Craftspeople by nature and salespeople by necessity, many remodelers believe that their company's good work will speak for itself, convincing smart prospects to work with them. This is sometimes true, but there is often a “sales process” standing between your solutions and the prospects' needs and wishes.

Gerry Donaghue of Donaghue Construction, Nashua, N.H., says sales training seminars have helped him understand “that consumers are shoppers, and they need to be led down a path — not just a technical path but a sales path.” Also, he notes, “I've gained a better understanding of how to negotiate with people. I'm selling an intangible idea, and I need to get them to believe in me.”

Several sales gurus serve the remodeling industry. Although they primarily offer consulting services to specialty and replacement contractors, the skills they teach are important to full-service and design/build remodelers as well.

  • “You cannot know what you do not know,” says Dave Yoho of Dave Yoho Associates (703.591.2490; “How do you fit their needs?” he asks. “How do you build rapport? There's a pattern to these things.” Yoho's training focuses on effective wording, the psychology of the sale, and even the science of positioning and body language. “Jumping around to different topics does not keep in step with how the mind of the prospect works: one idea at a time,” Yoho says.
  • Phil Rea of MasterMind Training (866.441.7445; extols the fundamentals. “There is no such thing as ‘Sales 102,'” Rea says. “You've got to approach training like an exercise routine — what do I need to do today?” Rather than aspiring to close a sale in three calls, for example, he suggests planning a series of three closed calls. Rea teaches 32 closes and advises having “something to close on every time.”
  • “The best product does not win,” laments Rick Grosso of Rick Grosso Seminars (772.466.6073; “Just like in a trial by jury, where the more convincing lawyer wins his case, the better salesperson wins the job,” he says. Grosso acknowledges that the remodeler's sale is a “more gentle sale,” but says you should still use positioning and differentiation to give yourself the edge.

—Joe Knife is vice president of sales at Classic Metal Roofing Systems and lives in Troy, Ohio.