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Al's column: Advantages of lead-gen systems

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Jason Goldberg

 

(Second  of two parts)

In part I of this article (FCNews, Feb. 5/12), I provided an overview of what constitutes a good lead management system. In this second installment, I will delve into specifics and talk about the advantages such programs offer retailers.

Accountability. Managers can now hold their salespeople accountable for tracking their assigned leads. They can calculate their RSAs’ close rates.  Furthermore, they can see if a lead has been neglected and for how long. And they can see how or why a lead was mishandled and potentially save a lead that is about to be lost. More importantly, they can use all this information to train their salespeople and correct negative behaviors.

Accessibility. A cloud-based lead management system lets dealers access a lead’s information from a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Being able to get valuable information about a lead while on the road or in the lead’s home can help RSAs close jobs more quickly and confidently.

Data to inform business decisions. Good lead management systems allow owners and their marketing teams to see which stores get the most traffic, which advertising mediums drive the most leads and which methods of contact (phone, email, website forms, etc.) are the most popular among customers. Users may choose to adjust their marketing budget, change the marketing mix, update their phone system or website, or even change staffing levels at different store locations, based on the information in the system. In short, retailers no longer have to make guesses about their business. Rather, they can now make informed decisions.

So, how can a retailer determine which lead management system is right for their business? When you’re shopping for lead management systems, dealers should consider the following attributes:

Ease of use. When dealers decide to purchase a new lead management system, they’re most likely going to be the one to train all their managers and salespeople on how to use it. To that end, they need a system that’s simple and straightforward, so they can get themselves and their staff trained quickly. More importantly, owners should want a lead management system that they’ll actually want to use. Remember: Instituting a new lead management system is useless unless everyone adopts it.

Effectiveness. Dealers should take the time to research all options to determine whether they truly work. For instance, ask the lead management system sales rep for the names of customers who have had success with the system, then call those customers and find out why they recommend that tool over others in the market. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each system, then decide which would be best for the business. Remember: All lead management tools are not created equal.

Cost. Dealers should think about their budget and how much they can actually afford. Retailers should consider how many users are going to need access to it and if the business should be billed monthly or annually for a license. Additional fees to consider are costs for the initial system set-up as well as fees associated with integrating the lead management system with a particular company’s website.

Bottom line: A lead management system is valuable to any flooring retailer, big or small. Whether you’re spending $5,000 or $500,000 on advertising and other lead-generation activities each year, those dollars are going to waste if you do not have a system in place to ensure your leads are being taken care of once they’ve contacted your business.

 

Jason Goldberg is CEO of Retail Lead Management, a CRM software system designed specifically for the flooring industry. The company has sold more than 1,000 user licenses to flooring retailers in North America.

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Al's column: How to better manage lead generation

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Jason Goldberg 

(First of two parts)

It stands to reason that more leads will result in more sales for your company, right? Not so fast. Leads only convert into dollars when they are properly managed by your salespeople, managers and marketing team.

Many flooring retailers make the mistake of thinking lead generation is the key to success, so they invest thousands of dollars driving potential customers to their stores. But before you start spending money on generating more leads, shouldn’t you make sure you’re getting the most out of the ones you currently have?

Take a moment to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you know how many leads your salespeople are handling and what stage they’re at in your sales pipeline?
  • Do you know the advertising sources that drove those leads to your business?
  • Do you know the history of each of these leads including job quotes, site diagrams and “before” photos?
  • Do you know the close rates of your locations, divisions and salespeople?
  • Do you know which of your stores is getting the most traffic?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you’re not alone. The good news is the right lead management system can answer these questions for you.

Lead management 101
A good lead management system is a software program that helps you keep track of your company’s sales prospects as they move through your sales funnel. The fields that are used to capture lead information and the sales pipeline can be customized to suit your company’s specific needs. When a customer contacts your business for service, the new lead is created manually in the system by the salesperson or manager.

Website leads can be automatically generated by the system if integrated with your website’s forms. The lead’s name, contact information, products of interest, store location, advertising that drove them to your company and any other information you deem valuable can be captured and stored in the system.

Next, leads are then assigned to a salesperson or manager who will be responsible for converting the prospect into a customer. Each interaction a salesperson or manager has with a lead is recorded in the system via a note or an update to the lead’s stage in your sales pipeline. Follow-up tasks can also be created to remind users to contact the lead until the sale has been closed. Once a lead is closed (sold or lost), the final sale amount, the products she purchased, or the reason why the sale was lost along with any other relevant information can be recorded.

The biggest advantage of a good lead management system is the operational efficiency it offers. If you’re managing leads with an excel spreadsheet or with pen and paper, you’re wasting tons of valuable hours that could be saved by transitioning to a lead management system. In short, the faster you get in touch with a potential lead and discuss her flooring needs, the more likely you are to close the deal.

Good lead management systems also provide increased visibility. Managers have a 360-degree view of all leads in the system; they can see the current stage of the lead within the sales pipeline and associated tasks, notes and documents. If the system is used correctly, you’ll never have to call another salesperson again to ask about the status of any given lead.

In the next installment, I will discuss other advantages of good lead management systems such as accountability, accessibility and data retrieval.

 

 

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Technology: Retail Lead Management system gets upgrade

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Retail Lead Management, a cloud-based CRM software designed specifically for flooring retailers, has released a host of new features to increase its effectiveness and help dealers track retail flooring leads. These features were launched only a couple of months after the program was made available to all flooring retailers.

Jason Goldberg, CEO of America’s Floor Source, had the idea to develop Retail Lead Management in 2015 after learning about his salespeople’s struggles with keeping track of prospects, quotes and appointments as well as his managers’ difficulties with holding their sales teams accountable for managing and closing leads. After searching the market and not finding a retail lead management system solution that suited his needs, Goldberg decided to develop his own. Once the program was completed, Goldberg’s sales team started using it and immediately saw an increase in closing rates and a spike in retail sales. Goldberg opened up the program to the flooring industry in early 2017 and has since sold hundreds of licenses to flooring retailers in the U.S. and Canada.

“In the past few months, we’ve released quite a few new features to increase the effectiveness of our system,” Goldberg explained. “We recently launched a calendar integration, which enables users to add tasks they’ve scheduled in Retail Lead Management to their device’s default calendar tool [such as Gmail or Outlook]. We’ve also added a Zillow link, so users can click on a lead’s address and find out information about the property value and surrounding neighborhood.”

In addition, Retail Lead Management regularly updates the system and adds new functionality to address customer needs. According to Goldberg, the program typically has a new release at least once a month containing new features.

All of its new features help the existing program provide retailers with a cost-effective solution for managing leads. Through the use of Retail Lead Management all of the information a salesperson and manager need is available on a centralized dashboard, which can be accessed from a desktop, phone or tablet. Furthermore, the program is customizable and user-friendly. More importantly, it’s providing results for end users. “Customers are experiencing close rates as high as 70% and up to a 40% increase in sales,” Goldberg stated.

Retail Lead Management also has a host of future releases it plans to launch in 2018. According to Goldberg, the company plans to add business-to-business management, email integration and more integrations with ERP and accounting software including some of the industry’s top flooring software companies. “We currently have partnerships with several large flooring manufacturers, and website companies and are in discussions with other potential partners,” Goldberg said.

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Technology: Lead-generation programs aim to maximize retailers’ outreach efforts

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Digital lead generation and management systems are beginning to eat away at traditional forms of collecting leads as consumers continue to use their electronic devices to search and shop for products. As online shopping becomes easier and more popular, experts say it is crucial for businesses to capture leads online.

To help the flooring retailer tap into digital lead generation and management, various systems have been developed to create cost-effective solutions that are also easy to use. Following is a sampling of what’s available:

Armstrong
Armstrong Flooring was among the first flooring manufacturers to connect consumers shopping the web with Elite destination showrooms back in 2008. It was also among the first in the industry to drive consumer traffic to aligned retailers through a co-branded lead-generation program with Houzz in 2016.

“Our own consumer marketing initiatives help guide consumers through their purchase journey to select the right product for their application and style,” said Tom Cole, senior channel marketing manager. “We utilize a broad suite of tools, including digital marketing, media and influencer relationships, product placement in top home and lifestyle television shows and magazines, social media and email campaigns that reach thousands of new subscribers every month.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.23.34 AMArmstrong’s lead-generating tools include: consumer promotions, downloadable digital POP during consumer promotions, priority ranking on web “Find a Store” locator, “Contact Us” on ArmstrongFlooring.com, leads from web coupon promotions, customizable co-branded landing page, local digital advertising, leads through free consumer sample swatch, leads through recorded phone calls and a link to retailer websites from armstrongflooring.com.

In addition, Armstrong’s Advertising & Promotion Center (APC) is part of a one-stop marketing hub designed to help retailers close the sale and drive store traffic. “Armstrongconnect.com has become a key destination for our dealers to access the APC and also learn first-hand about Armstrong Flooring’s new and exciting product offerings,” Cole said. “The site features content, including product information, videos, sell-sheets, launch info, warranties and images. The site also acts as a portal, allowing users to connect to Armstrong Assets, FloorExpert and eClaims. Since information may need to be accessed anywhere and at any time, the site is completely mobile-enabled and can be viewed on several different mobile devices.”

FloorForce
Lead-generation systems come in all shapes and sizes ranging from running ad campaigns on Google and Facebook to all-encompassing strategies that capture consumers throughout the shopping experience. FloorForce offers the latter and provides flooring retailers with the tools necessary to reach consumers and generate leads throughout all phases of the consumer’s journey.

The company is currently offering its fifth-generation website solution, which helps retailers with their digital presence.

“From there we can help retailers reach consumers in the beginning of the buyers journey or awareness stage with blog posts, directory listings and creating rich informational pages on their website,” said John Weller, co-founder of FloorForce. “During the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey we help retailers engage with consumers through 24/7 live chat, targeted remarking on Facebook and Google with subtle calls to action to learn more about the information they have expressed interest based on the data we have collected from their previous online actions. Lastly, we drive consumers in the purchasing phase of the buyer’s journey to targeted landing pages and specific product or service offers that speak directly to the product or service that her previous actions online lets us know she is interested in and ready to buy.”

FloorForce’s No. 1 differentiator in generating leads for its clients is its data and how the company uses it. “Through our websites, relationships with Google, Facebook and many other data sources we now have data on millions of consumers actively searching for flooring,” Weller explained. “FloorForce is dedicated to leveraging our industry insights to create industry specific digital marketing solutions to put our clients products and their brands directly in front of the right consumers at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, in all phases of the flooring buyer’s journey.”

Flooring Success Systems
If done correctly, digital lead generation has the ability save retailers time, energy and money as well as bring in the highest value prospects. This is according to Jim Augustus Armstrong, FCNews columnist and president of Flooring Success Systems, who recommends flooring retailers focus first on past customers.

“The best leads are your hot leads, which are your past customers because they’re the only people on the planet who have proven they’ll buy flooring from you,” he explained. “There is no other list that will be more effective to market to than past customers.”

Flooring Success Systems also has retailers look at their referral sources such as past customers and other businesses who send referrals (designers, remodelers, carpet cleaning companies, etc.). After a business has established a system to reach its warm market, the company works with the business to connect with new customers.

“We not only help retailers get leads, we train them on how to maximize the results they get by closing more sales,” Armstrong said. “I’ve seen good campaigns not get good result because the salespeople mess it up. We train [the salespeople] and give them systems to get referrals and systems to continue marketing to those people, so they stay in front of those customers.”

Mohawk
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.21.22 AMDescribed as the company’s “omni-channel solution,” Mohawk’s Omnify provides an organized platform for retailers to nurture leads. Through the use of a lead-generation system like Omnify, leads are collected and driven to a lead center where they are filtered for relevancy and then sent to the retailers.

“As a digital leader in the flooring industry, we are very committed to the growth of our lead-generation programs,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, social media and inbound marketing, Mohawk Industries. “Omnify is going to take the lead generation opportunity for our retailers to the next level.”

What makes Omnify unique, the company said, is that it provides retailers with a host of solutions to help them communicate with the consumer throughout her consumer journey. Through Omnify retailers have access to various programs including Lead Booster, paid search programs and Realtor connect programs—to name a few.

“Omnify is for retailers who understand the value of the digital space,” said Austin Messerman, marketing brand manager, Mohawk Industries. “It’s for those who understand how important it is to engage with their customers digitally.”

Retail Lead Management
Named after its key feature, Retail Lead Management provides flooring retailers a digital platform to manage their leads. This system looks to help retailers that are using lead generating systems in addition to gathering leads on their own to organize those leads.

“You’re spending money on digital [marketing] to hopefully be able to turn those leads into sales,” said Jason Goldberg, CEO, Retail Lead Management. “If you’re paying money to generate leads but you don’t have a system to manage those leads then you are wasting your money. Through [Retail Lead Management] you can see all the leads you are handling and can manage them all the way through the sales cycle to the close of a sale.”

Through the cloud-based system, a retailer can see where leads are coming from and assign them to salespeople—all of which can be done on any device, at any time. Goldberg explained the management system allows the retailer to not only manage leads, but salespeople as well.

Touted as a simple, two-page system, all of Retail Lead Management’s features are less than $20 per user per month.

For retailers interested in lead management systems, Goldberg suggests the following: “If you’re a retailer, don’t get a system that is built for b2b because that’s just asking for no adoption rate by your team. Look for something that is made for retailers, cloud based and price effective. Find a system that will be adopted by your sales team.”

Stanton Carpet
Similar to other flooring manufacturers, Stanton Carpet has a lead-generation system available to its dealers. By using the company’s system, retailers have a greater opportunity to drive traffic to their stores and help their staff generate new business.

“Our website has a dealer locator and allows users to request consultations,” said Ayme Sinclair, marketing director, Stanton Carpet. “It also allows users to reach out to our dealers directly about future carpet purchases.”

Once a lead is generated, Sinclair suggests retailers act fast to close the deal. “Follow up quickly and make sure you have the right person on the receiving end of the leads. It seems rather simple, but wonderful customer service is highly valued and can keep a new customer loyal for years.”