As a web consultant for construction companies, I speak with a lot of business owners about the problems they face in their businesses. One of the most common complaints that I hear is that they just can’t generate enough leads. That or the leads they do get are just not good.
Does this sound familiar? Are you dealing with a lack of new opportunities or feeling stuck with a bunch of opportunities that just don’t ever pan out?
While lead quality and quantity can definitely have a huge negative impact on overall sales, it’s often not the leads that are the problem. Sometimes, the problem lies in the process one follows to try and turn opportunities into paying customers.
In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the common pitfalls I see in remodeling sales so that you can assess whether or not it’s the leads that are holding you back, or if it’s what you’re doing with them that needs to be fixed.
Salesmen are crooks, so nobody wants to be one, right?
According to a study conducted by The Harvard Business Review, 67% of residential remodelers are self-employed and 22% of remodeling companies have a payroll of less than $100k per year. The majority of these companies have a business owner that is acting as the main salesman.
The word salesman has a negative connotation that I think is slowly going away. A lot of people still associate the word with a used car salesman who is constantly trying to scam and swindle people into paying too much for cars.
The reason I think this is going away is that I’ve bought two new cars in the last 5 years and both times the salesmen at the car dealership were bending over backward for my business. They would have done a cartwheel had I asked, and both times I was able to get the deal I wanted.
The reason this is happening is that the internet is making it easier for consumers to find the information they need to make a smart purchase. As consumers, we can go online and see how much cars should cost and the salesmen know this. Over the last 20 years, car dealerships have had to move to a customer service focus in order to succeed, and other industries are following suit.
The Internet has changed the business landscape forever
Homeowners can go online or turn on their tv and get a lot of information about remodeling and how much it costs. Whether or not this information is accurate is not the point. The point is that consumers are armed with information, so it’s up to us as salesmen to:
- Figure out what our prospects know already.
- Figure out what they don’t know so we can guide them through the process.
- Help them get exactly what they are looking for at a price they can afford.
It sounds simple but it can be confusing if you don’t have a solid system in place. This leads me right into the first sales pitfall I’m going to talk about: Lacking a consistent sales process.
Sales Pitfall One: Lacking a Consistent Sales Process
Every single project begins with a sales process. In remodeling, it usually goes something like this:
- Homeowner finds a company through word of mouth or online.
- They express interest by calling or filling out a contact form.
- Someone from the company calls to set up an appointment for an in-home meeting with a salesman or technician to discuss the project.
- The salesman and homeowners discuss the project onsite and measurements are taken.
- A bid or estimate is created for the job and presented to the homeowner.
- When a bid is accepted, a contract is signed and the first payment made.
- Construction begins.
This is what is known as the road to the sale. If you are a professional, then you are probably pretty familiar with this sequence of events, but as a homeowner, it can seem long and confusing. It’s the job of the salesman to set the tone and lay out the path to the sale in the very beginning. Then they are responsible for moving the prospect through this sequence of events to either disqualify them or turn them into a paying customer.
The great thing about breaking things down into little steps is that you can identify what is working well and what isn’t. Consider each of these steps and how they work in your business. Is there a certain step where things tend to break down and fall apart? Why is this happening? What little change can you make to this process to get things moving again?
Sales Pitfall Two: Addressing Budget Too Late in the Process
Have you ever met with a homeowner, spent hours or days creating a thorough estimate for them, and went through the trouble of presenting it to them only to discover that the budget they have set aside for the project is nowhere near enough to complete construction?
I know I suffered through this charade a couple of times before I finally bit the bullet and started addressing this sometimes uncomfortable topic early in the conversations.
Money is an emotional topic for most people and the budget fits into this category. As a professional, you want to know what you’re working with so you can plan accordingly. As a defensive homeowner, you might want to protect this piece of information in order to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of.
Either way, it’s best for everyone that this subject is out in the open early so no time is wasted and everyone is on the same page from the beginning.
If you have trouble bringing this up, consider how I have done it in the past. I would bring examples of past remodels to every meeting so I could present them to the prospects when we started discussing their project. I would explain to them the price range of a typical project with the scope we were talking about. “A kitchen remodel in Portland typically runs between $50,000 and $150,000. Does this seem to fit in your price range?”
I would ask this question and pay close attention to how they responded. Some folks would nod and agree that was okay. Others would swallow a huge lump in their throat and explain that it was a bit more than they were thinking. Perfect! Now we could identify what we were working with so we could do our best to get them what they wanted.
It was always a huge red flag when a client refused to disclose their budget. When this happened it either meant we had failed to build up enough trust to talk about it or the homeowner was looking at us as an adversary instead of a teammate. Both situations meant we had to work on the relationship before we could move forward.
Don’t waste your time or theirs. Find a way to talk about budget early and everyone will be happier in the long run.
Sales Pitfall Three: Not Following Up
In the sales world, following up is the name of the game. There are hundreds of sales studies online and they all say the same thing: The money is in the follow-up.
This means that if you call someone and they don’t answer, call or email them again. Statistically, it takes 5-7 tries to get a hold of prospects in many sales situations. Check out this infographic made by James Oldroyd, Ph.D., a sales researcher at MIT. According to his study, it can often take 6 attempts to make contact before a conversation actually happens.
Now, remodeling is not your typical sales situation, but that doesn’t mean following up isn’t a good idea. This is especially true if you are purchasing leads through a lead reseller like Homeadvisor or if you’re advertising on Google. If you are paying for leads, you need to be following up in order to get more sales out of those leads.
It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Call and leave a message. If you don’t hear back from them, call them again next week. If they don’t answer, leave another message and explain that you understand that they are very busy and now might now be the best time. Also explain that you will call again next week just to make sure that you don’t miss them.
Always explain your intentions, like this:
Hi, this is John the contractor. I called last week and left a message because you filled out a form on my website saying you are interested in a kitchen remodel. You can give me a call back at XXX-XXX-XXXX to talk about your project. If you are no longer interested, shoot me a text and let me know and I’ll stop calling. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll try again one more time next week. Thanks.”
Homeowners will appreciate your high level of communication and follow-through. Sometimes life just gets in the way and they forget to call back. If it takes 3 calls to get a great job and a lifetime customer, isn’t it worth it?
Hopefully, by now you realize that sales are just part of the business, and the better you get at it, the more successful you can be.
At its core, sales are all about helping people get what they are looking for. If you do it right, everybody wins. If you mess it up, you’re doing your prospect a disservice by letting them miss out on the amazing service and product you provide. As a salesman or saleswoman, it’s your responsibility to lead your customers into the right decisions so they can benefit from your skills and ethics and avoid running into less trustworthy salesmen who might be better at persuasion but ends up leaving them with regret and remorse.
Do yourself and your customers a favor and invest some time into learning more about sales and how you can be better at communicating and guiding your customers i