:


Dave Yoho is president of the oldest, largest and most successful consulting group in the industry. www.daveyoho.com (703) 591-2490

John Pohl is president of Springs Connect in Carlisle, Pa., a specialist in “unused lead” recovery. www.springsconnect.com (717) 999-4429

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