Mike Damora is vice president of sales and marketing at K&B Home Remodelers, in Succasunna, N.J. Reach him at madamora@kbhomesnj.com. Follow him on Twitter @madamora.

Just An Order Taker

What homeowners want to know today is why your product is worth their money. The rest is baloney.

February 10, 2017

Sales gurus have been saying it forever: selling is a transfer of emotion. Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, the late Zig Ziglar … they all agree. No one buys logically. 

What’s that look like? Say you’re looking for a sport coat. You find one you like and the salesman, if he’s sharp, says: “I’ve got a belt that’ll go great with that.” The belt’s not bad. “You’re probably going to need some shirts,” the salesman says. Okay, show me some.
You go in for a $300 sport coat and walk out with $900 worth of merchandise. You got swept up in the emotion of the buying experience.

Order Takers Anonymous

In home improvement sales anyone who doesn’t hammer a customer at the close is dismissed as “just an order taker.” But some of those order takers are moving a lot of product. At Window World, for instance, the salespeople go into the house, price out the options, and write up the purchase. Obviously, there are quite a few people who prefer to buy their windows that way; otherwise  Window World wouldn’t be the largest exterior remodeling company in the U.S., selling more than a million windows in 2016.

If you talk to ten window manufacturers, all of them prove why theirs is the best product out there. But ultimately, once installed, any of those windows will last about the same amount of time. So you’re going to sell a window based on certain performance criteria; that is, how well it helps conserve energy. Vinyl windows are all about saving energy, and 80 percent of a window’s efficiency has to do with the glass. When it comes to choice, take double-hung vs. casement out of the picture, and you’re talking about the color and the glass package. With a U-factor of 0.30, it’s this efficient, at 0.26 it’s this much more efficient and at 0.18 it’s super efficient. Here are the numbers. How long do you plan to live in this house, and what kind of window would you like to go with? 

Just the Facts 

Say you have a prospect with neither the time nor the stomach for a three-hour sales presentation ... or maybe even for any kind of face-to-face meeting. There are more and more of them. They want it fast and over the phone or via email. How do you sell that prospect?

It’s easier than you’d think. Present them with facts, information, and options. They will already know if you’re legit because they’ve checked to see if you’ve racked up BBB complaints; they’ve read the bad reviews and also the good reviews. If homeowners know you’re a reputable company, and that your reviews are four-star or better on Yelp, Google, or Angie’s List, they don’t need P.T. Barnum in the living room. They’re just about convinced or they wouldn’t be calling or emailing you about wanting work done.

Now, whether its online, on the phone, or in the living room, you need to make that sale as emotion-free as you can. The more logical it is for them, the easier it is, and the easier it is, the more likely they are to: 1) buy, 2) buy more, 3) tell their friends or write a glowing review.
To point #2, you upsell in the design you present and in your proposal. If someone wants windows, we don’t send them a proposal just for X windows, installed. We look at (and photograph) the house and its condition, then price out, in addition to windows, what fiber cement siding replacement and a new shingle roof with new gutters would cost. 

Our average sale has gone from $14,000 three years ago to $33,000 in 2016. Once people realized we were as good as the reviews said we were and that it was easy to buy from us, they figured: why not get a few more things done that need to get done? So we require fewer leads, since the close rate has remained the same. 

No Remorse

Window World promotes the price of the product in their marketing, and their business model depends on high volume sales. That works fine for them, but not us. We don’t we sell cheap. We get full margin on what we sell and install, and we can do that because we show people exactly what they’re going to get for what they’re paying. Dropping the price is what you do when you’re sitting in the living room trying to corner them into a sale. 

But here’s the other part. Since they know what they’re getting, there is no buyer’s remorse. Many home improvement companies see 10 to 25 percent cancel rates. Even with a rehash program and the sales manager or rehash manager re-visiting the appointment, you still end up lowering the price and losing margin. And what a lot of work!

Imagine if you go from 20 percent cancellations to … zero. What happens to your revenue, and especially to the percentage you actually get to keep because the job closed out and you got paid in full? 

But, you’re thinking, what happens with salespeople? Their biggest fear is that if they’re not at the kitchen table, they’re not in control. But the fear’s not real because no one was ever really in control to begin with. You had the illusion of control, frequently mistaken for intimidation and manipulation in one form or another to get homeowners to buy. 

Give Them What They Want

You’ll hear sales trainers saying: Nothing’s changed. People are people. Why do they feel compelled to make that claim if it’s supposedly so obvious? 

Here’s what’s true: Millennials don’t and won’t buy the old way, the way that sales trainers train for. Today homeowners want three things: 1) a reliable contractor, 2) your serious, knowledgeable, professional advice, and 3) a price for the project. They don’t want to talk about Johnny’s soccer team or your golf handicap or why golden retrievers are bred to be smart. They want to know why your product is worth their money.

Millennial buyers understand something that previous generations didn’t. They know their way around business. They understand that you need to make a profit and they’re okay with that. They’re almost never enticed by a low price. Commit to selling emotion-free and the only customer you’ll lose is the one you can easily afford to lose: the price buyer.

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