Of all possible referral sources, digital leads can be the most difficult to convert into potential clients. What can you do to make this substantial lead source more efficient and effective? The first step is to not get ahead of yourself. Rather than focusing on converting leads into clients, focus on a small but meaningful step in that direction: converting leads into face-to-face interactions. To do this, you need to follow five fundamental steps.
1. Ace First Impressions
Human interactions are largely driven by first impressions. The quality of our initial contact with another person often determines whether we are interested in learning more about them or going to avoid them completely. This holds true in business as well.
In the home care industry, families spend this early phase gathering basic information and making observations about providers. They are trying to find similarities between your company and their situation to build enough commonality to engage. This is known as the uncertainty reduction process.1
A digital lead’s first impressions of your company come from a profile page, your website, online reviews, or even something as simple as your logo. Customer reviews are the most powerful tools for emphasizing similarity, generating confidence in your abilities, and establishing rapport. This is why having current, powerful reviews is so important. A detailed review recounting specific moments of 5-star service holds considerable weight with potential clients. While reviews and first impressions will never replace your actual outreach, they increase your chances of securing face-to-face meetings.
Consider this prime example of a real customer review posted on AgingCare.com:
“Joy, Jane and Evelyn are just a few of the Comfort Keepers staff who used humor to deal with Mom’s idiosyncrasies and forgetfulness. We began using Comfort Keepers a few hours each day for Mom, but one night she had a very bad case of sundown syndrome. We were out of town and could not comfort her. Vijan, another caregiver, had just left but quickly turned around to begin Mom’s 24-hour care. I fully recommend Comfort Keepers.”
2. Improve Reaction Times
When it comes to turning a lead into a face-to-face conversation, your reaction time is crucial. The average amount of time that elapses between lead creation and calling to follow up should be kept as short as possible. (And no, email follow-ups don’t count!)
According to a well-known study conducted by Dr. James Oldroyd and InsideSales.com, the odds of contacting a digital lead if called within 5 minutes of creation are 100 times higher versus 30 minutes, and the odds of qualifying a lead if called within 5 minutes of creation are 21 times higher versus 30 minutes.2
Consumers expect a prompt response to their inquiries these days. If this expectation is not met, they will look elsewhere for services. International sales expert Grant Cardone explains in an article on Entreprenuer.com that the first company to make contact earns 50% of the business.3 In many cases, you are competing with at least two other companies for a client’s business, but a lightning-fast follow-up is an easy way to get an edge on the competition.
Swift responses are especially effective with digital leads for a few reasons. A family caregiver who just made an online request will probably linger on their computer, phone or tablet, making them more accessible. Furthermore, if you make contact quickly enough, your brand and their decision to hire your home care agency will still be at the forefront of their mind.
Don’t assume that your initial outreach has to be done by a sales expert either. Outreach should be a team effort. Train your customer service representative or receptionist to set meetings. There are basic objections or requests families make that simple scripts can pivot into a need for a meeting. A call tree or a system of claiming a lead is critical as well. Encourage a prompt response from your team by rewarding any face-to-face meetings they set.
3. Nurture Your Leads
What do you do when leads don’t pick up on the first call or respond to your initial email? You keep calling. In the first 48 hours, your outreach is critical. “It can take up to eight attempts just to qualify a lead, and 80% of all transactions require five to 12 follow-ups,” Cardone says.3 Mixing up your outreach by calling two to three times a day and emailing once a day for the first three days will improve your connection rates. Each month, AgingCare.com places more than 20,000 outbound calls to families seeking home care services each month. We connect with 62% of leads on the first attempt and 90% by the third call before they are referred to an agency.
By calling frequently and at different times of the day, you will improve your contact rate and the number of families you meet with. Yes, some families will be frustrated by this persistent approach, and you may lose some potential business. But keep in mind you will lose on 100% of the calls you don’t make.
For leads you do make contact with, don’t give up if you hear “no” right away. For many families, the actual hiring decision may be a few weeks or a health scare and accident away. Devise ways to stay relevant through newsletters or emails. Give them a call every 7 to 10 days, and email once a week to show that you care and are serious about earning their business. Leaving a voicemail or sending an email takes two minutes from start to finish, but this small investment can yield big results.
4. Sell Face-to-Face Meetings
When communicating with potential clients, remember you are the expert. Your objective is to build trust and provide just enough information to secure a meeting–not an ounce more.
Be confident! Let them know you have years of experience in the home care industry or that your company has helped hundreds of families. Emphasize that their situation is unique, but assure them that you are capable of delivering a customized solution. Referencing a previous client with a similar situation who experienced positive outcomes can be helpful.
Build trust by sharing information about yourself and your company and asking meaningful questions—especially in emails. Email messages can easily come across as if you are talking at the client instead of trying to spark a dialogue with them. Try reading your emails through the client’s eyes. Is the message engaging on a personal level? Do you ask a direct question? Would you respond to it?
It is crucial to bring the conversation back to why a face-to-face meeting is necessary. Clients are full of questions and concerns, but without the knowledge that arises from meeting in person, your responses are bound to be generic or rough estimates at best. Still, don’t over-inform or give away too much too early. Information is power. Use it to get what you want: face-to-face meetings.
Measure and Improve Performance
Finally, when it comes to devising a winning conversion process, the work never stops. You should constantly strive for improvement. Start by writing scripts for phone calls and voicemails and templates for emails. Establish metrics, such as reaction time, number of calls until contact, and email responses to track your progress more effectively. Set specific performance goals, and then determine exactly how your process must change to achieve them. Accept that you are not going to reach all of your goals on the first attempt. After all, the process for success is try, measure, reward, adjust, and repeat.
Since 2007, AgingCare has been helping families find answers, resources, and information on elder care. Each month AgingCare’s nationwide Home Care Lead Program connects home care agencies with thousands of families who are actively seeking assistance.