I know what Noah felt like: After a massive four-inch rainfall, my basement was flooded. It wasn’t a flood of biblical proportions, but it was enough to make me want it to not happen again.

By Chad Reinholz, HindSite Software

So I went on a hunt for a basement waterproofing business. I left a voicemail for Company A. I talked to an obviously unhappy receptionist at Company B who scheduled a meeting with her boss. I talked to a happy receptionist at company C who also scheduled a meeting with her boss and then sent me a confirmation email with more information about their waterproofing process..

Company A never called me back. Company B’s salesperson show up an hour late and gave no reason why. Company C showed up on time. While he measured my basement, he handed me a tablet that had a short five-minute video that explained their proprietary basement waterproofing system. He gave me an estimate on the spot and then, two days later, I received a list of my neighbors who had used Company C’s services to waterproof their basement.

Despite being priced 10% higher, I was sold on Company C. They obviously had put a lot of thought into their sales process and I had a great first impression. If their workmanship was as good as their salesmanship, it was worth the 10% premium.

The lesson: if you want to improve your sales success rate, you need to consider your entire sales process, not just your pricing.  Here are four tips to get you started:

1. Define Your Sales Process

The first thing to do is  map your sales process. What happens during your typical sale? Write down all of the touchpoints your business has with a prospect and analyze how to make each one better.

For example, a typical process may involve an initial call to your office, followed by scheduling an on-site visit, followed by sending an estimate, and ending with either a yes or a no answer. Look at each of those steps – how can you make every one different? How do you stand out from the competition at every step? Start by training your office manager on proper phone etiquette – a cranky first impression isn’t what you want. Also consider hiring an answering service so that no calls go to voicemail – it’s a nice personal touch. I can tell you from experience that most of my calls to contractors go to voicemail…and most of those voicemails are never returned.

Then, determine what you need to do in the field to create a winning bid. Is there anything you need to bring? What makes what you do unique? What’s your elevator pitch and why should people choose you? Do you have a professional shirt with your logo that shows your legitimacy? Is your truck branded? All of these seemingly minor things add up to a big competitive advantage.

Then, examine your estimate. What’s it look like? Does it reinforce your brand? Does it reinforce what makes you uniquely qualified to service your prospect?  Is it easy for someone to agree to?

Finally, what’s your follow-up process?  I’m always shocked when someone delivers an estimate for something and I never hear from them again. Create a process to follow up on every estimate until you get to a yes or a no.

2. Pay Attention to Information

At every step in the sales process, you’re exchanging information. On the initial call, you’ll want to gain a good understanding of what the prospect wants, so you can go to the initial meeting prepared. But you’ll also want to start introducing the prospect to your differentiators.

For example, if you install irrigation systems, explain how your trenching equipment operates to minimize disruptions to a property, the features of the controllers you install, the experience of your team. If you don’t do it on the initial call, send a meeting confirmation or reminder email that includes that basic information or, even better, a video that explains your process.

We’ll touch on this in the next section, but technology can be your friend here. A piece of paper with customer information is good, but a centralized field service software solution like HindSite not only makes it easy to capture, store and retrieve sales information, but things like assessments – basically mini-surveys to capture important information – can create standard data collection processes.

3. Leverage Technology

I mentioned earlier that it’s rare for a contractor to follow-up on an estimate. That’s likely because they aren’t using a sales CRM that reminds them to follow up. There are hundreds of sales CRMs on the market, many of which are very inexpensive. Generally speaking, if a CRM reminds you to follow up on an estimate and you win when you likely would not have, it’s paid for itself a couple times over.

So invest in technology. That could mean a CRM. It could mean tablets and field service software like HindSite that makes it easy to capture sales information in the field. It could be investing in a series of videos that showcase your work – videos you can leverage on-site and/or in follow-up emails. It could be in email marketing technology that makes it easy to send sales follow-up emails and nurturing campaigns. Most contractors understand that equipment can be a force multiplier that improves efficiency. The same can be said for technology.

Assess what tasks and activities take the most time in the sales process and see if there’s a technological solution that can eliminate or minimize those actvities so you can focus most of your sales time on talking to potential customers.

4. Always Improve

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. This is especially important if you have multiple sales reps. Even if you don’t, measure some key numbers like:

  • Close Rate – This is basically your winning percentage. If you sell multiple services, measure your win rate per service. You may find that you’re great at selling irrigation installs, but not as great at selling fertilization packages. Knowing that data makes it easy to asses your fertilization process and determine what you can do to improve it.
  • Time to Close – Most contractors report very short time-to-close numbers – anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Basically, this measures the time from when a qualified lead came in to when they made a decision. Knowing this number – and your close rate – can help you prepare your operations team for forecasted sales. The worst thing you can do is land a bunch of sales and then be unable to handle those sales operationally. Time to close can also help you determine when it’s appropriate to follow-up. If, on average, your prospects close within two weeks, you’ll want to set a follow up for near the two-week mark.
  • Average Deal Size – Another simple number that tells you the average revenue of your deals. If you find your close rate is higher on small deals, it’s an indicator that something is wrong with your sales process for larger deals. That data gives you something to analyze and improve.

This offseason is a great time to spend a day or two with your team analyzing your sales process and brainstorming ways to make it better. With a refined sales process and some hard work, you’ll be growing your business significantly in 2018.

Chad Reinholz is the Sales and Marketing Manager at HindSite Software. His basement is no longer flooded.

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