Review the Front End of Your Business

by Autumn McGarr

Successful sales, marketing and advertising initiatives for your kitchen and bath firm are achieved with an effective interaction between the consumer, customer service and sales. This intersection ultimately reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the front end of the business.

By taking the time to review your efforts, with a focus on improving your next campaign, you can further refine your targeted audience. Internally, revisiting the methodology of your staff will identify areas to increase your lead conversion and ultimately improve your sales.

If you were successful, your phones are ringing, your staff is busy and you may be speculating if the uptick in business is going to continue. In a previous column I wrote about different results in sales increases due to the individual business models. How to navigate an increase in sales that is lasting is certainly a topic slated for a future column.

This article focuses on the key points to review on the front end of the sales cycle by analyzing the prospects targeted, and the lead follow-up.

Defining Your Prospects

Does your sales and marketing target the ideal geographic area, income level and age of your desired kitchen and bath client?

If you are an established business, your prospects can readily be defined by looking at your current customers. Every business ultimately has customers that are a good fit, where the transactions and interactions are seamless and successful. Utilize their demographic as your target.

If your kitchen and bath firm is relatively new and your ideal client is somewhat unclear to you, speak to colleagues that have a similar business model. Networking with successful business owners provides a virtual wealth of experienced-based insight. A few may be unwilling to share their knowledge, fearing you can become competition; if this happens, just move along and ask someone else. The internet hosts a plethora of information and an alternate way to reach out digitally to an experienced community, as do industry associations and peer groups. Seek advice for prospects from experienced professionals on LinkedIn forums and Facebook groups, as well as industry-specific networking groups.

Defining prospects can also be established simply by the cost of the product or service you provide. For example, if you sell stock cabinetry with an average sale of $10,000 in Seattle, WA, your primary audience is likely to be younger millennials who work locally. Conversely, if you wish to sell $100,000 to $200,000 kitchens in Bergen County, NJ, your audience is likely to be Gen X individuals who are working in New York or stay-at-home mothers. Joining your local chamber of commerce and NKBA chapter and attending KBIS are also vehicles to meet like-minded individuals.

Cultivating Your Leads

Are your leads being managed to the highest level of integrity possible?

As a business owner, you are pulled in many directions, and analyzing leads may be something you delegate to a subordinate. I recommend you don’t do that, however. The leads generated are where the rubber hits the road in the sales part of your organization, and how they are handled is paramount. The proper handling of leads needs to be directed and established by the uppermost management. Make time to do a review at least once a year.

A quick response time to leads is incredibly important in today’s digital age. The success of converting a lead to a sale diminishes exponentially the longer it takes you to respond. Put a policy in place that establishes a response time that works for your business and automatically notifies the customer of when they can expect a return communication. Take the time to ensure your website requests, emails and phone calls are handled accordingly.

Review the expectations with your staff and establish accountability by requiring that they report the outcomes to you. Ideally, the follow-up communication will include answers as to how they found your company in the first place, asking for the order and, if a sale is not generated, an explanation.

Improve Your Lead Handling

I’ve had experiences with clients who have improved their conversions of leads to sales in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Consider emailing digital catalogs instead of mailing hard copies of the catalog. This not only increases the speed of response, it also saves money on the cost of the catalog and the postage to mail it. Keep in mind all cost savings fall to the bottom line as profit. A net dollar saved is more valuable than a dollar in gross sales, as sales are ultimately diluted by expenses before becoming profit.
  • Remove employees unwilling to change the legacy methods of response that no longer work. Switch the lead follow-up to an employee who embraces accountability, speed and efficiency. I have experienced a client with staff so slow to follow up, the firm’s leads all had their projects well underway with a competitor prior to the second follow-up.
  • Some companies are not staffed to follow up on a deluge of leads. If this is the case at your firm, develop a system of concentrated follow-up to the most attractive projects or orders. Refer to the 80/20 rule and select the top 20% of the incoming leads and focus your efforts on them.
  • Increase and expand the information on your website to answer the most commonly asked questions in the initial correspondence. This reduces the workload of your employees and further defines your company to the prospective customer. Adding a price range, geographical information and breadth of work will go a long way toward aligning your company with the correct end user.

By refining your focus on this portion of the front end of your business, you will improve your conversions, and focus your staff efficiently and effectively. Your sales will ultimately improve and that leads into my next article on managing the increase in sales. ▪

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