Despite what you call it, what you do is sell. Success can be yours by getting back to selling.
New and experienced contractors always ask three questions: “How can I be successful in the industry?” “How do I find prospects and “How do I market?”?” My answer is always the same: get “back to the basics” of selling. It really doesn’t matter what it says on our business cards. We may act as a consultant, but, in fact, we are all salespeople. So, what are the “basics?”
Let us start with the ethic of reciprocity – the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Many times, salespeople forget that 90 percent of selling is listening. It is very easy to tell people what you want them to hear and try to earn their business, but – keeping the Golden Rule in mind – is that how you want to be treated? Do you really want someone telling you what you have to do or buy without asking you what you want to do and why?
Being a great salesperson is as easy as treating others the way you want to be treated. If you are like most contractors, you spend a good portion of our day on the phone or emailing potential customers whom we may never meet. As we all know, it is very difficult to build trust over the phone or computer. Technology continues to change our daily communication, and we are easily connected to people worldwide. Depending on your niche, your market could encompass one or many states. So as sales people, we are to build rapport with our prospects, whether they are in Boston or Portland Maine.
Keep in mind during all conversations that the goal should be to treat them with the same respect that you expect from your business contacts. You are your best asset. Sell yourself by using your personality and expertise to earn business. People want to do business with people they like. If they like you, prospects will find it more and more difficult to tell you “no”. When you earn the trust and respect of your potential customers, you will earn their business.
How many times have you heard people say they would rather have a root canal than deal with a salesperson? People as a whole don’t like to be sold, but they really like to buy. Ask yourself what you liked about the people you purchased items or services from. Your prospect has the same right you do in choosing who they wish to do business with. Are you the only person providing this service or product? Most likely you are not the only game in town. So how can you earn the right to be the ONE? Perhaps by allowing people to do what they do best. People love to talk about themselves, their family, pets, hobbies, vacations, etc. Be the one that takes the time to learn about your prospect on a personal level. You just might find out that you have similar interests and can use that information as an opportunity to create a comfort level for you and your prospect. They already know what they want to do; the question is who is going to help them reach that goal? It does not have to be a chore. When done right, it can be a pleasant experience for both parties. When your customers look at the sales experience positively, they are likely to refer you to business associates, friends, and family members. This is a great way to market and grow your business.
Obviously, it is not practical to think that you are able to build a rapport with every prospect that you meet or talk to on the phone. You must determine if they are a true prospect or not, then identify how they operate. Are they a logical or emotional decision-maker? Do they use their heads or their hearts? Are they talkative or do they keep their feelings inside? Are they working to avoid the problem or are they working toward a solution? It is important to remember that it is much more comfortable to work with people that have a similar personality. We have to step out of our comfort zone to connect people that we consider “difficult.” To master the selling yourself method, you have to learn how to customize your message in your own words for all personality types. Don’t stub your toe by not being yourself. The potential customer wants to work with you, but you need to know them, and they need to know you.
Has technology changed how customers behave or operate? Absolutely! People have forgotten how to interact with other humans. Think about it – do you order items from a catalogue? Do you buy things on the Internet? Do you Google for information? Do you interact with a credit card machine or a cashier? What happened to working with people? Whether in the past, present, or future, successful salespeople deliver personal, professional service through human interaction.
As you start to prepare your marketing plan, remember the importance of getting “back to the basics” and start from within yourself. You are the least expensive and most important asset that you have. It doesn’t matter if your landscaping, pavement maintenance, snow removal, or irrigation; your prospects need to like you, and you need to understand and connect with them.
We work hard to build relationship with our clients. Be confident and feel good about what you are doing to help others. Sell yourself by sticking to the basics.