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.
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:
- Review and Price – The best prospective restaurants are likely to both serve high-priced meals and have good online reviews. Use the review and price filters to find these restaurants as I did for this search in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Site Search – The “site:” search feature can be used to search public directories such as www.manta.com. For example, you can search Manta for restaurant groups in Atlanta via Google with a search query that looks like this site:manta.com restaurant group Atlanta.
- Advanced Search Operators – Further narrow down your search results by using other advanced Google search operators such as quotations for exact string matches and “-” to exclude certain terms. For example, you can search for the exact term “Restaurant Group” in Atlanta and exclude consulting companies with this search “Restaurant Group” Atlanta -consult. Find a full list of Google search operators here.
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:
- Predict the Future – If you predict the future of their service needs accurately, your customers will be blown away. For example, an email campaign to customers warning them about possible equipment failures they could expect with changing weather will let the customer/prospect know that you are looking out for them.
- Provide Helpful Tips – Tips that will help your customer save money in the short run will result in more loyalty and higher lifetime value for each long-term customer.
- Offer Seasonal Discounts – This strategy will both fill the slow months with off-season work and build strong relationships with your customer base.
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.