Get into a rythm
Seeing too many clients, forgetting to send your invoices? Do you still have to add last minute changes to unsent invocies? Are you too busy doing too many things?
How to improve your invoice rythm
Step 1 – Schedule a regular time every day for invoice work. We found in our services business that the best time is first thing in the morning.
When we started our services company, as with all start-ups, we were doing everything. We were the operations management, finance department, employees, administration department, marketing etc. We had to focus on establishing the business, doing the work and, of course, getting the clients. Initially you do what you can, fight the fires, choose your battles wisely and get as much money in as possible. But, at this stage of a business, there tend to be large leaks when it comes to client acquisition – one of which is lead capture.
Letting our leads go down the drain….
Initially the best we could do was answer inquiries with a “yes we can help” or “no, unfortunately not”. At this stage, as a completely new company, we paid directly for each potential client that contacted us – be it via Google Adwords, flyers, community advertising etc. We were not yet benefiting from referrals or much in the way of repeat business.
As the number of inquiries increased, we began to feel lost in the large number of calls that seemed to go nowhere. At the end of the day, besides having very targeted advertising, a large proportion of our leads were not suitable. And, believe me, when you are new and struggling, you see the “cost” of each lead that you have to turn away or lose.
The other problem we faced was that we had a number of calls where the lead wanted an estimate of the cost and then they were “gone”, so to speak.
So, one leak in our expenses we had to address, was the cost of these “worthless” or “unsuitable” leads.
What do we mean by lead capture?
The first step was to capture their information. We were, after all paying for it! So, we created the lead functionality in our PocketSME software
. In this system, you capture the details for all leads
i.e. every single person that contacts your company by any channel – phone, email, passing in the street (car signage can do wonders!)- for services of any sort.
Slice and dice your leads….
With the PocketSME lead capture system, you can create custom labels for each lead in order to categorize them according to their requirements, for example, some we used were:
- Requires services outside of the area in which we operate
- Requires services that we don’t provide
- Requires services outside of our operating hours
- And so on….
We also recorded the lead source, for example, Google Adwords, Facebook etc.
With this basic information it is easy to come to some conclusions about your business path, refine your marketing and get more clients.
Examples of the benefits we reaped:
Extending our business…
As example of our use of this information we looked at just how many leads we got wanting after-hours assistance. At that early stage in the business, we decided the need (in terms of the leads we were attracting at the time) was not enough to justify that we establish an after-hours service.
Checking our advertising success…
We could also now monitor the number of leads from our Google Adwords clicks. This is helpful for costing your campaign. Over time, you can also see changes in your advertising channels’ success rate. For us, we went through a patch where our Google Adwords advertising click-to-contact rate dropped drastically. In other words, suddenly we were getting the same number of clicks on our Google Adwords, but a much reduced number of calls from that advertising channel. This information enabled us to take action and prevent excessive expenses from our Adwords campaign.
Profiting from unsuitable leads….
Increase conversion rates…
Next what we introduced were “estimates” in our PocketSME software. This was to reduce the number of leads we simply “lost” because we gave them a verbal quote and that was it. Our process changed from giving verbal quotes to only providing estimate documents. This also enabled us to make use of estimate or quote marketing
. These leads could then be followed up on and resulted in more conversions.
Increased our marketing base…
Finally, with lead capture we were creating an ever-increasing email list – key for email marketing. Even if all of the leads are currently not your ideal customer, one day they could be. In many cases you can still offer them services of some kind, if not immediately, then going forward. This is functionality that we built into the PocketSME software so that you can maximise your lead conversion.
For example, we might have someone requesting the installation of a pedestrian gate – a service we didn’t offer. We could still at some stage inform the lead about the importance of garage door maintenance and offer a service. Chances are they have a garage door and chances are they haven’t had it looked at in a while plus, we also found, that, in many cases people didn’t know that they should have their garage door serviced!
Adding the lead capture module of the PocketSME software to our system took our business to a whole new level, increasing turnover and improving our advertising efforts.
When we have started businesses, we have found that you are initially doing so much – being a “jack-of-all trades” – that it is only the people who commit to your services or buy your products that appear on your radar screen. However, this should not be the case and should change as soon as possible. You need to capture contact details of every business lead. With PocketSME software
it is easy to implement.
Customer versus Business Lead
What one needs to do is separate business leads from customers. This separation means less confusion over who you are serving or have served and who is a contact (or lead). The process is that EVERY person that contacts your business (be it via email, phone, Face Book or any other means) is captured as a lead. All inquiries are logged. Whether you can assist them or not. For example, perhaps you are in the wedding industry doing catering, you may get an inquiry about flowers, but that is not a service you offer. Capture the lead. This applies to all industries
If the inquiry turns into formal quoting or actual work or sales, the contact becomes a customer, or potential customer.
So, why have all of this extra data? Well, company data is the basis of business intelligence and, in this case, the data can be used to have a direct positive impact on revenue.
What lead details do you collect?
The minimum amount of information that you want to capture for any business lead is their name, phone number and/or email and their requirements. PocketSME Invoice
also has a field for you to capture the lead source – another very useful piece of information. Remember that in some form or other you have paid money for this lead – perhaps from direct advertising, SEO, Facebook promotion etc.
Using the data you gather
The information that you record can help you with:
- Analyzing the success of your marketing channels
- Determining marketing channel and customer fit.
- Identifying new business opportunities
- Identifying collaborative opportunities
- Increase your marketing pool
- Converting leads
Having a lead capturing system is an effective way of keeping and finding direction; increasing revenue and market reach