I recently partnered with a new guy to schedule my leads for me. He has done such a great job that I have had to adjust my organizational system to track, schedule, and reference my lead information. Leads are tricky to organize for several reasons.
First of all, there should be a lot of them. Whether you are actively selling and have someone calling to schedule appointments or you are just out walking into businesses, you are going to have a very large list of potential prospects which will need follow up. I try to make one sale per day. I find that in order to accomplish this, I need to have a list of 20+ businesses with whom I am actively working, meaning that I am going to visit them this week. This is in addition to the new appointments I get. From an organizational standpoint, that is a lot of things to organize.
Secondly, they are in a wide variety of geographic locations. You want to make the most effective use of your time without using up a tank of gas each day.
Thirdly, the appointment times are not (at least shouldn’t be) very specific because the length of a meeting will vary so much. You could take about two minutes to walk in and find out the owner isn’t there or you could take an hour to walk in and find an owner who wants to sign up on the spot. How do schedule leads like this?
Lastly, a lead may be a one time visit or several visits in a row. You may need to record what happened at several visits before finally closing a lead at which time you can finally move it to “Non-Action.”
Let me explain how I do it.
1. Receiving an appointment. I recommend that everyone use an Excel spreadsheet (preferably in google docs) to track your leads. I recommend that each time you get a new lead, whether it is from yourself or your appointment scheduler, it is both entered into this spreadsheet and emailed to your primary Gmail inbox. The spreadsheet is primarily to track which ones you sold and which ones you didn’t sell. The day to day organization can all happen in your Gmail inbox.
2. Label the lead by city or area. I have a new label system I have been using in gmail. Think of a label like a folder with the exception that an email can have multiple labels. I have split my service area up into approximately ten minute by ten minute areas and created a “label” for each area. For instance, “Duncansville, PA,” is the city where I live and is very small; I can drive from one end to the other in less than ten minutes. I have a label for “Duncansville Leads.” Anytime I am in Duncansville, I can click on this label from my phone’s gmail client to see all the leads that are labeled, “Duncansville Leads.” There is a larger city called “Altoona” nearby which takes about twenty minutes to drive from one end to the other. In this case, as in most larger cities, there are multiple zip codes. In this situation, I have a label for each zip code. When a lead comes in, I immediately label it according to area so I can reference a list of all the active leads I have in any one city or area.
3. Schedule leads by AM/PM. Have your appointment scheduler set up appointments for AM or PM. In other words, the owner is either in during the morning hours or the afternoon hours. If you have set up your gmail account like I have, you have a label for each day. Click on “Labels” => “Manage Labels” and add a label called “AM” and “PM” which is nested under each of these daily labels. So your label list would look something like: Monday -AM -PM Tuesday -AM -PM Use these “AM” and “PM” labels for leads only. All other tasks for that day go into the main label for that day. So, if I have a note to “get my wife flowers,” that would be labeled “Thursday.” But if I have a lead for a business owner who is available on Thursday morning, that would be labeled “Thursday AM.”
4. Label each email correctly. As leads come in, you should have moved them from the inbox into a sub-folder called “AM” or “PM” for the day when you are planning to run that lead. (If the owner doesn’t care which day, you put it into the next time when you are planning to be in that area.) You have also labeled each lead with an additional label for the area it is in. Here is how you do this in practice:
A. You open the email with the lead information in your Inbox.
B. At the top of the email click “Labels” and check the label for the city first.
C. Then click “Move To” and select the day / AM or PM label when you want to visit that lead. This will move it from the inbox to that label, but it will keep the area or city label attached to the email as well. Here is how I use the system each day:
Make sure each email gets both labels applied to it as soon as you get it. Don’t delay and let leads build up in your inbox. This will discourage you and make you miss opportunities for those who want a meeting right away since you will not notice them until it is too late or you will be right next door and not realize it.
Each evening, click on the labels “AM” and “PM” for the next day to get a feel for how many leads you have and where you need to go (this is why I keep these labels for leads only.) In the morning, go into the “AM” file and move all the leads to the “Inbox.” Do the same for the “PM” label around noon. If you find it easier to work them from the folder, that is fine. However, make sure you move them to the inbox once you are done so that a lead doesn’t sit there for a week before you come around to it again and you forget to enter the necessary follow up actions.
When you drive to a city for one lead, always click on the label for that area / city and see if there are any other leads nearby that you can hit real quick. A lead may be scheduled for tomorrow when you are right next door or on the same street. Just walk in and say, “Hey, I was right next door. I know I was supposed to stop by tomorrow, but I thought I would check to see if Bob is available now.” This will make your days much more efficient and remind you about leads on which you need to follow up.
After you visit a lead, click “Reply” on the email and send yourself a quick note about what happened. This will automatically move the lead back to the inbox where you can either put it in “Non-Action” if they said “No” or move it to another day for follow up. In gmail the entire conversation will be kept together, so you can reference the notes and the time you sent the notes when you go back to visit. Each time you visit or speak with this lead, just click reply and send an email to yourself with the notes. If you do not have a phone that does a good job of this (Android is the best with their voice recognition server which allows you to just speak the email), jot down a note or send yourself a voice note and enter the new email when you get back to your office.There are obviously many ways to implement this system or add it to your existing system. The main three points about organizing leads are:
1. Keep your schedule as flexible as possible.
2. Track not only the general time when a lead needs to be run but also group by city or area so you can easily access this information out in the field.
3. Have a way to track each contact and a way to access all the information from previous contacts while you are in the field.