Not Much Of A Salesman?

 
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Old 08-11-2008, 09:31 AM   #21
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by robstiltner View Post
You could always try online leads services such as Leads.com but there are others out thier as well.
I've heard mostly bad,bad,bad about this kind of lead generator. Have you had much success?
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Old 08-11-2008, 09:52 AM   #22
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Forry View Post
I'm with you and get it now, and agree, right up untill "start spending money". Is this about Advertising?

Also, I'm toying with raising my rates again by 10%. Good idea/ bad idea?
I wouldn't raise my rates at this time. A lot of people love to pretend that price has nothing to do with landing jobs, reality is price has more to do with it then many will admit. Some guys love to pretend they can sell ice to an eskimo at 100X the going rate and that is wonderful for the internet ego, but it doesn't change the fact that they aren't doing it. There absolutely is an effect on sales based on pricing. It's a complicated dance between percieved value and price chaged. The long and the short based on what you are experiencing the last thing I would recommend you do at this time is raise your prices. Save that for another battle.

My advice is to start spending money on advertising. Now is the time. You can't change the fact that there is more competition, you can't change the fact others are cutting their prices, you can't change the fact the sales cycle has lengthened, but you can get yourself in front of more qualified prospects.

I forgot what you said your closing rate was, but for example if you say it is 1:6 where it used to be 3:4, in order to get 3 sales you need 18 prospects now, while you are working on your selling skills. You still need to get the work signed so the best results will be increasing your prospects while you increase your closing ratio.
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:03 AM   #23
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Thanks Mike. Kind of what I was thinking too, thoughts on the best types of advertising? I guess my website should be #1 priority, but what next? Newspaper ads seem desperate, magazines are $$$$.
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:15 AM   #24
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Hard to say for you, the #1 rule of advertising is to advertise when you are busy, don't wait until you need to advertise to advertise. If you don't have any tried and true methods that have worked for you in the past you're starting from the ground zero and that's a bad spot to be in when you're faced with having to get that phone ringing now.

What type of work do you do and who are your typical customers? What are the price ranges of the jobs you typically do? The marketing methods that works effectively for a plumber who specializes in service work won't necessarily work for a custom home builder, you know what I mean?
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:31 AM   #25
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Forry View Post
Thanks Mike. Kind of what I was thinking too, thoughts on the best types of advertising? I guess my website should be #1 priority, but what next? Newspaper ads seem desperate, magazines are $$$$.
Concentrate on what folks in Eugene, OR like and don't like. Look at your past clients and try to find similarities in lifestyles, neighborhoods, income levels, etc. Once you know who your market is, how to market to them will become a bit easier. How have your clients found you in the past if not from a referral?

Sponsorships are a good form of advertising, as are school programs. Partnering with local supply houses works well too. The best leads tend to come from networking. I talk to folks all day long, just to chitchat where ever I go. I strike up conversations and find out what people are doing and why. This has lead to some very good referrals as well as self-generated leads.

You don't want to walk up and stick out your hand and ask, "Hey, you need a remodeler?", just take an interest in what they are doing or how they are dressed and follow the path that leads you down. You'll be surprised how often the conversation turns to work or the home and that leads into a chance to pass along a business card.

Sales is about people. The more comfortable you are around all types of people, the more that ease will show and will turn into trust. Trust is the key to making sales. The client will buy based on price as a first reaction, but the gut will always tell them to go with the one they trust the most.
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:36 AM   #26
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


I sort of skimmed over the replies, here's my two cents.

Learn to build trust, if people trust you they will buy from you. While I own a bunch of sales books, DVD's and cd's I can't think of any of them that really touch on the subject. If you look back on your past sales you might see examples of where people bought from you because they trusted you. Words alone generally will not get you the job, talk and then back up your statements with proof. "We have done several projects just like yours" [and then show pictures] "our clients are very happy with the work" [show a few testimonials] "we carry insurance, a state license, blah blah, and have zero complaints on BBB" [show screen prints]. I used "WE" on purpose, don't use it clients don't want to hear about them, figure out ways to replace WE and I [you will have nice new trim around your new doors when we are done].

Ed's reply was good, clients want to hire a human not a salesperson that wants to "close a deal" and move on to the "next lead". It takes a while to learn to talk to a client about other interests without coming across like you want to "warm them up so you can sell them". I would suggest sitting in on a few estimates in order to see how other people "warm up" it's an art! If all else fails at least compliment them on some of their other home improvements, furniture selection, paintings..........something that you like (don't be fake). After your estimate take a few minutes on the drive home to think about how well you connected with your client. Where you able to get them talking about thinks other than the project? How many things do you have in common? If you got stuck in a snow bank 2 blocks away will they bring you a snow shovel?

As far as your haircut goes, don't look like a bum. Your statement about your hair and shirts comes across like you know that you look like a bum. We have all seen very professional people with long hair that still appear professional. Clean clothes that are not stained are a must. Some people are not comfortable in dress pants and dress shirts, in which case I would suggest jeans and a nice company shirt or golf pullover. Do your clients want a big professional company or do they want a small professional company? It took me years to figure out that my clients want a small professional company. If they are looking for a big professional company then dress up a little.
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:39 AM   #27
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Double-A View Post
turn into trust. Trust is the key to making sales. The client will buy based on price as a first reaction, but the gut will always tell them to go with the one they trust the most.
You type faster than me!
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:02 PM   #28
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Forry View Post
Not sure if it's the current economy, or if I've tapped out the pool I had, or if I'm screwing something up or what, but I'm getting calls, just not really selling (maybe 1/4 close ratio).
1 in 4 ain't bad, depending on pricing and competition.
Meet 16 people and sell 4 jobs per week..meet 32 and sell 8.

Close 1 in 3 ?
Meet 12 people and sell 4 jobs per week...meet 24 and sell 8.

Ed is right.
LISTEN, and the listen some more. What do they need?
Don't get in a hurry. Show them they are important to you.
Ask for referrals.

Give them a history lesson.
Who are you and why should they hire you?
How long have you been in business?

Print your BBB report.
Put it in your flip book.
Get a flip book.
Put in purtty pictures.
Put in some industry information if appropriate.

Get a haircut and a shave.
Wear a shirt with YOUR logo on it.
Keep the truck clean and tidy.
Don't park on the lawn.

Guarantee the job.
What will you guarantee and what will you fix?
Present a nice, simple contract.
Ask them when they would like you to start.

And to repeat:
Make'm love you, but don't be a phony while doing it.
Ask for referrals.
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:41 PM   #29
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Wow! Keep it comin' guys! I'm getting alot from this, and I suspect others might also. Lots of good reminders on how to do my job well.
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Old 08-11-2008, 03:59 PM   #30
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


There are a lot of good answers here and I'll try not to repeat what other people said, but here are some info to take into consideration...

All of you will agree that the best customers you can get are referrals from happy customers. I can tell you that from our experience (surveys) the most important things for HO when hiring a pro are:

Talking to previous customers about their experience(referrals)
Seeing samples of previous jobs (pictures)
Staying on budget of the original proposal
Finishing (and starting) on schedule
Attention to details
Quality of work
Keeping the work area clean at the end of each day
Price


You should also try to educate the homeowners about the work to be done. People want to feel they are working with an expert that knows and care about his workmanship.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:18 PM   #31
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Wiz23 View Post
All of you will agree that the best customers you can get are referrals from happy customers.
Personally I wouldn't agree with that. I've had plenty of leads generated by customer referrals that are totally unqualified leads. The only thing they are is familiar with your work, it still doesn't make them a qualified lead. Phrases like "$20,000? Oh I had no idea!" can easily be heard from a referral.

I haven't figured out a way to make a previous customer pre-qualify who they tell about you though. I can't imagine the conversation of telling your previous customers to only tell their friends who understand what it costs to do something correctly about you. Only tell your friends who have proper budgets and expectations about you.

Referrals are good leads, and we should all strive to get them because they have cheap aquisition costs in relation to most other leads, but I'd never consider them the best leads you can get. -- My thoughts on the subject for what they are worth.
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:31 AM   #32
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Building rapport and trust will take you really far in any sales job. Some of the books mentioned will help alot. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is a good book. You should always be reading a good sales book.
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Old 08-12-2008, 06:11 PM   #33
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Carport King View Post
Ed and Mike some great advise. Ed in the marketing world we call this fall in love with your client. Most contractors do not understand this. And it is the most important part of the selling process.

As Ed has showed it pays off big time. Just do not lower prices change the way you sell or your presentation. Thanks
I agree! I have recently joined my husband's company-he's the contractor and I have the business/marketing background. He is finally learning to listen to his potential customers and hear what they are saying. He's also asking happy customers to tell their friends and refer them to us. It seems to be working.
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Old 08-12-2008, 06:13 PM   #34
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


We are also building relationships with Architects, Developers, and Commercial/Retail Management companies by sending THEM business and leads. This turns into a win-win situation.
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Old 08-12-2008, 10:37 PM   #35
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Old 08-12-2008, 10:49 PM   #36
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Old 08-13-2008, 12:43 AM   #37
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


This is an impressive and useful thread. I especially appreciate Ed's observations about how he got down to business -- and earth -- and found what he needs.
Most businesses go through ups and downs; the test of entrepreneurship is how well we work through the painful declines. Often the problems are the overall economy (and clearly that has had serious impact on our industry). I can attribute my first decline to the bad economy (in early 90s) and lack of experience; the more recent crisis -- which hit bottom two years ago -- has everything to do with failures in business (and sales) management.
Last year, before Sonny Lykos' untimely passing, he sent me masses of information on "branding". At first I was puzzled -- branding seemed an arcane concept; one for 'big business' and really not relevant to a smaller organization. But as I read through his materials -- and the books he recommended -- I began to get it. I also saw how through some changes in branding practices, I had indeed started to engineer a major turn-around of my business.
Today, all our salespeople are encouraged to spend at least a quarater of their time on stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with selling, and everything to do with giving. In our case, we actively support construcvtion and community organizations with free publicity and advertising contributions. I spend many hours with my Construction Marketing Ideas blog, and just returned from the Society for Marketing Professional Services convention in Denver (SMPS is a 7,000 member association dedicated to AEC marketing). I'm on the editorial committee for the association newsletter. Do I do this stuff because I believe people will respond and advertise in our publications? Sure, but the linkage is truly indirect and when I work on these projects I don't care how much I can get; only how much I can give.
Your 'give' may be different -- perhaps making a toy house for a community charity raffle (note this is very different than contributing one of many to some structured event); or volunteering to help a condominium corporation with a faciliites review. The whole idea is 'free stuff' and I certainly don't mean 'free estimates' here.
The effect of these initiatives, linked with the other common-sense basics of client respect and customer service, is to create a brand; a positive emotional and practical tie between the business and current and potential clients. In effect, our sales team practice, for want of a better word, Sarketing -- selling, but also thinking the broader marketing picture.
On selling, resources worthy of consideration are Jeffrey Gitomer's site/newsletter and (for a book specifically on topic), Michael Stone's Profitable Sales.
Sonny Lykos, practiced what he preached right to the end -- teaching me the branding principals and concepts that truly work and make selling a whole lot more fun.

Last edited by Ed the Roofer; 08-13-2008 at 09:48 AM. Reason: Corrected Sonys Last name spelling out of reverance and respect.
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:50 AM   #38
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Mark,

I have the complete "Branding" collection that Sonny had sent to me over a long period of time plus some more that I sent to him.

If there are any additional pieces you want, please contact me.

By the way, by following through, I had one sale per day over the past 4 days and that came out to a bit over $ 36,000.00 for 4 roof jobs, so keep the pedal to the metal and get hungry again. It works.

Ed
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:54 PM   #39
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


Contact your local SBA. I send letters, ideas, and other stuff to them to critique. They give good advice as well. Some areas might even have a good economic development program that you could work with.
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Old 08-13-2008, 08:20 PM   #40
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Re: Not Much Of A Salesman?


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Originally Posted by Double-A View Post
1. Forget the yellow pages, finish the web site this month if not sooner.
2. Why should it offend you that your client's buying habits have changed some while you selling techniques haven't? You're taking this personally and this is business. Grow some hide or go to work for someone else.
3. Absolutely! You don't have to go all metrosexual, but clean, washed, clean cut, neutral odor and clothes that fit and look clean go a long way to setting yourself apart from the rift raft that plies these trades along side us.
4. Loose the "Gotta run" attitude. This is the death knell of so many contractors. "I have to be someplace/pick something up/check on a job/run some materials/do payroll/run to the bank! Gotta jet!! Catch me if you can!"

<rolls eyes> You can not be in any type of hurry when you're meeting with clients. They have to be the center of what you are all about. If you even start to make them think they are not the most important thing going on in your workday, then you've lost the sale. Period.

Just think of how you dislike someone chatting with a coworker while you're being ignored, as if you didn't exist. Don't do that to your clients!

Find your market and market to your finds! Know what you can and can not do, what you are willing and unwilling to do and stick to it.

This ain't rocket science, its much harder. Pay attention to the details and the big crap will take care of itself.

The above is excellent advise. add the the below to the above..

1. Ask them exactly what it is they look forward to with a contractor and the job to be done.
2. Go beyond what the average contractor does for an estimate. For Ex. if you have a job close to their house, and if its exterior work, take them there!
3. Know your client/>take some time and build some rapport.
4. Finally, create the essence of honesty/sincere, trust and especialization in what you do. and 1/4 ROI is very good!! and theres always room for improvement!

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