Nothing happens until someone sells something. You can’t build a job until it’s been sold but construction sales take time. There are a lot of things to do between taking the lead and presenting a contract for signature.
Your time is valuable, and wasting time reduces your profit. I’m going to go over a few of the major time wasters you might face when selling construction services.
Clients who don’t show
Nothing will ruin a good day more than driving to an appointment and finding no one home, or only one decision maker present. Call and confirm your appointment two to four hours beforehand and make sure they’re expecting you. Don’t send an email; they might not see it before the appointment. Don’t send a text without permission; believe it or not, many people still use a landline that can’t receive text messages. A thirty-second phone call can save an hour or more of wasted time.
Showing up late to your appointment
Nothing will irritate a prospective client more than wasting their time. Your first promise to a client is when you set an appointment. When you break that promise, how can they trust you? Arriving on time gets you started on the right foot. It separates you from the competition, and that helps you get to the contract quicker. They’ll appreciate that you respect their time and almost always will reciprocate.
Don’t pretend that showing up five minutes late is the same as being on time; it isn’t. If you’re going to be five minutes late, make a quick call and let them know. Showing up on time for appointments is one of our Ten Cardinal Rules.
If you’re usually late, it’s time to clean up your act. You’re not too busy. You either have a bad habit or you’re disorganized, and both of those can be fixed.
Focus on what they need, not on what you know
Talking about you or your company doesn’t get the job done. Stay focused on the client and find out what they need.
When I talk with contractors who say that they aren’t getting any sales, I ask about their sales calls. It’s amazing the lengths that some folks will go to try and impress their potential client. They talk about themselves, their company, all of their past jobs, who they know, what organizations they belong to, etc.
Those things are important at the right time, but the client needs to buy you first. They want someone who is willing to listen to what they want. Ask the four basic questions, then listen while they tell you what the job is about and what they need. When they realize you’re willing to listen, they’ll be more comfortable knowing you’ll build the job they want built.
We talk about the four questions in depth in Profitable Sales, A Contractor’s Guide; you can also read them here. You can’t get the answers to the four questions unless you ask. Focus on getting answers so you can either close the sale or eliminate that client from consideration.
Get paid for your time
Don’t make drawings or sketches for free. A quick one-page sketch of the proposed project is fine to insure you’re on the same page as your client. Several pages of sketches before you have a commitment is a waste of time. If you do drawings or sketches without a signed design agreement contract, you’re working for free.
Don’t give away your ideas
It’s amazing how many salespeople are quick to tell the client how to do the job, or who jump in with different solutions to a problem before they find out what the client really wants or needs. Keep your ideas to yourself until you can turn that knowledge to your advantage. Your knowledge is valuable; get paid for what you know. Share your solutions when you know you can close the sale.
Let clients make selections on their own
Making the final selections for a job is a time-consuming process, but you don’t need to be there. Help your client by making a detailed list of what selections need to be made and a list of suppliers to choose from. Then send them on their way with your blessing. Unless you have time to waste standing in a showroom, let your clients make selections on their own and you spend time focusing on the next sale.
Don’t itemize estimates unless you are paid for it
Once you’ve estimated the project and applied your markup to arrive at the sales price, give the client a firm fixed price quote. It should be one figure, a lump sum, with allowances as needed.
If they want an itemized breakdown of your price, tell them that you charge for that service. I’d recommend $150 an hour, minimum of 4 hours. Get paid for what you do.
Ask for the order
It is unbelievable how many salespeople will spend hours with a customer, talking about everything, but never asking them to buy. Ask for the order at every opportunity. And if they want to buy before you have given them all the information that you think is necessary, stop talking and start putting together a contract. Remember, you are seeing a potential client for only one reason; to get the order. Don’t forget to ask.
Present your sales price face-to-face
I get a lot of arguments about this, but sending a quote or sketch by email rather than in person is usually a waste of time. If your client asks you to send your quote by mail or e-mail rather than setting another appointment, tell them “No”. They’re making that request because they either don’t want to make a decision or they don’t want to tell you they aren’t interested. Insist that your client invest an hour of time to review your proposal and make a decision. If they won’t, don’t waste your time preparing a quote.
If you’d rather not meet them face-to-face to present the quote, you’re probably afraid they’ll tell you “No.” If you’re in sales, get used to being told no. Top salespeople get told “No” 2 out of 3 times. It’s part of the business. If you can’t handle being told “No”, you need to find something else to do.
In today’s market, there is more work available than there are contractors who can do that work. Value your time so you can focus on closing sales, not visiting clients. One day, one decision at a time, and you’ll have all the business you need.
Related Article: Your Sales Presentation
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