Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to creatively market my company and grow my sales. Like many kitchen and bath professionals, I am constantly challenged by this process. We’re all busy with day-to-day responsibilities, and sometimes finding the time to develop these ideas gets put on the back burner.
So, how do we effectively grow our sales, perhaps with unconventional methods? Perhaps more importantly, how do we do this in the most cost-advantageous way?
HELP FROM THE FIELD
Regardless of whether you’re a small kitchen and bath firm owner doing all of the sales or if you have a large sales force, it won’t matter if you can involve your field technicians in the sales process. If you have field technicians, installers or site workmen, a minimal time and monetary investment in some basic sales skills could pay dividends over time.
I don’t mean they have to be sent to formal sales training (though it wouldn’t hurt if you have the resources), but you should spend time working with them on how to interact with the public, be courteous and not get frustrated by interruptions from homeowners.
If they are proud of what they do, they should be happy to show a potential client their work and craftsmanship, and be an ambassador for you and your company. Instruct them to keep the conversation casual using a few basic questions. For instance, what are the potential prospects’ intentions for stopping by (if it isn’t obvious)? Would that potential prospect be interested in your products and services?
The field tech should prompt the potential prospect for contact information or a business card, or at least provide them with one of your business cards (your field techs should have a stack of them in their trucks). While this might create a small loss in productivity, it is far outweighed by the upside of a possible sale down the road.
In our area, clusters of custom homes are being built in several high-end neighborhoods. While working in these homes (we typically work on several at a time in one neighborhood), we see a steady daily flow of architects, contractors, builders and other individuals visiting the jobsites of the homes under construction.
They might be building a home in the immediate area and looking for some ideas or inspirations for their own homes. They could be looking at the builder’s work to see the quality level of products and services the builder and subcontractors provide. They might just be curious neighbors.
Regardless, they are a steady stream of prospects right in front of you – or, your field technicians. Who will see them first? Your field tech is there day to day, all day during the course of the project. As a salesperson, you may only be there for a small window of time, on one given day. This leaves your field tech with the best chance as your first encounter with that possible prospect.
I actually had the opportunity on a recent jobsite to watch this prospecting technique unfold right in front of me. I was heading to one of my open jobsites to meet my installer. As I pulled up to the house, I watched a woman get out of her car with a camera. She walked around the house, took a few exterior shots and then walked into the home. A few minutes later, my installer noticed my truck outside and walked out. He told me she was building a home in a neighboring area, gave me the builder’s name, mentioned he’d talked about our company and our services, showed her his work and gave her one of my cards. He and I then walked into the home together and I introduced myself.
That was all I had to do. My installer had already qualified the prospect. All that was left for me was to follow up on the lead.
This situation created incredible marketing power. It’s a salesperson’s dream: potential leads walking right up to where they are working.
WHY IT WORKS
There are several reasons why this person had stopped in and why she was willing to talk to someone on site.
People who are there for a reason are comfortable talking to field technicians because they are working. Some other person had taken the first action – contacted you and hired your company to do the work. It’s easy for them to follow someone else’s lead. Another reason is their first point of contact is a tradesperson (who could be your direct employee or subcontractor) rather than a salesperson. Often, prospects are more comfortable initially speaking with a tradesperson to gain general information, without having to potentially be subjected to a hardcore sales pitch.
Indeed, potential buyers are generally looking for the easiest ways to satisfy their buying needs. This could go one of two ways. Maybe the potential buyer searches the Internet and narrows down the vast choices of kitchen and bath firms (which may or may not include your business). They speak to someone on your sales team and agree to an appointment, where they might or might not feel pressured by the sales process.
Alternatively, they might stop by a job, on their own time and terms, and have a casual conversation with one of your field technicians.
The second circumstance is the easiest, both for the potential lead and for the salesperson. Salespeople can sometimes be perceived as having an agenda, where tradespeople in a non-sales role are often viewed as more likely to be offering information that benefits the buyer. As a salesperson, let that possible perception work in your favor while always striving to be seen as someone who also works to benefit the buyer, not just close the sale.
Small and large businesses alike can benefit by implementing this approach for their field technicians. How effective this sales tool could be will depend on what products and services you provide. You’ll also need to think of the best ways to implement this method, relevant to your specific needs.
The key is to get your entire field staff sales motivated. To do that effectively, you need to provide an incentive. You could offer a flat rate on jobs closed where the field tech initiated the lead, or perhaps a percentage of the commission, or bonus of some sort. Regardless of the incentive, get something implemented right away and watch the potential prospects line up!
Bryan Reiss, CKD, CBD, is an award-winning designer who serves as partner owner/president for Charleston, SC-based Cabinet Concepts. Reiss, a 15-year veteran of the kitchen and bath industry, is an active member of the Carolina Chapter of the NKBA who specializes in sales innovations and business stabilization.