In this episode, Ari Greenbaum interviews Frank Cortez, from Castle, ‘The Window People’. They discuss how you can effectively manage leads and client inquiries to secure more opportunities and wins for your business!
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Ari: Welcome to The X Factor, a Home Pros Sales podcast. This is the podcast about all things sales to help Home Improvement Pros generate high-quality leads, and close more deals. I’m your host, Ari Greenbaum and in this podcast, we’ll talk about different tactics, tips, and resources to help you succeed and grow your business while interviewing experts in the industry, guys that are out there in the field.
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Today, we’re going to be focusing on a pretty broad subject matter. We’re gonna focus on how to effectively manage leads and client inquiry to secure more opportunities and wins, a topic that I know resonates with anyone listening to this podcast. My guest today is a rockstar. His name is Frank Cortez with Castle, The Window People he’s out of Massachusetts. He is a seasoned pro, having been in the trenches as a producer himself and owning his own business but he is an expert at closing deals and turning leads into deals at a very high rate. He’s also a valued conXpros partner. So I want to welcome you Frank and thank you for joining us. If you could tell everyone a little about you your background, you know, and then we’ll get into the fun.
Frank: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I appreciate you having us on. I’m Frank Cortez again, we cast a lot of people in Massachusetts. I own the Massachusetts location, there are other locations in about 15 different states or so where ‘Castle’ exists. I’ve been in the industry since like 2007, doing windows and doors and things. I’ve been around the business a long time dealing with leads, dealing with the customers, and again, kind of taking them from point A to point B, meeting them to getting them to the close and the sale. I’m very familiar with owning the business in-depth and actually getting all the leads and walking the best stages between talking to them and getting them on the phone and then, you know, ultimately turning them and getting them into our reps and how to close them. That’s, that’s the fun part. That’s what we’re that’s what we do now.
Ari: A little different as an owner than it is, as the guy out in the field, that’s for sure.
Frank: Very, very, very different.
Ari: You give people both perspectives as well, you know, from a, you know, a rep out there repping, a company or from a business owner perspective as well, but they are not always parallel.
Frank: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, you’re absolutely right, there’s a lot that carries over, but then there’s just this is a lot that your mind isn’t aware of, or you are not quite exposed to as a rep. Once you transfer over, it’s like, okay, now all of this makes sense.
Ari: You get the big picture. That’s a perfect lead into your conference, and we’re gonna be looking at a big picture, like, as I said, a pretty broad subject here. You know, again, we’re talking from the time to lead gets delivered to you, or an inquiry from any source to the time that someone is signing a contract. I know that’s a broad broad category to be talking about. If you could just highlight some of the things that, you know, you’re doing that lead to that success along that process, we can do, obviously, dive into some of those elements as well, but just wanted to get a feel for what you’re doing and why you’re able to succeed when you were a rep and obviously now as an owner, as well.
Frank: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the biggest things that is different, like depending on the size of your company, right, because there’s you know, sometimes you have companies where you have these huge lead rooms, who, you know, they’re sitting there and their whole focus every single day is to dial so it kind of changes the situation a little bit but you know, I don’t have a huge lead room, I’m still doing all the calls myself. The calls are coming in. The biggest, the biggest thing I would say is discipline, right?
Ari: I don’t mean to interrupt you, Frank, but I’m gonna interrupt, I gotta ask you to set a huge thing already. I mean, that’s like a big difference from a lot of guys with a company your size, but you’re not like a small company, you know, just like you’re doing a little bit of business here. I mean, significant business, closing a lot of deals, but you’re calling every lead yourself, not leaving it to some person sitting at a desk getting paid whatever, $15-$20 bucks an hour. This is a personal thing.
Frank: Well, it is a personal thing, because number one, when do taking over the company, for myself and being the owner of it. I like to touch every part of it, right? I want to know, the experience to be the same throughout the entire journey. When I do get that person on the phone, you know, it’s me who they’re talking to, you know, they introduce myself that way they know who I am and when we do get to the point where we’re going in the house and everything it just is a follow through, you know, they know me from the beginning, it’s not like yeah,
Ari: That was a huge thing. I didn’t want to interrupt you but I mean, that’s just unusual, you know, especially when it’s an owner and they have people who you delegate these kinds of things but that’s a key element and it’s important to, you know, bring the light here for people to understand that you’re taking that initiative and that’s making a difference.
Frank: Absolutely, it doesn’t make a difference. Because again, it does, it means more to the customer I think when they know that you’re, you’re sitting there and actually taking the time to speak with them and walk them through it. Plus, you know, I believe I would do it better than anybody I could hire to do it. Right. I want to maximize, you know, as much as humanly possible.
Ari: So you’re saying, like, obviously, you’re doing the reach out. It’s a personal touch and then I know, I interrupted you. I apologize for messing up your mojo.
Frank: I would say the biggest thing, though, is if you don’t have the lead reps doing everything for you, and you’re just a lot of people who are out there who are smaller, who are trying to do it themselves. It’s discipline, right? That’s the hardest thing, you know, these leads come in, you got to, you know, make sure you make the time to do this. Now, obviously, I have other things going on. I can’t spend all day calling them but I do make sure that you know, obviously, with technology, now this thing’s coming right up on your phone, and you know, something pops up, it’s like, Hey, you gotta leave, you know, I’m calling lead immediate, right? I call every single lead immediately when they come in, regardless of the source. But then I do block out time, you know, three times a day, morning calls, and I do afternoon calls and before I head home, or sometimes on the drive home.
I do try to maximize as much as possible, right? You know, as they come in, I’m calling them, if whoever I can’t get in contact right away, you know, I do have those follow-ups, you know, three times a day, and I just, it’s, it takes a lot of discipline but I do make sure.
Ari: With that kind of an approach, would you if you could put a number on it would how many people out of every 10 leads, would you say you are able to reach on, like the first attempt out? Or is it that persistence that did it?
Frank: It’s definitely the persistence that helps, you know when the leads first come in, you know, obviously, you want to be part of that rush, but it is a rush, right? There are a lot of people who are calling these people and leads at the same time, they only talk to one person at a time, you kind of know right away, if you if they’re not picking up right away, somebody’s got there, you know, before you have in it’s as much as it pains you you know, you’re hitting it as best you can, but it’s just the way it is, you know, there’s a lot of people calling the one person they’re getting on the phone, you’re gonna have to kind of have to do a follow-up. You do get every once in a while where they do pick up, I would say maybe I’ll say maybe two out of 10?
Ari: It’s really that dedicated process that you say you’re religious about three times a day do an outreach? That’s the answer to getting in communication with people and leads and having the opportunity to provide an estimate?
Frank: Absolutely, absolutely. You want to be able to just kind of stay on top of it and get them on the phone. Then, you know, obviously getting them on the phone. You know, that’s the next part, right? Just getting on the phone doesn’t equal, a lot of times, you know, they’ll say, they put in a request, but maybe the way they were thinking about the request doesn’t really, you know, it’s not just hey, yeah, I want you to come out, you know, a lot of times they have questions, they have answers and there’s a short, sweet, balance you have to ride, right, because you don’t want to, you know, you don’t want to veer off into what you’re selling over the phone, because you that’s not the successful way where you got to sell in front of them.
You know, you gotta kind of straddle that line where you’re giving some information to make them want to see you, you know, make kind of pique their interest, whether it’s something unique about you that you know, that you guys do special, or whatever the case is, you know, you want to go ahead and really kind of pique their interest and answer whatever questions they have, again, without giving, without giving everything.
Ari: Do you like more or less, you know, like a free flow the conversations with them? Or do you have more of like a structured process or script so to speak, that you approach people/leads with? How do you approach it?
Frank: No, I don’t. Every time I call it’s not so much a script, it’s more freefall I do I do kind of just flow with the customer and you know where they are and their attitude or their feelings, you know, not everybody’s the same, you know, sometimes are very kind of business type and aggressive. You got people very homely very welcoming when you pick up the phone, and then you gotta clean. So, you know, that’s, that’s another part of it, right? When you have like, these lead rooms, you got to script it out, right? You script it because you got to have something for these people to say, that’s the kind of benefit for me because I don’t need you to know, I hear what they’re saying, and then I can respond.
Ari: That’s a huge benefit. Yes, absolutely. It’s more real and natural, I’m sure it helps build that rapport as well, when you get an estimate you already have that built.
Frank: Absolutely, I mean that that’s, that also leads into closing the sales and the difference between, you know, a lot of people who are sending in these reps who don’t really know anything other than a script, versus you are actually knowing your product, knowing the industry, knowing what the answers will be to their question. So you can actually respond, you know, in a way that’s natural, as opposed to the robotic form that most people have to deal with when they have
Ari: I think I heard you say earlier and just want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding, and you are running all estimates. So you set up the appointments with the people/leads for an estimate, and you’re going out and physically providing for them.
Frank: So no, I’m not going out anymore. I don’t go out anymore, I do have reps that go out but trusted reps. So these are the reps that you know, before I owned this location, back when I was a manager in Connecticut, I had reps that I trained and things like that, and one of my reps, you know he’s like my mini-me. So I know he knows what he’s doing.
Ari: So you obviously either hire people and bring them in that, you know, are in line with your thinking and what you need, or are identifying people and you put them through like a massive training and, like, you need to make sure they’re representing your brand
Frank: It’s not short-term training with us here. We do longer form training, you know, one on one, make sure that the people line up, right? Like, I don’t want to just bring people in and just turn them out and just say, Here, learn this and go see what happens, right? You know, I want to make sure that they’re, you know, in the right mindset, the same mindset that we have here, you know, as a company, you know, the way I want the company run the way I want our customers treated, you know, sales.
You know, if you speak to any customers, you hear their stories, you know, people get into these things where, you know, sales is hard, you know, and a lot of these reps, you can smell the desperation, you know, like,
Ari: They make it harder, that’s for sure.
Frank: There’s such a fine line, you have to walk with this stuff where the customer needs to feel like you, you know, are actually caring about what’s going to happen for them, like, what’s the best outcome for them, not how many windows I can get you to buy today, you know, or how many doors I can get you to buy today, you know,
Ari: Which is super interesting to me, even as an owner-operator, you know, when you were doing these appointments yourself. There’s always in the back of someone’s mind as an owner, I mean, I was a business owner as well and I understand these things firsthand. You know, you always want to get the sale. I mean, it’s not desperate, but you know, that’s revenue without the revenue, your business ain’t going anywhere.
It’s impressive that you’re able to detach from that and put the client first and just service a client. It from what, that’s what I’m hearing from you, as you’re training your guys to do now on the field as well, which is really be more conversational and service a person understand their needs, and not do a cookie cutter pitch, so to speak.
Frank: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s an interesting blend. You know, I think, I think one of the benefits that I had coming up with ‘Castle’, you know, early on, when I was a rep and learning the way that they do things is, you know, I learned I had some, I had some really, the benefit of hindsight, really good, really good training, like, top top-notch trainers, like, before I came to ‘Castle’, I was in sales doing other things. And, you know, I thought I was so good coming into ‘Castle’. And, you know, they just blew my mind with how, what sales actually is, the real science of it, and how, you know, to really, you know, penetrate your customer’s mind and really kind of get them to where you want them to be without them feeling like you’re doing it in any rough way.
Ari: That’s an art form, that’s for sure.
Frank: It’s a crazy method but it’s, you know, I had some really, really great trainers that gave me a great foundation and, you know, I was able to kind of learn properly how to deal with customers, you know, and that’s one of the biggest things right? Like, obviously, we want them to buy, right? They know it, we know it, right? I mean, that’s one of the biggest things that you don’t want to hide right? Like, there’s, there’s no confusion here, right? You know why I’m here. I know why I’m here, right?
My job is to go ahead and help you find that we’re the ones for you. Right? Like we that’s our job, right? We want the business for sure. There’s no mistaking that we want the business and we want it now. We don’t want to later we want to, we do want it now. Understand that it’s a two-way street, right? We only want you as a customer if, after all of this, you feel like we’re the right ones for you. Right? So it’s not desperation because yes, I do want the business but only if it makes sense.
Ari: You have your priorities in the right order, I mean, it’s not the bell take, let me get a commission or, you know, get paid its client first, and this will take care of itself providing I do this.
Frank: Exactly. The way we’ve always looked at it is that if you do that, the rest will follow. Right, you know, the rest of the come. And, you know, one of the biggest things that ‘Castle’ has over a lot of other companies, I would say, just in my experience, you know, dealing with other companies and reps and from other companies is, you know, they, we have a pretty high closing rate. I think, because of the way we do things, you know, we tend to close at a much higher rate, you know.
Ari: Am I allowed to ask the rates, like, where you’re at these days? You advertised so I gotta ask.
Frank: Yeah, as a company, we typically range like, we close about half the business, you know, it’s about 50%.
Ari: That’s fantastic.Especially in a very competitive business, like window replacement or replacement. You’re talking? Yeah, absolutely. Based on, like you said about 50%? It’s a rough estimate. Would you be able to put an idea of how many leads you’re closing on that first meeting, the first call, or whatever you want to call it?
Frank: 98% of them/our leads. That’s our business model.
Ari: I had a feeling based on what you’re describing, as the process is, you know, it’s, that’s where it’s going to is, there is no one else but me that you want to work with.
Frank: Yeah, exactly, exactly. We position ourselves that way. And, again, it’s not a, you know, the goal or the customer is to make them understand that it’s as again, I kind of said it, but as much as I want the business, it’s reciprocal, and you have to want this. So it’s not, you know, I’m not sitting here trying to force you to do this, I’m not trying to get here, to make you do this, I want to facilitate it for you. If after you’ve heard what you heard, and you’ve seen what you’ve seen, this is what you feel makes sense. You know, and you know, it’s my job to make the dollars make sense for you after that, right after you feel like this. I have to make it work out for you somehow.
Ari: I’m assuming it’s safe to say, but it’s better to ask. You guys aren’t like, the lowest price in town, based on ‘Castle’, my knowledge of it, it’s not the lowest price out there, but it’s not the top. You guys are a quality brand.
Frank: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. There’s value to us, we know there’s value to us, we know there’s value to how we handle our customers, we know there’s value to how we’re going to handle them after the fact how we’re gonna install that job, the guarantees that we’re going to give them, you know, there’s no need for that, there is a cost.
Ari: You’re still closing 90-98% ish, you know, the people/leads on the first call again, when you’re talking, you know, and I’ve been in the field myself, and I know selling at a high price point, you know, there’s some sticker shock to some folks and often they do want to get second opinions or other bids, to make sure that they’re doing the right thing and I’m sure that would be something you run into, but obviously, you’re overcoming that, from what you’re sharing. Your process from start to finish is super personal and it’s about the client and putting them first. So it’s not a super surprise to me, that, you know, they are wanting to do business because, again, that’s who you are, as a human I’d want to do business with as a person that relates to me the best, especially for something I care about, like my home, you know, my windows, which is a huge aesthetic piece of my home.
Frank: This is a thing, right? We want to facilitate them, but it’s not where you need them. Right? The thing is, is that if you make it about the price, then they want to stop you, right? That’s if you make it about the price they want to shop for, right? When you give them a price, you know, and I mean, I know we’re going into other things but when you have a price, you know that the natural instinct for a lot of people/leads is, you know, to drop their price afterward right? You give them a price and then the customer says, oh, it’s more than I was thinking or too much money or whatever it is, and they’re like okay, well, you know, let’s, let’s talk about giving you a lower price, I can get this magic discount and, you know so many customers are used to that idea.
That, you know, we don’t do that, you know, we didn’t price up the job with the idea of just giving you a lower price, you know, price on the job for what we know the value is in compared to our competition out there, you know, knowing yes, we’re higher than some, but we feel like we’re giving you a better value than those people and we’re definitely lower than a lot and we’re giving you just as good value or better than that.
Ari: I’m assuming those are things you know, you do express to the customer as well. Obviously all these value points and propositions that you guys offer as a business and as people and leads to make sure that they understand that as well.
Frank: Of course, and that’s why I mean you know, you’re in the house you do you have a presentation or a pitch that you do but again, obviously there’s a difference between a customer sitting there looking at this as a pitcher presentation, and then a customer looking at it thinking that we’re just having, you know, the most natural conversation thinking never even though I’ve had this identical conversation with 1000 leads. People need to feel like it’s personal to them. That’s why you have to just, you know, you gotta know what you’re going to say.
Ari: Putting a concept on it. Having people/leads not feel like they’re being sold while they’re being sold. It’s like, that’s that art form that I mentioned before is exactly out everyone can accomplish it. Clearly, you and the people you train are able to do that as well and deliver exactly as you did.
Frank: Yeah, and that’s exactly, that’s exactly. It’s about getting in front of the customer, and making sure you cover everything you need to cover, the price is not like…
Ari: It’s not primary.
Frank: Exactly. Because what we found is, you know, there’s plenty of people who much rather do less of the job, but get that higher quality than say, no, no, I gotta do the whole job but they want to have to lower the quality to fit to their budget, you know, sort of, you know, everybody has a budget right? The question is, is what do we do with that budget? Right? Do you present it in a way where you’re just throwing price at them? They’re saying, well, that doesn’t fit my budget. That’s the end of it, I gotta shop and, you know, the only way you have a chance is if no one else fits in my budget, right?
There’s plenty to talk about, there’s plenty of stuff that to walk a customer through this process, to see every aspect of it and what should be important to them. I guess it’s a benefit for us that a lot of people and leads don’t, don’t really do that, you know, we have a lot of guys that are going into houses. You know, the customers are like, Oh, wow, nobody’s talked to me about this, or nobody’s brought this up and, you know, we don’t believe in cutting corners, you know, my guys are not in a house for 10 minutes.
They’re there for a while, you know, a lot of times, you know, when these other companies are going in, you know, not every company, but a lot of times these companies go in there, and they’re their whole focus is to tell the customer why we’re the best and we’re the best and everybody else sucks. You know many customers, they think that somebody’s going to, you know, see multiple people, and everybody tells them to do their best.
Ari: No one’s ever come in and said, Hey, we’re the worst. That would be the best sales pitch ever. Look, we’re the worst. People/leads don’t hire us. We’re honest.
Frank: There’s a fine line, there is a balance, right? You know, the customers don’t necessarily need to have like the Cinderella story painting for them, you know, they want, they need to know that the reality is that, you know, yes, you can have a phenomenal window, yes, you can do a phenomenal install that doesn’t mean that there won’t ever be a problem. Right? The real question is, when there is a problem, what’s going to happen? Right? What’s going to happen when there is a problem? That’s where we choose to focus, right.
Ari: You were taught a lot about the psychology of sales and understanding people/leads. From what it sounds like, that is a key element to you is this the psychology of people, either they are with you or they’re not. If they’re not, the rapport is built, they feel you don’t they feel you they feel trust, and all these things you’re describing, and if that’s not built,
Frank: it’s just not going anywhere, then it’s just about the numbers, and then it doesn’t matter. Because then you’re just throwing numbers at somebody, and it doesn’t matter, because there’s just what other if they’re at the end of your time with the customer if, at the end, they’re just saying, the numbers are what matters, then you’re now you’re just in the scope of what everybody else because it’s just another number that’s gonna go in there, right? Then they’re gonna sit there, they’re gonna look at excellent numbers and, you know, they may remember the rep and say, oh, you know, this guy was nice. They’re around the same price. I’ll go with him instead of him, but it’s these are not the decisions that customers should be making. Like, this is not how they should be basing it.
They’re trained to base it that way. You know what I’m saying part of going in there, it’s kind of taking the time to be trained them right, get them, get them out of the idea of getting three estimates is the solution, because it’s not right in the middle bid and go with it.
Because it’s a flip of the coin, right? We tell customers, listen we’re here in front of you today, which is great, right? You could have flipped the coin, it could have been somebody else, and you wouldn’t have seen this, right? The reality is, is that you can have 10 companies come out and there could be 10 companies that are all super expensive, and only deal with the highest end, or you can have 10 companies come out and they could all be super cheap and just deal with average Joe windows and they’re just contractors, whatever it is that. Either way, you saw 10 people and you should feel like I saw 10 people I did my due diligence, but it’s just the luck of the draw.
Ari: It’s more of like a dice roll versus a pre. I don’t want to say, Yeah, predetermines, but pretty close to a, presuming you have numbers, you have the metrics, as you said, you been doing this for a long time. You know, the formula that gets it there. So as long as you go in and plug and play that formula, whether you or your guys, now, you have a successful formula, and it’s gonna spit out fantastic results. I mean, you said some really, really important pieces here. That’s what like sent me hopefully, you guys are listening, and summarizing some of these concepts as well. As you know, going back from the beginning, when you get a lead, I mean, as I shared, that’s super unusual unless it is just a single owner-operator, where they’re doing everything anyways.
You have a sizable company, you have reps, I mean, you have teams, you know, at the end of the day that you’re taking the time and the care to reach out to these leads yourself not relying on anyone else to do it, that you have complete control on your leads, your inquiry, and therefore your customer growth. That’s already a huge thing and then a personal relationship that’s being built, that rapport that’s being built, because, as you said, the knowledge and the ability to communicate with people/leads and not have them feel like they’re being sold and an estimate a point. That to me is already a huge groundbreaking for a lot of guys, but they love to delegate their own business owners delegation, it’s like the name of the game, right? I don’t get to deal with it anymore but from you want to deal with it, that’s awesome. And then you have the next step of it, which is either you or your guys now that are going out, is with a different mindset, not to sell, but to serve a client and to help them make the best choice for themselves in their home.
That’s something that is very unusual, because most people as you know, you’ve been in sales for a long time. People are usually driven by the commission. They’re not driven by, you know, helping people and leads and making their lives better. I’m a big subscriber to the old Zig Ziglar adage that’s been around forever, you know, help people get everything they want in life, you get everything you want and that’s been my philosophy and I love hearing that someone else has that kind of philosophy and reaps the rewards of it. You are a rock star, as I said, I mean, that’s like Hall of Fame-type numbers closing rate.
I’m super, super impressed. I’m hoping that listeners are as impressed and like understanding. This isn’t rocket science, and nothing you shared was like, Oh my gosh, like, write a book about psychology or nothing. This is like, just, I don’t want to dumb it down but it’s simple. If people just pay attention and understand it’s a human business, we are dealing with people/leads, they have emotions and it sounds like you’re able to, you know, use that as the tool in the vehicle to get them to become a client of yours, and then build that trust long-term. That’s fantastic, it’s been a treat to have you on here and have you share all these things. And, you know, it seems simple. Maybe in your mind, you’re like, is this normal? I just do this way, but I don’t think everyone does base on my experiences, and I wish they did. That’s why we do these podcasts to help other people/leads understand what is out there and what is possible.
Thank you so much, Frank, I really do appreciate and I want to thank you for being a guest and obviously a partner with us that conXpros. Besides thanking you obviously, I want to thank our listeners for listening to the X Factor Home Pros sales podcast. I do hope it brings you value and like I said, helps you take your sales game and your businesses to the next level. Be sure to subscribe so you can catch that next episode. So your action items as a listener are or wherever you are listening to this right now hit the subscribe button so that way you can catch the next episode. You can also follow us on any other social platforms Instagram, and LinkedIn. Again find us @conXpros. And again if you didn’t catch that you could check out our description for our social media links here. If you have any questions shoot us an email happy to help you out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, thanks for tuning in, and happy hunting.