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Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales

 
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Old 08-10-2007, 12:11 PM   #21
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Publisher...you put it perfectly.
If you're the one hiring the sales force at your company...I'd like to invest!

I could debate the word of mouth reference though...there are many contractors that survive almost wholely on it.
As for selling, it all depends on what you sell...life insurance, sure I'd close the door if the guy were in jeans.
But we're talking about services here...in my "humble" opinion, if you're selling designer clothes you better be dressed in some kind of amazing get-up, if you're selling a boiler install and it looks like you might have just left doing one...can't hurt.
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:17 PM   #22
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


We can have a satisfactory business built on good craftsmanship and word of mouth; we can also have a profitable business built on hard-rock sales (quality be dammed). But great businesses require both elements.

Now, as for how to dress on sales calls, if you wish to follow the advice of Michael Stone, dressing up with a tie and jacket is the right thing to do, and you won't know how much it will help your business until you do. Yes, I know you are good at your trade and down to earth, but say you put on the suit and tie, and raised your prices 10 per cent, and found you were just getting as many yesses for the same amount of work? Would it pay for the discomfort?

PS. Today is a frustrating day for me. Last week, out of about 80 sales candidates, we had narrowed it down to two finalists worthy of full-scale evaluation. One isn't available because of a family health problem; the other has failed our working test -- we won't hire to fill a space; we will only hire if the rep meets the standards. So we are back to looking, some more.
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:35 PM   #23
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


It's funny this thread came up because I sell my company specifically on not using any of the tactics you list. The small amount of advertising we do, we state right off the bat NO SALESMEN.

I am not an idiot I realize everyone in our business is selling themselves everyday. But when people are talking about spending 5-135K on a remoldeling project high pressure sales are a major turn off for me. It screams that this company wants me to sign today because they are afraid of what I will find out tomorrow about them.

We have only made one deal with the phone book people where I signed on the spot. I have regretted it ever since. High pressure sales to get my money when he was selling an inferior product. I could have got way more out of my advertising dollars elsewhere.

IMHO if you explain the type of work you do (so the customer is not comparing apples to oranges). Give the home owner a chance to think about what you talked about and leave the customer with a couple of references of similar projects. It is a more respectfull way to do business and way more relaxing for the customer. We close about 80 percent and I believe most of the time when we don't close it's because the home owner had no idea what his project was going to cost.

Great thread though. I am still learning.

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Old 08-10-2007, 10:11 PM   #24
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


There are as many ways to sell as there are people, and "sales systems" may work fine for you but do not translate well for others. It is especially hard to have a sales staff that you force to use a system, and in my experience leads to a high turnover of sales staff.

Do not lose sight of the goal, which is sales. How a person arrives at that goal is irrelevant so long as they operate in an ethical manner within required margins and company policy.

Closing percent is one of those useless sales manager statistics, kind of like how many sales calls you make, leads you generate, etc. Who gives a crap about that? What counts is very simple and easy to track:

Weekly/monthly/yearly sales
Gross Profit Margin
Expenses

Any other metric is useful only to someone looking for busywork for themselves.

Hire real salesmen.
Give them the tools they need.
Pay them for what they sell and for how high the margin is, not how many calls they make or their closing rate.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:20 AM   #25
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


I hear alotta reference to Michael Stone.
I prefer the "bible" of sales..the true original...Carnegie.
You can throw names like Robbins, or Ziggler at me...but if you haven't read Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people" I don't know that you'd understand.
This book is unbelievably straightforward...no clever self designed acronyms...no idiosyncrous phrasing to bewilder and amaze the eager to learn reader...just flat common sense that's easy to relate and combine with your own experiences.
I read it about 15 years ago and kept mumbling..."ahhh...thats what I do wrong", "oh..I do that already, but I should add this...."
I think Tscarborough hit the nail though...it's all chemistry..your "schtick" per say...I somehow make people feel more comfortable the way I am, though I'm sure not all.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:49 AM   #26
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


I can not even begin to list the various sales seminars I have been subjected to, but the advanced Dale Carnegies were some of the better. Save yourself a lot of money and time and just remember this:

The sweetest sound anyone can hear is their name.

That and all it implies will make you a good salesman.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:11 PM   #27
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


My parents sent me to the Dale Carnegie course when I was 17 -- the Dale Carnegie people told me I was the youngest person ever to take the course. (Parents were trying to help; I truly was inept at all things social). The course worked, sort of. I certainly lost my fear of public speaking -- but to make small talk or simply communicate as a friend, ouch. Eventually I solved the problem by experiencing an African war. That taught me a lot about real and perceived fears, and how to differentiate between them. (I also realized if I had the couarge to go so far out of my space and survive, I could do anything I wanted in life.)
Many of the courses, programs and stuff out there work to some extent or another (biggest real influence for me was stuff from Brian Tracy). Most of the time, through the standard stuff all the gurus suggest, you can pick out a few gems and insights here and there. So, for example, when Stone says "dress up" for sales calls, I would say, okay, he thinks this is essential, so why not test it for a month. If my results are measurably higher, I would make it a permanent change.
Stone also advocates ONLY hiring commission-only sales reps. Maybe this works for him, but it isn't the direction I believe best (and there are plenty of authors and pundits who explain why). So what we do is offer a good salary, but set hiring criteria that frankly only salespeople capable of working on commission would 'pass' -- they have the comfort of knowing there is income stabiliity; while we have the comfort of knowing that our representatives aren't the type to just 'settle' for a salary.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:40 PM   #28
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Out this morning...ironically doing estimates.
I was at this guys house and we clicked..I might be wrong, but I think the jobs mine. (In jeans & tee...as was he)
I have to come clean though...I hadn't considered one very important variable in my line of work.
Less competition.
I need to be clear here, I know how to tie a double windsor (for those who know, it's easy to spot), I know what a MontBlanc is.
I won't get into my past, but I will say that my personal opinion on the way you dress is more important to you than the person your talking to (thinking of the scene from "The pusuit of happyness" where he lands the corporate job of his life wearing painted clothes and hair, explaining he'd spent the night in jail).
I enjoy talking to people and it shows...usually I have to peel myself away to leave...in fact this morning I "warned" the guy, humorously, that we'd have to distance ourselves as I worked.
I think it's easy for me to "sell" when I don't have to bid against a dozen other companies...in fact I'm usually one of less than 4-5, except on emergency/service work.
Just wanted to come clean on that point...what works for me could completely backfire for someone else in another trade.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:44 PM   #29
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
I can not even begin to list the various sales seminars I have been subjected to, but the advanced Dale Carnegies were some of the better. Save yourself a lot of money and time and just remember this:

The sweetest sound anyone can hear is their name.

That and all it implies will make you a good salesman.

Don't forget "Ask for the sale"...the very sentiment makes you wonder why such an obvious point is made...until you think of how many times you actually have asked.
The whole book was crammed with many more "obvious" points...almost comical in it's simplicity.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:11 PM   #30
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Coming clean on the dress code stuff, I will generally 'dress up' when visiting lawyers, bankers, etc; but 'dress to client' when I'm around others (especially tradespeople). Our offices are in less than fancy digs -- few contractors actually visit (most of our business is done on the phone or their site) but they are not going to be overwhelmed by formality (and our rent is lower).
Once I remember visiting a contractor whose office happened ito be in the basement of a major insurance company. (He did most of his work for that 'captive' market.) It was a hot summer day, and, taking the train to the appointment in Toronto, I wore my comfies. But a sixth sense suggested I bring my suit bag along. When I walked into the skyscraper and saw the secruity guards all in suits and tie, I immediately asked for directions to the bathroom and did a changeroo. Good thing -- this contractor, in his basement office, wore a tie!
Conversely, when a prospective sales rep showed up for his first test day with us (we don't do face-to-face interviews, we give finalists a few days real work for real pay) in jeans, I sensed he would not work out. I didn't decide on that basis -- he had three days to prove he could sell -- but I could see there were problems that he needed to address.
So, while something rings right in Stone's perspective on dressing up -- and he is emphatic on this point -- we'll all most likely continue doing our own thing the way we find most comfortable. Yet, reading his advice, the concepts seem right, worthy of testing, with low risk. So if I were struggling in any way, and things weren't working, I would indeed dress up. That advice, I suspect, may well save someone's busiiness here.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:06 AM   #31
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Your acquisition cost for a customer is the same whether they spend $100 or $10,000, whether they buy from you once or they do repeat business with you, whether they buy from you twice a year or twice in ten years, whether they give you referrals or don't give you referrals. Bottom line is, no matter what type of customer they become, your cost for acquiring them in the beginning remains the same so it is important to optimize each sale to it's fullest potential and to grow your business geometrically.

If you could increase your number of leads, increase your closing rate, increase the volume of each sale, increase the frequency of sales from each customer, and increase your referrals all by 5%-10% each imagine the impact that would have on your business!
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Old 09-01-2007, 04:28 PM   #32
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Closing ratios have nothing to do with price and you certainly cannot use them to validate price. The only way to know if you are charging the correct amount is to cost analyze your jobs.

For a short period I sold siding and windows for Sears. I quit because I couldn't stomach what they were doing to consumers but I did have a high closing ratio and my estimates were easily 5 TIMES higher than anything quoted by other contractors - at least for the siding. I was sincere, I was honest but I also followed a pretty carefully scripted dog and pony show that educated the prospect and followed steps similar to what Lawndart suggested.
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Old 09-01-2007, 04:36 PM   #33
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


I guess what I am saying is that while it is important to be yourself and sincere you can increase your closing ratios but using the basic tools of the sales trade - just keep them in the background so the customers do not notice them.
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:04 AM   #34
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


If you make this business about the people, the money will come.
If you make this business about the money, the people will run.
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Old 02-23-2008, 05:48 AM   #35
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Going back on some of my old threads here. Stating 70-80% closing ratios was a bit off. After using this system for over the course of a full year I'm actually closing around 50-60% of my leads. That said I still believe that if a sales system is used properly it can be beneficial for any company.

Has anyone used this type of sales map/script since reading this, or in the past? I plan on teaching my salesman this script after hiring them. I will require them to sell at a 50% closing ratio with bonuses for above 70% for the month. I had 2 months last year closing almost 80% so I believe dangling that carrot out there is attainable.

The leads that my salesman can't close, I plan to personally call the prospect back after a day, and offer to meet with them identifying myself as the owner. I figured I could close some of those deals rather than just letting them sit out there for my competition.
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Old 02-23-2008, 08:08 AM   #36
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Being new here reading old threads is what I do. I don't want to get called out for dragging them up so I'm glad you did, this being one of my favorite topics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCoops View Post
If you make this business about the people, the money will come.
If you make this business about the money, the people will run.
That's a great quote. I'm going to try to remember it, lately I've got a 50/50 chance.

I had a sales background before coming into this business. I've had to wear a suit and tie as well as use a canned presentation. I'll leave that to you professional salesmen. For me it's be comfortable by being yourself honestly.

My uniform consist of jeans and button up shirt. Both neat clean and crisp.

The technique is to sell myself first, my company next and the product last.

It is not about the money because the people like me and feel comfortable, they trust my company to rip up and reassemble their home which delivers the product they desire. If I missed on any of those points then the sale goes to someone else. My closing ratio is less than 50%.

Normally we are the highest cost the customer has reviewed. Most customers will give us raving referrals and repeat business without the benefit of competition. During a recent slowdown we were able to ride it out without lowering any pricing and are now picking up again.

Selling should be more about the benefits the customer receives in exchange for the money. Your business needs the money to provide these benefits. One early question I use is "How will you select the best contractor for this job?". If the answer is price I'll excuse myself and go seek the customer I require.

Whenever my closing rate "improves", it's time to experiment with prices to keep it where it should be.

Good Luck
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Old 02-23-2008, 05:46 PM   #37
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


The pre-presentation process:

I personally think that the most important thing one can do, especially during your first meeting with the prospective client, is to put yourself in his/her shoes.

Publisher touched on dressing up or down to the customers level and I believe that needs to be carried even further. Observe...Listen...Ask Questions. Find out something that you have in common to relate to.

They all start off wary of any "Salesman" who comes to their home. Oh Crud! I know I need this work done, but I don't want to have to listen to 1/2 dozen sales pitches from every guy out there, who all says they do quality work and are the best for this and that reason.

During my measurement call, I make sure that I ask questions about what they are most concerned about. What options have they considered? Would they be interested in looking at some alternative options, if the product could save them some money? (No, I do not mean cheaper products, but additional options that will provide more value to the job and decrease some monthly out of pocket expense for them.)

I leave them with several handouts.

1. A manufacturers unbiased brochure on how to choose a contractor.

2. An introduction letter pointing out 31 various details that my proposal will address.

3. A 10 Points Guide On How To Compare Contractors, which I created, and is much more stringent than the previously mentioned pamphlet, plus it is condensed into just one page.

4. A referral list of the 75 most recent home owners, which lists name, address, and the color and style of shingle chosen.

Who Else Does Anything Like That?

Some, but very few contractors provide anything except for manufacturers color charts and shingle options. (Flooring, Cabinets, etc...)

Now, even before I have met with the client for the sit down presentation, I have hopefully triggered some obvious or even subliminal differences between my 25 year strong company and most of the other competitors. The desired goal is to trigger my USP as being relevant to their needs.

Many people are interested in a price during the measurement call. First I show them the 31 point list of what my proposal will contain and explain that it will take some time to prepare a very detailed scope and analysis for there particular concerns. I tell them that I am going to put everything in writing, from problem analysis and causes, to options for solutions, at several comfortable pricing levels.

Hopefully, if this measurement call went the way it should, they have an anticipation for waiting for my detailed proposal. Now, it is key, to hit while the iron is hot. An appointment must be scheduled while they still have the important information at the top of there minds.

During my initial conversation with someone, I tried to gleen into their style of life. Listen, observe and look around. Are there any things about them that you can relate to. Make note of these points in your notes. They wil be brought up in a minor way during the presentation, partially during the warm-up and partially during the trial close period, as one resource to handle one of the several objections you wil try to pull out of them.

Back at the office. Did you send them a Thank You note for being one of the contractors considered for taking care of their home improvement? I doubt it. Who the heck does? Well, that right there is another opportunity to set yourself apart for less than a buck. Doesn't that one detail now seem worthwhile? Do not try to sell them in the Thank You note, or else you motive will be too transparent. It is anyways, but subliminally, all they see is that you are thorough and detailed with follow ups and express a concern for them that no one else has. Hmmm?

Write up your proposal. Dress up or down to your clients style, but it would not hurt to show off a bit more with a better casual appearance than all of your other competitors. Do you have your company logo on your button up polo shirt and nice clean Dockers instead of faded, although clean blue jeans? Your shoes make a statement too. It would be best to wear a semi-casual slip on dress up shoe, since you WILL be removing your shoes as you enter their home, right?

Now, it is 1/2 day to 1/2 hour before your scheduled appointment time. Who else calls in advance to confirm the appointment? Even if you are running 5 minutes late, it is a respectful courtesy that no one else probably does. You also gave them ample advance notice that you will be bringing in samples and need to sit down at a comfortable location with a table available. The wife will appreciate being able to clean up the kids clutter on the kitchen table or coffee table before you get there, so you have both caused a minor anxiety, but an immediate relief for her as well.

I am going to save the rest of the sit down presentation process for later, since that is the aspect has much more written discussion and we each have our own method, but there are many similarities we each can identify with.

Just from these simple procedures done prior to meeting with the client to provide your scope and analysis, you have set yourself apart from 95% + of your competition. They will most likely be eagerly anticipating your views on providing the proper solutions for them and possibly be dreading the inevitable higher price tag that will assuredly be forthcoming, due to your higher degree of professionalism so far.

But, that dread is a good thing to get out of the way in advance of your actual presentation. They now already know in advance that your scope of work and the price dictated by it, will obviously demand a matching investment. As long as you proceed promptly, you have increased your chances of landing that job.

Next discussions:
Warmup
Presentation
Questions To Be Asked
Trial Closes
Objections, And Trying To draw Them Out
Overcoming objections
Asking For The Sale. Repeat as Necessarry
Follow Up Methods
Requiring Referrals, Not Asking For Them

I really appreciate that this older thread was dug up today.

Ed
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Old 02-24-2008, 07:54 AM   #38
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Re: Lets Talk About Improving Your Companies Sales


Ed,

You've listed quite a few items that I could add to my approach. We're selling remodeling so the job could be anything from handyman type work to a total gut.

Yes the jeans can be faded, but no rips, tears or stains. Last year we invested in polo shirts and sweat shirts with our names and logo. And I too wear the slip off shoes for easy removal.

On the initial visit I will explain the process our company uses from start to finish so they know what to expect up front. (sound familiar?) I will also bring out my cost guides to look up similar projects with them and find out if they have any idea of the actual cost.

When I leave they will hold a list of references, copies of our insurance certs., a menu of the services we offer and a blank contract so they can start reviewing it. Not as impressive as your list, but I find that even this little bit is overlooked by nearly all of the competition.

Good Luck
Dave

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