10 Rules To Be More Successful Selling Home Improvement Projects

by Corey Philip
December 30, 2017

Sales can be the most frustrating part of running a home service company (it’s right up there with finding good help).  Whether you’re a painter, carpet cleaner, or remodeler, you need sales.  If you’re trying to grow, your full time job is really: sales.

Yet day in and day out it feels like you get beat up.  Your price is too high.  Prospects want to wait a little while.  Prospect needs to talk to their spouse.  Prospect is just getting ideas.  I’ve heard it all.  I’ve felt like I wanted to pull my hair out.  All the while there’s seemingly better things I could be doing than hearing from a prospect why they are going with the company who lied to them about the timeline.

To keep you from burning out on sales and giving up, I’ve put together a short list of what I’ve learned over the years.

Here are my ten rules to be more successful in sales.

I recently updated this post which now brings the count to 11... but the newest one is the best.  More planned updates coming soon!

Here are my ten rules to be more successful in sales.


    Added 2019.09.24.  Several years ago I pulled a service tech out of the field and into the office to do some sales.  He was smart, likable, and knowledgeable (with actual field experience).  Certainly he would do great at sales. 

    But he flopped.  Hard.  This would become a familiar scenario…

    Me: How did the appointment go? You were there for 2 hours.

    Sales guy: Oh it was great. He was a nice guy.

    Me: So great you got a deposit?

    Sales guy: Well no but he really liked me and was impressed with the company. I think he’ll come back around.

    I understand no one will ever close all prospects on the first appointment, but his numbers were incredibly low. 

    So what was the issue?  Technically he should’ve been a top performer. 

    The issue: he never asked for the sale.  He would simply engage in friendly conversation with the prospects until it all fizzled out and they would simple end with a “thank you, we’ll let you know”. 

    After realizing the issue and providing a little training, he began to pull in some kick ass numbers.  And after training many office staff and field staff to be ‘sales people’ I can confidently say that ‘asking for the sale’ will turn anyone that is friendly, and has some product knowledge into a competitive sales person.   That’s why this is #1.

  2. Know That It Is A Numbers Game; Chill.

    Some customers will buy.  Some will not.  Not everyone closes every deal.  You’re bound to waste some time on it, no matter how much you refine your process.

  3. Qualify Prospects At The Beginning of the Funnel.

    Part of closing more is filtering out the ones that could / will never become a customer. Sometimes they just want a bid to negotiate someone else lower.  Sometimes they want you to give them ideas.  Sometimes they just want to get you out to pump you for DIY insight.  It’s a problem for small contractors, and can grow as you build content.  To combat the problem, you need to qualify prospects early on, and focus efforts on those that are likely to hire your company.

    Coming out swinging with amateur questions like “have you gotten another bids?” or “what is your budget for this project?” reek of sales tactics.  You need to be more subtle, to get a truthful answer.  In this post I outline specific ways to qualify customers on the phone in a passive manner.  In this post, I show a question that works for qualifying customers from your website.

  4. Be the Last Bidder

    In the home service industry, most projects are done on a bid basis. For many contractors, this is one of the most difficult aspects of closing a sale. You don’t always know exactly what the prospect’s budget is, you have to compete with several other bidders, and you have to be able to accurately assess how long the project is going to take you and your team. However, the one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that it pays to be the last person to bid on a project.

    Because everyone has been conditioned to get at least three bids on their project, there is often no reward for being the first person out to a project. You don’t have any reference point for your bid, the client might forget about you by the time they’ve talked to the last bidder, and you don’t get a chance to distinguish yourself from the other bidders.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that you can be last. If you do end up being the first one out to a project, always find a way to invite yourself back out or get on a phone call before they make their decision

  5. Leverage Your Existing Content

    Hopefully you’re making a concerted effort at content marketing.  While many prospects will find, not all will, and even fewer will absorb it.  You need them to absorb it.  Get it front of your customers in the sales process.  Make sure they’ve read it.

  6. Remind Customers Of Your Reputation

    If you’ve got a great reputation.  Don’t be afraid to show it off!  Yes they probably already know about it, that’s why you’re in the sales process, but having a great reputation is something that drastically sets you apart of your competitors.  Talk about it and show the reviews online.

  7. Be Transparent

    There’s nothing more frustrating than going through a sales process thinking one thing and then finding out at the end that the person was hiding something from you. Whether it’s all the extra fees that they add throughout the process or that they’ll be hiring a subcontractor for most of the project, it’s annoying. To be effective in sales, you should be as transparent as possible.

    In addition to honest about fees and subcontractors, it’s important to have pictures of your previous projects that are most similar to the work that you’ll be doing. Having these shows them that you have experience and are able to do good work.

  8. Believe in What You’re Selling

    A lot of people are in sales just for the money. That isn’t sustainable. If you’re selling a product that you don’t really believe is effective or worth the money, it’s going to come through in your sales pitch. People can tell when you really believe in something and are passionate about it. If you don’t feel that way about a product or service that you’re selling, you should just drop it altogether.  People won’t want it.

  9. Persistence is Key

    In sales, persistence is everything.

    Although it’s the most important skills for a salesperson to have, it’s often the most difficult to master. The line between persistence and annoying is extremely thin, and the tolerance that someone has for your persistence varies from person to person.

    So, you have to be careful. You should know that someone saying no to your pitch the first time doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t change that no to a yes.

  10. Make a Real Connection

    People want to feel like they’re making a purchase from a real person with their best interest in mind. Although making a hard close can work for some people in the right scenarios, I’ve found that it often turns customers off more than it helps generate sales. While they may make the purchase in the moment, they likely won’t want to work with you again. That’s why I always try to make a real connection with clients. Whether it’s talking with them about their family, sports, music, or whatever else you can think of, get them to like you. Even if they choose not to go with your services, do your best to leave them with a good taste in their mouth. If they don’t like the company that they choose, they may come back to you later.

  11. Don’t Take Things Too Personal

    In business, very little is personal. People want to find the best value for their money, and they make the choice that suits their situation the best. That’s why you should always remain calm and under control. If something comes up in negotiations that annoys you a little bit, don’t take it to heart. If they start ranting about something, let them do it. They aren’t mad at you. Instead of reacting to what someone is saying, try to empathize with them. Tell them that you understand their concerns. The best salespeople can set their emotions aside, not take rejection too personally, and move on when it’s time to move on.

The Takeaway

When we first started out with our company, making sales wasn’t necessarily our strong point. We had great service, we had good people on the team, and we knew what we were doing, but the sales didn’t come immediately.

They might not for you either.

Instead, start small. Focus on one sale at a time. That’s what we did, and now we’ve scaled our company to the point that it looks nothing like what it did five years ago. And it’s due in part to what I’ve learned about sales.

What do you think?

Let me know what you struggle with in sales, what’s gone well for you, and what you hope to improve in the comments section below!

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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