We were recently asked about a service designed to make it easier to handle sales calls.Meeting in Home

As a supplier I feel like you provide excellent insight to contractors regarding sales presentations, and I find that much of your information applies to my sales as well. I make presentations to homeowners, contractors, and architects and I am always looking for new ways to market myself and my company.

I recently read an article . . . about a new cloud-based software program. As my company is currently struggling to find the appropriate CRM system to use, I took interest in this article about One Click Contractor. Not only is it a CRM system, it also allows you to perform your sales calls online via a video conference with your potential client. It gives you the ability to provide a 3D visualization and make changes in front of them. Their angle is that millennials would rather not have someone in their home making a presentation, but actually prefer to be able to complete the sales call online. It’s less intrusive for them and they can leave at any time, much like at a car dealership. If you don’t like the deal presented, simply walk away.

Have you come across any companies utilizing this program, or do you have any insights?

I often shop and purchase items online. I’ll confess to being a little old school, because I like to have something in my hand that I can touch before I buy, but it isn’t always possible. I can live with that. However, can someone explain to this old farm boy how you can sell construction services online?

I understand the software is focused on exterior replacement sales. The thinking is that there is a standardization to exterior replacement projects that makes it easier to prepare and quote a project online using photos. Homeowners don’t want someone in their home because it’s intrusive, so it’s friendlier for them. I found an article discussing this software that began like this:

Awhile back, my husband and I needed new windows and had a company come out to give us a bid. The sales rep arrived, took measurements, and then settled himself into one of our kitchen chairs the way you might hunker down into a bobsled. Two hours later, we finally had to ask him to leave.

Endless, high-pressure sales calls are an age-old feature of the home improvement industry.

That article, by the way, was in an industry magazine, written for contractors. Is anyone else offended by the second paragraph? Talk about painting us with a broad, ugly brush. Endless, high-pressure sales calls are not the norm in the home improvement industry. That sales rep wasn’t a salesperson, they were a pest.

Let’s talk reality. Having your windows replaced is intrusive. You can’t avoid having workers walking in and out of your home while they remove and replace interior trim. If you don’t want strangers inside your home, you’ll have to replace the windows yourself.

What this software does is allow the homeowner to use you to get a price quote that they can shop around. There isn’t any commitment; when they’re done with you, or if they decide they don’t like you, they can just pull the plug and you’re gone. From a homeowner’s point of view, it’s great. No risk, no dealing with salespeople. Just find the lowest price and order the work done.

From a contractor’s point of view, it’s not such a good deal. If you want to take orders, great. When you’re the lowest price you’ll make the sale; if your price is consistently low enough, you’ll also have a great closing ratio, selling more jobs than anyone. You probably won’t be profitable, which means you won’t be in business for long, but you can build a lot of jobs before you go under.

Sales requires a relationship. Not a “sit on the couch until they give in and sign the contract” relationship. The salesperson needs to demonstrate that they know what they are doing. How does an online conversation build confidence between the owner and the contractor?

How can you know enough about a job to price it without seeing it in person? That applies to siding replacements as well. Photos won’t show you rot around the doors and windows. Photos won’t allow you to see what’s behind the siding so you know what you’ll be attaching new siding to, if anything. Photos won’t show you if the home has settled so that siding can’t be installed straight until the settling issue is resolved.

Finally, how do you get the job built if the owner doesn’t want you or your employees in their home to even gather the information needed to do the estimate, let alone build the job?

I know that things are different today. We’re living in a time where many business transactions are handled online, and that’s a good thing. That doesn’t mean we can get by without relationships, and some business relationships are necessary.

If you’re going to trust someone to be in your home for extended hours, often without you present, or if you’re the contractor who will be spending extended hours at someone’s home, you should meet them first, eyeball to eyeball. Spend enough time to judge their character and listen for that spiny sense that something might be wrong.

We might be spending long hours online, but we still live in homes. Every home is different, every homeowner is different, and every job is different.

There is great software out there that contractors can and should be using. When you can help a client see their finished project without having to mentally visualize it, that’s a valuable sales tool. But if you believe profitable sales can be made in the construction industry without meeting homeowners face to face, you don’t understand construction.

And if you’re being a pest by parking in a chair until you’re asked to leave, you don’t understand sales. Read my book and learn how to sell. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

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