6 Tips to Sales Success

How well are you doing at sales? Are you closing 50 percent of the leads you sit down with? 30 percent? Ten? Well, if you feel you’re not closing as many as you should be, then this episode of PowerTips TV is for you.

Watch this weeks short, four minute episode (not including the outtakes) for six quick tips to improve your sales results!

What about you?

If you have insights on how you’ve improved your sales results, we’d love to hear from you! Please share your stories in the comment box below!

Everything I learned about Marketing I learned from Michael Myers

michael-myers-frameWe all need a business mentor, someone to guide us as we attempt to navigate the harrowing path of our career. Now if you ask most marketing professionals, you’ll hear names like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki or David Ogilvy (often called The Father of Advertising), to name a few.

But for me, that guiding light is none other than Michael Myers, the classic villain from John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, Halloween.

Okay, so he isn’t perfect. He wears a mask; he just so happens to be a serial killer and, of course, he’s a fictional character. But despite these traits, Michael has taught me valuable marketing lessons over the years. I hope these lessons will help you better understand the world of marketing on this fine Halloween day!

Have a Narrow Perspective

Michael Meyers is narrowly focused on one thing — getting his sister Laurie. You too should be narrowly focused on your marketing–be it by demographics, niche or a combination of the two. It seams counter-intuitive, but by reducing your market you will increase sales. That’s because your message can be razor sharp. You can speak specifically to the pains, needs, wants and desires of your audience–increasing your ROI and stretching your marketing dollar.

This doesn’t mean you’ve excluded people outside your focus. Even Michael manages to “get” a number of people outside his focus on his journey.

Be persistent

You mailed a postcard to 5,000 homes in your area and didn’t get a single lead, so you won’t be doing that again. Right?

Wrong! Michael never gives up. Even six bullets in the chest aren’t enough to get him to quit. He just tweaks his line of attack.

Too often remodelers tell me about a channel they’ll never use because it didn’t work one time. In fact, two weeks ago someone told me “I got 75 calls from the ad but every single one was unqualified.” My response,”The [publication] sounds like a good one to me, I think your message was wrong.”

The truth is there are too many variables to discredit the channel after one or two attempts. Marketing is not a series of isolated events. It is an ongoing process that requires commitment. Stay the course and tweak your line of attack.

Listen to your audience

Michael never says a word. He listens and observes. And he’s always able to find his sister, no matter where she goes into hiding.

Listen to what people are saying about your company and about your competitors. You can keep your company image clean by responding to poor comments and thanking people for praise. You can also find weaknesses in your competition and strike at their Achilles Heel. Social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook are a great place to keep tabs.

Get knocked down. Get back up.

Marketing can be overwhelming to say the least. There are many obstacles to knock down your enthusiasm and when you engage in campaigns (like email marketing) that can yield less than a 1% response rate, it’s easy to want to just throw in the towel. But whatever the reason for your funk, be it a financial setback, laziness or whatever, just remember Michael. He always gets back up.

Don’t rush it

Did you ever notice Michael never runs after anyone? He walks slow and steady while the people he chases run around frantically. Yet he always manages to keep up. Don’t rush your marketing efforts. Effective campaigns take time. If you consistently send messages that are focused on only generating “leads for today”, you will never get ahead of the competition. As I said before, marketing is a process. It takes patience and dedication. Walk slow and steady and you will not only keep up with the competition, you’ll surpass them.

Make an impression

When Michael’s in town, everyone knows it — and they won’t soon forget. Whether you are sending a newsletter or working a trade show, be memorable. Give your prospects an experience they won’t forget. Your company has a story. Make sure that story has to be retold.

Want to learn some real in-depth Marketing strategies and techniques?

We are proud to announce, for the first time ever, Roundtables™ for Marketing Pros!  We’re bringing together seasoned marketers from non-competing companies from across North America to sharpen their skills, share experiences and provide each other with the support they need to perform at the highest level.


Seats are very limited!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2013, and has been updated. Happy Halloween!
image courtesy of Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Say Goodbye to Free Estimates

Free Estimate“Click here for your free estimate.” Is this phrase on your website? Are you one of the thousands of remodelers that use this promotion to generate inquiries?

If you are doing it as a purposeful marketing tactic, then more power to you.

But if you hate driving around giving free estimates and think you don’t have a choice, then this PowerTip is for you.

Your time is far too valuable to waste.

When I suggest remodelers charge for estimates, there’s typically two responses I get:

    1. “If I charged for estimates I’d lose 70% of my leads.”
    2. “All my competitors give free estimates, so I have to, too.”

First, let’s address the “I’d lose leads” concern and take a good look at the numbers.

Now, we both know that providing an accurate price for a project can take hours, depending on the size and scope. But, to prove a point, let’s say you can knock it out in 45 minutes.

So, for ten leads you’ll spend 7 1/2 hours estimating. Of course, you don’t email the price (right??), so let’s add in a 30 minute round trip (you’re lucky, all 10 leads are in your backyard).

Plus there’s the 30 minutes to present the estimate. Again, I’m being very conservative here.

In all, you have just spent 17 1/2 hours of your week on free work!

If you’re a regular PowerTips reader, you know that we expect you to work no more than 48 hours per week. But let’s say you work 60 (after all, you have a lot of free estimates to get out), that means you have just spent 30% of your week on free estimates.

On the flipside, assume you had charged for estimates and, as a result, only 3 of the ten leads stuck with you. Even if you now spend 3 hours (instead of 45 minutes) on the estimates, you would have spent 30% less time, and you generated revenue!

And don’t forget, your close rate should now skyrocket. These three leads have already spent money with you, so the likelihood of them “wasting” that investment and starting over with someone else is very low.

But all my competitors offer free estimates

This is by far the most common argument I hear when remodelers defend their free estimate policy.

So I called your mother this morning and when I told her your reasoning she said “if all your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”

Seriously though, I have two thoughts on this.

First, the core element of any marketing strategy is to differentiate yourself. Doing everything your competitors are doing breaks the single most fundamental law of marketing.

Secondly, charging for estimates when your competitors provide them for free naturally moves the conversation to self-adulation.

Think about it, the prospect calls your office about a project and when you mention the price to come out, s/he will inevitably say:

You want to charge me for an estimate? Your competitors are coming out for free! Why would you charge me?

And there it is. An invitation by the prospect to tell them what makes you great.

Still not buying it?

Although I could list dozens upon dozens of remodelers in the US and Canada that charge for estimates (just off the top of my head), I will always have a handful naysayers. “It’s impossible in my area,” they’ll say.

For the doubters who won’t break, let me offer an alternative: differentiate estimates from proposals. You can keep the free estimate button on your website because you are now charging for proposals.

es·ti·mate verb 

/ˈestəˌmāt/ an approximate calculation or judgment of the value, number, quantity, or extent of something.

The key words in the definition are approximate and judgement. You can and should give an estimate over the phone. It’s a pre-qualification tool.

It’s easy. Once you’ve received the description of the project you say, “Okay Mr. Jones, based on what you’ve told me you can expect the project to come in between $100,000 and $160,000.”

There you go. You’ve just provided a free estimate.

Assuming they are still on the phone and didn’t gasp, scream or pass out, you can now offer to give them a full-blown proposal for $X, which will be “deducted” (optionally) from the project price if they choose you.

What about you?

Do you charge for estimates (or proposals)? If not, do you think you could never do so? Do you think I’m out of my mind? I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below!

How to Tell if Your Marketing Actually Works

Do you know how effective your marketing is? I mean really know? If you’re serious about developing a marketing program that consistently delivers the best results, you need to start tracking the individual tactics you are putting out into the street.

In today’s episode of PowerTips TV, I’ll share the key metrics you should be analyzing and what to do with the information once you’ve got it!

How about you?

Are you monitoring your marketing efforts on a weekly basis? Monthly? Not at all? Please share your stories in the comments below.


The ABCs of SEO for Remodelers

SEO. Search Engine Optimization. These terms can be frustrating and confusing for many remodelers. Part of the problem is that Google is always changing their algorithim, so if you aren’t in the industry, it can be tough to keep up! They are making small changes almost daily and large changes multiple times per year. For a quick re-cap of their changes over the years, check out this MOZ page here.

A Brief History of SEO

In order to understand SEO a little bit better, it will be helpful to review a brief history of SEO and how Google originally ranked websites. Google’s main goal is to serve it’s searchers (people typing things into the Google search engine) with the most relevant content based on the search words and serve that content as fast as possible.

In order to return relevant content, Google indexes all the content on the web and tries to identify what that content is about. When someone does a search, they try to pull the best content that most accurately matches that search.

In the beginning, “getting found” was largely about keywords and inbound links. If you wanted to rank for “remodeling company Seattle”, you’d create a page with some content and put “remodeling company Seattle” all over the page. You’d also put that phrase in the meta data (meta keywords, meta description). Can-an-SEO-Firm-Boost-Your-Marketing-Power This helped tell Google that your page was about “remodeling company Seattle”. After that, you’d also want to get other people to link back to your page. Ideally, when they linked back to your page, they would hyperlink the words “remodeling company Seattle”.

Why are these links important? This was Google’s way of identifying if a page should rank higher. Let’s look at an example. Remodeling Company ABC has 100 other websites linking back to it. Remodeling Company XYZ has 10 other websites linking back to it. Google looked at this and basically said: “If there are more links going to a website, it must mean that website is important. If 100 other websites thought Remodeling Company ABC’s website was important, that we do to. So we will rank it higher.”

Makes sense right?

Then, Google started to get smarter. They looked at those 100 links and decided they needed a way to evaulate the “link quality”. What if one of those 100 links came from a website that was created yesterday. Should that link really carry the authority of a website that has hundreds of pages and was created 10 years ago? Probably not.

So, Google started to associate a value with various websites, called Page Rank. Now, it wasn’t just about getting MORE links, it was about getting QUALITY links. If your company was able to get 10 or 15 links from other high quality websites, that would be more beneficial than 20 or 30 links from weak websites.

Fast forward to today, and Google has over 200 ranking factors in it’s algorithym.

  • On Page Optimization
  • Social Signals (likes, shares, etc.)
  • Inbound links
  • Domain history
  • Domain authority

These are just a few.

Is SEO Worth the Time, Effort and Money?

With all these factors to consider, you might be thinking: “Is it even worth it? Is trying to rank high on Google worth the time, effort and money?”

Well, the short answer is yes. But, why? The answer is ZMOT.

ZMOT – what the heck is ZMOT?

It stands for the Zero Moment of Truth. A few years ago, Google did an extensive study that looked at the buying process. You can access the entire study here, but I’ll give you a quick re-cap.

There used to be a 3 step mental model of marketing.

  1. Stimulus
  2. First Moment of Truth
  3. Second Moment of Truth

Let’s look at how this plays out. Dad is watching the football game on TV and sees an ad for a digital camera. He thinks to himself that it would be great to have that (stimulus), so he goes to his favorite electronics store and looks at the product on the shelf (first moment of truth). He talks to the sales rep, asks some questions and makes his purchase. Then, he goes home and starts using his camera (second moment of truth).

Perfect. The model works. Well, this model has changed today. The buying process isn’t the same. Here’s what it looks like now.

  1. Stimulus
  2. ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth)
  3. First Moment of Truth
  4. Second Moment of Truth

Let’s look at the same example. Dad is still watching the football game and sees the same commercial for a digital camera. However, today, he grabs his laptop or iPad or Smartphone and gets onto Google. He starts looking at different cameras, reading product reviews, reading testimonials and looking at photos, specs, and anything else he can find. Dad may go into the store, but he may just order the camera right then.

This shift in buying behavior is happening across all industries.

ZMOT in the Remodeling Industry

People looking to do a remodel go online first. They Google looking for remodeling companies in the area. They want to look at photos and videos, so they look at remodeler’s websites, but also visit social media sites likes Houzz, Pinterest and Facebook looking for design ideas.

They also start Googling questions such as:

  • “How long does it take to remodel a kitchen?”
  • “How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?”
  • “What does the process look like for remodeling my bathroom?”
  • “How do you find a reputable contractor?”
  • “What are the 2014 design trends for master suites?”

And many more. If you aren’t talking about these questions on your website or blog, you’re not getting found. Your competition is though.

Next Steps and Priorities for You

So, what can you do today to start getting caught up on SEO and implementing some strategies for your website? Below, I’m going to lay out a few basic guidelines that will put you on the right path. This isn’t everything you need to know, but these are the “big wins” I’d recommend focusing on:

  • Optimize each of your website pages for a relevant keyword or keyword phrase.
  • Create a blog and publish high quality content to it at least weekly. Ideally 2-3x per week.
  • Use location specific keywords in your blog titles. Ex. 3 Kitchen Design Trends to Watch for in Atlanta
  • Share your blog content as well as photo and video content on social channels like Houzz, Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Reach out to trade partners or business partners and ask if they will link to your website from their “partner page”.
  • Publish written and video testimonials on your website and 3rd party review pages like Google and Yelp. I also highly recommend Guild Quality.
  • Be as helpful and relevant as possible in all the content you create. Put yourself in the position of your customer and try to answer all their questions before they come to you. Because, they may never come to you if you don’t supply that information.


Why Remodelers Need a Mobile Website

Mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s all we hear about today! Ugh! Well, we’re hearing about mobile because it’s absolutely exploding. Mobile website traffic that is.

Why Having a Mobile Optimized Website Matters

One of our clients was getting about 10% of their website visits from mobile devices in December of 2013. Just 6 months later, that percentage rose to 40%! Then, in August, it hit 60+%. Wow. More than half their visitors were viewing their website on a mobile device!

I’ve got a quick action step for you. Log-in to your Google Analytics right now and check your mobile traffic percentages. Or, if you have a webmaster, send him or her a quick email and ask for it.

why-remodelers-need-a-mobile-websiteNot sure where to look? Here’s a quick screen shot on the left and below. Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard and look at the left navigation. Find “mobile” and click on “Overview”. Then scroll down a bit and look at the percentages for mobile, tablet and desktop. Play around with the timeline and look at the mobile traffic in January of this year vs. this month. Chances are, it’s risen dramatically!


Mobile visits are on the rise because phones and tablets are getting much better in terms of screen size and resolution and more and more people are purchasing them. You can see this in the launch announcement of the iPhone 6.

In addition, everyone is spending more and more TIME on these mobile devices. 75% of Americans admit they bring their phones to the bathroom and 4 out of 5 shoppers use their smartphone to shop.

Here are some things to consider about mobile website traffic:

  • Your bounce rate is higher with mobile traffic, but it will skyrocket if you don’t have a good mobile site. (Bounce rate is the number of visitors that leave after visiting just 1 page on your site)
  • You’re missing out on leads if you get a visitor and they don’t take action. You miss out on more leads if your site isn’t mobile ready.
  • You frustrate visitors trying to find information if you don’t have a good mobile website.

I don’t think I need to make more of a case for the NEED for a mobile ready website, but just in case you aren’t convinced, look at these stats here.

What is a Mobile Optimized Website Anyway?

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, Spence I need a mobile optimized website. What does that actually mean?”

Great question.

A mobile optimized website is a website that is specifically designed for mobile devices. Mobile devices include smartphones of all sizes and tablets like iPads. Mobile devices have different screen sizes than desktops and laptops, so it’s important that your website displays your content in a visually appealing way. The goal is to make it so that your visitors don’t have to zoom in and scroll all over the place to read your content. Navigation is bigger and is in a toolbar. Font sizes are bigger and you should really only need to scroll down. Not sideways. You’ve probably been on a mobile optimized website before. It looks a little something like this:


See how the words and buttons fit the screen? This is much better than forcing users to zoom in on your website with their fingers. That can be time confusing and frustrating.

What Are Your Options for Mobile Optimized Sites?

There are actually a few different options for creating mobile optimized sites, but there’s really only one route you should take.

1. Separate Mobile Site

One option for creating a mobile optimized site is to create a separate mobile website. This was common a few years ago. The idea is that you build a site that has different content, different menu structure and looks much more simplistic. When someone visits your website (www.XYZRemodeling.com) from a mobile device, they are automatically re-directed to your mobile site (usually something like m.XYZRemodeling.com).

The good thing about this option is that you can provide your users with a much better experience on your mobile site than your main website. However, the downside to this option is that you have two separate websites to manage and there is different content on your mobile site compared to your desktop site. This can be a big negative for users that find some information on your mobile site and want to go back later when they get home. However, when they load up your website on their desktop they can’t find that information, because it’s different.

In addition, Google has stated that Responsive Design is the new best practice for mobile.

2. Responsive Design

Responsive design means that you have one website, one set of pages and they all dynamically adjust sizing and layout based on the device someone is on. Here’s an example of a responsive site viewed on various devices:

Sample Responsive

You can tell if a website is responsive by opening it in a desktop browser and then dragging the width of the browser window until it’s skinny, like a phone.

Just minimize your browser and drag it all the way to the left. Remodelers Advantage is responsive, so you can try it on this website right now to see what I mean. Notice how the content dynamically morphs and adjusts based on the width of the browser?

If you don’t have a mobile optimized site right now, I definitely recommend going the responsive design route. Anytime Google recommends something as a best practice, it’s always a good idea to follow that.

Next Steps for Ensuring You’re Mobile Ready

Okay, let’s take a look at some good next steps for you.

Step 1. Take out your phone right now and navigate to your website. How does it look? Is it tiny? Do you have to pinch-and-zoom to read anything? Does the content flow off the side so that you have to do a finger-waggle just to read a complete sentence? Then you don’t have a mobile optimized website.

Step 2. Contact your existing website design company and tell them you need to get mobile! If you’d like an unbiased third-party opinion before speaking with them, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to give you our expert opinion…even if you’re not working with us. 🙂

Phone FAQ image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Facebook Posts that Drive Engagement

Inside FacebookIs your Facebook page under performing? Many remodelers make the mistake of thinking “as long as I post once a day, I’m doing social media marketing.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The whole point is to be recognizable. You want people to know your brand. You want to be top of mind when someone is ready to do a project. And you certainly want your brand to get in front of as many eyes as possible.

Your goal should be for people to engage with your posts–because it’s through engagement that their friends–and their friend’s friends–will see you.

Now, for the purpose of this issue, we’re defining engagement as a likes, shares, and comments. (Clicks are also an engagement, but they serve a different purpose).

These posts don’t contain links. Their sole purpose is to get people to interact with you and spread your post (and your brand) throughout the Facebook universe.

So what’s the secret?

All posts are not created equal. Here are five types that regularly over perform.


Quotes are one of the most shared posts on Facebook. Everyone loves quotes. Whether inspirational or comical, it’s hard to resist giving a quote a thumbs-up.


2. Questions

These are one of the easiest ways to get people to comment. The post itself demands it. Many remodelers make this mistake, especially when posting pictures of projects. Many will post a kitchen remodel and say something like, “Another quality project by Acme Remodeling!”

You dramatically increase the likelihood of comments by instead saying, “Just Finished! What do think has the most impact, the custom backsplash or the island bar?”

3. Challenges

A variation of questions, challenges get people thinking. And everyone wants to be the one to get it right. Here’s an example of a challenge we did.


4. Tagging Photos

You may be familiar with tagging people in a photo, but have you ever considered tagging a photo without people in it? This is a unique way to get friends to tag themselves on your photo posts. Here’s an example of something we did a few months back.


Here’s another example of something you could try; post a split image of two different decorating styles and and ask people to tag themselves on the side they like or agree with.

5. Caption This!

Here’s a fun and easy post. Put up a picture and ask people to give it a caption. This can really get the comment train rolling as people try to “out-do” one another with the funniest or wittiest caption.

caption this

Did I miss anything?

Please share post types that have given you above average results in the comments below! I look forward to hearing your stories!

How to Stop Wasting Time on Bad Leads

Do you know how to identify a bad lead? If not then you are losing time. And time is your most precious commodity. I’ve already addressed the problem with “wearing too many hats” in a previous episode. There I discussed how critical it is for you to focus primarily on sales and marketing.

However, that doesn’t mean follow every lead you get. You must still effectively manage your time by doing the right things to move your company forward. And going on these no-hope appointments not only take your focus away from more qualified prospects; they also destroy moral because “you’ve lost another one.”

On this week’s episode I’ll show you how to separate the good from the bad by pre-qualifying the prospect at the very first contact.

How about you?

Do you have any great pre-qualification techniques that I forgot to mention? What has helped you identify the good, the bad and the ugly? Let me know in the comments below!

Free Download: Prospect Initial Call Questionnaire

Free Download Client Questionaire

Victoria recommended that you have a checklist to go through when pre-qualifying leads. More importantly she wanted to give you one that’s ready to use! So here’s the “special document” that Victoria mentions in the video. Enjoy!

Where Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget?

Do you struggle with how to spend your marketing budget? Want to know cost effective ways to generate the best leads? In this week’s episode of PowerTips TV [7:11] I’ll give you the top 5 things you should be doing with your marketing dollar.

Learn about creating a fantastic customer experience, how to stay in front of your circle of influence, strategies for getting referrals, jobsite marketing strategies, and the keys to a great website.

This episode was inspired by comments we received from our Master Your Remodeling Business Workshop last month. The most common “burning issue” question we were asked was how to cost-effectively generate leads. Want to attend our next workshop? Click here to learn more.

It’s the Best Jobsite Sign Photo Contest!

Remodeler's LibraryThink your jobsite sign rocks? Ready to put it to the test? You could win the Remodeler’s Library ($92 value).

This 4-Volume set of books includes:

  • Master the Business of Remodeling;
  • The Remodeler’s Guide to Making and Managing Money;
  • The Remodeler’s Marketing PowerPak;
  • 101 PowerTips: Great Business Ideas from America’s Top Remodelers.

Sorry. The contest is over. Click here to see the winner!

The Secret to Reselling Past Clients

Be honest, is there anything more annoying than finding out a past customer recently had work done on their house but they went with another company? Most of the time it’s not because they didn’t want to use you: it’s because they didn’t know (or couldn’t remember) that you could do that specific type of work.

In this week’s episode of PTTV I’ll share different ways to stay in front of your past clients so this never happens again.

How about you?

What strategies and tactics have you used to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your past customers? Let me know in the comments below!