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Exterior Sales

7 April, 2020

There are a lot of reasons that now is a great time to up your sales game on the exterior side of the business. Number one, in many of areas of the country, it’s warming up and the exterior season is here. Also, it’s outside and APC’s weekly COVID-19 survey shows that exterior is on area that is holding strong for contractors. “Exterior is a blessing right now since it’s outside. Don’t forget to practice good infection control practices,” says Tom Reber, founder of The Contractor Fight. Finally, even it’s a little too nippy or you are unable to work because of stay at home rules, you can still work to book jobs and schedule them for when we all go back to work. “We are seeing that customers are calling. They are stuck at their house and thinking of all the projects they want done,” says Matt Kunz President of Five Star Painting and ProTect Painting. So here are some tips for exterior selling:

  1. Let people know if you are open or doing estimates. David Chism from A David Creation says the first thing you should do is make sure your Google Listing is up to date with the most recent information. “People are confused on what is open and what is closed. Wherever you are in your business (open for jobs or open for estimates only), update your local Google listing with your hours and if you are open or closed.” A few samples?
    1. “We’re open for business and practicing safe work practices.”
    2. “We are currently not able to do painting work, but we are available to give virtual estimates.”
  2. Post videos and content! People are absorbing online content at an incredible rate right now. Offer them something!
    1. Testimonials or pictures of customers enjoying their new outdoor space. According to Reber, emotional triggers go farther in times like this than discounts. “Emotional might be a picture with freshly stained deck full of family members laughing and having a great experience,” he says. After all, who isn’t dreaming of nice spring and summer days connecting with friends, family and neighbors right now.
    2. If you are still working, create a video that shows your infection control practices.
    3. Post an article about the top reasons to get houses painted. 
    4.  Post a spring exterior check list. 
  3. Connect with people. We are all in this together, and now is the time to truly connect. Ask people how they are doing and share your stories too.
  4. Virtual Estimates – Use technology
    1. Get Zoom, Facetime, Google Duo or any video app to set meetings with your clients. 
    2. Employ your estimating software. Estimating software companies are making it easier than ever to do things quickly and remotely. Reach out and find out if there are training courses for virtual estimating with your software provider.
  5. Get Deposits.  “We are seeing a lot of 20% deposits right now to get on the schedule,” said Kathy Droste, owner of Estimate Rocket.
  6. Get a Schedule Going. Get people on the schedule: This can be a little challenging when we don’t know what each week holds. Can we work next week? When can we get back to work? Well, that we don’t know, but here are a few strategies that we’ve heard. “We are seeing a lot of contractors base slots on a first come, first serve and size of job,” says Droste. Once you know the size of the job and they have paid their deposit, you can get them in queue: “You are first, second or third on the schedule starting when state and city ordinances are lifted,” said Droste. Nick May from Walls by Design and familiar face from the Business Brush Group and the Crank events said that the Colorado state ordinance is currently slated to end April 26, so he is using that as his current marker. “If things change, we will adjust from there."
  7. Do It. “Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone right now,” says Reber. People are home, staring at their houses. When this all passes you want to be busy working not busy trying to find work."

Tune up Your Sales Process

We asked Reber of the Contractor Fight for strategies to fill that exterior schedule regardless of if it begins now or in 30 days from now. You have to be your own solution. If you plan on being in business 1 year or 2 years from now you have to sell now. People still want to get stuff done. Especially when people are stuck in a place where we can’t get a lot done.

  1. Stay Motivated 
    1. Perspective – you need to be able to pull back and understand that this is happening to the entire world. Admittedly, things are bad, but they could be much worse. 
    2. Clarity – How do you define a win on the other end of this? Three months from now, three years from now, where do you need to be in order for you to count that as a win?
    3. Unity – How do you keep your team together? Be sure you are addressing them, don’t run from the conversation, put yourself in their shoes. It’s time to be a leader.
    4. Patience – If someone says that they have to cancel or postpone a job, don’t get mad, don’t say no. Treating them with respect will get you points when it's time for them to revisit programs.
  2. Think about your sales process. Some people are getting flack for selling during a time like this. Small business will bring the economy back. It’s important that we sell where we can.
    1. If you get push back: Be understanding; a lot of people are scared right now. We have employees and families depending on us to sell paint jobs. We are doing all we can to keep this safe. But we understand your concerns, and if this is not a good time for you, we completely understand and can schedule it for later."
  3. Get sales training. Sales is oxygen to your business. You should ALWAYS be sharpening your skills: role playing, figuring out how to overcome objections. A sales coach can help with this.
  4. Prepare yourself that it is going to take more effort.
    1. a. Try Virtual Sales – We have been teaching this for years. You need to apply your sales process to a virtual environment (but if your sales practice has always been bad, it will be worse online).
      1. Know their motive – why do they want to do it?
      2. Open conversation – Give them real numbers. Find out if they are they ok with people outside their house.
      3. Don’t make assumptions; be bold in your conversations.
      4. Tell them your infection control practices.
    2. b. It’s not about your pitch; it’s about connecting with people.
      1. Be an active listener
      2. Use mirroring
      3. Don’t run away from this conversation. We are all going through this.
  5.  Get ready to negotiate – they are reading that they can get discounts now. You have to connect with them and sell your value.
  6.  If you are considering discounts:
    1. For 95% of painting contractors, discounting during a time like this is a terrible idea, especially if you do not know your numbers. Contrary to popular opinion, in a rough economic time they respond less to deals and more to emotional triggers. Again, emotional might be a picture with freshly stained deck full of family members laughing and having a great experience.
    2. If you know your numbers and your break even, you can reduce your prices … only if you hit your break even. That said, you should always make a little profit. If you don’t make profits on jobs, you can’t survive difficult times. Don’t put yourself or your family last.
    3. The more leads you have, the less pressure you’re under to close every sale.

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