Rule No. 1 in the roofing business - We don’t put new roofs on houses, we put roofs on homes. There is a big difference between a house and a home. A house is a project, a physical entity, which is built and remodeled according to schedules with ladders, scaffolds and materials. A home is a place that neighbors admire and where families raise their children. Adhere to Rule No. 1 and you will already have distinguished yourself from the competition.
Only a few short months ago I was privileged to speak at the Roofing Contractor Best of Success conference. I repeatedly heard contractors complain about the competitive nature of other contractors that lower prices and cut into market share and profits. Ironically there was not one contractor that claimed to be the low price provider, thus raising the paradoxical question: Who are these “other” contractors and why are they ruining the marketplace for the rest of us?
The answer is that nobody intentionally becomes the lowball competitor, but instead it happens accidentally. If you make the sales process about price, then the customer will buy price. But if you make the sale about putting your heart into their homes, the customers will respect any fair price you set before them. The true sales leader does not create a dialogue with clever catch phrases and promises of value that justify a price. The true sales leader wins the client over by capturing the heart.
The best salespeople are not necessarily those that know how to close deals but are the salespeople that open relationships. Your objective, and that of your salespeople, should be to establish relationships that can last forever. Sell to your customers as though they will not merely buy the next roof from you, but as though they will buy every roof from you for the rest of their lives.
Become a LeaderOne powerful sign of business success comes when customers recommend you to others. Perhaps the most powerful sign of success occurs when customers ask you to provide additional services beyond your normal scope of business. You are at the pinnacle of success when your customers think of you as remodeler instead of a reroofer - a partner instead of a subcontractor.
The heart of a sales leader is marked by dedication to the profession and personal characteristics that extend far beyond the business transactions that are created. The sales leader is focused on the long term, not merely the next transaction. Moreover, the best sales leaders are diligent, organized, loving, humble in victory and gracious in defeat. To truly develop the heart of a sales leader, try the following steps.
1. You do not have to close the first time. I realize that this point alone is blasphemous among some sales circles. Veteran sales performers will tell you that they consistently have discovered that prospects who don’t buy the first time will never buy. The fact is that salespeople fulfill that prophecy simply by not making a second call to the buyer.
Consider the sale from the prospect’s perspective and remember that you probably don’t respond to high-pressure tactics either. Prospects are not always ready to buy at the same moment you are ready to sell. When prospects discover that you are not attempting to pressure them into a decision, the dialogue becomes non-adversarial and usually increases the value of your sale. Less pressure ultimately results in more sales than you expected because prospects are willing to pay more and often choose to buy more when they realize you are on their side.
2. Slow down to understand before you speak. We work in a very detail-oriented business, and in order to do the job properly an abundance of information is required. Take time to understand what the prospect is planning for their home. Don’t merely walk the job to determine project needs, but educate the prospect in every aspect of the construction process. Let the prospect see your concentration on detail so they recognize the careful attention you will give the home.
3. Present ideas that create happiness and trust. Remember that you do this every day and many of your customers do this once in a lifetime. Thus the many aspects of the construction process that you take for granted are very mysterious issues for your client. Carefully detail and explain the entire process so that the customer achieves security with you. Be honest about any challenging situations that may be encountered and your past experience with similar situations. It is your experience in these matters that creates credibility and trust. Only when your clients know you are the expert are they are happy to entrust their home to your care.
4. Did I mention that you do not have to close the first time? (But you can.) Your first meeting with a client should not necessarily be to sign a contract. Create other reasons to hold a first meeting with a prospect. Perhaps your goal for the first meeting should merely be to schedule a second meeting after you have processed all the information. There is no rule that says you can’t close on the first meeting, but there is also no rule that says you must.
5. Sell as if you’re going to live with the client forever. Recognize that your best resources of business growth are referrals and repeat business from satisfied customers. Treat your customers as though you live next door to them. This powerful perspective will reveal your heartfelt concern for their happiness and create numerous sales opportunities in your future.