10 top tips for following up Barbour ABI leads
Since 2004, Prospect Research has helped clients win £1,000,000s worth of business with the construction industry. We are a business development consultancy specialising in telemarketing, lead generation and market research.
An increasing number of our clients subscribe to Barbour ABI and we have found it an invaluable tool for identifying the right construction projects for their businesses.
Over the years we have developed our approach to following up Barbour ABI leads so our clients get the best returns from our work. This has helped us produce this guide containing our 10 top tips for following up Barbour ABI leads, which we would like to share with you.
Although we offer an outsourced service, this is not a thinly veiled plug for using our services. We have written this guide primarily as a tool for those of you who are looking to pick up the phone and follow up the project leads or have one of your team do this. If you do plan to outsource, this guide can provide you with some pointers for evaluating suppliers and for monitoring their performance.
Tip 1: Use the List Maker to prioritise your best prospects
All companies have time constraints so the first way of making sure you are using your Barbour ABI follow up time wisely is revisiting the alerts and profiles you have set up.
You want to make sure you are not missing relevant projects but and also that you are not receiving too many projects that you take one look at and dismiss. This will make you feel sluggish and also make it more likely you will miss the golden leads.
We find there are two main areas to think about when refining your alerts:
- Type of build
- Products and services required
Decide what stage of the Build to start receiving alerts
When you need to know about projects and when you need to influence the decision process will depend on the line of business you are in. Our clients, who want to actively follow up leads at the early stages of the Build, want to be able to influence the specification to their advantage. We tend to find this is mainly for design led products or services.
This requires more time if you have to influence multiple parties such as the developer, the architect and the multiple main contractors vying for the business. It also involves a longer lead time from starting to follow up a lead and winning the business, so make the judgement whether this will be productive for you.
Other clients where their product or service will be specified in largely standard format will wait until the project has been awarded to the main contractor. This has the advantage that you only have to follow up with the main contractor, the project has definitely been given the green light and there is a shorter lead time to winning the work. However, you are likely to face competition with a specification that you have not been able to influence
You may find it helpful to be alerted to projects at an early stage but use the monitoring facility to track when you want to start actively follow up a lead.
Tip 2: Build long term relationships with Barbour ABI contacts
When you are contacting a prospective client and decision maker about a specific project it is tempting to view this as a one off interaction, where you will only progress the relationship if they have an interest in you for this project.
As well as providing in depth information on individual building projects, Barbour ABI gives you a huge amount of insight into how these projects link to different companies and decision makers.
It is worth spending some time looking at the companies and individuals who are procuring your type of product or service. If they are doing this on a regular basis, there is a lot of merit in looking to build a relationship with them, regardless of whether they have an active project of not.
You could create say your top 100 targets that you contact through various means in a regular, planned fashion. This could be phone calls, emails, invitations to events and letters or a combination of these.
Tip 3: Set objectives and targets
In order to be focused on the call, you need to have a clear idea of the main objective you are looking to achieve. We find our clients are looking to achieve at least one of the following:
- A relationship building appointment: When you need to influence the Build or the company regularly purchases your product or service on their projects
- Site visit: If this is needed in order to quote for the work
- Pricing: If you can get all the details you need from the project specification document
You only get through to a minority of the decision makers you dial and the chances are you will only get a ‘yes’ from a minority of decision makers you speak to. So it is worth trying to get something useful from every call.
This could be confirming decision maker contacts, emails, further information about the project and insights into other projects a company works on. This helps your understanding of the market and can feed into other marketing initiatives you run such as e-shots.
We tend to work on the following estimates for a 7 hour day of following up Barbour ABI leads:
- 80 dials
- 10-15 decision maker conversations
- 1-3 results (These could be appointments, follow up calls, pricing requests or a combination. Our results vary depending on the client and how often contractors will compare alternative suppliers for their product or service)
Tip 4: Get organised and focused
Set aside a regular time to do the work
Particularly if you are not regularly telemarketing or prospecting on the phone, if you only set aside the occasional hour for following up Barbour ABI leads, you are likely to make very limited progress. By the time you have got into the zone for making calls and into the flow of your approach, your call time will have finished.
We allocate a minimum half day (3.5 hours) to each calling session for a client but would suggest a minimum of 2 hours.
It is all too easy for other tasks to take priority. However, if you do not make the calls, you will never have the chance to convert Barbour ABI’s information into actual business. The information also goes out of date quickly, as projects move on and suppliers get selected. So it is essential to book a regular time slot where you can just focus on your calls.
Have a structured way of treating each lead, from checking if it is worthy of following up, the information you take from Barbour ABI and how you approach the call.
Tag your favourites
If there are projects that jump out as being particularly attractive, you can tag these so they are easy to identify as priorities.
Sending emails to prospects
If we are unable to reach a decision maker on a project, we will usually send an introductory email. The response rate is helped by being able to specify the name of the project to the recipient. Rather than spending too much time crafting individual emails, it is worth having a bank of email templates that can be quickly sent out.
Tip 5: Use a sales database/CRM system
Using a sales database/CRM system would be the subject for a guide in its own right, but the main point is that you need a place to electronically store all the information you collate from the Barbour ABI leads, and keep a list of follow up calls you need to make.
Barbour ABI provides you with project information through their Evolution system which is a very effective CRM tool in its own right, allowing you to save your own notes about each lead.
For most of our clients, we will progress the project leads through Evolution until the point when we have qualified a project as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A ‘yes’ will be an opportunity for our client to progress discussions usually in the form of an appointment or pricing request.
All your project lead information including your notes can be downloaded from Barbour Evolution into excel to transfer to your CRM system.
There are a number of CRM systems that can integrate directly with Barbour Evolution meaning that project details and updates can be viewed automatically through your CRM system.
Tip 6: Make your calls relevant to prospects
Like any form of communication, first impressions count, so make sure your call is relevant to each decision maker you contact.
Relevance is demonstrating very quickly why you are calling them, which makes it much more likely they will see you as a professional making a business call as opposed to an irritating cold caller.
The fact you are calling because of an active project helps make the call more relevant but you still need to introduce your company in a manner that makes them engage with you on the phone and give you a considered response.
Relevance is also about asking questions and matching the benefits you can offer to a contact’s responses. Effective questioning allows you to qualify whether a project is right for you to pursue.
Tip 7: Close in a professionally persuasive manner
You can be having a fantastic conversation with a prospect and feel that their project is just the sort of one that you should be winning, but if you do not effectively close for the result you want, the chances are they say the dreaded words ‘send me some information’. You are then in a cycle of trying to catch them again on the phone and hoping they will have read your email in order to progress discussions.
For Barbour ABI leads, we finding that arranging appointments is the main area that we need to be particularly sharp with our closing techniques.
If you are too aggressive, prospects will feel like they have been arm twisted into accepting the appointment, and probably cancel before the actual date.
So we advocate a ‘professionally persuasive’ style of closing. Once you have qualified a project as being the sort you would like to be involved in, move your brain to ‘close’ mode:
- State your interest in meeting with them
- Suggest actual dates and times for a meeting
- Know your current schedule so you can suggest dates that fit well with other appointments
People see through you saying ‘I’m in the area’ but if you have a genuine appointment let them know the location, as most prospects will try and accommodate as they see the value of being efficient with journey times.
Tip 8: Follow up opportunities
Once you have established an initial interest with a Barbour ABI lead, you need to stay in regular, planned contact until you win the business, or at least get a ‘no’ answer.
Include this follow up time in your schedule of Barbour ABI activity and keep a well managed schedule of when follow up calls need to be made.
If a member of your team is making the initial prospecting calls or you are outsourcing this, here are some additional pointers to get the most out of the follow up calls you will be given:
- Have some extra questions in mind based on the notes you have received about the prospect, so you can get the conversation going
- Call as soon as you can, as contacts quickly go cold
- Decision makers are difficult to reach so it could take several attempts to get through
- Be prepared for the sales challenge as most contacts will need further warming up rather than instantly saying yes
Tip 9: Monitor results and refine your process
There are a whole host of questions you can ask to check if you need to refine your Barbour ABI process: Is there a danger of becoming overloaded with too many pricing requests or appointments? Do all the leads make good business sense to go for? Do you have enough time to qualify the leads and properly chase them up?
It is worth monitoring each stage of the Barbour ABI sales process to ensure you are getting the best possible results and to see if there are any stages you need to refine. As a checklist, we would break down the stages as follows:
- Barbour ABI alerts
- Initial prospecting calls
- Follow up calls
- Appointment/site visit/pricing
We tend to find with clients, making small changes to a range of steps in the sales process, makes a big difference to the returns they see from Barbour ABI.
Tip 10: Use Barbour ABI’s team for advice and help
The final tip is to use Barbour ABI’s team for advice and help on how to get the best returns from your subscription and how to use their information in the most effective way. We have always found them to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. If they can help you can make even one or two small improvements to how you use their service, this could make a massive difference to the new business you can win from it.
A final note
We hope you found this guide ‘10 top tips for following up Barbour ABI leads’ of help. If you would like to discuss further how Prospect Research can help you develop your business through our Barbour ABI service, we would be delighted to speak to you.
T: 01223 354 151