A long-time friend sent a note recently, talking about a revelation he’d had concerning his sales process:
As the salesman for my company I was getting excited about selling the design agreement then the potential project would languish in the design phase for a ridiculous amount of time. I guess I would lose focus and be anxious to go out on leads and sell more design projects.
What I realized is that as a salesman, the project is not sold until the remodeling agreement is signed. I need to increase the intensity during the design phase, delegate and nurture these real potential jobs and count (and track) the number of days in design.
The celebration for a salesman is when the job sells. Who knows if others suffer from this affliction but I sure did for a while and woke up feeling better for having better defined my sales process by one click.
Keep up the great work. It makes a difference in all of our lives.
Nothing happens until somebody sells something, for a profit. A design agreement is nothing more than an agreement to work with the client to design their project. That’s not the final goal of a remodeling contractor; your business is about building projects. The design agreement is only a step in getting the client to the final yes.
Today, clients think that because they can sit down at a keyboard and get answers to any question in milliseconds, a contractor should also be able to answer any question. So clients start asking questions. And the contractor gets busy answering questions, giving away free advice and design ideas, and throwing out cost and price figures.
That’s not how to make a sale. You need to be asking the questions, focusing on the four basic questions outlined in our book, Profitable Sales; A Contractor’s Guide.
1) What do you want to do? When they are telling you what they want, you have their complete attention. The focus is on them and their job. They’ll start to realize that you’re listening, and that means they’ll get the finished project that they want.
2) When do they want to do the job? Stick to that question until you get an answer. If they won’t answer the question, you won’t get a signed contract. It’s that simple. If they won’t give you a start date, they aren’t serious about the project. They’re just kicking tires.
3) Who will make the buying decision? You need to know who will be making the buying decision so you don’t waste the time and effort of putting together a design agreement or contract with someone who isn’t capable of signing it.
4) What do they want to spend? You aren’t asking what they think it will cost. You need to know how much they want to invest. Stick to the subject and don’t let them distract you from getting an answer. Like #2, if you don’t get the budget set, you will never get a contract signed. In our book, we discuss how to present ranges so your potential clients understand how much the project they are considering could cost them.
Ask the questions, get the answers. Move to a design agreement and put a plan in place right there at their kitchen table on what you are going to do and by when. Put dates on everything and then go get it done. If you drop the ball at this stage, how can they trust you to actually get the job built?
When you have the design agreement, you’re on track to selling and building the project. The relationship is just getting started. They trusted you enough to sign a design agreement. If you do the work in a timely fashion, they’ll know they can trust you with the final contract. It’s time to show how well you can perform.