I have begun hearing from home improvement professionals across the country that new work is getting harder to come by. We’ve been hearing for the last year or so that business is soften in the new construction sector, and we are beginning to see subtle signs of that impacting R&R business, as well. Many remodeling and home improvement companies are reporting a reduction in leads coming into their business over the last few months. It's not dire for a lot of companies, but opportunities are shrinking a bit, so your performance on every sales call has ratcheted up in importance. Now is the time for you to focus on "blocking and tackling" in your sales process. These three items below are a good start for just that - getting back to basics and delivering results.

"Blocking and tackling" comes from a Vince Lombardi quote: “Football is two things: It's blocking and tackling. I don't care about formations or new offenses or tricks on defense." In sales, it has come to signify a back to fundamentals approach.
"Blocking and tackling" comes from a Vince Lombardi quote: “Football is two things: It's blocking and tackling. I don't care about formations or new offenses or tricks on defense." In sales, it has come to signify a back to fundamentals approach.

Product Demo: I’ve talked to many in-home salespeople over the years and find it surprising the number of sales calls that occur without any product demonstration whatsoever. Several larger companies that track many details of their sales process indicate that product demonstrations are done in less than 40% of the in-home sales calls. These are large purchase decisions made by homeowners who probably don’t embark on home improvement on a regular basis. I would think they would want to see the products being installed in, and on their home. I know I would! If most of these sales calls do not include a product demonstration, this may be an ideal opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd by demonstrating your products during sales calls.

Here are tips to help make your product presentations more effective. Stress things that matter to your customer. You may know 100 things about your product, but if only 15 of those matter to a potential customer, those are what you should focus on. How do you find out what’s important? You ask questions, really listen to the answers, and drill down during the need’s identification portion of the sales call. Always provide the benefits of your product features. People buy benefits, they don’t buy features. The old saying is “I don’t need a ¼-inch drill, I need a ¼-inch hole” and it’s true. So always answer the “So What?” question. Your product has this feature; what does it mean for the homeowner? Eye contact is also important during product demonstrations. You may look at your product or literature when mentioning a feature, but make sure to turn your attention to the customer and look them in the eye when giving them the benefit of the feature.

Situational Canvassing: There is a great resource for leads at every salesperson’s disposal that very few take advantage of. Talk to a few neighbors. After selling a job and getting signatures on a contract, don’t just get in your vehicle and drive to the next appointment. Instead, take a few minutes and knock on a few of your new customer’s neighbor’s doors. Explain you will be starting a project in a few weeks and will work hard at picking up any construction debris that accumulates around jobsites. Hand them your business card and ask them to call you if they see debris in their yard that your installation crews did not get picked up. What do they think about you when you walk off that porch? You are also drawing the neighbor’s attention to your job, making it more likely they will be inquiring with your customer about your company, products, and services. It is highly likely that one of these neighbors will be reaching out to you when they have a need for home improvement services.

Sales Management: Lastly, let’s discuss what sales leaders can do to support their sales teams in this time when leads are tougher to get and sales are harder to win. Communication is more important now than ever. Everybody is busy, and that includes sales managers and owners.

Sometimes leaders get into ruts, providing little to no regular communication with their teams. This can cause your team to feel disconnected from the business and in a silo of sorts. Alone on an island. Regular sales meetings with your team are a great way to keep communication flowing and ensure everybody is moving in the same direction.

Take this time to dig into the nuts and bolts of your sales process … provide questions to ask, explain the importance of product demos, and of asking for the sale and overcoming objections. Involve your salespeople and ask what they are doing that seems to be working well for them. This encourages the sharing of best practices. If one person is struggling, there is chance others are as well. Many times, advice from a co-worker carries more power than advice from a sales manager. Work to create a culture of teaching, learning, and self-improvement.

There are a lot of economic, and policy factors contributing to some of softening being experienced in this industry. These factors are out of your control and can cause some negative impact on attitudes. Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it. Focus on what you can control to put yourself in the best position to win in challenging times. Happy Selling!