Cement the Sale with the Right Tools

An old Chinese proverb states, “To hear is to forget; to see is to remember.”  Professional remodelers who take this proverb to heart have learned that it’s true.  Visual sales tools can be invaluable in convincing prospects that their remodeling company is the best for the job.  People learn in three ways:  visually, verbally, and kinesthetically (through touch).

The best salespeople have learned to combine all three teaching methods into their presentations.  The prospect remembers more about your company when these techniques are used, and they find the information more believable.   No matter how long you’ve been in business, you won’t make the same professional experienced impression if you don’t use sales tools to reinforce the message you’re trying to communicate.

Sales tools give the verbal message testimonial strength.  Someone once said, “If you say something about your company, it’s a claim.  But if someone else says it, it’s a fact.”  A prospective client is more likely to believe hard, physical evidence than just a verbal statement.  In fact, many people are extremely skeptical of anything a salesperson says, but more easily believe information presented in other ways.

Your company presentation book is the best way to make the intangible features of your company — excellent service, quality workmanship, etc. — into tangible sales points. No remodeling salesperson should be without one.  One remodeler told me that his sales success increased 75% by the addition of a comprehensive presentation book.  It’s a physical representation of your company as it contains the evidence of the company’s qualifications and demonstrates the qualities that set your company apart.  Include items such as:  license, insurance forms, association affiliations, newspaper articles in which you’re featured, suppliers and subcontractors, awards that have been won, before and after photos (some remodelers include the price range which helps to educate the prospects on realistic pricing), and testimonial letters from clients.  Not every prospect will want to see everything that’s in your book.  In fact, most will be interested in only one or two areas.  But even if you use only a small section of the book for any one meeting, you’ll know that you can answer many questions that might come up with the information it contains.

It can also make a presentation easier.  After you give the same presentation over and over, it’s not hard to get bored and begin skipping around, forgetting to mention important facts — in other words, forgetting your system.  But this practice can be the undoing of an otherwise successful sales call.  You can never be too sure on which detail the prospect might base a decision.  The book forces you to go through the presentation consistently and to include all of the pertinent data that support your claims of excellence and know-how.

Because the book is ‘the company in brief,’ the quality of the presentation book is unconsciously transferred to your company itself.  Invest in creating a dynamite appearance.  If you want to present an excellent, high-quality image, the presentation book should be created to support it.

Remember, the more professional and educational your presentation, the better your chances of standing out from the crowd of competitors.  It’s the remodeler who makes the greatest impact of expertise, integrity and value who will win the business.  A well done presentation book is one tool that can help you make this suitable impression on your prospects.  In today’s tough market, there’s no excuse for not using every convincing tool at your disposal.

Reduce Stress and Prepare for Tomorrow

One of our most popular business coaches is Paul Winans.  Many of you know Paul from his days as President of NARI or from his many blog posts and articles in the industry press.  Today, many of our members call on Paul to share practical steps they can take to improve their company performance.

Many times, these steps include a thoughtful assessment of your business situation and tactics to reduce stress and help understanding that it won’t always be like this.  If you’re feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, listen to Paul as he shares what he learned from being a remodeling company owner just like you.


Tomorrow Will Come

In my work as a consultant to remodelers I am hearing from clients about the challenges they are facing. A downturn looks different in each person’s world. A signed job (or two or three) is canceled. Permitting obstacles delay or prevent a project from starting. Pricing pressures tempt or force the reduction or absence of profit, as work is needed simply to cover overhead. And so on.

It is worth noting that there are remodelers who have work and are doing more than well. Why? To some extent the answer to this question is the same for both situations, both good and not so good. For most remodeling companies, getting the job or not makes a huge difference. If your company does twenty jobs a year and you don’t get 5 in a row that can be devastating. On the other hand, if your company gets an unusually large job the business can be carried for several months until more sales occur. In doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference, one way or the other.

So what can you do?

Consider all possibilities

In general, people tend to get wrapped up in the way things are. The thing is that is just the starting point. Take some time for yourself to reflect on what you would do if…. Many of us never think about such things. We just work a little harder and a little longer thinking it might make the difference.

In the meantime we are miserable, finding very little satisfaction with anything.

Break the patterns and do something different. A client loves to fish but had a hard time finding the time to do so, particularly with the down market he is in. He realized he could take a great client fishing, building the relationship that will translate into more business and referrals, while doing what he loves. What is the equivalent for you?

Live in the present being pulled forward by the future

It is very hard to get up every day and go to work when yesterday was not as successful as you wanted it to be. More of the same old, same old, with likely the same results being realized.

That mindset can cripple your business. You set the tone for your entire company. If you are in sales it is imperative to be focused in a positive way on your future, not being anchored by a yesterday you wished you never experienced. How can you do that without being a wishful thinker?

A client was experiencing real hurdles with his team. They just were not performing the way he thought they could. At the same time, he was not clear about his own goals, the life he wanted for he and his family.

Sales were down. This was before the downturn. Getting people to commit was impossible.  He started getting clear about the life he wanted. He began by doing some simple exercises that got out of his head thoughts that were in there but to which he was not paying much attention. The resulting clarity changed his expectations of his people so that all in the company feel more successful. Clients are signing contracts and the company has work, even when many other companies don’t.

I am not saying it is magic and it works in all cases. I do think that being clear about the point makes you more effective in all areas of your life, not just in business.

For many of us our work is how we define ourselves. After all, we spend most of our working life at work.

Running a small business is very hard, even in the best of times. It does not take much to make it close to impossible to succeed.

I remember in the early 90’s living through a set of circumstances that felt like a perfect storm. Dealing with several difficult remodeling clients, the prospect of no upcoming work in the foreseeable future, and new challenges coming every day: when was it going to end? I was doing everything I could think of and nothing seemed to be working.

I found that stepping away, in even little ways, made a big difference. Carving out some time for me to stop being a remodeler and be a person made me able to be more effective doing what the business needed me to do. For me it was taking walks, reading, spending time with my wife and children, and taking inexpensive short vacations.

You are not your business. Things will get better. What do you want your tomorrow to be? Craft a vision that will pull you forward. And start living it today.


Thanks, Paul!

If you’re looking for an experienced business coach to help you improve the performance of your remodeling business, contact Remodelers Advantage Inc. today.  Our team of coaches are ready to dive in and share the best practices that they have seen work over and over again. Why struggle alone when you can have a business coach to help you become more profitable and productive. To get started, call us at 301-490-5620 x106.

Do You Know What You Are Selling?

The last issue of PowerTips was warmly received so I’ve asked Ted Dubin, our Director of Business Development, to continue on the subject of Sales. Ever wonder why you make what seems to be a great presentation but the clients don’t buy?  Perhaps you haven’t told them the Benefit of buying from you!


What Are You Selling?

What do you sell?

Wood and Tile?  Sinks and Tubs?  Windows and Doors?

Rooms and Additions?  Kitchens and Baths?  Drywall and Paint?  Decks or Basements?

Design-Build Services?  Handyman Services?  Property Management?

The Finest Materials?  The Most Experienced Craftsmen?  The Best Reputation in town?

No.

You sell and deliver The Remodeling Experience.  And the feelings that go with the Experience.

Sell the Experience

How ready are you and your staff to deliver a great Remodeling Experience?

OK, well the first part of delivering the Experience is SELLING the Experience.

What should you, the Sales Pro, say to prospective clients to differentiate yourself from those Remodelers that don’t even think about the Experience?

I’ve seen the answer explained many different ways.  I best understand this concept by envisioning it in 3 distinct parts:

Feature->Advantage->Benefit

The Feature explains what it is, the Advantage explains what it does and the Benefit tells everyone why they need it.

Most of our PowerTips readers are awesome craftspeople. They do great work using the finest materials.  Unfortunately, many are not yet Sales Pros.   They are almost always thinking in terms of the project without envisioning how their presentation is received by the customer.  Many will go through an entire sales or design appointment without ever mentioning the actual benefit of working with them.  This is a huge mistake that costs money through lost jobs, frustration, and wasted time. It leaves even the best contractors open to price competition.

No One Cares

To begin to Sell the Experience you must first internalize this fact: No one really cares what you do or how you do it!

What matters to people is how it benefits them in the end.  “We use high-quality materials!”  Who cares?  “We’ve been in business 30 years!”  Who cares?  “We seal and insulate everything and only install the finest windows!”  Who the heck cares!  Without more information these are meaningless phrases that waste everyone’s time and attention.  The only thing that matters is the Benefit.

Big companies know and practice this already.  Remember the Toyota ad slogan “Oh, what a feeling!”?   Toyota went right to the important part of the pitch: the feeling you get when you buy their product.  They didn’t waste time on “Toyota, Oh, what great light-alloy engine blocks!” or “Oh, what efficient manufacturing!”  They went right to what’s important to the purchaser – the Experience.

Think about other commercials you’ve seen.  Campbell’s Soup?  Why, Campbell’s Soup is “Mmm mmm good!”.  You don’t hear “Campbell’s Soup is chicken, flour, salt, and a few veggies in a can!”.  Sometimes the actors in commercials for major consumer companies almost look like they’re having a party while using the product – think ladies shampoo or soft-drink commercials.   I especially love those men’s razor commercials like Gillette’s: you learn about how the razor has 5 blades (Feature) which shaves you extra close (Advantage) but, near the end, there’s always a nice lady making admiring glances at the guy using the razor (Benefit – Oh boy!). You get the point.

So, what is the real benefit of going through the “Remodeling Experience” with you? Does your client get a great feeling of pride and satisfaction?  Peace of mind that their house is strong and secure?  A warm, cozy environment to raise their family in?  You need to figure this out NOW so you can explain it explicitly to your clients if you want to succeed as a Sales Pro and stand apart from the lesser companies out there.

How to Apply This to Your Business

So, when you’re making a presentation to prospective clients, how do you know if you’ve gotten to the Benefit?

There is a 2-word test: the “So What?” test.  If the person you are pitching can ask you a “So What” question, you haven’t presented any compelling Benefit:

“We keep the jobsite clean.” OK … So What?!

“We seal and insulate everything.”  OK …So What?!

These statements are meaningless unless you tell the rest of the story.

When you present to your prospects make sure you go all the way through to the Benefit:

“We keep every jobsite clean so your home is orderly during the process which means you don’t have to worry about a mess or your family’s safety.”

“We seal and insulate everything which will keep the room cool in summer and warm in winter so your family will always be comfortable”

More:

“We use the highest quality materials (Feature) so our work stands up to time and the harshest weather (Advantage) which means you never have to worry about your home (Aha! The Benefit)”

“We’ve been in business 30 years (Feature) which shows we’ve got lots of experience and many satisfied clients (Advantage) so you don’t have to ever be concerned about the people you let into your home (Benefit).”

Your Task

Figure out what it is you REALLY sell, then, make a Feature, Advantage and Benefit chart. Use the list to test-pitch someone else – a staff member or friend – and have them ask you “So What?” till they can’t anymore.  Once you’ve figured out what you really sell then Practice, Practice, Practice!

If you’re interested in improving your selling skills– a necessity in this economy–join our experts and a small group of your peers in a Strategic Action Group. Seats are limited so reserve your seat today!

Becoming a Great Salesperson or Get Rid of the Tire Kickers. . .  and Get the Work You Want!

Industry Expert Judith Miller Says “Look Ahead!”

Judith Miller is one of our company’s most popular business consultants so I often pick her brain for thoughts and ideas on what our members should be doing today to insure success tomorrow. Today, we focused on the habit of using something called the Look-Ahead.

“A Look-Ahead is a process that helps train your team, especially your production team, to anticipate the short term future,” Judith states. “In other words, instead of reacting to the job, they learn how to look ahead to be ready for what is coming.”

“In addition, this process can increase efficiency on a job by 10-25% simply by forcing those involved to be more organized.”

The process Judith describes includes two things: Reports on the status of each, individual job, and meetings to discuss them.

“Too often, the production team shows up on a job and only then begins to think about what materials are needed, which trade contractors need to arrive, when the trade contractors need to arrive, and what labor is required,” Judith comments. “This ‘yesterday’ approach can waste a huge amount of time –and in production, more than anywhere else, time means money.

“Instead, meet weekly with your production manager to look at a report on the progress of each job and then review what’s going to happen next week, the week after that, and the week after that.”

By using a one, two, and three week Look Ahead, everyone will be aware of the resources that are needed and there will be no more unnecessary trips to the lumberyard, no more arriving with out the tools to do the job, and no more waiting for trade contractors who don’t show up. Sounds like nirvana, doesn’t it!

Implement this process this week and watch slippage and waste shrink before your eyes.

Need the perspective of a great business coach? Click here to learn more about Judith Miller and the coaching services we offer.