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Category: Sales

Write your Vows to your Premium Program Customers

We’ve mentioned (here and here) how much more profitable it is to sell a premium program that gives the customer better outcomes than it is to negotiate on labor rates.

 You’ll need a few things to sell a premium program:

  1. Technology-enabled differentiators
  2. A proactive maintenance and/or inspection plan
  3. A defined service level agreement (SLA)

The goal of your SLA is to clearly state your customer service promises that will reduce their pain and indicate how easy you’ll be to work with. Your SLA should cover:

You don’t have to go so far as to promise to love, honor, and cherish your customers, but let them know what you promise in return for their agreement to buy in at your premium program level.

Bust Customer Service Data Out of the Silo

Integration is a popular topic at ServiceTrade. More people are coming up with ways to integrate their customer service data with other operational programs – their website, CRM, accounting, or marketing programs. Once shared across applications, data becomes information that can be used by people throughout the company. Are you thinking about all the ways that your customer service data can be used in different departments?

If these groups don’t have access to your customer service data, give it to them and see what they can do.  These ideas should be just a beginning.

Sales

Account Management

Accounting

Marketing

Service Managers

Owners and Senior Leaders

As an owner or leader in the company, the best thing you can do is give people access to data and encourage them to use it. Heck, if you’re a ServiceTrade customer, office users are free, so there’s no reason not to open accounts for these users today. You might be amazed by the ways they can turn data into useful information for your company and its customers.

Also read:

Best of 2016

As 2017 kicks 2016 to the curb, take a minute to revisit our most-loved blog posts of the year.

Whether they’re new to you, or you need a review, check out these blog posts for inspiration to start the new year.

Trouble selling? Be memorable.

Why is it so difficult to remember even a short speech, but so easy to remember an entire song? For example, what do these 7 digits do for you? 867-5309.  Humming yet? Now that I’ve probably lost your attention to Tommy Tutone, I’ll try to make my point. We are creatures of rhyme, story, and imagery. Great salespeople use this trait to leave memorable impressions with the customer.

Let me give you another quick example by telling a story about overcoming the challenging  trends service contractors face today:

Low price competition for service contractors

You know One Truck Chuck? He’s the low-price competitor that steals your customer by undercutting your invoices.

help-wanted
Competing on price was fair game when technicians were easy to hire. That game has changed with the skilled labor squeeze which is predicted to worsen over the coming decade.

vice

Feels like you’re stuck in the tightening jaws of a vice; right between increasing price pressure from One Truck Chuck and rising costs from the skilled labor squeeze. Fortunately, these challenges are not insurmountable.

But, before I present a solution, I want to point out the tools I’ve used so far to make this narrative memorable. When you step away from this blog post, you won’t remember this particular sentence but you will definitely remember the phrases “One Truck Chuck” and the “skilled labor squeeze” because of the imagery, rhyme, and alliteration I used. That’s powerful. You need to leave the same lasting impression with your customers and prospects.

Now, back to our story. You can’t afford to beat Chuck on price. You have to differentiate yourself and show the customer how you offer more value. A good portion of this blog post is dedicated to just that, but I think this image helps sum it up:

tattoo-600px

Your pitch can go something like this:

Prospective customer, this is what happens when you go with my cheap competitor, One Truck Chuck. It will take him twice as long, causes twice the aggravation, and results in twice the expense due to shoddy workmanship. He is undercapitalized, under-equipped, and under-experienced to provide the expertise you need. You will spend more time and more money dealing with him.

Obviously, this shouldn’t be the entirety of your sales pitch, but this is a great piece of ammunition to support the case that you are a high-value provider. Feel free to use any of the images or rhymes in this post during your next sales call and please let us know what you use to get your point across to the customer. Check out our webinar “Don’t sell on price. Sell a premium program. to learn more about using these tools and others to outsell your competition.

Beat your low price competitor, Chuck.

You know “one-truck Chuck,” or “white-van Stan” as I’ve heard him called before. He’s the one undercutting you and stealing your customers. It’s because he’s well rounded, and by that I mean he’s cut all the corners clean off. He has no overhead and he only wants to make a little more than his old hourly wage as an employed technician. But Chuck isn’t alone, is he? There’s Stan, Bill, Charlie, and the other new low-price competitors setting up shop every day.

Low price competition for service contractors

You lose deals to Chuck and Stan every day. Prospects tell you “I’ve got a guy” and customers tell you that someone offered them a price they can’t refuse. So, what are you going to do? I suggest you take advice from a Chinese guy that died over two thousand years ago:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
     – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

OK, I know it’s passe to whip out quotes from The Art of War when you’re talking about business strategy, but bear with me on this one.

Know your Enemy

Chuck and Stan are really easy to understand. Like any of your competitors, they have strengths and weaknesses that you can exploit. Obviously, their biggest competitive advantage is price for the reasons mentioned above, but they also have personal relationships on their side. Their customers have their cell number and can give Stan a call anytime they want.

If you’re trying to grow a high-margin, premium brand, you’ll never compete with these fellas on low labor rate or personal relationships, and you don’t want to. Neither are scalable. And, if you want to beat Chuck, you should tell your customer that your goal is to expend as little skilled labor and customer-facing admin as possible. Tell them that skilled labor is costly for you and difficult to hire. Tell them that modern customer service doesn’t happen over the phone.

Instead, offer customers a technology-enabled plan for predictable outcomes at a predictable price. The goal is to reduce their risk and aggravation by implementing a proactive plan that uses data about their facility and equipment to intelligently target low-cost preventative work that curbs expensive repairs. By planning work as opposed to reacting to it, overall expenses will go down because less on-demand skilled labor is used and fewer parts are required. Throughout the service cycle, information will be pushed to your customers online to reinforce the value you provide and to build trust through visibility and transparency.

Chuck can’t offer that. Chuck shows up when the phone rings if he’s not too busy with another customer. Chuck fixes broken equipment that could have been repaired for much less if the issue was caught earlier. Meanwhile, the customer is aggravated because they have downtime, lost revenue, and unhappy employees or customers of their own. Chuck costs more when you calculate for these risks.

You can explain these risks until you’re blue in the face, but a large portion of prospects and customers will still choose Chuck and Stan over you. That’s OK. Those aren’t the customers that you want so don’t waste your time. Simply leave them with an accurate prediction of their future. Explain the many ways that Chuck will let them down, and when he does, they’ll remember you.

 

Know yourself (and what makes you better)

Let’s do a quick test. Which of the following are part of your company’s value proposition?

If any of these are in your brand’s value proposition, you have a problem. There’s a lot wrong with this list, but most of all, they aren’t competitive or differentiating. It only took 10 minutes of Googling service contractor websites to find the same values listed on multiple websites. Honestly, all of these values are table stakes for the industry and should be implicitly expected. So what makes you different? Do any of these values sound familiar?

Each of these actually provides tangible value to the customer. More experience means that you are likely to solve problems faster and at a lower cost than your competitors. More coverage area and diversity of service offerings mean that your customers won’t have to manage as many vendors. These are a step in the right direction. How about these values?

These are rarely seen value propositions in our industry because they are difficult to offer without  technology that enables mobility and modern online customer engagement. The vast majority of service contractors are still running on paper, server-based software, or accounting systems that don’t offer functionality for technicians or customers. That means that customer data is limited, inaccessible, and unusable. In other words, the opposite of transparent, accountable, data-driven, and modern. The companies that can offer these values will win the most desirable, high-margin customers.

Beating Chuck and Stan really isn’t that hard. It comes down to a couple easy steps. First, differentiate the value that you offer and understand, without a doubt, that your higher rates are warranted because you will reduce the customer’s risk and aggravation by providing predictable outcomes at a predictable price. Second, if the customer still isn’t convinced, let them go. Predict their future and they’ll come back.

webinar-icon-goldWant to learn more? Watch the recording of our December 7th webinar, “Don’t Sell on Price, Offer a Premium Program” presented by ServiceTrade’s CEO and author of The Digital Wrap, Billy Marshall. Click here to watch the recording.

Beat the Technician Labor Crunch – Sell a Planned Maintenance Program

I saw statistics the other day that indicated the number of licensed electricians in NC over the age of 40 was 10X those that were younger than 40. Uh oh. If you thought the skilled labor shortage was already bad, it is going to get worse. So what can a service contractor do to avoid the pain from this scarcity? Migrate as much business as possible to a planned maintenance program.

Captain Chaos

Do you remember Captain Chaos?

When supply is tight, prices go up. When the prices go up, customers shop for alternatives and buy less of the expensive items. In economics, this is known as price elasticity of demand. In your business, it is known as a gross margin squeeze. For some trades, the alternative to the inevitable squeeze is to migrate as much work to planned maintenance cycles as possible to minimize expensive, reactive repair work. If you are going to pull off this trick over the next several years, you have to have a framework for selling customers on the plan and then executing the plan.

Get Your House in Order

The first order of business is actually being able to document and manage a plan in a scalable way. When you have systems that plan the scheduled work in a highly logical and visible way, you can maximize the utilization of your expensive technician workforce. You also need to be able to use those maintenance cycles to detect and demonstrate to the customer other potentially costly failures that should be handled in a planned way instead of waiting for an unplanned failure. Planned work is orderly and generally more satisfying for the technician and the customer than emergency repairs that generate chaos and uncertainty. It’s also funny how the chaos stacks up in one big pile that distracts the whole company. The random nature of reactive work makes it very difficult to deliver it without overtaxing resources.

Sell Examples Instead of Promises

The second order of business is having a sales cycle that promotes a premium, planned maintenance program to the customer. You should have in place demonstrations of the applications you use to deliver orderly and repeatable service. Share examples with the customer from their locations that you survey as part of your sales preparation. Show them how you will engage them online with accountable and visual record-keeping – online notifications, photos, video, and service links that demonstrate you are on top everything. For all the suggestions you find during planned service, show them how they can review and approve them online to maximize convenience and further lower costs and risk. When they see the examples in the sales cycle, it is easier to buy into that concrete example than an empty promise that “we’ll git er done, no excuses!”

Have a Dotted Line for them to Sign

Finally, have the order ready for them to sign. If you do not already have the following three items in your arsenal, you need to develop them:

Master Services Agreement – these are all of the legal terms and conditions of your partnership relating to term and termination, definitions, payment terms, warranty, indemnification, jurisdiction for disputes, etc. All the basics without the specifics.

Planned Maintenance Program – these are all of the services for each piece of equipment that they should expect during the term, complete with details of service intervals, parts delivered in service, expected durations, and related fees. If something later demonstrates it is far out of tolerance from these boundaries, both parties have a foundation for negotiating change.

Service Level Agreement – this will document the response to be expected for various types of non-planned repair scenarios, including response times, definitions of criticality, fee structures, and level of effort to be applied.

When you can quickly generate the unique Planned Maintenance Program from the systems you actually use to deliver the work and the Master Services Agreement and Service Level Agreement are standard boilerplate, you have earned the right to ask the customer to buy into your premium plan. Ask for them to pay upfront for the planned services to save both of you the time and hassle associated with all of the aggravation of invoicing. When they also begin feeling the pain of the skilled labor shortage due to vendors that are not performing, you might be surprised how much you mop up the market with your strategic and thoughtfully planned maintenance program.

Stop Selling Parts and Labor! Sell the Program!

In the first chapter of my book, The Digital Wrap, I quoted Marc Andreessen:

“Software is eating the world.”

It is not exactly a quote, but rather a reference to the editorial that Marc wrote for the Wall Street Journal back in 2011.  Marc is like the godfather of the Internet as he was the founder and CTO of the first browser company, Netscape.  The one sentence summary of his editorial is that cheap computing power, plus everywhere networking, and mobile devices means that every industry is at risk of being disrupted by an Internet application.  Witness what Uber did to the taxi companies who thought they had a safe, local monopoly.  If software is going to eat the world, then every company needs to learn how to sell the program to avoid being eaten.

Have you noticed that almost all of General Electric’s advertising these days promotes the idea that GE is becoming a software company?  Check out one of the many humorous commercials they are presenting to the world to both mock their stodgy history and promote their sexy future.

GE claims to be writing an “Industrial Internet operating system” called Predix (their words, not mine) that will collect tons of data from customer equipment to help GE provide better service and better outcomes for the customer.  GE is moving its headquarters to Boston to further promote the transformation from stodgy manufacturing to sexy software.  I give them a 50/50 shot at actually being successful with the strategy because it is very hard to change culture and strategy and behavior at such a large and established company.  However, I give them an A++ for understanding that they need to transition from selling metal to “selling the program.”  GE has a huge and profitable industrial business, and yet they feel the need to transition.  Do you think the manufacturers you represent are going to be following GE?  Instrumenting their equipment to own a longer and more profitable relationship with the customer?  Selling maintenance and repair services based upon the data they collect? How about you?

Service contractors likewise need to transition from selling parts and labor to selling the program. Parts and labor are easy for the customer to price shop, and so every discussion with the customer is about price and not about better service and better outcomes.  So what is the program that changes the discussion?

OK, great.  So how do you do this little trick?

Be Data-Driven

First, you need to be able to easily collect and share data with the customer.  This does not mean lots of ad hoc and unstructured emails and it certainly does not mean more phone calls. Software is eating the world, not email and dial tones.  Do you have an existing application that makes it easy for you to survey the customer’s equipment and note condition and pre-existing problems as part of your sales cycle?  During your sales presentation, do you present an online and interactive review of the customer’s situation along with your service commitments and repair recommendations and quotes? Is it easy to share these location records with the customer online?  Is it easy for the customer to browse history and recommendations online? With a single click to authorize you to execute the next upgrade or repair?  Are you using the information and data you collect on equipment to offer advice to the customer on which manufacturer to buy?  Are you offering a competitive warranty in lieu of the manufacturer’s warranty as part of buying into your program?  Do you have a plan for regularly replacing inexpensive parts that can lead to major and expensive level system failures?  Can you easily search for equipment that is exhibiting failure modes to recommend repairs or replacements before failure occurs?

Use the Program as a Sales Tool

A sales presentation with a customer goes so much better when the conversation is grounded in a live review of customer equipment, relevant data about the state of that equipment, and the programmatic options you offer to minimize hassle and maximize return on expensive equipment investments.  Humans are visual.  They learn from images and stories.  When you show the customer their situation, and when they can feel comfortable that they will always be able to review your efforts online via interactive records with photos, audio, and video, they can “buy in” to your program.  Otherwise, the sales conversation will quickly devolve into a negotiation on labor rates and parts markup.  Which conversation do you want to have?

Use the Right Application for Customer Service

This does not mean that you need to hire Owen from the GE commercial.  It does mean, however, that you need to find a way to be comfortable researching and buying applications for customer service that look nothing like the historical accounting applications that you may have purchased for your back office operations.  The currency of great customer service is information and data, and this type customer service data looks nothing like your accounting data.  Sales and customer service data related to your front office operations will not fit neatly into your back office systems.  There is an entire chapter in The Digital Wrap dedicated to the application review and purchasing process so you don’t have to guess at how to get it right.

If you want to build a premium service brand in a connected world, you need to prepare yourself to sell the program.  Otherwise, software will eat your world, and some other brand (manufacturer? third-party aggregator? Internet titan?) will own your customer and you will become the parts depot and the labor bureau that helps them earn a premium profit.

 

The Digital WrapChapter 9 of the Digital Wrap book is about the application review and purchasing process Billy mentioned. You can read chapter 9 for free at digitalwrapbook.com.

6 Key Metrics That Boost Repair Revenue

Service contractors that work on complex equipment and systems all understand the importance and value of repair revenue for the overall success and profitability of their business. Most companies also recognize that the opportunity for repair work is often found while providing recurring services such as preventative maintenance work or system inspections. Unfortunately, most companies do not have formal workflows or systems in place to effectively convert deficiencies and problems reported in the field during routine visits to quotes and, ultimately, repair work. Those that do often have patchwork and minimal processes with few controls in place. Furthermore, without these systems in place, companies are unable to measure the key metrics necessary for a successful repair program. Obviously, a system is necessary to generate metrics, however, a great system can’t be developed without understanding that the ability to measure key metrics is a fundamental requirement. As the quote goes:

 

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Pressure-Gauge

 

Before setting off to build or fix your company’s internal processes, here are the 6 key metrics that are critical to a successful repair program:

 

1. Ratio of recurring service revenue to repair revenue

This ratio is generally easy to calculate and is the best overall indicator of how effective a repair program is. Simply total your company’s recurring service revenue from preventative/planned maintenance jobs, inspections, cleanings, etc and compare it to the total revenue over the same period of time for repair work. Obviously, your company should strive to constantly improve this number, but strong industry benchmarks include:

For example, a Fire protection company performing $5M in inspections should expect to generate an additional $5M in repair work from deficiencies found on those inspections.

The remaining metrics will all help drive this core ratio.

 

2. Percentage of recurring service jobs that result in new quotes

This metric takes into account a few steps in the process:

Obviously, technicians won’t discover quotable opportunities during every recurring service and this percentage will vary significantly by industry, however, all opportunities of sufficient value should result in a quote. the second and third metric above should be very close to 100% once a reasonable process and/or system is put in place. I only mention them here because many companies I’ve observed fall short on these activities due to an absence of any system whatsoever.

Ultimately, this leaves the overall percentage in the hands of your technicians and the easier it is for them to report these opportunities to the office, the higher the percentage will be. Your techs are far less likely to handwrite complex descriptions than simply snap pictures, record videos, and provide voice recordings to the office summarizing their findings. Mobile technology is a tremendous aid when working to improve this metric.

 

3. Average quote turnaround time

This average will vary by industry and repair complexity, but the simple takeaway here is that turning quotes around fast yields significant results for your overall quote approval rate and it should be possible for commercial service contractors to turn the vast majority of their quotes around in 24-48 hours. More transactional repair quotes that fit a templatized format should be sent to the customer no later than the day after the opportunity is discovered. Quotes that require substantial part cost lookups should be turned around within 48 hours depending on the availability of the necessary cost information.

 

4. Quote approval rate

This is a simple metric determined by dividing the sum of approved quotes sent to the customer in a certain period of time by the total number of quotes sent during that same period of time. For example, if 40 of the 50 quotes sent in June were approved, the approval rate would be 80%.

Note that this will be a lagging metric as quote approval can take place well after a quote is sent to the customer. Therefore, this statistic will not be accurate for a given period of time until all quotes are responded to or expired. Alternatively, if the quotes you send to customers tend to age for long periods of time, you can calculate an estimated approval rate by dividing the total number of quotes approved in a given period of time by the number of quotes sent in that same period of time. For example, 40 quotes were approved in June, and 60 quotes were sent in June, yielding a 67% approval rate. As long as you account for fluctuations in the number of quotes sent from month to month, this can be an effective, up-to-date measurement.

Many factors impact quote approval rate, but the top 3 factors that we’ve found to positively impact it are:

 

5. Quote gross profit per administrative hour

One of the metrics that will help your company make good decisions about how much admin time should be dedicated to creating a given quote is the gross profit of all approved and unapproved quotes generated per hour of administrative time it took to create those quotes. Alternatively, this can also be calculated by totaling the gross profit of repair work and dividing by the quote approval rate. Ultimately, this will help you determine a gross profit goal per hour, day, week, and month for your office staff. This goal will help your team quickly determine how long it should take to create quotes of all sizes with any margin.

For example, if the goal for a team member dedicated to creating quotes is $32K of gross profit for all quotes generated in a month, they should aim for about $1.6k of gross profit quoted per day and $200/hr. A small quote with a gross profit of $200 shouldn’t take more than an hour to generate. A larger quote with a gross profit of $2k shouldn’t take longer than 10hrs to create.

 

6. Quote gross profit per technician labor hour

Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges in your business is hiring good technicians. This causes high labor costs with a shrinking margin due to unchanging customer expectations of how much they should pay for skilled labor. Fortunately, repair work often represents a unique opportunity to generate revenue independent of labor costs thanks to the margin on the parts sold. However, high margin alone is not necessarily a great indicator of whether or not a job was worthwhile. A better measure of whether a job is good for the company is gross profit per labor hour. For example, let’s compare the following scenarios:

A simple gross profit comparison suggests that job A is better for the company, however, this simple calculation ignores the fact that job B had a low labor requirement. Job A calculates to $80 of gross profit per labor hour, while job B calculates to $300 of gross profit per labor hour. With your available labor force, would you rather perform one of job A or 6 of job B?

 

If you are unable to track these metrics now, consider new processes and systems that will enable you to do so. Simply tracking these numbers will not improve anything for your company, however, it is the first step in understanding how to make improvements. In order to leave you with something to think about, I’ll close with a quote that is a little more extreme than the one I used in the introduction:

“If you can’t measure, it doesn’t exist”

Reminder: The free Self Starter ServiceTrade account provides you with unlimited online quoting. Learn more here.

Photo Cliches Drive Sales and Retention for Service Contractors

We’ve all heard, and likely loathe, the plethora of bad cliches about pictures. As overused and seemingly meaningless as these cliches are, they hold a literal wealth of knowledge for field service contractors. From new sales to retention, these sayings will drive growth in your field service company:

The big picture.

Einstein

Why should service contractors consider photos important for day-to-day operations? Online businesses have proven the importance of imagery for customer engagement and sales. Even though you may not be engaging customers online at the moment, technology, like ServiceTrade, makes it easy to move your service activities online with rich job summaries and quotes.  With this in mind, the stats below represent a huge opportunity for every field service companies:

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Dali

Imagine writing a description of the picture above in the space provided on the paperwork you provide your customers after every job. Did you have enough room to describe, in detail, the flying cats, splashing water, and mustachioed artist in a way that anyone could understand? Is your handwriting even legible? Would anyone reading your summary even believe you?

Every year, your company is wasting hundreds, or even thousands, of hours attempting to summarize technical details in illegible handwriting that the customer is unlikely to understand, value, or trust. Again and again, ServiceTrade users have proven that providing pictures to customers for every job, not only speak volumes about the quality of their work and the value they provide, but also builds trust with their customers because “seeing is believing”.

Take a picture. It will last longer.

Legendary_kiss_V–J_day_in_Times_Square_Alfred_Eisenstaedt

Left with the wrinkly, coffee-stained paperwork as the only remnant of the work you did, are you memorable to your customers? Does your company stand out as one your customers enjoy working with, or are you replaceable?

The picture above is a time capsule for the ages.  Without referencing Wikipedia, you probably knew this was taken on V-J day, the final day of WWII.  This image will forever represent the end of the war for America and encapsulate a national memory. Similarly, you can turn every service for a customer into a memorable experience. Beyond the “wow” factor you can elicit by exceeding their expectations for information, months from now, when they have questions about what you did for them, pictures will remind them how valuable your services were.

Additionally, pictures can save technicians time by converting their individual memories about a job into tribal knowledge shared in the office.  How often does someone in your office end a conversation with a tech using the phrase “just go back” due to lack of information collected on an initial visit?  Along with audio notes and videos, pictures are one of the primary forms of rich media that will ensure that everyone in the office knows what the next steps are for every job without relying on the technician’s fading memory.  Instead of wasting time calling technicians and, even worse, sending them back to collect forgotten information, have them catalogue their experience in a way that helps everyone understand not only what was done, but also what is left to be completed.

The whole picture.

photo-sequence

As seen in the series above, one or two pictures cannot tell the whole story.  Similarly, your company should provide customers with as many pictures as necessary to explain everything they need to make an informed buying decision; whether that is to make a new purchase or retain you as the long-term vendor of choice. There is no hard and fast rule about how many pictures you should provide, however, more is better in the vast majority of situations.

Get the picture?

Take a lesson from retailers. Moving online and engaging your customers with rich content (photos), will lead to favorable outcomes including increases in sales and retention via the trust you build with photographic evidence of your value.

Check Out:
The Digital Wrap

Statistics From:
Consumer Psychology and The E commerce Checkout – Stats Behind The Clicks
6 Powerful Reasons Why you Should include Images in your Marketing

Modern Tools for Service Contractors, Part 3: Outbound Sales and Marketing

Both residential and commercial service contractors rely heavily on new sales for growth. Where residential contractors rely on converting inbound leads, commercial contractors lean on a mix of inbound and outbound tactics. This post lays out a handful of sales tools that are not only easy to use, but also extremely powerful across the entire lifecycle of new sales from prospecting to closing. Residential contractors will likely find more value in the last two sections, while commercial contractors will benefit from the entire suite of tooling listed below.

sales is like fishing. right?

Google – Discover Great Prospects

Let’s start at the beginning of the sales cycle: Prospecting.  Who are you trying to sell your services to?  Google makes it extremely easy to find the best prospects if you know how to take advantage of its powerful search features.  For example, if you are a commercial HVAC company trying to find the best restaurants and restaurant groups to sell to, here are a few different search techniques you could employ:

LinkedIn – Find Contact Information

Now that you’ve targeted the companies you would like to pursue, it’s time to find the correct contact and their information. Start by using LinkedIn’s advanced search to search by title, company name, location, and any relevant keywords.  Much like advanced Google searches, you can use quotation marks for exact string matches. You can also use “AND,” “OR,” “()” operators.  For example, you could search “president OR CEO OR owner” in the title field or “(facility OR general) AND manager” in the title field to find the facility manager or GM.  Once you find the profile for the person you need to contact, use a Google Chrome extension such as Email Hunter or FindThatLead to unearth their email address.

Note: LinkedIn can also be used to find prospective companies by using relevant searches.  For example, searching for “Restaurant Group” in the keywords field, “CEO OR president OR owner” in the title field, and limiting to relevant locations returns very useful results.  For more information on using LinkedIn in the prospecting process, check out our blog post Lead Prospecting Guide for Tech-Savvy Contractors.

Pipedrive/PipelineDeals – Manage Sales and Prospects

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms help organize and manage your sales pipeline. An entry-level application such as Pipedrive or PipelineDeals is perfect for companies new to CRM, while platforms like SalesForce and Infusionsoft will be a better fit for larger, enterprise sales organizations.  These platforms house all sales related contact information and tasks to ensure that nobody drops the ball in the sales process.  Email integrations makes it easy to log communications so that no one has to dig through emails to understand the last or next steps in a deal.  When properly managed, these applications help any sales rep handle more prospects, deals, and opportunities.

MailChimp – Build Value with Customers

MailChimp is a great entry-level email marketing platform. Setting up your first email marketing campaign is a breeze with their simple interface that takes you from contact list to beautiful email in no time.  Because of its widespread use, MailChimp integrates with many other applications including WordPress to collect contact information on your website and CRM (like those mentioned above) so that your company can easily broadcast marketing messages to prospects or customers.

Email marketing provides service contractors with an incredible opportunity to build tremendous value with both their prospects and customers. Simple, targeted emails can endear you and build trust and credibility. This is especially true when you:

Take a close look at your sales organization and ask yourself if you have the visibility and productivity you need to reach your personal and company goals.  If sales is an integral part of your growth plan, these tools will not only make your life easier, but also accelerate your business development.  Every single tool listed above is either free, or extremely cost effective.  Your only commitment is the time it takes to learn a new tool which I guarantee will be far outweighed by overall sales performance improvements.

Reread:

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0