“This should be interesting.”
That’s what I said recently when I found myself on the opposite side of sales. I had a problem with one of my computers and was hoping to find a quality professional who could offer me a repair–rather than a replacement.
I knew what I wanted. I was willing to pay to have it done right. I had become a “qualified lead” just like the couples I look to book for my wedding DJ business. It was an interesting experience, to say the least . . .
At 10 a.m. on a Friday morning, I called and / or emailed 8 local vendors using a keyword search on Google Places. My goal was to bring my computer somewhere nearby for a timely repair, not mail it off and wait weeks for it to be fixed.
6 of the 8 vendors did not pick up the phone. I left messages and sent emails.
Two vendors did answer their phone.
One said he wouldn’t be able to schedule an appointment until Monday. His tone also seemed to indicate that this wasn’t exactly the type of job he wanted–maybe it was too small or not worth his time? I kept him as my back-up option.
The other one said that I could bring it by today. He also expressed that while it was a small job, he would be glad to do it for me, and even gave me a rough price quote.
I really wanted a working computer over the weekend. Guess who got the job?
The service turned out to be very good and the computer was completely repaired that day.
What about those other 6 vendors? By the end of business Monday, 4 more had emailed or called me back, and some responses were certainly better than others. Two of the 8 vendors never even returned my inquiry! Were they not interested in my job? Were they no longer in business? Who knows.
What did I learn?
Response time matters. Once a lead has connected with a vendor’s approach to advertising and sales, subsequent vendor contacts need to go above and beyond to win the customer over. We all get busy with our day to day lives, but if you’re running your own business, you really need to ask yourself, “do I want to work?” You need to answer your emails and phone calls in a timely manner. If you don’t, the potential customer has most likely already heard from your competitors, making a first (and possibly the best) impression on them.
In her article “How Does Lead Response Time Impact Sales?” (http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2011/06/how-does-lead-response-time-impact-sales.html) Carol Fox agrees, noting that
“If nothing else, [survey data] clearly indicates that one of the most effective ways to increase lead quality is to significantly decrease sales response time” and that “even an hour to contact and qualify sales leads can drastically reduce your chances of success.”
Check your voice mail, email, texts, and Facebook messages–any leads? Make sure to respond to them as soon as you can. I know I’ll be doing it today, with my newly repaired computer!