Using Subscription-Based Sales Leads
David Crick of Contractors Marketing takes a look at the real value of the planning, tender and contract sales leads. What's the best practice use?
Planning, Tender and Contract Sales Leads - Worth Using? How Do You Get the Best Value Out of Your Subscription?
You can spend £400 a year or more than £40,000 a year on your selection of over 250,000 project leads at planning, tender or contract stages from the two major sales leads providers in the UK (ABI and Glenigan). Taken together, they provide users in the construction industry with a unique forward view of building activity from home extensions to major town centre developments. Virtually every new building of any type and size is detailed well before actual construction starts. No other industry in the UK has anything like this forward business coverage.
One problem expressed by many would-be users is that – from the major lead-providers combined - over 8,000 companies in the UK from start-up builders to major internationals use these leads. Every week, every single lead published lands on the desk of hundreds of subscribers – dozens of whom could well chase the same project.
So what are the real values of these leads? Are they really worth using – and can you actually get ahead of your competitors to make them work for you?
The answer – drawn from hard experience - is emphatically “YES”. You can win with these leads. Here's a short case study. A colleague was commissioned by a South London building contractor to improve business levels and marketing effectiveness. Their turnover was £3.5m which was far too low for their infrastructure and costs. Their average tender values were around £380k (too low) and they were struggling to land school jobs – their best type of work. A pro-active project was started using carefully selected ABI leads on the basis of just one concentrated day's marketing a week. Three years later the turnover was approaching £9m: the average tender values were over £800k – and they were on their forty-eighth school job.
From our point of view, those results were nothing special – just competent focussed selling with well-targeted sales leads and a well-developed sales proposition. So how does a company new to sales leads – or not doing too well with an existing sales leads subscription – develop profitable new business with them? And what are the real values in these leads?
First, what are the secrets of success with sales leads? It would take a day's workshop to cover the key points to any depth – but here are ten key bullet-point lessons gained from over 20 years' selling with leads from both ABI and Glenigan.
A) BEFORE YOU EVEN USE THE LEADS YOU SHOULD …
1 Know how you can add real, tangible value to your prospective clients. Why should anybody use your company and not a competitor? Work out how you can communicate these values to new contacts. Run a benefits analysis – and ask current and past clients why they use you.
2 Know how to make yourself different to your competition. How are you going to stand out from the crowd? Focus really well on your strengths with your leads selection – make sure you can justify development of each and every lead selected. Don't chase too many leads - but make a really good job of developing your new contacts into good relationships.
3 Understand the value of well-directed persistency and the ‘Law of Seven' – every positive result takes on average at least seven contacts to achieve – a combination of telephone calls, letters and meetings.
4 Maximise results by understanding and actioning the six key values buried away in your sales leads. Specific projects, relationships, direct mail, credibility, leads for forward contracts and newly formed prospects. These six values are detailed later in this article.
B) YOUR FIRST CALL TO NEW PROSPECTS. . .
5 Make sure you fully understand the objectives of the first call to a new prospect. What should you actually achieve from a first contact call? (More than you think)
6 Get maximum value out of this first call by asking good questions in a logical order – and sharpen your questioning (and listening – skills). Agree the action you will take.
7 Make friends with secretaries – get them on your side. They make great allies.
8 Maximise your performance – quantity counts as well as quality.
C) AFTER YOUR TELEPHONE CALL …
9 Write an effective letter after the call: follow the AIDA principle – Attention. Interest, Desire, Action. This letter is the first tangible part of your company they will see and is the first promise you will fulfil. Make sure you communicate the right message.
10 Follow up at the time they suggested and that you agreed with them. Don't guess. Ask them when you should call back. Courteous persistency on the right jobs really does pay.
To unpack all these points and cover them from a practical usage point of view would take days in a live setting or in a workshop. But let's revisit point 4 – the six real values of the sales leads. They're just for finding projects … aren't they? No, they're not!
Here, in summary form, are the six real values we have identified after ten solid years of working with a wide variety of construction clients.
1 SPECIFIC PROJECTS – the reason, of course, almost every company buys sales leads. But there's a lot more than that…
2 More of value, though, is RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT with the work-providers who can be identified using analysed project data in large volume and over longer periods of time. You must however have identified your ideal or core-interest work very carefully. The LIFETIME VALUE of a good relationship can be worth millions.
3 DIRECT MAILING – Direct mail using qualified well-focussed leads and a good letter and response device can be a valuable, low-cost secondary support resource for any marketing operation. The database developed with long-term use of sales leads can also be of considerable value to any company in construction.
4 BUILD YOUR CREDIBILITY AND CONFIDENCE WITH IN-DEPTH TERRITORY KNOWLEDGE. Good use and scanning of leads and building activity over longer periods gives you a powerful reputation as someone who knows their area, is well-connected and worth knowing. It increases your confidence and gives you a winning edge.
5 HOT LEADS FOR FAVOURED CONTACTS. You can often locate good contacts and worthwhile leads for your personal contacts with these leads. For example, a builder working with architects can often find new developers working in their area who may need new architectural contacts …
6 FIND NEWLY STARTED PROSPECTS IN YOUR AREA AND GROW WITH THEM … These leads are a very good way to pick up early contacts with new architects, surveyors and other work-providers in your area. Young companies are often very good long term contacts: they will not be particularly well connected and will not have too many well-developed relationships. If they grow strongly, you can grow your business levels with them.