Don’t Blow the Lay Ups

I have spent plenty of time and money on how to generate more leads and improve our customer acquisition process. This includes routinely changing SEO/PPC firms as the new guys always tell me how bad we are doing with our existing vendors. I also hear salespeople complain that they lack the same activity as we did in previous years when phone calls and leads were plentiful.  When I ask for justification on how my advertising spend is doing, my SEO/PPC vendor shows me a 45-slide power presentation on the labyrinth called Google Metrics that justifies how well they are doing with increased views and emphasize how it takes time (and money) to gain traction. I quietly long for the days of the Yellow Pages.

Later in the same day as the seemingly endless metrics presentation, I got a call from a close friend about when my staff would get back to them about a call they made last week to handle ants at their home. They were using a competitor but wanted to switch to my company. When I researched what happened with my sales staff to this lead, I got another labyrinth of answers from my lead-deprived sales staff. Naturally, after my involvement, my friend’s ants are immediately addressed. My forensic research to find what broke down turns up nothing other than “This only ever happens to your friends” as the answer.

Despite the fact that I now have my own personal log-in to Google Metrics (with high-level access), I realize that I need to be spending more time and effort on the fundamentals of how we handle the leads that we get every day. These leads are labeled under categories like “referral,” “former customer,” “saw truck,” and the infamous “FOB” (friend of Bob).

Your process to handle a “routine” sales lead at your business needs to be immediate, easy for all involved, and simply trackable.. I call this not “blowing the lay-ups.” (To be clear, lay-up is a basketball term for a wide-open shot next to the basket. A simple “no-brainer.”)  The first step is to define what happens to every lead from inception. This includes phone calls, emails, tech leads, conversations after church or at my neighborhood cornhole league.

  • My definition of a lead is: A rumor that a buyer might be interested. Keep it broad and simple—we work hard to get leads.
  • My timing is that all leads are responded to by an employee within 15 minutes of inception. While Sundays and late-night leads are challenging they are also pretty rare and equally impressive when responded to.
  • Trackability is being able to see every lead from inception to resolution. I believe every lead should be rewarded and recognized regardless of the outcome.

Here’s a quick real-life example.

I am playing in my neighborhood cornhole league while enjoying a couple daytime, non-hazy IPA’s. My neighbor George asks me if our company handles mice as he is having an issue in his basement and his wife is losing patience with the traps George Is using.

I step away from intense cornhole play and enter the lead in an app on my smart phone inputting George’s cell number. My sales staff called George within 10 minutes and scheduled our tech for the next day to address his issues. George signs up for a routine program and his wife is happy. The effort needed by George is minimal.

Lay-ups need to be that easy. Before you spend another dollar on advertising, you need to be sure your lead process works effectively and reliably.


Bob Williamson

Pest & Lawn Director, Cetane Associates

Pest Talk, November 2023


First published on PMP’s “Pest Talk Blog” November 2023

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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT