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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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Lizbiz Strategies: Don’t let red-hot sales leads get too cold

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoThe good thing about hot sales leads is they tend to fall right in your lap. The bad news is you can’t sit on them for too long before they get stale.

Managing and following up on leads can be tricky. I get it. You meant to call them, but you were too busy. Now you’re afraid to follow up because you think the lead is too old. Finally, you reach out to the customer and she tells you she has bought from your competitor.

Why didn’t you make the time to call? You’re not the only one who hates calling people you don’t know and the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes. You need to contact potential customers as quickly as possible. Remember, they have already expressed an interest. If they haven’t gone to your website and connected, it’s your job to get them there.

Are you a manufacturer who supplies consumer or commercial leads to retailers? Purchasing leads is a big investment for your company, but if no one is keeping track how will you know what’s become of them? This is where a targeted, touch-point email marketing program can keep potential customers interested in coming to your retail store.

A touch-point email marketing program is specifically designed to deliver a particular message to your potential customer and is personalized to her shopping needs. According to Campaign Marketing, email is highly ranked in the marketing kingdom with a 380% ROI and $38 for every $1 spent. An email campaign is about building relationships, not just selling. Each email should have a message that is important to the customer. Even if you haven’t met her, useful advice on your products will begin to build your relationship. It doesn’t mean sending one note to the customer and disappearing. You must be consistent and have a series of timed touch points.

It is also not the holiday card you send out to relatives to see if they’re still alive. This is an electronic magnet. Instead of putting it on the customer’s refrigerator, it will stay on her mind through digital marketing.

There’s no reason why you can’t put together a three- to five-week email campaign starting with a friendly hello introducing yourself and an invitation to come in and pick up a gift. You can also direct her to useful information on your website, such as design tips or color ideas.

The key is to build a relationship so the potential customer feels like she knows you and wants to meet you. This is also why you need to market using your personal picture. It has been proven trust increases by more than 75% if the customer sees your picture before she meets you. Real estate agents routinely include their photos in marketing promos.

Remember, these potential customers have been referred to your store, so you’re just reaching out and providing something of value before they meet you.

Following up with your prospects is not a new idea, and current Internet tools make it even easier and more effective. There are a host of customer relationship management tools out there to help you track prospects from initial contact to close. But the key lies in acting fast; recent data shows if you don’t contact someone who submits an online inquiry in about 10 minutes, your chance of converting that lead into a sale decreases by the time you get to 30 minutes. Don’t make a big mistake by ignoring them.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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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.”

 

 

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Dear David: Should RSAs generate their own leads?

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By David Romano

 

Dear David:
Is it just me or do sales associates seem less motivated these days? It is like pulling teeth to get them to go out and get their own leads. Am I wrong in expecting them to generate their own business? Do you have some techniques that have worked to incentivize them to get out of the store and shake the trees?

Dear Owner,
What you are facing is most likely attributed to generational differences and a flaw in your philosophy. Workers today are much different than those of your generation. Some of the differences are amazing and some can be frustrating. Expecting employees to be “just like you” is not only an unfair request due to these generational differences, but it is also unfair because you are a business owner with different aspirations and priorities.

The bigger concern is your overall philosophy on generating new business. There are two types of people in this world: hunters and skinners. Very rarely do you find a person with both qualities. Most RSAs fall under the category of skinners, people who do a great job with product selection, measuring, quoting, etc. They are content to work with customers to solve a need and be an advisor throughout every step of the process.

A hunter, on the other hand, is someone with a thirst for the thrill of the kill. They want to prospect, close the deal and then go back for more business later. They don’t want to do any of the “mundane” tasks of a skinner. In fact, they are rather bad at that part. These highly specialized individuals make up less than 10% of the population.

You should have your skinners focus on doing the best they can with the customers in front of them. Don’t push them out the door to fumble the ball and ruin any real chance you have of securing new business. However, you are looking for marginal gains and want to feel better about your team driving more business. Here is what I recommend:

  • Have your team ask for referrals. Have them send an email to all closed customers with an attachment explaining your Friends and Family Program, which provides special accommodations to anyone who closed customer refers. All the referred customer needs to do is mention or print out the email to get the accommodation. For the person who provided the referral, they get a store credit for future purchases they can either use or transfer to anyone else.
  • Have them send cards with handwritten envelopes to previous customers inviting them to a special event. Include all customers who have received a quote in the last six months but haven’t yet purchased. Also, include customers who have bought flooring from the store seven-plus years ago.
  • Send a birthday card to the flooring. (Yes, I did just say send a card to the carpet, wood or tile.) Include tips to making sure it is cleaned and properly maintained. This simple, two-minute process will keep the RSA top of mind when there is a flooring need.
  • Have each RSA join local referral groups. A ton of business can be generated over a glass of wine with the girlfriends or having lunch with other businesspeople.
  • Make sure they are active with their online network of friends and colleagues on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. They need to let everyone know where they work and keep them informed of any special events or latest trends.
  • Lastly, make sure they always have business cards to distribute to potential clients.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.37.51 AMDavid Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group and Benchmarkinc, a group that provides consulting, benchmarking, recruiting and software solutions to the flooring, home improvement and restoration industries.

 

 

 

 

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Karndean Designflooring launches new Kaleidoscope Floorstyle digital tool

Kaleidscope FloorstyleExport, Pa.—Karndean Designflooring, a market leader in luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring, has launched a new version of its Floorstyle interactive specification tool specifically for its custom commercial collection, Kaleidoscope. This tool allows designers, architects and end-users to create truly unique designs in an easy-to-use digital format.

Kaleidoscope is an innovative collection of modular designs custom cut in compatible geometric formats, and utilizes the most popular colors from Karndean’s standard ranges, including woods, stones and new solid colors. Kaleidoscope shapes have complementary scale and angles which are designed to fit together, offering architects and designers unparalleled flexibility.

“With Kaleidoscope there are so many pattern and design combinations available that being able to experiment with different layouts is extremely important,” said Emil Mellow, vice president of marketing.

To use Kaleidoscope Floorstyle, first select a space in which to lay the floor. Next, choose a laying pattern from the collection’s six geometric designs and the number of desired colors to use within the design. Users have the option to change the angle of the floor, save designs, download CAD files and order samples.

Additional features include side-by-side comparison and social sharing capabilities. “Floorstyle is a valuable, one-stop tool for all Kaleidoscope resources,” Mellow said.

To launch Kaleidoscope Floorstyle, visit http://www.karndean.com/kaleidoscopefloorstyle.