Mark Richardson: Sales Dialects

It is time to expand your thinking from not only your own world but also from different sales cultures.

September 03, 2014
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Mark Richardson, CR

Just like there are different cultures in diverse countries around the world, there are also different remodeling cultures. Some of these cultures are driven by the projects or products, and some are designed based on business interests and motivations.

In the past, these remodeling worlds have been able live separately with little overlap or interaction. Today, the better companies from each world are more curious and learn from each other. This is driven in part by the recession (the need to diversify), the technologies now available to the homeowners (transparency), and the overall need for business to change (or become irrelevant).

The two primary remodeling cultures I have been working with are specialty and full-service remodelers. The specialty remodelers generally have specific products or projects as their expertise.

The specialty remodelers are experts in marketing, generating leads, and closing sales. These businesses generally have a scripted sales process. The sales process is generally a one-sit close and the salesperson may never see the prospect or the buyer again after the first visit. The close rates are generally quite high (25-to-45 percent) even though most of the leads come from traditional advertising or canvassing and not referrals or past clients. While the results can be impressive, the prospect’s experience is not always the most desirable due to the high-pressure sales process and wearing the client down. This also results in a 10-to-20-percent recession rate. The transparency from technology and the reviews can make this tough on the reputation of the company.

The other culture is the full-service remodeler (design/build, traditional remodeling business). While this group may also install some of the same products as a specialty contractor, they are usually generalists. They are more focused on the diverse projects and products. They approach the selling process more as a consultant or therapist than a closer. Most of the time, the process takes multiple visits. The closing rates, except for referrals and word-of-mouth leads, are not very high (10-to-25 percent). The amount of time devoted to the sales process is also many times greater even with the larger ticket size. While the prospect may not do the project right away, they generally feel pretty good about the experience and may come back when they are ready or refer the company to a friend.

Needless to say, a book can be written about each world; however, what is most relevant is what specialty and full-service remodelers may learn from each other. The following are some basic insights from each other’s sales world that can ultimately see more sales, better close rates, and a happier homeowner experience for both.

The full-service sales experience is all about creating a client more than just a project. The best full-service sales people are not looking for the here and now, they are looking for a relationship that will have many projects and referrals for the future. There are hundreds of different techniques, and they often have a “dating” step. This could be a formal agreement like a design/feasibility study or just inviting them into their office or showroom for a second “date.” This “dating” step is partially a product of complexity of the project but more a product of further development of client trust and the relationship. They try to help them buy more rather than sell them.

The specialty remodeler has a well-defined and scripted sales process. This process is written down, rehearsed, trained, and mastered. This process is followed by all specialty remodelers. While the prospect may not like to be controlled to this degree, the results are evident. This process also has well-developed sales tools to build the sales and differentiate the business from the competition. The sales process also keeps a prospect’s attention with videos and visuals in the sales call. Mastery in most things we do comes from repetition, consistency, and practice.

The full-service culture prides itself on providing many brands and choices. The specialty remodeler focuses on single brands or their label. Both have their benefits but often the full-service client can be paralyzed by too many options. On the flip side, the specialty client is often thirsty for more options.

It may be a real shift, but there can be a balance. I believe in the power of three. If clients see only one choice, then you are judged by that choice only. If clients see seven choices, they are overwhelmed and cannot decide how to proceed. If each culture could find a place where prospects can feel great about their decisions, then real success happens. Thus, three options are ideal in the selling process.

In closing, it is time to expand your thinking to not only techniques from your world but also from different sales cultures. With this mindset you see better results, help the homeowner have a better experience, and support creating a better reputation for the remodeling industry. PR



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