How to be an Effective Fence Salesman
Often times we hear complaints from our sales team or from other sales reps that all customers care about anymore is the lowest cost and that the "pickup contractor" or "backyard contractor" just undercuts until he gets the job; This is a faulty paradigm (which we will touch on later in this post) and usually a sure tell sign that your (or the other) sales rep is poorly trained/experienced in sales. If you are looking to revamp your sales process, skills, and percentage of closed sales; this blog post should provide useful at helping you become a better fence salesman!
QUALIFYING THE CUSTOMER/GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PROSPECT:
The first step to any sale is qualifying your prospect; selling fence products/services is no different. By properly qualifying your prospect (in this case, a home owner) you will know if your prospect is ready to buy a fence, if they want to buy a fence, if they can afford a fence etc. Doing this will allow you to manage your time more efficiently by not wasting time with “tire kickers” and focusing your direct attention on the “buying customers”.
While doing an estimate, you should always be asking yourself the following questions to qualify your prospect/home owner:
- Is the prospect the decision
maker? You always want to make sure you are talking with the
decision maker so they can make the decision to give you a deposit!
- Can the prospect afford your product/service? You don't want to judge a book by the cover when considering this question but you do want to watch out for comments such as: “we are looking for your most economic product”, “the economy is so bad...” etc. This is usually a sure sign that the prospect is just curious about pricing and most likely will not buy your product/service (unless your company is settling for a cheap...err... I mean 'economy' product)
- Does the prospect want your product/service? In sales, it is said that you want to get your prospects ATTENTION, gain their INTEREST, influence their DECISION to buy and then take ACTION! Is your prospect ready to make a decision.
OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS FROM YOUR CUSTOMER(S):
Before going to an estimate it is highly important to know what objections your customer may have and how you will overcome them. You should always be asking yourself ''What are some objections that a customer may have?” After asking these questions, you should consider a solid and persuasive response to each of the objections. Below are some examples:
- We would like to get a couple more estimates: This is a classic rebuttal that customers will always throw at you. Sometimes there is not much you can do in this situation however, you can always save a final offer for the customer IF -and only if- they sign the deal with you today. (ie: free removal of old fence, free decorative caps, extended warranty etc.)NOTE: Do not offer additional discount (such as 5% off etc.) because that makes the prospect feel like you could have given them a better deal in the first place but chose not to. Instead offer them something for free, most will love you for it!
- The other company had a lower price: If the 'lower price' includes comparable product with a quality installation, the only thing you can do here is attempt to match that price and/or rely on your 'charm' (or sales skills) to get a deposit. If the 'lower price' includes cheap material and an 'unknown' quality of installation, you should try to sell your customer on the warranty, quality of your product, and workmanship.NOTE: This is when it helps to be a member of the Better Business Bureau so you can ensure your customer that they would be dealing with an A+ BBB Accredited Business with the industry's top quality product.
- We have another project that we would like to complete before getting a fence: This is a good time to throw in the deal that was mentioned before. For example, if a customer tells you that they would like to get new siding on the house before having their fence installed, You can try telling them something like “Mr. Prospect, If you would like to do it the other way around and have your fence installed first, I would be willing to remove your old fence for free which would save you approximately $400 and we can also discuss some kind of extended warranty on the installation”.NOTE: Try to cater your offer to a 'direct need/want' of the customer. If they were talking about decorative caps but decided not to because of price, you could offer a free upgrade on caps and an extended warranty. It is important to make an offer that greatly benefits your customer because they have already set their mind to a different project and you are trying to encourage them to change their mind.
- We are just getting prices for right now: This one can really get under your skin! In this situation, there is nothing wrong with asking the prospect a simple yes or no question that may be able to turn the tide in your favor and that question is: “So, if you were ready to get your fence installed, would my price be encouraging enough to progress further into your installation?” If they say yes, ask them when they are looking to have the installation completed and make sure you follow up!NOTE: What you want to accomplish here is find out the 'one true reason' that the customer is not ready to get their fence installed and try to overcome that obstacle. If they are researching prices, they are interested in having the fence installed sometime in the future. It is your job to encourage them to buy right now! (This is also a good time to throw in a deal as mentioned above). What you DO NOT want to do is say “uhh, well you know... material goes up so much now days, it will cost you more on a later date so you should get it done now” because your competitor's salesman who offers something free as encouragement for the deposit will obtain the sale and you will be wondering why your sales are low this month.
CLOSING THE DEAL AND GETTING THE SALE:
Whether you are the company owner or a salesman for the company; the name of the game is what I like to call "CHA-CHING" (Close the deal, make the sale, get the deposit)! This is easily recognized as the toughest part of doing an estimate when you are a fence salesman. Below are some general tips for helping you close the deal and get a deposit from your customer:
- OFFER INCENTIVE(S): “Mrs. Prospect, it appears that you are quite eager to get your fence installed quickly; maybe I can help your decision making by upgrading you to some decorative caps for no additional cost or removing your old fence for free and we can take care of the paperwork right now”.
- DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR THE JOB: Telling is not selling! The worst thing you can do as a fence salesman is tell your customer “it will cost you this much, call me if you want to move forward with the job”. Instead, try closing with something like “Mr. Prospect, we would love to install your fence for you. I believe we have the price you are looking for and we are able to get started on your job right away. I have a good understanding of your needs for this fence and know that we will be a positive solution to addressing those needs. Can we agree on moving forward with this job today”?
- ALWAYS TALK AS IF THEY ALREADY SELECTED YOUR COMPANY: When you are speaking with the customer, say things like “when our installers are here...” or “after we are finished...” etc. This will psychologically get your prospect thinking about your company installing their fence and make their decision to select you a little easier.
FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP:
If for some reason you do not get the customer's deposit during your estimate, the new single most important objective at hand is proper follow up strategies! By utilizing good follow up strategies, you will keep your name and company's name in the prospects mind for when they are ready to buy. Below are some good follow up strategies that are ideal for fence salesman:
- SEND A THANK YOU CARD OR GIFT CARD: When was the last time a salesperson or rep met with you and then followed up with a thank you card or by giving you a gift card? It simply does not happen anymore and will dramatically set you apart from the rest of your competition. I only recommend this follow up strategy for larger jobs that have potential of bringing you a large return on investment (ROI). A simple thank you card will usually do the trick however if you really want to excite your customer, send them a $5-$10 gift certificate for Starbucks, be sure to include a letter of thanks and let them know that you are looking forward to installing their fence. I assure you that -more times than not- this will score you the job!
- FOLLOW UP CALLS: You should always make follow up calls to your customers 1-3 days after performing the estimate. I personally would make a follow up call 2 days after the estimate and tell the prospect “I wanted to thank you for meeting with me the other day and see where you stand in the decision making process. Have you considered moving forward with your installation?”You will usually get a solid response on when the prospect is looking to have the fence installed or they will say something like “I still have to talk to my wife about it”. If this is the case, you can respectively ask to follow up at a later date. Make sure you take notes and follow up on the later date.
- FOLLOW UP EMAIL: I recommend following up with an email after your first follow up call. This is another venue that you can use to maintain further communication with the prospect and ensure that your company will receive the installation when the time comes.
- GOOGLE+/FACEBOOK: If your customer has a Google+ or Facebook page, do not hesitate to include them in your network and send them a message letting them know that you want to make it easy for them to contact you when necessary.
While every prospect and situation is different, the above strategies will greatly increase your chances at making the sale and obtaining a deposit at the time of your estimate. By utilizing these strategies, I guarantee that you will close more deals and increase your annual income! In addition to these tips, it is always recommended that you continuously increase your product knowledge, sales skills and make sure you are current with the industry standards.
I hope these tips and strategies are beneficial to you, your salesmen, and your company! Please Comment and Subscribe!