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Discussion Starter #1
I start most of my proposals with a base price for a 25 year 3-tab. I then don't usually have a problem upselling a 30 year architectural/dimensional. The problem is I can almost never upsell a premium architectural shingle like Slateline or Hatteras or Grand Manor or Crand Canyon unless the customer specifically requests that shingle.

I'm fairly sure the wall I am up against is price but I would like to install more of these premium roofing systems. How can I show the purchaser the added expense is a worth while expense?
 

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I have the same situation with flooring. I have a hard time showing clients that a higher priced product is a better investment. It is even harder to do this with younger folks, usually the older clients have had experience with standard products, and they recognize the wiser choice. The only thing I could recommend, is maybe finding pictures of 30 year old houses with standard products, and 30 year old houses with the upgraded products. Thats the only way to show the difference between the 2, otherwise to them, it just seems more expensive, unless they are wise. Plus I think that most home owners nowadays do not plan on being in the home for 30 years, maybe 10-15 tops, so they just dont care.
 

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We sell aluminum shingles, usually to customers who are considering re-roofing with composition shingles. Our quotes come in at 3-4 x that of the competition, so how do we stay in business? By remembering that the product is only a means to an end, and the first business of any contractor is to understand what the customer wants and needs. Next you need to establish your credentials, and only when you have convinced your customer that you trully undertand their needs and you are qualified to deliver, do you move to proposing a solution. There is no need to knock the competition, since if you've done the proper job of "selling" yourself, there is no competition. We don't apologize for the price we charge, but we do make sure we over-deliver the quality the customer is expecting, and as a result we get a lot of referral business. That "quality" is not just the installed product, but the entire experience of dealing with us pre-sale, pre-install, during installation, post-install and followup. The premium roofing business is no different than other "premium" businesses, whether they are cars, perfume, clothing, fine dining or cruises and touring. However, too many in the roofing business forget to look after the customer, and then wonder why the customers go only for the lowest price? Because they know that if they're going to get screwed, they may as well pay as little for it as possible!
 

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pgriz coudn't have said it better. I am in the primo flooring business, and we definately do not EVER have the lowest bid. As a matter of fact, our labor is slightly higher than most competition. How do we stay in business? Most of our clients are wealthy people who know you get what you pay for. Our installs are top notch jobs, and our materials are of the highest quality. I am in no fear of the Home Depo's and Lowe's stores, because their customers are nothing like our customers, our customers want the very best professional customer service this industry can provide, and I wasnt just transfered from the paint department!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Pgriz said: the first business of any contractor is to understand what the customer wants and needs.

I totally understand that, but I am trying to sell them something they dont want or need for selfish reasons. I want to have a few more of these in my list of finished work for future refrence when someone does ask for it then asks "Can I see some of the jobs like this that you have done?"

Our price is never the lowest, unlesss I made a mistake, OOps! I even tell people at the beginning of my presentation "I'll tell ya that if you get 3-4 estimates mine will fall right in the middle, but if you closely compare exactly the serivces each contractor is offering you will see we usually offer more!" This goes hand in hand with our un-official motto of fair pricing and great quality... and it's damned near always true.

But as I already said I am trying to push a product on my customers that they aren't interested in for selfish reasons... so when a customer does request the premium shingle it will be an easier sell. I was hoping a car salesmen turned contractor could give me some advice into tricking them :)
 

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I have never sold cars, but I know that if you are a talented enough salesperson, you will truely believe that ALL customers NEED the premium products. For instance, as I said, I sell flooring, so lets take carpet for example. Say a customer comes in to buy carpet, and they are going to be in the house 5-7 years. A nylon carpet would work well for them, and they would pay an average carpet price. But if I want to see if there is a chance of selling a more expensive carpet such as a wool, well there really is no reason for them to go with a wool, because it will last 50 years, so the next homeowner will be the one enjoying the carpet at their expense. Or will they? When you buy premium products, they end up lasting longer, and lets face it, it raises the value of the home, so although the wearability of the wool is not a good reason to buy it, the resalability of the home is. Not many people choose this option, because frankly they dont care, but not alot of people think about it. Its all about out of pocket right now, not the good investment for the future. But I will tell you right now, I know why the rich get richer, and its not all due to George Bush, It is because they buy the best stuff on the market, best cars last longer, best furniture lasts longer, best paintings are worth more, best houses have great resale, and theres the George Bush thing too :)
So to make a really long story short, to sell more of the premium products, you have to to give it VALUE. value by longevity, value by durability, whatever. the trick is finding out what the client consideres value, and if it is a premium quality product, then there is many ways to show value.
 

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We've all heard that a customer who wants a 1/4" drill really wants a 1/4" hole. I'll take that further, and ask what he wants a hole for. Maybe, he wants to join two pieces of wood together in his kitchen. So I'd ask about what he's doing in the kitchen. He might tell me that he's installing this kitchen cabinet. You know where this is going. He starts asking for a cheap 1/4" drill and gets sold a kitchen remodelling job that he is happy to give a contractor because he really would rather be doing something else.

I have time and again gone in to a prospect who already had several quotes in hand, and walked away with work worth many times more than was originally quoted. However, I go in with the attitude that I have nothing to sell this customer. I find out what their concerns are, what they are looking for, what they have considered, and try to understand what their motivations are. If, for example, they just want a cheap roof so they can sell the place, I thank them for their time, and move on. They do not need the service that I can provide, so I don't try to change them.

On the other hand, we may find the customer is looking to change their roof after only six years. So, find out why they are not happy, and what their expectations are. At the same time, I also try to establish what the customer would want, in an ideal world. More often than not, I can give them some of that ideal world now. Of course, you have to be patient, and not "put on the rush". I have often taken three or four visits to a prospect to build up the trust and the rapport, and again to really understand what they want.

Now, let's sat that you go to an appointment, and notice that they have nice landscaping, the cars in the driveway are new and shiny, the customers themselves are well-dressed and coiffed. These people are just about screaming at you that appearance IS VERY IMPORTANT to them. So give them the premium products they want. Chances are that if they can afford to do the landscaping, they can afford to pay the premium for an attractive roof.

The real issue is not "Upselling", but pitching the right product for that customer. Not every prospect needs an upscale product, which by definition is a niche market. However, every product has a niche. You just have to recognize which niche your prospect falls into and propose the correct product for that niche. If you want to sell more "upscale" product, you have to find more "upscale" customers. To attract the "upscale" customer, you need to have marketing that catches their attention. Once you have their attention, they want to buy from an equal, so you need to present a personal "upscale" image.

I give courses to salesmen who work for roofing companies, and the hardest thing for salesmen to do is to un-learn the old sales techniques which are now stale and unproductive. The current market is not about selling product, but satisfying needs. Price starts as the number one item, and ends up being #4 or even #6, IF you are able to tap into the customer's real motivations. There is a very good market for "upscale" products, but you need to understand why people are prepared to pay for these, and then find more of these people!
 

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Wow, pgriz makes some great points.
First off I agree that every client is not necessarily YOUR client. Sometimes its best to know when to hold em and when to fold em. Great point.
Also the idea about finding upscale clients rings true as well. It takes a certain person to realize value instead of out of pocket. Upscale clients know value nearly every time. There are some clients though that are on the cust of becoming uppercl***************, that sometimes need to be informed of value because they are still stuck in afford mode, experiance makes a big difference between out of pocket buyer and value buyer.
Another fantastic point pgriz makes, is the fact that some sales people have a hard time letting go of old techniques that are outdated. There are full day sales courses probably dealing with this one subject. In fact, I was put in this business by an owner who recognized fresh green talent, and he knew that he could take me and mold me into whatever salesman he wanted me to be, and I was easy to mold, but the trick is to always be moldable, to not ever harden into some untrainable, stubborn, old value, old technique using old coot! Change is a good thing, and it always will be, even if you dont like it. Some things never change, but if you dont change some things about you and your sales techniques, you will never grow, and neither will your savings account.
Great post pgriz, it was nice reading that.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You guys said " give courses to salesmen who work for roofing companies, and the hardest thing for salesmen to do is to un-learn the old sales techniques which are now stale and unproductive."

No old techniques here, all my sales training is from newly published audio books and experiuence but 3 years experience in roofing sales... so I haven't had time to get stale.

Pgriz what type of sales training? Do you have actual printed books or do you do seminars or consulting? As I said in another post I am an audio book junkie.
 

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Grumpy said:
You guys said " give courses to salesmen who work for roofing companies, and the hardest thing for salesmen to do is to un-learn the old sales techniques which are now stale and unproductive."

No old techniques here, all my sales training is from newly published audio books and experiuence but 3 years experience in roofing sales... so I haven't had time to get stale.

Pgriz what type of sales training? Do you have actual printed books or do you do seminars or consulting? As I said in another post I am an audio book junkie.
I call it "common sense". People don't like to be pushed or forced into a decision, whether it is buying a product/service, or something else. However, everyone wants a solution to their problem, whether it is perceived or real. At the same time, I want to sell my products and make good money at it. So you find customers that want what you offer, at a price both feel is fair. Since price is what most people focus on at the beginning, we tell them the base price and the ball-park amount right up front. Those who are looking at price only, go away very quickly. The rest, however, try to see what they get for the price. So we start the process of understanding what the customer wants and needs. If it looks that what we have to offer is overkill for them, we tell them that. Some agree, and that's the end of it. A surprising number, however, want to take it further. So you ask more questions and try to understand what your prospect is looking for. Often the need is not clear even to them, and only during the process of probing and listening, do we start to develop a clearer idea of the deeper motivations.

I am not a salesman. However, I know my products and abilities, our strengths and weaknesses, and I try to put myself in the shoes of my customer and see what they need. Just because I may think they have a need doesn't mean they think that or even see the need, so it is very important not to jump to conclusions. As we continue our discussion, I bring in whatever information is relevant at that point. If the customer wants to talk about other products, then we talk about them. If I want to maintain credibility then I talk about both strengths and weaknesses of the products. At the end of the exercise, the customer is going to choose my products and services because these are the best fit for their situation. Since I have excellent products and my crews provide superb workmanship, I don't have to hide anything, or be afraid that something will come out that will impact us negatively.

The salesmen that I "teach" ask me how we are able to sell jobs to customers that, on the face of it, shouldn't be interested. My answer is that I don't sell. I offer information to my prospects and if there is a match, then they select us. As I like to tell each of my customers, I have two goals: to be paid properly for the work that we do, and to have the customer become my salesperson. And after we finish, that's exactly what happens. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful method of getting to be known, and it has to be earned. If the customer, at any point, thinks that you've tricked them in any way, you're not going to get the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing. On the other hand, if they feel they have received incredible value for the money they paid, then they will tell everyone. After all, that just shows how smart they were.

Grumpy, earlier in the thread you said "But as I already said I am trying to push a product on my customers that they aren't interested in for selfish reason... I was hoping for a care salesmen turned contractor could give me some advice into tricking them". My point is that there is no need to trick anyone into doing what's good for you but not for them. Even if you succeed, you will fail if the customer perceives that they were tricked. So my suggestion is to approach this from a different way. If you want to sell the high-end shingles, think about the profile of the customer who would truly benefit from such a product. Think about why this would be a better solution for them than anything else. Then, let them know in your marketing message that you've got what they are looking for. I think you will find that you will be surprised at how people react to honest and positive approaches. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I understand, your saying target a different audience. I agree with your advice and for the most part I am the "listening" kind of sales man. I don't push, I pull answers by asking questions...

The only reason I was trying to push these shingles was because when ever I do find some one who actually wants them they almost always ask to see jobs we've done with these shingles and I don't have any to show them! :)

I was trying to push a few so that I could build a portfolio with the higher end shingle so the next sales for customers that actually want them would be easier.
 

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Grumpy said:
I understand, your saying target a different audience. I agree with your advice and for the most part I am the "listening" kind of sales man. I don't push, I pull answers by asking questions...

The only reason I was trying to push these shingles was because when ever I do find some one who actually wants them they almost always ask to see jobs we've done with these shingles and I don't have any to show them! :)

I was trying to push a few so that I could build a portfolio with the higher end shingle so the next sales for customers that actually want them would be easier.
How do you feel about "investing" the additional cost? You could tell your prospect "look, I don't have any yet, but if you agree, I will charge you the same as for regular shingles (so the homeowner gets a great deal) if you let me use your home as a showcase for this type of product". You may end up making no money on this job, but the foregone profit is an investment that you make to showcase your ability with the higher-end products. In our case, we had to do this several times until we had enough examples of our work that the question didn't come up. It's always tough at the beginning. But you know the old saying, "No pain, no gain".
 

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Discussion Starter #13
pgriz said:
How do you feel about "investing" the additional cost? You could tell your prospect "look, I don't have any yet, but if you agree, I will charge you the same as for regular shingles (so the homeowner gets a great deal) if you let me use your home as a showcase for this type of product". You may end up making no money on this job, but the foregone profit is an investment that you make to showcase your ability with the higher-end products. In our case, we had to do this several times until we had enough examples of our work that the question didn't come up. It's always tough at the beginning. But you know the old saying, "No pain, no gain".
That was my original idea, but herin lies the problem: Boss. He doesnt like the idea of giving free stuff away and is happy with status quoe.
 

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Grumpy said:
That was my original idea, but herin lies the problem: Boss. He doesnt like the idea of giving free stuff away and is happy with status quoe.
If, as a business owner, he doesn't understand the concept of investment in marketing, then he would appear to have a limited prospect of staying in business if more agressive competitors show up. Many successful companies are their own worst competitors in that they continually push forward, creating new business opportunities, and abandon the older stuff to their competitors. The older areas are generally maturing businesses with lower profit margins as there are more competitors. In the roofing business, there are two areas of innovation - new products and/or new services. If your boss abandons the new products to competitor(s), who then gain a foothold in the market, how will he keep his market share when they use that foothold to expand their offering? At that point, he's got two battles to fight, one for learning to sell the new products, and the other to win back the market-share from the other competitior(s). It's painful to be a pioneer, but it's even more painful to play catchup. However, perhaps your boss is going to retire in a few years, so he doesn't care.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Retiring, maybe not... He actually just took over the company from the founder. He is an excellent roofer and a decent accountant... I think the fact that he counts beans is also the fact that he doesnt stray too far from the beaten path.

But I... I will survive. As long as I know how to sell I know I'll stay alive!

Thanks for all your help.
 

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It's true, if you know how to sell well fundamentaly, then you can go into just about any trade you want.
And yes, its hard for a bean counter to accept change, the only change they like, is the kind they count.
 

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Grumpy,
Sorry i got to this one soo late, but i just joined. This is my specialty! I spent many years in the union as a roofer and then went to college for my business degree. I now train sales people across the uited states. So quickly heres a good mindset. "You are the highest and Never the lowest". Start by offering the premium, lets say the Grand Canyon or Grand Sequoia, 40 or 50 year. Give your bid and leave. Call back no later than seven days later. Ask if they have received all of their bids. The best thing to do is get a second appointment after the customer has receivced all of their bids. Now, they are going to say you are higher. You then can reply with the fact that you offered a 40 year as apposed to a 30 year. You can then downgrade. Now that the customer has received all of their bids and you are the last one at their home you have the opportunity to compare apples to apples. If this is a price driven customer offer them a 30 year and with all of the other bids there at your dispossal you can either meet or beat any price, comparitively.

"It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results."

Warren Buffet (1931 - )
American stock market investor
 

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I would try what Scottsdale said. Start off selling your top product then downgrade him from there. I have seen this technique used by the Home Depot and Lowes. We all know they are the highest bidders. ever wonder how they make sales. This is their most common presentation. I have lost 2 sales out of approx 50 to either one of these people. but it seems 90% of the time i am telling them why it is more economical to choose a 30 year over the 50 year. They call me back or i call them first question they ask is what the differnce is between shingles. and how much more i would charge for a 50 year. I do not like selling the 50 years for the simple fact i do not think they will last more than 5 years longer than a 30 year. even though the warranty does not prorate til 51 years we all now how these warranties work. no tear off -clean up - no sales tax - delivery charges - distributers make no money so they dont like warranties either.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Wow talk about an old post. ALOT has changed since I posted that original topic.

I do not believe iin downgrading, I belileve in upgrading. I dislike the practice of starting out real real high then whittling away options until the package is within the customer's budget. To be honest this is what everyone has told me to do to upsell the premium shingle... but I don't agree with the method.

Why don't I agree with the method? because it's the same method high pressure high high priced salesmen, like the kind Sears employes, uses to close sales. Scare the customer with $1,000 per window them work it down to $1,000 per window. The customer thinks they are getting a deal but they are still overpaying.

Instead as stated above in the original post, I still give a base price for the customer and I still give optional upgrades to allow the customer to upgrade their system them selves. Also as stated I still haven't sold many of these upgraded jobs, but so be it... at least I know the customer is getting what they want not what I want them to have.
 
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