Why formalize the sales process? For four reasons, says Gary Stebnitz of Kustom Kitchen Designs, Delavan, Wis.:

  • Increase the salesper son's chances of success
  • Develop strong and lasting client relationships
  • Maximize repeat and referral projects
  • Simplify training in all company methods and procedures

At Kustom Kitchen Designs, in Delavan, Wis., one salesperson returns lead calls within 24 hours, asks a few qualifying questions, and, if the fit seems good, schedules a meeting at the home in five to seven days. Red flags are subjective but might include the prospect saying he or she is getting several bids.

Potter Construction's lead sheet “covers the basic information and provides a prompt to ask clarifying questions,” Gary Potter says. Anyone may take the calls, but ideally the initial screening is done by a designer/salesperson, who rates each answer on a scale from 1 to 5 and develops an overall “lead score.” If the score is low, there's no point in scheduling a meeting.

Potter tracks leads monthly and in an annual “lead report recap,” using a matrix to document data such as number of leads per source (nine categories), how many become appointments, how many result in design or construction contracts or both, and the amount of those contracts. He analyzes the reports to see whether sales goals are being met and which marketing methods are working best. He also shows his lead carpenters data for repeats and referrals because “their actions on the job are a big factor in that.”

Method Acting As for the actual selling process, many remodelers train in the Sandler Sales method, or some variant of it. Sandler coach Jack Hauber outlines the system's seven steps:

  • Rapport. People buy from people they like and trust.
  • Upfront contract. Both parties agree in advance on their goals for the meeting.
  • Pain. People buy for emotional reasons.
  • Budget. Why spend time with someone with an unrealistic budget?
  • Decision. What's the decision process, who's involved, and when will they make it?
  • Fulfillment. Explain you'll take care of their pains within their budget.
  • Post-sell. Offer assurances that eliminate or reduce the risk of buyer's remorse.

Case Design/Remodeling's nine-step system begins with the salesperson's “warm-up call” to the screened lead, says Ed Dudley, a franchisee of Case Handyman & Remodeling in Austin, Texas. The salesperson prepares a proposal at the prospect's home, using a laptop loaded with boilerplate proposals, specifications, and prices, and then makes a follow-up call within 24 hours.

Kustom Kitchen Designs' sales process hinges on the relationship between salesperson and client, which lasts throughout the project. At the first meeting, held at the prospect's home, the salesperson asks about goals and simply listens for 15 to 20 minutes. Only then does he talk about the company, before explaining the building process, inquiring about budget, and setting up a second appointment. A confirmation letter for the appointment is mailed that day.

The second meeting is held at the company's showroom/office. For non-design jobs, the salesperson presents a contract. For design jobs, the salesperson and prospect tour the showroom to gather more specific ideas and then schedule a third meeting to go over the contract.

In asking for the sale, Stebnitz prefers the soft sell — for example, “If you sign today, we can get you on the schedule on this date.” When Leif Jackson presents his agreement, he slides it across the table with a pen — a handsome one bearing the Jackson Remodeling logo — which becomes the clients' “after they sign on the dotted line,” he says.