This article is the first in a series of three I will offer you on “Managing the Customer Experience.” It is inspired by the comments I get from roofing contractors that are struggling to differentiate themselves from competitors. They frequently complain that customers and prospects don’t understand the value they provide.
When asked what they are doing to differentiate themselves from their competition, most contractors talk about the excellent workmanship they provide on the job. The problem is that a customer can’t know about your workmanship on the job until they see it. Your job is to help clients create a vision of the project before it begins.
To create a new vision of success, you must first address the assumptions and expectations that prospects have prior to the start of the sales process. A potential customer expects that the salesperson will be trying to “win” a negotiation. The perception that salespeople are unscrupulous connivers is reinforced by past experiences with salespeople and images from movies and television.
It is up to you to deal with these expectations. If you sincerely want to help clients make the right buying decisions, then overcome preconceived notions and create a positive vision of the sales and construction process.
Here are my tips to help you manage the customer experience. Keep in mind that all four of these tips are steps you must take prior to making a sales presentation.
1. Assess the situation. It is easy to forget that your clients are often buying a roof not only for the first time in their life, but perhaps the only time. A salesperson should recognize that prospects are uninformed and therefore possess a healthy skepticism about the process. They truly do not know what questions to ask, how the process works or the basis upon which they should trust a salesperson. Therefore the salesperson should be prepared to deal with the prospect’s anxiety and skepticism.
2. Understand the motivation. The sales process should begin with an understanding of a client’s motivation. A question I have taught in-home salespeople for over a decade of my life is a great opener, “What changes in your life have prompted you to allow me into your home tonight?” The answer to this question will reveal a lot about a client’s motivation for home improvement decisions. Some prospects will tell you they have to fix a problem, which might imply a low cost solution. Other prospects will tell you that they have been dreaming of the new look of their home for years, waiting until they could afford the project, thus implying sensitivity to aesthetics and long-term performance. In short, every homeowner is unique and it is the salesperson’s responsibility to hear each story.
3. Discover and discuss the physical situation. Before your presentation on roof products, aesthetics and performance, first educate clients on the technical side of the project. While you deal with roofs every day, your clients, conversely, have little clue about ventilation requirements, decking, underlayments, project scheduling and the like. When you first involve the client in a roof inspection and discussion, then your presentation and work proposal will have more credibility.
4. Plan your presentation accordingly. If you are like most of the contractors with whom I deal now, you are beyond the “one-sit close.” The first meeting can be the discovery meeting and your next will then become the presentation of a proposal. You will be astounded by both the improvement in your presentations and the acceptance from your prospects.
Next month my article will discuss ways in which you can improve your presentations and delivery proposals that differentiate you from the competition. Until then, manage the customer experience by striving to develop a thorough understanding of your prospects’ motivations. You will discover that closing ratios increase and customer satisfaction is greatly enhanced.