Tales From The Trenches... home improvement sales training

some things to consider....


"Milkman"  Copyright 2008 Tommy Steele 

Those  of us born before 1970 may remember the days of home milk delivery.  Waking up in the morning, opening the front door and inside the milk  box would be milk, juice or even doughnuts! Since the 1970's dairy  consumption in the USA has increased dramatically. More people are  buying the product than ever before. So is that good for everybody in  the milk business? Well NO! Consider the "Milkman", the person who sold  the product at retail is no longer employed in that capacity. 

What does this have to do with SELLING HOME IMPROVEMENTS? 

Hearing  an experienced Remodeling Contractor describe recent sales results  reminds us of the above-mentioned "Milkman". The Owner said "my  sales rep ran 20 leads and only sold three gutter jobs. I know for a  fact that these people are going to buy trim and gutters somewhere so I  am not happy with my results!" Yes the volume of home improvement  products and services may be at an all time high, yet proper marketing  and sales techniques means we must focus our efforts on the proper  selling situation. In  other words, if you are attempting to sell "on a one call close" and  you are constantly facing skeptical, hostile prospects either your sales  method should be addressed or your marketing dollars should be spent  elsewhere. We do not want to go the way of the "Milkman". He is extinct! Seasons may change, yet the need to write good business is ongoing. With the new year and upcoming Spring projects, many homeowners need to take care of that important project. It  could be a new bathroom, entry door, deck or windows. A consumer may  contact several contractors with similiar, and in some cases, identical  samples. If the product is the same, how can one price be higher than  another? Why would a homeowner gladly pay more for a "comparable" home  improvement project? Building value throughout the presentation is essential. Building value also makes your company uniquely superior to any and all competitors. Of course an idea, fact or concept introduced to a prospect, must be internalized by the prospect. In other words, the prospect must think it is his/her idea to embrace the value displayed during the sales presentation. Capturing the power of human emotions allows the trained professional to appeal to the emotions that matter most to the prospect. 

Most  of what is written here may be viewed as common sense, yet an objective  portrayal of the issues faced in today's selling environment provides a  starting point to build and enhance the sales presentation. What is  called here "eliminating multiple alternatives" means showing that you are the best in every way. Hence there is no need (in the mind of the prospect) to waste time considering lesser alternatives.


          "Concurrent Estimates/Appointments"
    by Tommy Steele 


The Seasons may change yet one thing that never changes is human nature and the desire to get as much information as possible as soon as possible. Given the hectic schedules that exist in some households, sometimes a homeowner will schedule TWO different estimate/appointments at the same time! 

To the seasoned home improvement sales professional this is indeed an affront showing intentional disrespect for the rep. I  can recall a kitchen appointment with a "Mr.& Mrs. Prospect",  shortly thereafter a fence sales rep arrives at the door and was invited  inside by the homeowner and then went out in the back yard to talk with  Mr. Prospect (who himself wanted a fence). He told me to "go ahead with  Mrs. Prospect" and give the price to her. Obviously this is not an  ideal selling situation! Without confronting or offending the prospect I  made a graceful exit under the guise of needing more samples etc. What  should be done in this case? I am certainly not there to battle the  other rep! If a prospect does this malevolently they are not suitable prospects worthy of your time. It's time to "hit it hard" with more sales, and less "be backs" on sales calls and less "go backs" on installations!

 "Cynicism Prevails or a Stained Mind"
            by Tommy Steele


On an appointment/client observation I heard a homeowner/prospect say "if you say so" after credentials and customer testimonial were presented. Even though the credentials were properly displayed with State License number, insurance coverage and several hundred installed jobs in that same zip code, the Prospect replied: "You've got the gift of gab". One statement was based on distrust, the other was based  on resentment. In this case resenting the fact that the rep spoke with a  pleasant voice, questioning statements pertaining to credentials is  tantamount to questioning integrity. In either case  embedded emotions in the mind of the prospect prevent a rational  objective analysis of relevant information. These same emotions exist  with most prospects, but not to this extent.

Proper Home Improvement Sales Training addresses the important emotional concerns displayed by prospects. Selling Home Improvements  is an ongoing endeavor where the primary participant (sales rep) must  adhere to a structured program thus assuring positive results.



Are you facing price objections and lower priced competition?  

Has this always been the case? Today with an abundance of information many consumers consider themselves self-appointed experts. When we also consider the fact that many prospects view the sales professional as suspect, closing the sale has become somewhat more difficult at times. Knowing that human emotions control the purchasing decision allows us to formulate a sales presentation that will embrace and utilize this fact. We cannot expect a person to make an emotional decision based on a logical set of facts. Emotions and beliefs become sacred dogma in the mind of the prospect. We know prospects want the product to work as intended and that they want a "good deal" on the price... 



"Getting Porched" by Tommy Steele

Home Improvement Selling Techniques Explained, Home Improvement Sales Training, In-Home Sales Training.

We all know what a porch is. It is a part of speech known as a common noun, (describes a place or object). In this case a porch is the platform or load supporting structure near a door. Now let's discuss an industry specific adaptation of the noun making it part of a verb, as in the term "getting porched". "Getting porched" means that for whatever reason the prospect wants the home improvement estimate/sales call to take place outside the house. It could be actually on the front porch or more commonly, during nice weather, the prospect wants the presentation to take place outside seated a picnic table. There are many innocent enough sounding reasons for this phenomenon, including a genuine desire to enjoy a nice day. Conversely it is an environment with a new set of distractions and pitfalls. Being visible to neighbors invites unwanted third parties into the process. While the homeowner may view the process as less than critical, the fact remains that it is critical to the sales process that a proper environment be created. Add to this the fact that some prospects may not have the same respect for the professionalism of the salesperson as they would another type of professional like a physician etc. Ask yourself would this same prospect want a few neighbors or friends present during a routine "GYN" or other invasive physical exam?!... conducted in the front yard?!?!? Of course not, so knowing the prospect may not have the same reverence for the home improvement salesperson as another professional, setting the stage is critical to the satisfactory completion of the sales process. One possible way to address this problem is the use of a helpful question that focuses ON THE PROSPECT'S CONCERNS while addressing the need to the home improvement sales professional to build a proper selling environment. Getting into the house is one step in the process that frequently cannot be ignored. Innocent non- confrontational questions such as: "Do you have a table where I can draw you a little picture and show you how we build this?" This positive, non- threatening question appeals to the prospect's self- interest, seeing how their project will be built. With the nicer weather there is more temptation for the prospect to "porch" the sales rep. The next time that happens ask YOURSELF (not the prospect!) would this same person want their spouse to have a physical exam or surgical procedure in such a setting?! Remember, the prospect MUST see this as their  own idea, not some pushy salesperson trying to make a "hard sell close". Nice day? Sure, but don't let the nice weather rain on your sales!

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