Every business needs a sales process. Even if you’re already busy, you could be wasting time on poor quality prospects that will never become clients, selling jobs at prices that are too low or losing good ones because you’re failing to show value. How do you get to the next level?
For this post, we reached out to two experts on sales and two successful contracting business owners to get some of the wisdom they’ve acquired. These tips are pretty universal to anyone in the construction business so whether at the moment you are painting or installing doors, these tips are going to apply to you. Here’s what they had to say:
Bryan Sebring: Become an Advocate for What You Do
Bryan Sebring owns a Chicago-based home service company called Sebring Design Build. The company is extraordinarily successful and consistently gets exceptional reviews and testimonials from clients. Sebring Design Build uses a multitude of marketing channels but one we wanted to hear more about is Facebook, which Bryan has used to generate an incredible amount of business with relatively little investment. We talked to Bryan on the phone and he had some exceptionally good quotes to share:
The best thing you can do is be an advocate for what you do.
Put yourself on the same side of the table as the client, no matter who that is.
In Facebook, my tip would be LEARN. Don't sit back and say "I need to do that" but go out there and experiment. There’s tons of content on how to do that. It's not that difficult. As far as affordability, it's definitely the most affordable option at the moment. You're not going to turn them into someone that loves you in one ad. You have to keep that constant drip going… It's tactical - not just "let's throw out an ad." Dive into it. Marketing is your life blood to your business. So many contractors want everything to be referral based, etc.
One of the ways Bryan advocates for what he does is to do home remodeling before/after pictures, time lapses and educational videos for his Facebook ads. With Facebook, he says you have to give it a significant amount of time to test out your campaigns and see what works.
Lisa McLeod: Selling With Noble Purpose
A former Proctor & Gamble sales trainer, Lisa is a regular contributor to Forbes and runs her own consultancy to help companies like social media giant Hootsuite increase their competitive differentiation and multiply their revenue. One of her primary catchphrases is “selling with noble purpose” and she uses this mindset to achieve major results for her clients.
The internal conversation becomes the external conversation. If you treat your customers like a number, they’ll return the favor. They’ll commoditize you and your services and all business will come down to price.
When I work with leaders, particularly owners, they’re naturally focused on revenue growth. The challenge is that a conversation about revenue targets doesn’t translate into customer-focused behavior from their team. It’s more effective to tell your team - “our noble purpose is to serve our customers.” This puts the emphasis where it belongs: on the customers. The owner should manage the P&L, so the team can focus on the customer and the quality of work.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. As obvious as it may sound, focusing on the customer and the quality of your work can be a serious game-changer for your sales process. Lisa’s extraordinary success bears witness to this.
Tom Lopatosky: Invest in Sales Training
Tom Lopatosky is the founder of the tremendously successful LOPCO Contracting company. LOPCO generates well into the seven figures in revenue annually today but was started in 1995 when Tom had almost nothing to his name.
Invest in some type of sales training: Dale Carnegie, Sandler, or most appropriately would be the Contractor Sales Academy (CSA) and adapt what you learn to your own particular style, most specifically when it comes to developing a system for pre-qualification of folks reaching out to you for estimates.
A tip in this vein that Tom has given is to charge for estimates. While it may sound risky, he believes that this filters out the “tire-kickers” and lands you better quality jobs. Then he discounts the cost of the estimate from the job. Whether you do wood staining or are installing bathroom partitions, these tips are applicable to just about anyone in the business of construction.
Pat Helmers: Buyers Call the Shots
Patrick Helmers hosts the Sales Babble podcast and is an experienced business coach and consultant. He helps businesses manage, hire, generate leads and sell with confidence.
Sellers need to remember it's not about them, their stuff or making a deal. It's about helping the buyer. Buyers have the money, they call the shots. Let them! With an attitude of "I'm here to help," it forces the seller to ask good questions, to listen with intent and answer in context. Once the buyer sees you have their best interest in mind, it's easy for them to listen and see if you can provide value. If you can genuinely help them with something they really want, then they will buy.
Asking good questions, listening with intent and answering in context come naturally when you’re striving to help the customer. Building trust this way could be a major dealmaker even when your competitors are offering lower prices or making big promises.
What do you think of the tips above? Consider taking the next week and trying to apply one consistently. It might just be the extra boost you need to take your business to the next level.