Mark Richardson's Think Business: Mastering Sales

Every remodeler is a salesperson

June 08, 2011

When a remodeler, designer or builder is asked, “Are you a salesperson?” 90 percent of the time they will not only say “no,” they also may continue by giving you a better description of what they do.
I often hear remodelers refer to themselves as remodeling consultants or remodeling designers, but in some cases they even take offense to these descriptions.
With a professional architecture background, I not only felt and experienced this first hand, I also needed to do a little soul searching (and some therapy) to address this issue many years ago.
Most of us got into remodeling because of a passion. This passion may be related to the craft and a love for building things. This passion may be related to the scale of remodeling projects and the diversity of the business. This passion (like mine) may have been directed toward designing cool things. In very few cases, however, was the passion directed to becoming a great salesperson.
I was fortunate to have a major revelation in the early 80s. That revelation was this: We are all salespeople, but some are just better than others.
Sales is a vehicle to do what we love to do. In my case: If I could sell it, I could design it. In other remodelers’ situations, if they could sell it, they would have the opportunity to smell the saw dust they so loved.
If you delve deeper into this concept, you soon realize there have been other great leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or Gandhi that owe much of their success to their ability to sell. Several years ago I was given a book titled: “The Greatest Salesperson Who Ever Lived.” The subject: Jesus. Great people can only help others if they get an opportunity to help them sell it. So why is this message important?
For you to become masterful at something, you much first acknowledge that you are a salesperson. There is no need to change your business card, but you should at least look in the mirror and say it. This recognition will give you the license to master sales.
I am not a believer in people being natural-born for sales excellence. I believe sales is a set of skills, a comfort zone, and something that can be mastered.
The following are a few thoughts to help in the journey of sales mastery.

1. Become a student of sales
Invest an hour a week focusing on the subject of sales. Listen, watch, read some sales tips and videos on the Case Institute or from other sales leaders. Grab some sales CDs  or MP3s and play them in your car as you are going to and from appointments. Attend a sales seminar through the local association or the national remodeling show. The top guns in sales are students of sales.

2. Take inventory of your sales skills
Just like going to the doctor and getting a physical and checking blood pressure, weight, stress etc., your sales skills can be broken down into many component parts. Some elements may be more general such as communication or rapport skills, and some are very specific, such as budgeting or closing techniques. When you break your sales criteria into parts, it allows you to focus on the weaknesses not just your strengths. The Case Institute has a sales fitness check up on its website.

3. Find a coach
Become a professional, not an amateur. Every professional athlete has a coach. The great athletes have multiple coaches for skills, strength and motivation. A coach can add 10 to 20 percent to your sales results. What would that mean to your business? However, like in baseball or other athletics, if you retain a good coach you also need to listen and practice. Remember: Intentions without actions equals SQUAT. Invest the time and money into the coach, and also put into practice what you learn.
I love remodeling. I love helping people. I know that the only way I do more of what I love is to be a “black belt” in sales.

Mark Richardson is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and an Affiliate at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson is the author of the best-selling book, “How Fit is Your Business,” and a forthcoming book, “Business Themes to Live By,” to be published this fall.

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