HEADS UP Home Services, Home Improvement, and Solar Companies
Are you struggling to increase customers with lead generation?
Are your calls are getting blocked?
Are your contact rates low?
Why going old school with lead generation will leave you BEHIND the competition.
How to Gain More Customers in Home Services and Solar
Convoso teamed up with ActiveProspect for a jam-packed 30-minute webinar to help solar and home services lead generation call centers get new strategies for contacting the right leads at the right time. Watch the webinar below to learn:
– Best practices in consent-based marketing to gain customers
– How to identify high-intent leads
– Smart dialing strategies to improve contact rate & caller ID reputation
– Why it’s getting harder to reach potential customers
– What you can do about call labeling/blocking
– What STIR/SHAKEN is and how it will impact the future of your calls
Discussion experts include Ruben Ugarte [Director of Solar and Clean Tech, ActiveProspects], Justin Myers [Sales Director for Home Services, ActiveProspects], and Nima Hakimi [CEO & Co-Founder of Convoso].
Read the Webinar Recap on How to Gain More Customers in Home Services and Solar
Consent-Based Marketing + High Intent Leads
Consent-based marketing (CBM) involves a consumer or prospective buyer expressing their intent or interest in a particular good or service online. Whenever website visitors are interested in getting more information, for example, they’ll fill out a contact form with a little checkbox at the bottom. When they select this checkbox, they’re giving their consent to be contacted by the company.
“And that box that you’re selecting, that is consent. That box in that text is you giving your permission to be contacted. And in this case, more importantly, giving you the golden ticket to contact them, which is precisely what consent-based is,” Myers said. “What it isn’t is receiving unsolicited calls or spam for something you never had interest in or didn’t ask to be contacted for.”
That was the old way of doing things, Ugarte said, which led to the DNC list and TCPA litigation. Instead, today’s call centers have to buy digital third-party leads to stay competitive.
There are many opinions around lead qualification, such as the popular ‘There’s no such thing as a bad lead, but a right-price lead.’ Despite this common belief, Myers believes there are indicators that call center managers can use to determine if a number meets their needs.
“If it’s even working, is it a valid one, compliant, did they carry with it TCPA compliance with that language? Is that in front of that little box to check? Does it have the characteristics of a bot?” he said. “So is it real or do they spend, maybe less than a second on a web form? Do they meet your requirements, which could be as simple as their geo or their zip?”
The quality of your consent-based leads can vary depending on the level of intent. Looking at these data points, Myers said, can help you determine the viability of the lead for your company. These data points include the amount of time the consumer spends on your webpage, lead age, if they are located in an area you service, and more.
By getting the right details from your consent-based marketing into your dialer, you can weed out the leads that likely won’t convert before spending the time and money to call them. You can then make sure you’re pursuing high intent leads, using ROI analytics to make real-time decisions and ensure your agents are hitting the most engaged leads.
“What we’re saying here is these characteristics define how you go from purchasing a lead with customer data to that conversion,” Ugarte said. “And ultimately, these characteristics make up what could potentially define or lay out the forward strategy for converting these leads.”
Rather than immediately calling the leads you get from your forms or a third-party supplier, you can use these content-based marketing characteristics to determine the leads that offer the best chance of converting before even entering them into your CRM.
“So this could be checking to see if the lead is a duplicate, seeing if the phone number is valid, if the email is valid pending information around demographic details, like homeowner status or property details,” Myers said. “We have 30 plus in-house integrations that help do this, all aimed at prioritizing your leads, gaining more insight on your leads to ultimately increase conversion and decrease your cost of acquisition.”
Those who engaged in consent-based marketing before they send that data to the right dialer, such as the Convoso platform, know their data is safe and compliant. By having compliant data, you can put in the right cadences and really optimize the lead for the best results.
Why Is It Getting Harder to Reach Potential Customers?
Even with the best leads, however, your calls may not get through to these prospects. The reasons this might happen, said Hakimi, are a combination of four things.
First, rather than just labeling calls as spam, carriers are now actively blocking these calls from going through. Second, consumers can use call blocking apps and, third, blocking features on their cell phones to keep you from getting in touch. This, he said, seems to be the biggest problem facing outbound call centers today.
Last, but most important, is STIR/SHAKEN, which was mandated through the TRACED Act in 2019 and must be implemented by carriers by June 2021. This framework combats malicious robocalling by verifying that callers are allowed to use their caller IDs. The challenge, unfortunately, is to do so without threatening the ability of legitimate businesses to contact consumers for legitimate purposes
Carriers authenticate calls by assigning an A, B, or C rating, which then dictates whether the call will reach and be answered by consumers. The better the rating, the more likely that a consumer will answer your call.
“Your dialer provider needs to make sure that they’re getting the call signed with ideally an A rating,” Hakimi said. “Otherwise, it’s the confidence level that goes down. And that will dictate whether that call will go through to the consumer or not.”
What Are Possible Solutions to Prevent Call Blocking?
Smarter Outreach Strategies
Though STIR/SHAKEN hasn’t been implemented yet, it has already caused contact rates to plummet throughout every industry, including the home services and solar industry. To combat this, companies need to start by using smarter outreach strategies. Many call centers focus on low intent/co-reg leads because they’re cheaper, but these prospects are harder to convert. Traditional strategies suggest companies should just call until these leads answer, but that can quickly lead to blocking and labeling.
“Hammering your leads to death, calling them over and over and over, that strategy no longer works,” Hakimi said. “A lot of call centers used to just buy a lot of low intent leads. And I’m not saying don’t buy them anymore. But you have to be careful around the strategy used to summarize these, you have to give it a second.”
Focusing on the high-intent leads and using the right strategy will give much better results than over-calling your leads. Hakimi recommends calling leads a maximum of seven times and then using your system to automatically add it to another campaign at a later time, such as thirty days later. You can also use an omnichannel approach, such as incorporating text messages or automated personalized voicemail drops, to avoid overcalling the lead.
“So if you make a call out and there’s no answer, follow it up with text message, incorporate emails, but have the ability to incorporate a combination of calls, emails, text messages,” Hakimi said. “And the system needs to stop the moment there’s a success, meaning somebody responds to text messages and calls, so you make sure you don’t call them again, right? That’s the right way to manage your caller ID reputation.”
Managing DIDs Based on Call Volume and Geography
To optimize connections, you need to monitor the number of caller ID numbers or DIDs that you are using based on both call volume and geography. You should also proactively monitor the reputation of your caller ID numbers to watch for scammers spoofing your numbers and causing scam labels.
Convoso, for example, analyzes call patterns and volume to recommend the number of DIDs you should use in each area code to avoid getting blocked. The dialer also offers a scheduling system that automatically replaces DIDs every 3-7-14 days to help protect your calls.
“Right now, it’s unfortunate that it has come to this. You would rather just have a system in place that just makes sure the calls don’t get blocked,” Hakimi said. “As long as you are calling on consent-based leads, you need to be given a chance and opportunity for that call to go through to the consumer. But right now it’s becoming increasingly difficult for that to happen.”
Presenting Your Identity in a Thoughtful Way
You should also register your caller ID numbers through the analytics companies that report data to AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. It can be a very manual and long process, but it’s highly recommended.
“If you have a real reason to reach out to these consumers, whitelisting your number can minimize the chance that your calls will be labeled scam, spam, or telemarketer,” Hakimi said. “Ultimately, it helps you get in touch with these valuable leads.”
Another upcoming tool that will help is Verified Calls by Google. This tool will let companies display their names, logos, and reason for calling on the caller ID, increasing chances of contact with interested consumers.
What Should I Do Moving Forward?
With these industry changes, just buying leads and putting them in your dialers isn’t enough. Instead, you have to thoughtfully engage with your leads from the beginning, using an omnichannel approach to make consistent connections without risking blocks.
“Now, you must have optimization at the top of the funnel when you’re purchasing those leads, as well as have a higher sophistication level omnichannel approach at the point of conversion,” Ugarte said. “Those old school ways aren’t going to work moving forward and ultimately that is going to leave you behind your competition.”
Dial smarter, not harder, Hakimi said. Use the data you have to optimize both the leads you pursue and the way you pursue them to get the results you need.
“Look at the data in terms of your calling patterns and campaigns and look at where the contact rate starts decreasing,” he said. “Look at the numbers. It will tell you everything in terms of how aggressive you can be with your leads so that you make sure that you actually get the calls to go through. You don’t want your calls to get blocked, and it’s becoming an increasingly bigger and bigger problem.”
At the end of the day, you are the only one who can determine the value of a lead to your company. Rather than blaming lead vendors for bad leads, Ugarte said, you need to depend on your own processes to get better results.
“I encourage everybody to own their process, own the top of the funnel with your metadata, as well as your ability to filter and own your end of conversion, a conversion point with better technology that’s sophisticated, that gives you the ability to do all the modern things,” he said. “That consent allows you to do outbound in SMS, send them a mailer, do what you need to do to get your ROI.”