Chip Doyle, author of the recently published Selling to Homeowners, the Sandler Way, has a point to make when it comes to how remodeling projects are sold. Yes, people are online scoping out remodeling companies. Yes, homeowners under 40 want instant answers and a complete design and estimate in 30 minutes. And yes, marketing may be the new selling, for small purchases. But when it comes to a remodeling project, he says, “as long as you’re selling to homo sapiens, the technology’s changed, but the psychology hasn’t.”
People still don’t want to be told what to do, the San Francisco Bay Area Sandler Systems trainer says. “They don’t want to be pressured or to discuss pointless options. And they want to be heard.”
Doyle points out that since buying a remodeling project is something that people do only rarely, they’ll need the consultative assistance of an expert who knows how it’s done, no matter how much they can find out online. “Once you start talking to a homeowner, the selling starts,” he says. Key points:
• Clarify the purpose. Before your first homeowner meeting, call to make clear the reasons for your visit and what the conversation will be about. Tell them you’ll be asking a lot of questions. You don’t have to give every homeowner a bid the first time out.
• Stay in the running. Don’t assume that if clients insist on getting three bids that your company is out of the picture. “It doesn’t mean they won’t end up with you,” Doyle says. “All you have to do is build some rapport. They may call you later and say: ‘No one’s gotten back to us. Let’s do business.’”
• Structure the sale. No matter how many appointments it takes to eventually transact business, know what you want to accomplish from each of those appointments so you can, through the power of suggestion, move clients forward to the next step. “Because clients buy remodeling so infrequently, the sale needs to be structured to help them to make a decision,” Doyle says.
• Beware the power of reviews. The worst reviews on websites such as Yelp and Angie’s List often come from people who never actually did business with the company, but only experienced one of its salespeople, Doyle says. “They write comments like: He got the hair up on my neck; he didn’t seem interested in talking to me; he wouldn’t leave the house; he was too pushy.” It’s essential, according to Doyle, that salespeople conduct every single appointment in the most professional way “or in 12 months you’ll have so many bad reviews that your phone won’t ring anymore,” he warns.