Winning More Sales Means Getting Back to Business Basics
Dave Chace ([email protected]) is president of Training Allies, a CE-focused training firm in Philadelphia.
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 memo.
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?