Sales is probably one of the trickiest jobs to master. It requires a deep understanding of the services you’re selling, the process behind it, the materials and the customer you’re serving. Then there is the frustration of dealing with customers that are unsure of what they want, or that are just trying to pull information, only to use it against you.
At a glance, it may look like sales is reserved solely for the charismatic types with Don Draper DNA.
But I don’t buy that at all.
To prove it, I put together seven quick tips to take you from sales virgin to cold-blooded closer in no time…no matter how badly you suck right now.
1. Align The Decision Makers
Fortunately, in home improvement sales, there is usually only 2 decision makers. A husband and a wife… or some other combination of those two roles. That’s much simpler than selling corporate products where there are purchasing managers, administrators, and multiple levels of the company’s organizational structure that will require approval.
While the decision makers are easily identified, the tricky part comes in making the final scope decision. The size, the shape, the materials, the colors, the budget. All of the fun stuff. I’ve sat patiently many times while Mr. and Ms. Jones have an argument of whether they want a 12’ x 24’ patio or a 10’ x 30’.
Most sales training will teach you to identify the ‘decision maker’ and massage your approach to their position. In practicality, I’ve found that to be a hit or miss game. Your intuition only has a 50-50 shot at identifying the ‘decision maker’ based on the little information you know about them. Then even if you get the decision maker right, and close the sale, the ‘non decision maker’, may later decide to flex their muscle during the project which could relate in a headache or change orders. In one case of a project I sold, the husband made the decision to hire us and finalize all the details. The wife was fine with it initially but later went on to request changes. Now in progress, the cost of the requested change orders, would be substantially more than what they would’ve initially been. This meant the wife couldn’t get them and with an irritated wife, the husband was upset that we could not accommodate at the original price. It was a losing battle from there as the wife would go on to knit pick the entire project and complain at every chance. This would ultimately lead to a negative experience, not at our fault, but simply due to issues between the couple.
Rather than identifying a decision maker, I prefer to get them in line with each other. Take the time to figure out what both need, and can live without and make some compromises to find a middle ground. If this approach is an uphill fight, presenting ‘what most people are doing’ usually establishes a meeting a point as most homeowners will want to go with the current trend.
2. Be Happy And Optimistic
Rejection is part of the game. Even the greatest of salesmen—Steve Jobs, Colonel Sanders, David Ogilvy, Mary Kay Ash—are no strangers to it.
So take each rejection in stride and keep a positive outlook because the alternative is just unacceptable. Seriously…you want to spend your time meeting new prospects and exploring new deals, not moping about your last rejection.
Happy and optimistic people are better closers simply because they keep pressing on, even in the face of rejection.
Bringing positive of energy to a sale is much more effective than a passive, or even negative, approach. You may initially suck at selling, but once you convince yourself that failure is normal, everything else will begin to make sense.
Never let rejection bog you down—because, face it, you just can’t win ‘em all. If someone turns you down, just keep going.
Ultimately sales is a numbers game. The key is figuring out where your losses are at each step. Getting negative won’t help you.
3. Have A Structured Approach
This is where the technicalities come in. Once you’ve established yourself as a reputable provider, be ready with an optimized script for your pitch.
I’m not saying you need to plan the conversation to the letter, but it’s critical that you know the salient points of what you’re trying to sell.
Never drop an “estimate”. Make sure of the values of all your products and services are clear because arbitrariness is the enemy of credibility. Knowing your trade inside and out also lends authority, and you’ll be guaranteed to stand out if your industry is known for on-site appraisals.
Also, be aware of where your customer is along their “journey”:
- Discovery is when a customer is introduced to your business or made aware of it,
- Collaboration is when you work with a potential customer to plan a solution,
- Calculation is talking costs and numbers,
- Closing is the coveted handshake.
Each point of this journey demands something different from the person giving the sales pitch. Step from the perspective of a potential client, and map out the different ways you’d be enticed to choose your business over your competitors, following these aforementioned stages.
Finally, always remember to follow-up on all of your leads through Facebook advertising and other channels. The final step, whether you land a sale or a rejection, is to find your way into your leads’ Facebook feeds so you can push your content and stay top of mind among your competitors.
4. Anticipate Objections
Knowing you’ll be rejected is one thing, but knowing why, quite another.
Anticipate questions and objections people might have about your business and come up with good answers and counterarguments. Not only this exercise get you more sales, it’ll also help you frame your services in the minds of your customers.
By anticipating objections you can use hypnotic language to easily get inside the mind of your customer. If you see a common price objection coming, you can simply enter into that discussion with “You’re probably wondering why this costs so much….”
5. Make Customers Like You Well In Advance
Your business won’t prosper on the power of your sales pitch alone. You need some heavy-duty marketing to make sure that your prospective customers know who you are, and expect a certain level of professionalism even before you reach out to them (or they reach out to you).
Not only does marketing make your job easier; it also makes your eventual pitch that much more effective.
Make sure customers know what you have to offer even before the first contact. Give them the opportunity to know about your product or service beforehand, and hopefully prime them for the first call or email exchange.
They should also be able to check out reviews and can take down notes to ask you before your set appointment schedule, to make the actual discussion smoother.
On that note, sending your customer an email about your company and selling points are all about getting rid of the lengthy and awkward opening statements during your appointment. Be sure to word it professionally, and take advantage of the fact that the ball’s in your court here—you decide just how professional and reliable you come across.
Position yourself as an authority that they can learn to like and respect, because people tend to engage in deals with people they trust, even if they lack firsthand knowledge of your product.
6. Tell Your Customers Your Business Story
Being just another service guy selling a commoditized service isn’t going to get you record sales. You need differentiation and connection. The features and benefits won’t make a connection with your customers. Neither will your price. And that is all most home improvement salesmen are selling with. The best salesmen make connections with their customers that leave a long-standing, unforgettable positive impression. The simplest and easiest way of doing that is through a story.
The elements of a story provide anecdotes that customers can relate to and want to be a part of. This leads to increased sales for you.
Share where you’re coming from as an entrepreneur and how you started, and you definitely want to paint a great picture of your business’ social goals (play up that community angle). Not only does this build a connection between your customer and your brand, but it also builds rapport between you and your audience: something critical for both future sales calls, and for your social media marketing.
7. Explain The Consequences Of Inaction
Empathy is an underrated skill in the world of sales. After all, people want to interact with those who care about who they are and what they do.
…which is why you need to understand why people need your business.
When pitching a product or service, make it clear to the person you’re talking to that you are there to offer solutions to their problems and pain points. Also, make them understand that not pushing through with the deal or not taking action can have an adverse effect on their business.
Basically, allow them to see what they’re missing out on—but frame it in the context of their business, not yours.
To close this article,
I want to reiterate the number one truth in sales: you will fail. There will be frustration.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to tap out.
While being a ‘natural salesperson’ certainly is a blessing, anyone can become a great salesperson with consistent practice (aka trying), and a concerted effort to improving their sales techniques.