Winning More Sales Means
Getting Back to Business Basics
Recently, my wife and I decided to do
some home remodeling, so I set out
on a search for a reputable, qualified
contractor to handle the job. I’m happy
to report that based on my ensuing
experiences with a number of candidates,
I can safely conclude that the economy
has completely rebounded. So much so,
that some contractors are apparently
voluntarily foregoing potential business.
How do I know? Because some of the
contractors were so immensely skilled at
making a lousy first impression, I figure it
just had to be on purpose. Either that or
somehow they’ve forgotten or overlooked
the importance of making a great first
impression and how much business can
be lost before even getting out of the
starting gate. It should be a given that
every contractor understands the value of
making a winning first impression, but apparently some just missed the
You probably don’t lump yourself into this
category, but in case you’re unsure why you’re not
landing as many deals as you feel you should, here
is a short list of essentials to make sure you’re giving
it your best shot. These three points might (and
frankly, should) seem obvious, but given my recent
experiences, they’re worth providing a reminder.
You may be the best in the business at what you do, but if you can’t make a stellar first
impression, lots of potential customers will never find out.
1 Call Them Back
It doesn’t get much simpler. If someone calls
to request your services, it means they might want
to give you money. Hence, it behooves you to
return their call. If you don’t get back to them in a
reasonable amount of time (roughly 24 hours), they’ll assume you don’t
care. If you don’t care enough to at least call them back, how much will
you care about the job, or their home? And why should they bother to try
calling you again, if you don’t care? I called six established contractors
about my remodeling project. I intended to call four, but two of them
never called me back. I guess business is booming.
2 Be Human
You may not be friends with each new prospect, but it sure helps to
act like you are. People are taught from childhood to beware of strangers,
and so it goes against our nature to open our door to them and welcome
them into our home. The right first impression will help relieve this
apprehension. Customers want to deal with a human being who is friendly,
respectful of their home, will spend time asking pertinent questions about
them and their needs, and is willing to engage in conversation and put the
customer at ease. One of the contractors I met with barely spoke, asked
just a few questions, and never cracked a smile the entire time he was
in my home. Should I expect that if I give him the job, he’ll magically
transform into Ty Pennington?
3 Manage Their Expectations
People want to know what happens next. It’s your job to make sure
they don’t have to guess; in the beginning, and throughout the process.
At the outset, let them know when you’ll arrive for
the initial visit, when they can expect your proposal
(don’t keep them waiting too long), how long before
you can start the job, and a realistic idea of how long
the job will take. Most importantly, let them know
immediately if something changes. Two separate
contractors told me I’d have their estimates within
a week. In both cases, I was chasing them for their
estimate two weeks later. What am I to expect? If
they can’t keep their promises when trying to earn
my business, what will happen once they have it?
You may be the best in the business at what you
do, but if you can’t make a stellar first impression,
lots of potential customers will never find out.
People assume that what they see is what they get, and so if your prospects
see is someone who is unavailable, impersonal, or unpredictable, don’t be
surprised when they don’t throw their business your way.
By the way, of the all the contractors I called, one returned my call
within 24 hours, called me the day of the initial visit to confirm the
appointment and arrived on time, was friendly and conversational, spent
time patiently explaining the various details and considerations I should
be aware of before moving forward, and provided a proposal that was not
the cheapest, but was fair and in line with other estimates I’d received.
Who do you think I chose?