In August, I bought a resale home that was 30-years neglected. The first order of the day was to source new windows, doors, a furnace, air conditioner, kitchen, flooring and more. Not familiar with the products and services being offered in my new area, I set out to get quotes in order to assign each job to a suitable contractor or manufacturer.
During this process I was astounded by how many simple sales techniques -- and common courtesies -- were neglected. Read on to see how your sales team would measure up.
Return the Call! If you don't return my call, how can you ever win my business? This rings true before you quote me on a job, and after I've signed the work contract. Oh, and don't call my house past 9 p.m. ...that shows you were raised wrong. Capish?
Show Up for the Appointment! Although this is the most basic concept, at least half of the sales people with set appointments failed to show up at my home. And half of those sales people neglected to phone to say that they would be late or not able to show at all. Hello, wasted day!
Be on Time! Out of all of the sales people who showed up for the appointment, only half did so on time! The other half were at least one hour late for appointment, one was one hour early and I found him waiting on my front porch like a lost elephant. One sales person showed up at our home -- without warning -- two whole weeks late! It was painful watching him try to bumble out of that one!
Show Up Groomed! I'm pleased to announce that 90 per cent of all the sales people I met with passed the "good grooming" test including clothing, hair, cleanliness and breath. Were they hired on looks alone? How could so many have failed in all these other key areas?
Smile & Make Eye Contact! Smiling is a lost art, and so is the art of making eye contact. Out of all of the sales people visiting my home to offer a quote, only about 50 per cent either smiled and/or made eye contact. As a potential buyer, smiling tells me you are friendly and approachable, and making eye contact makes me believe you're a straight-shooter. Besides, it puts people at ease.
Show Manners! This is a no-brainer: remove your shoes (dirty or otherwise) when in my household. Also, don't use expletives: you can see my child sitting right on my lap. Lastly, ask permission if you are going to alter my house in any way (i.e.: if you wish to pull back wallpaper, open a window, venture to the second storey of my home, etc). This is common consideration, so don't cross the line.
Oh, and if you use my washroom, please leave it in the same order as you found it. Lastly, don't exclaim: "Ahh, that's better now!" after you relieve yourself. Hehe.
Make a Good Impression! Hand me your business card so I can contact you back, and be sure to tell me your name early on. Make use of my name too, but not in every single sentence. When you're trying to win the sale, remember to be factual, informative, approachable and to answer all my questions. If you don't know the answer my question, find someone who does, and follow up with me.
Don't hand me a sales pitch: I know you're here to sell me, but it feels like you're reading directly from your company's manual! Don't be pushy: you're in my house, so show me a little respect. Feel free to offer me pamphlets and hand-outs so I can follow along with you, or use the materials in my decision-making process. And avoid this sure SALES FAIL: asking me if I'll be your "Demo House," because you don't already have one in my area. I'm not flattered, I'm flabbergasted after hearing this line repeatedly!
Show Samples! When you come to my home, bring your suitcases of samples, your colour palettes and swatches: I want to see them! I know they're heavy, but you don't have to tell me that or groan under their weight. Since I can't go to your store, bring your store to me! Slick hardwood floors woo me; shiny granite countertops dazzle me! If you don't show me what you're selling, how can I fall in love with it and want to buy it? Don't hand me any excuses that you left the samples in the car, that just screams lazy!
Show Some Ethics! When quoting me on a job, don't knock your competition, instead sell me on where you're strong! Don't show me other signed client contracts when trying to win the sale. Not only is this very unethical by showing me private information such as names, addresses, and photocopied client cheques, but it also makes me mistrust you 110 per cent because I know you'll do the same to me.
Show Me Your Best Price! This is where the majority of sales people visiting my house were weak, coming in too high (even thousands of dollars so) with quotes on similar products and services. Believe me, if I'm getting competitive quotes, yours will stick out like a sore thumb and you will lose my trust and business! And if you come in too high and try to rip me off, don't call me at 10 p.m. sounding desperate and begging to resubmit a quote. You already missed the boat.
Ask for the Sale! What ever happened to asking for the sale? It's not offensive in the least to ask me if I would like to buy windows from you today, or commit to having my driveway repaved. If I cannot (or do not) wish to commit, I will say so. It is an effective and natural way to conclude business, and to ease me through the sales process.
Follow Up! Hey sales managers, do you know how many people in your team followed up with me after our initial meeting? Just a handful out of many! I love when you follow up with me: it makes it easy for me to reach you, ask you questions, and tell you if there are any concerns with your quote. If you don't follow up with me, you fall off the map -- especially if I've lost your phone number, or if you neglected to hand me your business card in the first place.
Don't Be a Sore Loser! If I'm not able to award you the contract, please still be courteous and continue to show manners. After all, you came in high for windows, but I'm still considering you for aluminium siding -- or I know of a neighbour who could also use some of your services. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and close a door with me, because word gets around. I always keep the business cards of prospective contractors, and you may hear back from me yet!
Thank Me for My Business When I award you a contract on my home, be sure to thank me for my business and reassure me that I've made a good choice, especially when you're taking a deposit on the job. This really is the cherry on top of the sundae and makes me feel good about my decision!
Now: be sure to deliver your quality product or service on time and budget and install it properly -- and I will refer my friends, family and strangers. If you clean up the mess that you've left behind, they will refer their friends and family too.
Weigh in on the issue! What qualities make a great sales person? Are great sales people elusive to find, or are great customers?