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
Client-interactive quotes can be created using responsive quote design. With a responsive quote design, the quote is essentially a web page. The client clicks on a link in an email and is taken to a web page with the quote. As a web page, we can add more information to the view than just the contents of the quote. And, the client can interact with this information i.e. click on links, watch videos, download files etc.
Client-interactive Quotes and Sales
Your quote “page” can also serve as a summary of your sales pitch. Your client will know about your service or products before you send a quote – perhaps from a call, or advertising or your website etc. Client-interactive quotes provide a second layer of marketing where the client can see the costs and benefits alongside one another. Display videos showing how things work, add in testimonials, give more details on the specifications, highlight the main benefits etc.
For example, if your quote is quite technical, you may want to link to explanations or images of the items. You could link to a video showing how to use the product. Or, perhaps have a list of top 10 benefits of your service or products.
Client-interactive Quotes and Advertising
With caution, one can also use the space to include some advertising of other complimentary products or services. It is also an opportunity for upsells i.e. enticing clients to purchase upgrades, more expensive items, add-ons in order to increase sales value. We say “with caution” as you do not want to overwhelm the prospective client by giving them too many options and focus on items that are not directly related to the transaction at hand.
As an example, a photographer could advertising having the client’s photographs printed on canvas. Healthcare professionals could include details on medicines or vitamins for their client’s problems. You are sending some flowers – would you like to include some chocolates with that?
Anytime a viewer clicks on something on a web page, this can recorded. As such, you can monitor a client’s actions on your quote page. What information are they interested in? Are people investigating the up-sell options? Client behaviour can tell you a great deal and direct you with respect to what sells the product and what up-sells are popular and should be pushed more actively. You can use the results to improve the content of your quotes.
Responsive quotes provide you with an additional chance to market the products you are selling (and possibly up-sells). Connect with your client again before they make their decision.
Firstly, what are client-interactive invoices? Once we are using responsive invoices
, the next step in harnessing their power is to add additional information to the invoice. Remember that, with a responsive format
, the invoice opens on a web page. This can be customized as any normal web page. Customized, not only in terms of format, but also in terms of content. The page can start with the invoice and then, below this (or even within the invoice) one can add relevant information – images, text, links to articles or videos etc. These provide “post-purchase” benefit to the client. You can create a “conversation” with the client through the links and details.
Client-interactive Invoices and Additional Information
Your invoice “page” is the ideal place to add in any instructions or information on the services you have rendered or the products that the client has bought. For example, as a doctor, you may want to include some links to information (articles, videos etc.) about the condition that the patient is dealing with or a summary of the advice that you have given the patient. The client’s invoice becomes their resource too. If you are a lawyer and providing legal services, provide links to documents or videos relevant to the client’s case e.g. process details or country laws or a “what’s next” section.
Client-interactive Invoices and Advertising
A responsive invoice is also a place to advertise additional services / products that the client may find relevant – possibly based on their requirements thus far. Make these more attractive with discounts and preferential treatment for previous clients. A pre-school could include details on their after-care services or the extramural programmes that they are involved with. An insurance company could showcase their list of offerings. It is there, “in the invoice”. No extra documents or emails need to be opened and read. You are there, in their pocket.
Actions that the user takes on a website page can be tracked. You can monitor what other elements of your invoice “resource” are clicked on and viewed or downloaded. This information is powerful. Was the client interested in some of your other services or products that you advertised? What next steps can you take to market those to your client?
The Bottom Line
So, we can see that responsive invoices take invoicing beyond just a means of making payment. They allow for additional connection with your client. Cementing the relationship that has been established, and taking it forward to the next level.
In most cases, a business will send quotes and invoices as pdf-files attached to an email or perhaps a copy is handed directly to the client – in some cases it could even be handwritten. I think we would all recognize the inconveniences of handwritten invoices: time taken to write, any data required in your electronic systems needs manual input, the administration requirements of a paper-based system etc. Electronic invoices are definitely easier to manage.
But, what is the value of having responsive quotes and invoices? In other words, quotes and invoices that, when opened, are adjusted to fit the size of the screen on which they are being viewed. How does this responsive technology
surpass the usual pdf when it comes to invoicing?
Responsive Quotes and Invoices Create True Immediacy
One of the aims of a business is to “be in the client’s pocket”. And that is achieved fabulously by means of Smartphones. Smartphones are fast becoming the main devices used for interacting with the web. That is why responsive web design
is currently such an important topic: your website needs to look good and be easy to use on any type of device – from a small phone screen to a large desk-top monitor.
Using our PocketSME software
it is easy for you to send a quote as soon as you have assessed the work required or an invoice as soon as the services have been rendered or goods handed over. Send it from your phone, laptop, IPad etc. And the client receives it immediately.
Scenario 1: You send an email with a pdf invoice attachment. The client opens the email and then perhaps the pdf. But, the pdf is not responsive (it cannot be made responsive). A pdf document is not resized so that it is user-friendly on any device.
If the client wants to view the invoice properly, he or she must scroll up and down, left and right, resizing etc. It takes time, it’s irritating, let’s do it later when I’m in front of a computer. The same applies for a quote sent in pdf format.
Scenario 2: The client receives an email from you which contains a link to the invoice. When he or she clicks on the link it opens a web page – a responsive web page that is – containing their invoice. The benefits? It is easy to read and follow, in other words, it is user-friendly. Again, the same applies to quotes.
When a quote or invoice is user-friendly, you are overcoming barriers to taking action i.e. accepting the quote or paying the invoice.
This immediacy of responsive invoices increases the speed with which payment is made. People are more likely to make payment immediately if the invoice is received (and viewed) as soon as the services have been carried out.
In-quote and In-invoice Functionality
If you are “sending” your clients to a web page you can provide them direct payment options such as immediate online credit card payment, or EFT options. They can settle their account or pay their deposit at the click of a button. Again, reducing obstacles increases positive outcome i.e. fast payment.
In the case of a quote, you could also have “accept” and “decline” buttons for easy and quick response-time.
We are creating client-interactive quotes
as well as engaging invoices
Opening an email can be tracked. So, you can know if a client has opened your quote or invoice email, but you can’t track whether they have actually opened any attached documents. When you send an email with a link to the quote or invoice, you can track each time the link is clicked by the client i.e. each time the quote or invoice is viewed by the client. This ability to track user behaviour and actions is exceptionally powerful. You can follow-up on invoices that have not been viewed within, say 24 hours, and track for faster payments. Also, you can follow-up on unread quotes (or even viewed quotes) in order to keep the client interested in using you as the service provider.
the value of responsive quotes and invoices is clear: propel your business process with user-friendly interfaces.
Oh, and the client wants a pdf? Well, that can be downloaded if they choose.
Read more about the benefits of client-interactive invoicing
that you can achieve with responsive design.