Many factors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in contractors abruptly adjusting their sales processes to meet new customer demands.
But have those requests—such as virtual consultations and quicker turnarounds on prices—continued now that business is mostly back to normal?
To find that answer, I spoke to four successful replacement contractors to gain insight into their sales processes and to find out if they’ve made any adjustments. Here’s what they had to say.
10% of Appointments Are Virtual With No Drop in Closing Percentage
Ian Foltz, Vice President
Schuylkill Haven, Pa.
“We leave a one-year price as advertised, and then we have an initial consultation offer, which includes a discount for doing business with us that night. The average appointment is 60 minutes for epoxy floors and up to two hours for roofing and windows.
Since March 2020, some customers want everything yesterday and they expect a quick turnaround when it comes to getting pricing and having the products installed.
As a mentor once told me, it’s not the big that eats the small, it’s the fast that eats the slow. If you’re not able to pivot and adjust your business model, then you will be in trouble.
There will always be in-home selling, but there’s going to be a percentage of the population who won’t accept that. For the customer who wants a price over the phone—about 10% of our appointments—we turn them over to one of our virtual sales specialists who reviews our product features, benefits, and pricing over a Google meeting. Our closing percentage is about the same in a virtual setting as it is in the home.”
Customer Satisfaction Increased by 15% With Improved Communication
Montana Graboyes, Executive Vice President
East Norriton, Pa.
“We don’t push the one-call close because I think that’s antithetical to what people want these days. Customers don’t want to be bullied into something—they want to be guided and helped. But unless there’s something uber-custom, we give pricing on our first visit.
We spend about 60 to 90 minutes in the home. We offer a slight discount to customers who purchase that day because that cuts down on administrative costs and gives our advisors more opportunities to visit new customers. Ninety-seven percent of the jobs we sell close within a 21-day window.
Early in the pandemic, we turned our conference room into a virtual presentation studio. We would demonstrate the samples as if we were in the home. But our customers stopped wanting that.
The biggest change we’ve seen is in managing new customer expectations from the night we sell all the way through installation. We’ve created a position in our company called the Customer Concierge whose job is to communicate with customers—good, bad, or ugly—every two weeks. As a result, our customer satisfaction has gone up by 15%.”
Closing More Sales by Eliminating the “Buy Today” Discount
Randy Hann, Owner
Myrtle Beach and Charleston, S.C.
“I have friends who have moved to a one-call sales approach because they were negatively impacted by customer demand for shorter presentations. Our core customers are older, so we’re not seeing that.
We still do a two-step sales process. The first visit lasts about an hour. The second visit can last up to two hours if the customer is moving forward.
We’re not getting pushback on the two-step process upfront, but occasionally a customer wants the pricing emailed in lieu of a second visit. In those cases, we’ll schedule a phone call to discuss the proposal and email it to them while on the call.
The biggest thing we’ve changed is the “buy today” discount. We went the opposite of everyone I’ve talked to. Our discount is good for three days, not just for the day we give the price.
Initially, this new approach threw off the sales team. But now they realize they’re closing more sales with some follow-up. Customers often call us before we follow up to say they want to move forward and receive the discount.”
Two-Step Sales Process with Option for Virtual Second Visit
Jesse Kreisman, Vice President
“While we’ll still quote some smaller projects in one visit, many of the projects we’re taking on now are more complex. So, a lot of our projects require two visits with the homeowners, rather than a one-call close.
The first visit is a needs assessment where we find out what problem the customer has and how we can solve it. Then, we prepare a proposal with a couple of options and schedule a second visit within five to 10 days of the first.
Where we differ from most one-call close companies is that we’re not going into the home with one option. We have multiple product lines and want to make sure the customer sees what they’re buying.
I firmly believe you have to be out to the home to see the project before giving a price, but I don’t have an issue if it’s easier for a client to do the second visit virtually. Even if COVID hadn’t happened, virtual meetings were going to become a part of our industry. I think most people still want physical interaction with a product, but you have to be willing to adapt.”