Don’t blow the lay ups


November 2, 2023

Bob Williamson

Bob Williamson

I have spent plenty of time and money on how to generate more leads and improve our customer acquisition process. This includes routinely changing search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) firms, as the new guys always tell me how bad we are doing with our existing vendors. I also hear salespeople complain that they lack the same activity as we did in previous years, when phone calls and leads were plentiful. When I ask for justification on how my advertising spend is doing, my SEO/PPC vendor shows me a 45-slide PowerPoint presentation on the labyrinth called Google Metrics that justifies how well they are doing with increased views and emphasize how it takes time (and money) to gain traction. I quietly long for the days of printed phone directories.

One day after a seemingly endless metrics presentation, I got a call from a close friend asking about when my staff would get back to them about a call they made last week to handle ants at their home. They were using a competitor but wanted to switch to my company. When I researched what happened to this lead with my (lead-deprived) sales staff , I got another labyrinth of answers. Naturally, after my involvement, my friend’s ants are immediately addressed. My forensic research to find what broke down turned up nothing other than “This only ever happens to your friends” as the answer.

Despite the fact that I now have my own personal log-in to Google Metrics (with high-level access), I realize that I need to be spending more time and effort on the fundamentals of how we handle the leads that we get every day. These leads are labeled under categories like “referral,” “former customer,” “saw truck,” and the infamous “FOB” (friend of Bob).

Your process to handle a “routine” sales lead at your business needs to be immediate, easy for all involved, and simply trackable. I call this not “blowing the layups.” (To be clear, layup is a basketball term for a wide-open shot next to the basket — a simple “no-brainer.”)  The first step is to define what happens to every lead from inception. This includes phone calls, emails, tech leads, conversations after church, etc.

  • My definition of a lead is: A rumor that a buyer might be interested. Keep it broad and simple — we work hard to get leads.
  • My rule of thumb is that all leads are responded to by an employee within 15 minutes of inception. While Sundays and late-night leads are challenging, they are also pretty rare and equally impressive when responded to.
  • Trackability is being able to see every lead from inception to resolution. I believe every lead should be rewarded and recognized regardless of the outcome.

Here’s a quick real-life example.

I am playing in my neighborhood cornhole league while enjoying a couple daytime, non-hazy IPAs. My neighbor George asks me whether our company handles mice. He is having an issue in his basement and his wife is losing patience with the traps he is using.

I step away from intense cornhole play and enter the lead in an app on my smartphone, inputting George’s cell number. My sales staff calls George within 10 minutes and schedules our tech for the next day to address his issues. George signs up for a routine program and his wife is happy. The effort needed by George is minimal.

Layups need to be that easy. Before you spend another dollar on advertising, you need to be sure your lead process works effectively and reliably.


About the Author

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Williamson is pest & lawn director for Cetane Associates. He serves on the Pennsylvania Pesticide Advisory Board, is former president of the Lawn Care Association of Pennsylvania and former president of Warrington PA Rotary Club. For over 30 years, Williamson worked with Moyer, a large Mid-Atlantic residential service provider. Williamson has managed services including heating oil, propane, HVAC, plumbing, home security, swimming pool, lawn and tree care, and pest control.

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