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Maggie Harlow

7 Tips for Signmakers to Capture All Their Sales Leads

How to stop losing contacts and start winning new business.

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WHEN PEOPLE ASK how our signshop leads come in — email, walk-in or call-in — my standard response is, “It’s like a leaky boat — the leads come in everywhere.” In addition to calls, emails and walk-ins, you can get leads anywhere. Kid’s soccer game? A fellow parent needs a decal. At the grocery wearing a branded vest? Random stranger asks, “Can you call me about graphics for my truck?” Installing? Someone almost always stops to ask something.

If this is true for you, maybe this is also true: It is very challenging to keep track of every random lead. We scribble them on a card or the back of our hand, anything!

Your staff is also getting leads — and maybe they, too, are struggling to keep track.

Imagine if you could capture these leads and really focus on following through on them. What if this meant an additional job a week? Would it be worth it? Even if you don’t sell every one of these leads, just getting the contact information in your POS system for marketing has big value.

After suffering this pain point for years, in 2020 my team finally got ourselves organized with the help of technology.

Signarama Downtown’s spreadsheet inside of Microsoft Teams that everyone can edit.

Signarama Downtown’s spreadsheet inside of Microsoft Teams that everyone can edit.

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Creating a system for these leads, then organizing existing contacts and saving new leads, can be a simple process if you stay focused and know what strategies you need. Here are some tips on how to develop your own “lead capture” process based on my company’s system.

  1. Maybe a free option works, especially if yours is a small company. It could be as simple as a Google Form and Google Sheet that the form feeds. A form link can be used on a phone, computer or tablet. Help is available online if you have never used a Google Form. Need more than that? Check with your POS provider for paid software that will “bolt on” to your system.
  2. Make sure you have focus! Building a tool isn’t enough. Spend time daily on it, along with your team, and their focus will follow yours. We meet on ours three mornings a week for only about 10 minutes. A small investment to feel confident we have our customers well covered!
  3. Keep it simple! We started with recording the most basic of information to teach the habit and get it to stick. Now everyone uses the system every day to update one another or add a new lead.
  4. Adapt if you need to. Don’t be afraid to start with something and see how it goes, and then adjust as you need to. Trying to get it “perfect” instead of “done” can be discouraging and unfruitful.
  5. Stay resolved! If you give up on making it work, so will your team. Keep up the effort, adaptation and focus, and you’ll get it to work.
  6. Use the tool to assess. Don’t have time to respond to every lead? Assess the quality of the leads and know it’s OK to turn some leads away. Always capture their data and give them a good reference to go elsewhere. This keeps them coming back in the future, maybe when you are less busy!

It took many tries for us to get it right, and we are just now exploring a more complex tool than a spreadsheet. But I think if I tried to take the “leads tracker” away from my team I’d have mutiny on my hands.

Capture every opportunity you can, build your database and leave even non-customers remembering a good experience!

Maggie Harlow is the CEO of Signarama Downtown Louisville (Louisville, KY), one of the largest and most prestigious locations for the global sign franchise. Contact Maggie at [email protected]

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