There are two reasons there’s a market for lead-generating companies: homeowners need contractors, and contractors need leads.
Given how valuable leads are, once you get one, do you have a sales procedure to help make the sale? I’m not talking about a script that you follow, I’m talking about a procedure that’s more like a checklist (written or mental) to help you close the sale.
Without a procedure, too many salespeople wing it when they meet a potential client. They walk in the door and start an informal “getting to know you” conversation. They might transition into asking a question, but usually the client starts asking questions instead.
At this point, the salesperson starts talking. They tell everything they know about the subject, and then cover a few more subjects. The client leads the conversation with their questions, and the salesperson follows by answering. The hope is that the client will want to buy from the salesperson because they know so much about construction. Surely, the salesperson thinks, the client will realize they are the best contractor to build their project.
The close ratio with that approach will be 1 in 5 at best. It’s not selling; it’s order taking. In many cases, the poor client will buy only because they can’t find anyone else to talk to.
You need a game plan when you arrive to talk with a potential client. Look at it this way: once you make the sale, you’ll create a plan to get the job built, right? So create a plan for your sales calls as well. I’m not talking about a canned presentation. (We’ll discuss that in a bit.) What I’m talking about here is knowing how to communicate with your potential client so you can discover what it is they want and if they are qualified to buy it from you. In the process of doing that, your client will discover that you care about what they want built.
The first remodeling company I worked for had a 30-point checklist that the sales staff was expected to follow anytime they got in front of a potential client. Did it always get followed? No, but it was followed enough that that company became one of the largest companies in the region and possibly in the nation in the 1970s. I saw the owner of the company follow the 30-point checklist and sell thirteen jobs in a row. (He also had a great sales personality.) For the record, we were using a 1.95 markup (1.95 times job cost) to get to our sales price.
The 30-point checklist was inside the front cover of the company estimating book. If your sales-to-leads ratio dropped below one in four and you were called into the sales manager’s office for a little tune-up, “I forgot” wasn’t an acceptable excuse for not covering the items on the checklist.
I don’t have a copy of that checklist but I certainly remember some of the questions. What do you want to do? What is your time frame for getting the job built? Have you considered any alternatives to that job? What do you know about our company? Are you seeking advice or help from any other contractors? Have you ever had work done by another contractor? Were you happy with their work?
Elements of that checklist are incorporated in our book, Profitable Sales, A Contractor’s Guide. In that book, we’ve reduced the sales call down to getting the four basic questions answered and then moving onto the design agreement. It greatly simplifies the sales process, and those who use it have reported an improvement in their sales, while using a markup that ensures the profit they need for their company.
It isn’t a canned presentation. Canned presentations, called by some a planned presentation, expect the salesperson to memorize a script and regurgitate it on every sales call. Some of these presentations might allow for thought and adjustment, based on what the client wants and what the company is willing to sell and build, but for the most part your job as a salesperson is to follow the script. If you go on enough sales calls and use a canned presentation, by the sheer numbers, you’re bound to get some potential clients to say yes.
But the very nature of the canned approach limits the amount of business you can sell. Clients and projects vary widely, and you can’t follow a script and expect to have the client believe you care enough about their project and their needs to give them the results they want.
If your sales calls consist of showing up, answering questions, and promising an estimate without getting a commitment, it’s time to change your approach. You’re losing clients who are looking for a contractor they can connect with, and you’ll wear yourself out creating estimates for clients who aren’t serious about the project or are looking for the lowest price.
Sales is a skill. Skills take time to develop and they only develop with practice. Develop a sales presentation that works for you, practice and refine it with your family and friends. It will take time to fine tune, and truth be told, you’ll never be done working on it. But it’s worth the effort, because the benefit is increased sales and profitability for your company.
I want to share a note sent to us that you might appreciate, concerning an earlier newsletter.
“I was so impressed with your last article on ‘Cutting Prices’, that it made me chuckle out loud. In our business we cover auto glass, residential and commercial glass and windows.
The comments were so right on it was almost supernatural. If you want to see cutting prices, you should look into the auto glass industry. Everywhere you look this guy and that guy are cutting their prices to get the job. It’s utterly hilarious! I have seen so many of these guys go under and can’t seem to understand.
I have been questioned as to why I don’t play the ‘game’, and I tell them that it is the ‘bottom line number’. I am in this business to make money not practice. We sell quality work for our customers. This is how we have grown our business.
Maybe this is why we are the only full service glass shop in town. We tell people that this is what it cost to do the job and that we have strict quality control and trained personnel. If the other guy does the work chances are we end up redoing it again.
We have established a tremendous rapport with the local contractors and customers because they know we do QUALITY work. We are not the cheapest by far but we are the BEST at what we do. If that does not work for some costumers then I guess you said it correctly that these are the ones to walk away from.
Thanks for letting me add my 2 cents worth. My business will be here for a long time. Arrogance? Not really I will not compromise my integrity nor my bottom dollar! Plus my wife and bookkeeper won’t let me!!!”