Blueprint for Success: Chapter 1

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Bill Shaw explains how he uses his sales system as a tool to control the sales process.

February 01, 2001

 

As the potential client (left) gives Bill Shaw a tour of the house, Bill listens and quietly observes. But underneath his calm observation lies a system that allows him to control the sales process. This system guides him to move methodically through the appointment, from doorstep to design contract.

Photos: Robert Muir Photography

 

Bill Shaw, CGR, relies on gut instinct when visiting a client’s house. Sometimes, he’ll be back in his truck within 30 minutes because he knows the client’s not going to work. But with 16 years of remodeling experience, he also relies on a system that allows him to move to a signed design agreement within a couple of hours of stepping foot in the door. Shaw’s company, Wm. Shaw & Associates Inc., in Houston, sells design/build projects. For him, a sale is a signed design agreement and making that sale rests on a process he learned through his CGR coursework: determine client need and sell the company’s ability to meet that need.

Shaw’s system provides three answers he must have before any sale: What does the client want to do; do they agree with the cost; and are they comfortable with design/build construction. “It’s a structured process, but the lineup can change at any minute,” Shaw says. “You have doors of opportunity [during the process.] When that door opens, no matter where you are, you have to go into it.”

Shaw’s three questions form the framework around which he’s built his entire in-home sales process. Simply put, he assimilates information about the project, identifies the needs of the client, and positions his company as best able to meet those needs. He prequalifies clients to obtain a budget before setting the appointment. He also sends a company packet to the client four to five days before the appointment. Now he’s ready to make the call.

Listen and assimilate

 

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

Go far with CGR

NAHB Remodelors Council’s Certified Graduate Remodelor program teaches sales in its Sales & Marketing for Remodelers course, administered by the Home Builders Institute. See below for course locations.

Also listed are CGR’s Professional Remodelers Experience Profile (PREP) locations. To enroll in CGR, call the Council at (800) 368-5242, Ext. 323.

PREP

After introductions, Shaw asks for a tour of the house so the client can show him what they’re thinking of doing. “You have to be acutely aware of the conversation,” he says, “but two things are going through my mind: Are we still in the same ballgame as we talked about on the phone?” Listening and calculating, Shaw squares the budget with the unfolding project. “As I’m listening, I’m looking at the condition of the house. My eyes are moving. I’m looking at things that historically caused me problems.” Effective listening enables him to formulate an opinion on whether the job can be done, Shaw says. He fleshes out the sketch he received during the qualification process.

During the tour, it’s crucial to listen and not offer too much free advice. “You have to totally listen, and not interrupt at all,” he says. “If you’re asked a question, make the answer extremely brief and not let it lead into anything else. Even on the first meeting, my job is not to give them too many ideas, but to tell them I’m capable of coming up with answers for these needs.”

Immediately following the walk-through, Shaw deals with the budget. He now knows if the initial budget was accurate or whether the scope of the project is beyond the budget. If he’s determined that the project will cost more than originally thought, “the boundaries of the budget will either narrow or expand,” he says. “If they’re going to stand firm [on the original budget], I have to find out if they’re willing to do only that amount of work that meets their budget and still be happy. I will not move to selling the company until we have a budget and agreement on need. I work hard to talk to clients about their budget; I want to clarify what the need is for.”

If the client agrees on the budget and scope, “then you have a real sales call.”

 

Definitions

Need: No matter what it costs, it’s going into the project. It will be included in the preliminary budget.

Want: Only a prohibitive cost will eliminate it. If reasonable cost, it will go in. Listed as supplementary costs.

Wish: No matter what the cost, it’s a low priority. Won’t waste time with costing.

Needs, wants, wishes

Initial budget matches project scope based on client needs. Now the conversation moves to the kitchen table, and Shaw initiates a detailed evaluation of the client’s needs, wants and wishes. The client writes a list of needs (no matter what the cost, it’s in the project), wants (will go in if the cost is reasonable), and wishes (it’s a low priority regardless of cost). Shaw leads the discussion to determine priorities.

“I tell them, when we sign an agreement we’re only going to price out your ‘needs’ first. Some needs may go out the window. We may do the project in phases. She might have ‘refinish all hardwood floors’ as a ‘want.’ You might want to move it to ‘need’ so you don’t have to move furniture and deal with the dust in Phase 2.”

Throughout the process Shaw adjusts the budget. Either the scope is more finely defined with needs moved to wants, or the budget expands as needs are added. “You can really hook them on ‘needs, want and wishes,’” Shaw says. “You’re selling the company through the questions you’re asking.”

Sell the company

Shaw does, however, want to sell the key aspect of his company as early as possible, normally after the initial budget agreement. “I want to talk about the way we work very quickly,” he says. “They may not want to do design/build.”

Using a “Design/build Sequence of Events” handout, Shaw explains how his company operates and incorporates that into the needs, wants, wishes discussion. The sequence of events “walks through the process from start to finish,” he says.

 

Wm. Shaw & Associates

Location: Houston

Type of company: Design/build

Staff model: Two office, three field

Sales history: $1.4 million in 1997, $1.4 million in 2000

Annual jobs: 20-25

Work week: 45 hours

Software: HomeTech, circle 194; QuickBooks Pro, circle 191; Chief Architect, circle 190

Bio: Shaw has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After a 10-year stint in the Navy, he started Wm. Shaw & Associates in 1984.

Key to success: Flexibility and developing trust

Contact: wmshawandassoc@pdq.net

As the “needs” discussion unfolds, Shaw continues to seek opportunities to sell his company’s ability to meet those needs. “You’re talking about need, and through their responses you sell your company.” Selling the company means convincing the client of three points, Shaw says. They need to know that the company is able to do their project, that it will be there to help, and that it’s trustworthy.

Shaw integrates his presentation book into the discussion where needed. He leaves it in the truck and offers to bring it in if the clients desire more information. “When I’m selling the company, depending on how the conversation is going, I’ll address things within the presentation book. I pick and choose depending on their interest. This, to me, is both you selling your company and showing you can fill their need.”

He also brings 11 X 14-inch photographs, matted on hard board, in a traveling case. “You can go through the photos like a deck of cards. They can say, ‘I like this, I like that.’ This shows you can fill their need.”

Shaw says the entire appointment takes from an hour to an hour and a half, during which he’s always looking for opportunities to sell the company. “[It’s] just talking to them at their level,” he says, “helping them understand the process. I want them to trust me and have confidence in my ability to give them what they want.”

Also See:

Figure 1: For your information

Figure 3: Meeting Checklist

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