Like it or not, the sales process is a crucial part of being a successful construction professional. But being a good salesperson doesn't always come easy to a lot of people. If you would rather pound away at one of your extremities with a hammer than spend an afternoon trying to close the sale with a new client, don't worry...
Here are the most common sales mistakes contractors make, and how to work around them.
1. NOT ASKING ENOUGH QUESTIONS
When you meet with a client, you have two very important jobs to do: ask questions, and listen to the answers. (Ok, and you should probably take some detailed notes. Three jobs.)
Asking questions takes a bit of finesse. You want to ask open ended questions that require some thought and explanation from your client, not simple "yes" or "no" answers.
- "Tell me more about..."
- "How does this impact you..."
- "What's it been like dealing with this..."
Really listen to what your clients are saying, rather than looking for an opportunity to jump in, cut them off, and start rambling on about yourself.
Asking questions allows you to fully understand a potential client's expectations on a project; what the finished outcome will be, how long they expect for it to take, and what they had in mind for a budget. But more importantly... it allows you to uncover their pain point.
Every potential client has a "pain point." The pain point is the driving factor that motivates them in finding a solution.
- The paint color on the wall makes them feel depressed.
- The plumbing problems are interfering with their ability to have their basic sanitary needs met, and causes them to be late to work.
- A leaking washing machine means every load of clothes washed is more work to sop up a wet floor, and more time that could be spent elsewhere.
- The outdated kitchen layout and appliances make cooking meals a chore, so instead they spend more money on take-out than they are comfortable spending.
If you truly understand the pain your client is experiencing, then you can move forward with solutions to remedy that situation. And the only way to get that information is to ask questions and really listen to what your client is telling you.
2. TAKING TOO LONG TO FOLLOW UP
After your initial meeting with a client, in which you discover your client's pain point, you should present a proposal without delay. Taking too much time between your initial meeting and presenting your proposal will give your client the impression that their business isn't important to you, and that you don't understand how much their project means to them.
And it's not just proposal follow ups that need to be executed quickly. Any kind of relevant follow up, such as inviting a homeowner to come view a remodel project that is similar to theirs, should be done within a few days of your initial meeting.
3. NOT GOING OVER A PROPOSAL IN PERSON
Emailing a proposal is quick, convenient, and a sure fire way to turn off a potential client.
Go over your proposal face-to-face with a potential client. When you have an in-person meeting you have a chance to communicate that you really understand the client's pain point. You can walk the through your solution, and present the value along the way.
If you email a proposal, your client is going to look immediately at the bottom line instead of absorbing how your solution will solve their problem better than the other guy, they'll skip right to the cost and miss the whole story.
Going over a detailed, line-by-line proposal in person also gives you an chance to overcome another big sales mistake many contractors make...
4. NOT OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS
Inevitably, your client will have objections as you outline your proposal, solution to their problem, and price. If you've done your job and fully understand your client's motivation, expectations, and pain points, you can easily answer and calm their fears.
When a client brings up objections to the price, remind them of how much their problem affects them. Outline how your proposal alleviates their pain point. If the client objects to the timeline, focus on their previously stated expectations for completion and cost. Ask them what has changed their expectations.
A client may present objections in order to feel they are in control of the situation. Sometimes it just takes a few minutes of "negotiating" to let them feel like they are. Be ready to face their objections head on with the information they gave you in your initial meeting, and you should have everything you need to close the sale.
5. NOT ASKING FOR THE SALE
Everything you have done has led up to this moment, but this is where so many contractors drop the "sales" ball. Maybe you don't know how to close the sale, or maybe you are afraid of hearing "no." But if you don't ask for it, you won't get it.
Here are some ways that you can ask for the sale:
- Is this something you would like to move forward with?
- It sounds like you are excited to get started, which date is best for you?
- Can we set a date to start on this project?
- If I can meet that time frame, would you like to get started?
- Which of these two options would you like to go with?
- I can get started on this date. Does this work for you?
You don't have to be a born salesperson in order to close the deal, you just have to ask the right questions. By avoiding these common sales mistakes, you can easily take your new leads and turn them into new clients.