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Every Dollar Counts: How Following Up on Estimates Boosts Your Bottom Line

Diana Lamirand
February 23rd, 2024
9 Min Read

“The money's there. The fortune is truly in the follow-up.” — Stephen Dale, Trainer/Coach at Power Selling Pros

Are you leaving money on the table? The answer is, unfortunately, “yes,” says Stephen Dale, trainer and coach at Power Selling Pros—especially if you’re a service provider in the trades who fails to follow up on open offers and estimates at the right time.

During his presentation at Pantheon 2023, ServiceTitan’s annual conference for the trades, Dale recounted his own garage door repair experience as a perfect example of what not to do when service technicians offer upgrades and add-ons while fixing your problem.

“I had someone come out. They were absolutely amazing. I mean, this guy was talking about double springs and lifetime springs, and super-quiet rollers. And then he showed me this really cool product,” Dale says. “It was a Wi-Fi garage door opener with a camera, and he's talking about how it's like a geofence. When you leave the house, the garage door goes down, and when you start to drive towards it, it comes up. You can do it on your phone. I was like, ‘This is awesome!’”

Once Dale learned the price for the Wi-Fi system, however, he told the technician he needed to “think about it” and discuss the purchase with his spouse. After his wife gave her okay and told Dale to call the garage door company to set it up, what do you think happened next? Dale got busy and forgot about it, and the garage door company never followed up.

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“Was this a lost opportunity? I wanted the product, but no one followed up. No one called back. No one said, ‘Hey, how was your experience?’ No one checked in with me,” Dale says. “A few months later we thought about it again, and I went back outside to see if I could figure out who had installed it. I thought maybe they'd put a sticker on there. There was no sticker, nothing.

“A huge lost opportunity. I still don't have that product,” Dale says.

So, when opportunities arise, and there’s “money on the table,” who in your company is tasked to follow up? That’s step one, Dale says, and probably the most important to nail down.

“Who makes the outbound calls? Who does the rehash? Who is reaching back out to those customers?” Dale asks. 

Even though contractors always say they need more leads, Dale thinks they’re missing huge opportunities by not following up with the customers they already have. And when you designate one employee whose only job is the follow-up, you’ll soon find bigger profits.

To fully grasp the amount of revenue you may be leaving on the table, log into your ServiceTitan account to see how many open estimates you find. After Dale checked this for a client, he found 1,860 open estimates in a one-month period totalling $25 million.

“What would happen if you just closed 10% of that? How about 20%? What if you had a million dollars in unsold estimates? Would you like 10% of that?

“The money's there,” Dale says. “The fortune is truly in the follow-up.”

Here’s how to do it.

Know When to Follow Up and How to Do It

When should you follow up with customers? Some clients do it “next day,” which they say results in a 20% boost in revenue.

“They don't wait. Speed to lead,” Dale says. “It's the next day, that's when the emotion is hot. The follow-up. That's where the fortune's at.”

According to Salesforce, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, whereas 80% occur between the fifth to the 12th contact.

“That's a real deal. Just because you reach out to a customer and they say, ‘No,’ or, ‘Let me think about it,’ that doesn't mean they're not interested,” Dale says. 

The trainer’s tips for how to follow up include:

  • Make happy calls—get your team comfortable with making outbound calls to customers to ask about their experience with service or replacement. 

“You call back for everyone. That's another touchpoint. That’s the lowest hanging fruit. It’s super simple.”

  • Ask for reviews—when the customer tells you how amazing their technician was during the happy call, ask if you can send them a link to leave a review. 

“Maybe they didn't leave a review before, so now I can ask for that review.”

  • Offer club memberships—take an opportunity during the happy call to explain how club memberships save customers money and help to protect their systems.

“Is it hard to say no to that? Who doesn't want to save money?”

And rather than asking the customer if they have any questions at the end of the call, find out which product caused them to take a pause, then ask them, "Hey, I'd love to know what you liked about it, and what you didn't like about it," Dale says.

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Train Your Team to Follow Up 

Dale starts by training agents to “stalk before you talk.” 

“That means I need to look at their entire history. Have we ever gone out there before? Did we give them an estimate? Are they a club member? How long have they been there? What's their loyalty?” Dale says. “You need to have all that information to set yourself for success.”

If price seems to be the issue for a customer, consider offering a discount or special offer as leverage in closing the sale.

At Power Selling Pros, Dale says trainers follow the IRAP protocol to: 

  • Isolate

  • Resolve

  • Ask

  • Pause

To implement IRAP, Dale says, the conversation with the customer might go something like this:

“Is it just the price you're concerned about? Okay, I completely get it. But if it weren't for the price, you do like the product, right? You need it, absolutely. And Joe was awesome, wasn't he? He was great, he’s amazing. Well, if I could, I do have a special right now. I've got a $50 coupon online right now. I'm not sure if Joe talked about it, but if I could apply that towards this repair today, would you like to move forward? Absolutely for you, let's do this.”

Giving your techs the option to offer customers a $25 or $50 gift card toward any future service repair can be the simplest tool to persuade customers to upgrade the purchase or close the sale.

“It's a tool. If I set up my agents and technicians for that, sometimes a customer just needs to feel like they're getting something a little extra. Am I right?” Dale says.

Take Action to Follow Up

As Dale mentioned, following up with customers can start with a happy call. Just understand that about 80% of the calls you make to customers will go to voicemail, and about 90% of first-time voicemails are never returned.

“How many times do people call you and you don't even answer? I just don't know who you are. But phones do work, voicemails are great…they may call back,” Dale says.

Following up by email can also work, especially if the email has a great subject line to engage customers. According to Constant Contact, 83% of customers are willing to open and engage when an email is personal or informative.

“So, what happens if you took your top 10 products and you had some sort of video, or some sort of blog, or some sort of resource on that? And you sent an email and said, ‘Hey Diane, thanks so much for allowing us to serve you. By the way, I noticed that Joey talked about this really cool UV light. I saw this great article and I was thinking about you. Take a look at it. Love to know what you liked, what you didn't. Here's my contact information below,’” Dale says.

An email like that feels a bit different, and makes customers feel like your company has their best interests in mind, he adds.

Sending text messages is also a good way to communicate with customers, if that’s the communication method they prefer. While Dale says he’s not a big fan of texting, others do it with great success.

“To understand with texting, it's all about speed to lead. If you ain't first, you're last,” Dale says. “Prospects who are sent text messages convert 82% higher than those who don't receive texts.”

SMS for Unsold Estimates Follow-Ups is now available with Marketing Pro. Drive higher response rates and close more unsold estimates with automated SMS follow-ups that complement your email marketing.

Finally, as a bonus tip, Dale suggests creating a short video follow-up to send to prospective customers. Sales agents or techs can use their smartphones to take the video, then embed it in a text or email. Not only can you thank the customer for their interest in your services and products, but also share links to other products, club memberships, and more.

“Would a video touch a person a little bit differently? Can you imagine from a technician, the first thing they did in the morning before they started to run the calls, they looked at all of the calls they ran yesterday and they shot a video for each one of them. Sometimes it's simply, ‘Thank you for allowing us to get you up and running,’” Dale says. 

“When I’m trying to reach out to certain clients, I may send emails or resources, I may even call and text, and those sometimes fall on deaf ears. But when I send the video out, they watch it. It's pretty simple and it's different,” he adds.

And finally, train your technicians to “serve,” not “sell,” Dale says.

“I don't want you to sell anything. Just serve the customer, educate them,” Dale says. “I don't even call them technicians anymore, I call them service professionals. Become trusted advisors, that's what that person is, a trusted advisor. The customer wanted that product. We just need to push them over the edge a little bit to say yes by serving them.”

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