There are many different ways to gather potential prospects. You should use several of them. For example, you might have a table or display at a ‘Home Show’ or other fair-like event and gather a hundred prospect names. Perhaps you monitor the local newspaper for real estate transactions, noting the new new home buyers. Or maybe you buy a mailing list of potential new customers in your area. Or maybe you take names and addresses out of a phone book for the specific streets or towns where you want to expand….
Now, what do you do with these prospect names once you acquire them? How can software help you manage these names and convert them into customers?
With some software you will have a separate area (called a ‘table’) where you will enter Prospects. Then, when one of your prospects becomes a customer, you click a button or use a function to ‘push’ the data into the customer table. This appears like a good solution, but doubles the time to enter new customers. Consider this: Every time you want to enter a new customer, You’ll have to check both the prospect table and the customer table to make sure the new person is not already in your system. This double effort adds up over time. (And if the double checking is skipped, you will quickly find your software filled with duplicates, which at the least is a mess, and at worst, a nightmare.)
But there is a better way to manage prospects that is supported by most software. Use the ‘Customer Status’ field to identify a person as a prospect! Most pest control software includes a field ‘Customer Status’ (or with some other similar name) used to flag customers as “Current”, “Deceased”, or “Moved Away”. In most cases you can add your own additional values to this value list. I suggest adding a new set of values that can be used indicate a given record is some kind of prospect. Commonly used values might include: “Prospect New”, “Prospect Warm”, “Prospect Hot”, “Prospect Called but Cold”, and “Prospect Need to Call Back”. In other words, you will put the prospects in with the regular customers, but with an indicator in some field to show it is a prospect, and even what kind of prospect. Since ‘Customer Status’ is usually searchable, you can easily keep track of your progress in converting these prospects. You might want to find a given set of prospects by their Status to print a call sheet or to print labels for a post card mailing. When you succeed in converting them to a customer, you just change their status to “Current” once they schedule work with you for the first time. One easy step without having to reenter any data.
We like using ‘Customer Status’ because you never have to enter data twice, and since it is searchable you can easily find all prospects with one quick find. Or, you can just find your “Prospects Hot”. In any case, exporting or printing those found records is easy and fast.
Notice that in naming our different types of Prospects, we use “Prospect Warm” instead of “Warm Prospect”. This is an example of what in the database world is called Priority Naming. Priority Naming merely means we twist our normal grammar structure around such that we put the most import words first and then follow that with any descriptions. This allows you to sort all your customer records from a given area in order, such that all of your prospect group together, and then the individual types of prospects will also be grouped. This makes a progress review easy and quick.
You can see that by putting Prospects in among Customers, it is easy to indicate a status change from Prospect to Customer, without re-entering any data, or having duplicate records. Of course this also means you get to use the contact numbers and emails. But there is another subtle but valuable advantage having your prospects in with customers. You get to use the various ‘notes’ fields your software provides to tracks your calls and emails to each prospect! Many people buy entire expensive software packages, like ‘SalesForce’, just to track their prospects. But any good pest control software package has built-in ‘notes’ fields you can use for tracking your conversion of prospects into customers.
Tip- Always look for ways to gather Prospects. Keep prospects and customers together, and work on your prospect’s conversion. This will allow you to grow you business in a consistent and encouraging way. Take advantage of these tools and you’ll see the difference.