As a follow-up to my last column (June QR, page 16) I want to share some themes about sales that are great ways to differentiate yourself in this recovering environment. Although things are getting better, it is always wise to expect that our prospects and clients may be tempted to look at other firms based upon their still strained budgets. It is our job to focus them in on what is important in their decision to hire a remodeling firm and to facilitate the process. If we leave it up to them, where does that leave us? The themes below are time-tested, but very relevant to today’s environment and are powerful sales concepts.
1Use precedent. Where would our legal system be without precedent? Precedent is very powerful. Clients like to have confidence, and precedent is a powerful tool for you to harness that gives them confidence in your firm. When meeting with prospects, make sure you have real client files, plans, production timelines/schedules, sketches and other project related items with you when you meet. As you work through the meeting, bring out those items as part of your discussion and share them with your prospect. Seeing those items will remove their fears, get them thinking about working with you; using real client examples shows your experience and the quality of your process.
2Use involvement questions. Involvement questions seemingly are innocuous questions you can ask prospects that will actually serve you as trial closes. Good examples of involvement questions would be anything such as how they would use the space, when they would like to see the project completed or how they would like to see the job-site be managed during the remodel. A good question to dig into early is how often they would be available to you during the pre-contract/pre-construction process. By focusing them in on their time, you are on the way to making the budget a little less the primary objective. We all have had the troublesome client in the selection process, so the conversation is also very relevant.
3Provide options. Always provide options to prospects, even if they don’t request them. Providing options positions you well with them on a lot of levels and is a great way to work involvement questions into the mix. Options also relieve the dreaded budgeting discussion. By discussing three ways to remodel along with three budgets, you are doing two powerful things: One, you are showing concern for their budget which they should appreciate; and two, you are making it clear that you are an option for them regardless of the budget they have. This is especially effective in today’s environment and is a great weapon against the low bidders out there. In today’s world, prospects want to buy vs. being sold. Providing options lets them buy.
4Make yourself memorable. During our school years, many of us had a teacher or coach who rose above the pack and made a difference in our lives. We had lots of teachers, but most people when asked about it can name only a couple that really stand out. Similarly, prospects have probably had different remodelers in their lives so it is critical to get them to see you differently, in all the right ways. One of the most overlooked ways to do this is the quality of your communication. How many times have we heard that 90 percent of the problems on a project come from poor communication? What an opportunity!
5Be assumptive. Most people in sales are familiar with this concept but many don’t embrace it as they should. Ask yourself this when working with a prospect: Who is the best remodeler for this client and this project other than me? If the answer is no one, and you are the best person for the job, then you are in the right mind-set. Today’s consumers need confidence, and your being assumptive will give them that confidence in you. Being assumptive does not mean being pushy. People want to buy and not be sold. Being pushy is unprofessional, but being persuasive is the goal.
Using these themes consistently in your sales process will give you and your prospects the confidence to move ahead on the project and your new clients the confidence that they have selected the best remodeler … you.
Sam Imhof is principal at S. William Imhof and Associates. He has been in the remodeling and building material industries since 1984 and specializes in helping companies grow.