Leads Growing on Trees

Leads Growing on Trees

Are you willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but also apply your smarts to your processes?

A few years ago, I was working with a company who needed regular intel on building projects. They were a group of carpenters and really good ones. But they were having problems getting new projects. Their work was unbelievable—you can’t even imagine what they could do with wood. Beams, trim, artisanal patios, you name it they could build it.

But they couldn’t get projects.

So I sat and asked them a ton of questions about how they close their projects. And through that analysis, we uncovered that if they could get some sort of edge with the new licenses that are granted for building permits, then they’d have a competitive advantage.

It just so happened that in the district they were working, a list of each week's building permits could be acquired for free at the government's city offices. With a few relationships, pleases and thank yous, and a smile, they would give you the permit info.

In other words, they would hand us leads. New sales leads right there for the taking!

So we concocted a plan to acquire those names and numbers of the new permit holders. I built a giant spreadsheet and updated it weekly with the new permits info.

Then began the tough work. We had to call them and convince them as to why they should take a meeting with the outstanding carpenters. The carpenters would call and call, but they just didn’t seem to land the deals.

So I decided to do a 90 day test. I would personally make calls to these permit holders (that’s 12 weeks of contacting them). If I didn’t get them the first time, I’d call several times a week. And then we’d see what the results were after that.

So I sat and dialed phone numbers early in the morning and then around 6pm in the evening. Both are good times for a general contractor’s workload, so they were more likely to answer.

Hi John, how’re you today? I’m reaching out to you regarding the [123 Street Address] project you’re working on. I have a team of absolutely brilliant carpenters. They work hard, finish on time and on budget, and their work is so good…

And we developed the script from there. They had objections like:

I’ve already got a crew. Which I would reply, my guys are better. You give me a call when your guys screw up.We’ve already started the project. Which I would reply, I know you have started, but our work comes in towards the end. I think you should meet our owner and get to know him. He’d be a valuable contact for you.And the list went on.

Dialed and dialed for 90 days.

If I didn’t get someone, I would send them an SMS letting them know the reason I called.

And here’s a little secret, I always treated them like they were my friend already.

After calling each of these permit holders for weeks, I began building relationships with many of them and we would have 10-15 minute conversations.

And guess what? The carpenters started to get deals. And when they did an excellent job, like they always did, they got more business.


In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts according to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group. In the construction industry, I found that it took 12 attempts just to get a meeting.

How quickly do you give up?

Did you know that 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting? After the meeting! According to The Marketing Donut, 44% of sales people give up after 1 follow-up. Ha! Quitters! That’s money on the table right there for someone who’s willing to not give up.

Be kind. Treat people like friends. Don’t give up.

Do you believe in your product enough to reach out to someone a dozen times? And then, if you aren’t BS’ing them, and can actually do what you say you’ll do, guess what? You’ll start to build a business.

And if you’re really awesome, your customers will start to love you and drag their friends to do business with you too.

It’s not rocket science. But it’s hard work and you may have to sit in a seat for 90 days straight and dial, dial, dial.

Last thing, be organized. I built a mega-spreadsheet to handle all of these leads. You have to be able to know what you talked about last time to this person and follow-up with them on time, all the time. Use technology to keep you organized and you’ll be well on your way to growing your business, no matter the environment.

(photo via julien harneis)