While you might think sales is a cinch (after all, how hard can it be to sell a job to a client who wants work done on their home?), there are many things to know before you begin. Below, Paul Winans, a Remodeling columnist, veteran remodeler, and small business consultant, and Rick Matus, senior vice president at Case Design, offer their top 10 tips for getting started in sales. Tear this page out, tack it on your office wall, carry it in your wallet, or stick it on the fridge so you can have these pointers for years to come.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Both Winans and Matus agree that honing your skills and practicing at every opportunity will help you improve. “If you are not good at sales, you will sell at a lower margin,” Winans says, “which means you have to do more work and you will work for people who don’t deserve you and your company, which gets old really fast.”
- Act Natural: While you don’t necessarily need to “just be yourself” when selling, it is important to create a rapport with your potential clients rather than focus solely on getting them to sign a contract, Matus says. “Being personable will make the sale much easier."
- Have an Attitude: But make it a good one. Starting out in sales can be a rocky road, but Matus advises maintaining a positive outlook on your situation. A “positive demeanor breeds success,” he says.
- Timing is Key: Especially true when you’re just starting in sales, being on time or early to appointments is essential. If you will be late, call your prospective client and let them know, advises Winans. “Being regarded as dependable gives you an advantage when selling,” he says.
- Question Everything: You know you need to ask your clients questions about their remodel, but asking the right questions can make the sales better, especially if your client is solely focused on cost. Getting to the emotional issues behind your potential client’s decision will help to soothe their fear of the bottom line. “When the prospect admits to embarrassment or shame or guilt or fear as the true driving reason for wanting the project done, then the importance of price drops,” Winans says.
- Think Fast: Flexibility is a key quality to have during the sales process, Matus says. “Be a quick thinker, light afoot, and adjust on the fly.”
- Counsel: Approach each interaction with your potential client as an opportunity to be an adviser, Matus says, and give them sound, honest advice about their remodel. “You may not get the project,” Matus says, “but that prospect will appreciate your well-meaning advice and will refer you to others.”
- You Aren’t a Product: Remember, what you are selling your prospective client is a process with a beautiful end result, not a pre-fabricated space. Matus recommends stressing this during your sales process by “[painting] a picture in the client’s mind of the experience he/she will have and how you are the best fit for them.”
- Know You’re Worth It: Some potential clients might balk at the price you quote for your project, but you have to stick to your estimate. “Never apologize for what things cost,” Matus says. “Have empathy and respect, but believe that you are worth every penny of what you charge.”
- Consider Sales Training: If you aren’t selling as well as you’d like, get some extra help by signing up for sales training. If training is out of your budget, Winans suggests reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Another option? “If you are impressed by a salesperson who sold you something, take them out for a meal or coffee and pick their brain about selling,” Winans says.
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