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In-home service contractors are finding it very challenging to sell to homeowners these days. If you're a builder, home renovator, plumber, heating and cooling contractor, pest control company, landscaper or you sell to home owners, you're probably struggling with your sales. It's time to change your approach with your customers or you'll go out of business.
There are many kinds of customers, but the most classic might be the "We're getting estimates." customer. When they call for an estimate, they like to make sure that whomever books the appointment knows that they are "just starting the process" of getting estimates.
They mention a bit about the research they've already done. They might even give the model numbers that they are looking for or talk about the internet site that they used to bring them to your company.
It has been my experience with husband and wife households that the man makes this initial call the majority of the time. Don't be surprised when the wife calls with the same approach. Make the appointment with her and do not make the tragic mistake of suggesting that her husband be there for the appointment, unless she suggests it.
Sometimes our male egos with lessons learned from our parents during a different generation told us that "the man of the house" makes the decisions on this kind of stuff. This couldn't be farther from the truth in most households today.
As I learned from a very knowledgeable business woman, a woman has control over her man in ways you can't even imagine. On many calls into your company, there may not even be a man or husband in the household.
Making no assumptions or generalizations during your first customer contact is the best first approach.
Now you've booked the appointment and it's the day of the estimate or customer visit. An estimate-getting researcher informs you what order you are on their estimate list. For many years, I would handle this estimate similar to many other sales people in this industry.
If I wasn't the last person to give an estimate, I would do a two-part close. I'd spend the first visit gathering information and taking measurements and information related to the job. Then I'd call in a few days to book the next appointment, at which time I'd try to position myself as the last estimate to be given.
The only flaw with this method is that all other companies on the customer's estimate list would try to do the same. As a result, the customer would get frustrated when they couldn't get estimates completed right away. Many times on my second visit, the customer still wouldn't have all of their estimates. My closing rate on customers like this was typically under 20%.
Then I discovered my "miracle closing technique".
My closing technique is pretty simple. It involves 6 easy steps which your company should follow with every customer.
1. Meet Face-to-Face
The first and highly effective approach to closing the estimate-getting customer is, go and meet with whoever booked the appointment in their home. Spend as much time needed in that first appointment gathering information and taking measurements.
2. Tell Success Stories
The second step involves your time and attention given to your potential customer. Sit down at their kitchen table, ask for something to drink while you're calculating the job cost. While you sit with the customer, tell them stories about other situations and homes you've seen that were similar to their home. This will start to establish trust and a level of comfort.
3. Gather Information
Give yourself time to gather all the necessary information and measurements in order to give them an estimate.
4. Show Your Credibility Book
You or your sales advisors should always carry a credibility book to represent your business. It's a binder which should contain great articles about the company, testimonial letters, a certificate of insurance, and customer satisfaction surveys from other customers. Give this book to your customers during your visit to their home.
5. Provide an Estimate
These customers, who are used to scheduling second appointments with other companies, will be dumb-founded that you can sit with them and in an hour of their time, figure out the job and give them an estimate.
In my experience, I hear things like, "All the other companies that came to give an estimate would have to go back to their office to figure it all out". I reply that I would rather sit and get this done for them right away. I tell them that I know how frustrating of a process this can be and that I'd rather make it easier for them.
6. Follow up
Using these techniques consistently, many customers make their buying decisions for me in the first sitting!
For the customers who don't make decisions for you right away, write your cell phone number on the top of the proposal and tell them to call you if they need help making a decision along the way.
Emphasize that even if they're unsure about their decision, they can still call with questions - that you'll help them in any way you can.
Before leaving the house, ask, "When do think you'll be in a position to make a decision on this?" Whatever the customers' answer, ask if it will be alright for you to call them on the date they mentioned, to see where they're at with their decision?
Now, this is very important:
Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and ask, "Are you sure that's enough time, because I really don't want to be a pest."
Then, you must call the customer back on the date and time that you agreed!
These follow up phone calls for me usually begin with an apology from the customer, who then asks me when we can do the job.
Using this approach, my closing rate sky-rocketed - going from less than 20% to over 60%!
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