Thursday, January 12, 2023
Regardless of the industry, contractors need to close deals to stay afloat and thrive. You could be in roofing, HVAC, design and building, remodeling, or any other niche. You could also be getting many referrals. However being in a great niche or getting countless recommendations won’t mean much if you haven’t mastered the art of closing deals.
There’s a reason why some contractors close approximately 10 in every 100 leads while others close 50 or more. The average closing rate across all industries is 19%. Success as a contractor depends on the right strategies. We have two sections below that share strategies that will be useful for all kinds of contractors i.e., small contractor business owners to owners of large construction companies.
Check out our fundamental tips below bound to help small contractor business owners. We also have some not so obvious contractor sales tips for construction company owners to implement within their sales teams to close more deals. Let’s get started.
Section 1: Fundamental Tips for Closing More Deals for Contractors
If you have a small contractor business, these fundamental tips will help you close more deals.
Tip 1: Respond to New Leads Within 30 Minutes (During Business Hours)
There are studies that show that responding to leads fast has a significant impact on your conversion rates. Response time can make/break a deal. To get ahead of your competitors, respond within minutes during business hours. Responding in 5 minutes increases your closing ratio dramatically since 82% of customers expect responses within 10 minutes during business hours.
A quick response time displays seriousness and professionalism. It gives the best first impression of your company even before any further communication or physical meetings. Most importantly, you engage clients when they are still eager to do business.
Tip 2: Break the Ice. Get Their Guard Down
Unfortunately, most small contractors tend to be judged harshly. Before you build a name for yourself, many potential clients can assume you don’t have integrity. As a result, it helps to make them feel that you are there to help them instead of taking advantage of them.
A great way of “breaking ice” and getting your client’s guard down is to ask them about themselves. By getting your client to start talking about themselves, they shift focus from you which helps you move the conversation to the right direction - their problem and how you can help!
Tip 3: Be Professional in Greetings and Communication
As a small contractor, you’ll be busy trying to establish your name. Every client wants to feel they are contracting professionals who know what they are doing. Communicating unprofessionally is the fastest way to lose a serious lead. Instead of a “hello” or “Who’s calling”, you should answer professionally by introducing your company and then asking how you can be of help. It doesn’t have to be a complex greeting. Keep it simple like below;
“Hi, You’ve reached James from N&J Flooring Contractors. How can I help you?”
There are studies highlighting the importance of what you say on the phone vs. how you say it. 86% of phone call conversations are about how you say something. In simple terms, it matters how you greet potential clients. Professional and courteous greetings/communication is paramount if you wish to earn anyone’s hard-earned money. An enthusiastic tone is also better.
Tip 4: Send Professional and Comprehensive Quotes
Professionalism shouldn't end on the phone. Quotes are a critical part of closing deals in the construction business. You must learn how to prepare professional and comprehensive quotes to stand a chance as a small contractor.
A quote should have basics like a company logo, company details (location, contact details, contact person, etc.) It should also have a project description, conditions, itemized price and factor in time constraints, hazards, accessibility, materials, special requests, labor costs, taxes, overhead costs and profit margin.
Most importantly, follow industry best practices for quoting. It helps to get a quote template from an already established contractor to understand the information required and how professional and comprehensive quotes should look like.
Tip 5: Follow Up, but be Strategic
Before you become an established contractor who gets plenty of referrals, you must go after every lead. However, there is an “art” to following up on leads. Most importantly, you shouldn’t give up easily. There are also things you must do in previous conversations with a client. For instance, don’t hang-up the phone before your lead gives you an appropriate time to call them back.
You should also have follow up questions. It also helps to rank leads and prioritize the warmest leads. This, however, shouldn't be taken to mean you should ignore leads. Follow up with everyone but focus on the warmest ones that have a higher chance of being converted.
Tip 6: Qualify Your Leads
This is a follow-up tip from the previous one. You must know how to prioritize leads. For instance, there are clients who may not be ready to make a decision. This tip prevents you from quoting countless jobs for free that never materialize into contracts.
Qualifying leads is all about assessing the opportunity at hand before committing your resources to quoting and other tasks. Generally, serious clients will have a budget. However, most disclose such information only after establishing a relationship with you. As a result, spend time building rapport and use this time to assess the suitability of the client.
You can have discovery sessions with questions on preferences, timelines and budgets and then meet the client in person. Most importantly, don’t be in a hurry to close.
Tip 7: Be a Good Listener
To qualify leads effectively, you should let the client do most of the talking. By listening keenly, you can get all the answers you need. You can establish the size of the company, profitability, current standing, decision making criteria, urgency of the project and other information critical to qualifying leads i.e., if you are dealing with the decision maker. As a good listener, you’ll also gauge the client’s expectations which will help you to deliver, should you get the job.
Tip 8: Prepare Adequately
If you get good leads, prepare adequately before meetings. Research about the client, have questions to ask, bring additional literature, samples and/or pictures and videos of past work relevant to the meeting. As you prepare, remember to differentiate yourself from your competition. It can be via simple gestures such as sending progress notes after a meeting. Such efforts show that you are serious and likely to offer more value than the typical contractor.
Tip 9: Confirm all Meetings Before they Happen
The tips above will help you to land good leads that must be followed up by meetings. Before you can close a deal, you’ll need to send multiple appointment confirmation via email or another mode of communication preferred by your client. Seeking confirmation makes prospective clients take meetings more seriously. It also confirms availability.
Clients can forget about meetings sometimes prompting the need for a reminder. Use this tip to avoid wasting resources and ensure you operate more efficiently. Luckily, there are many apps you can use to schedule and confirm appointments. What's more, remember to keep things short and clear and establish the best way to communicate with different clients.
Tip 10: Go the Extra Mile
Lastly, small contractor businesses need to do more initially. For instance, once you secure a contract, purpose to deliver above and beyond. Focus on impressing clients as opposed to doing the bare minimum. You should also offer payment flexibility. Allow clients to pay using their preferred payment modes and organize financing, if possible.
You should also address concerns before they come up. Communicate often on milestones and eventualities. It also helps to seek legal assistance to create “fool-proof” contracts. Lastly, get additional training and certification that will help you stand out and remain competitive in the long run.
Section 2: Less Obvious Tips for Boosting Contractor Sales
These tips are for construction company owners running medium to large companies. To get to the next level of contractor sales, consider the following;
Tip 1: Master How to Soft Close
A soft close is a sales technique where you seek to close a deal subtly, without being pushy. A soft close is gentle and sensitive about maintaining rapport. It also ensures a client feels like they are making the decision out of their free will, when in actual sense, you are guiding them.
The best way to soft close is to position yourself as a partner to your client's success vs. simply looking as a taker. Focus on value and benefits as opposed to features of whatever you are selling. What’s more, use low-impact questions i.e., asking a client if they would like to know more instead of asking if they are ready to pay. A soft close is “soft”. There’s no hurry or pressure on the client to commit to you.
Tip 2: Explain Pricing Strategically
While clients expect adequate information about pricing, accepting to price a project too early in the deal is a mistake. Instead, take your time to understand every aspect of the project. Make it known that no two jobs are the same and you need to understand the scope and other elements to provide a quote.
Master all the main contract pricing types, techniques and methods to know which one you should use based on circumstances. Mastering contract pricing is critical for allocating risk and financial responsibilities accordingly. Choose models that are favorable to you but focus on highlighting benefits of such models to clients.
Tip 3: Be Confident and Stick to Your Price
Established contractors grapple with price undercutting all the time. There’s always a cheaper contractor somewhere. However, this shouldn’t be a reason for accepting low offers. You should remind clients of what they are paying for. Also, highlight the consequences of a lower bid i.e., lower quality materials which won’t last and probably require frequent maintenance and higher costs in the future.
If a client says your bid is the most expensive they've received, ask them why they think that’s the case. Be ready to request for competing bids to see where pricing variances can be explained in your favor. Most importantly, stick to your price and be willing to politely decline work that doesn’t pay you what you deserve. Furthermore, you can always offer more value on the project instead of lowering the price.
Tip 4: Master the Art of Creating Loyal Clients
Established contractors thrive in the long-term largely because of happy loyal clients that keep coming back and recommending others. Loyal clients already trust you. They also make others trust you making it easier to close more and bigger deals. But what makes clients fiercely loyal to you?
Well, studies indicate that clients will have an easier time forming strong relationships with you if you share their values. You need a higher purpose for doing business that clients can resonate to. For instance, ending poverty or homelessness. You should also have social proof showing this i.e., CSR/charity initiatives. Transparency, sense of community, honesty (when you make mistakes) and excellent customer service also make it easier to form strong relationships with clients.
Tip 5: Improve your Customer Response Time. (5 or Less Minutes During Working Hours)
Established contractors trying to close more deals should also work on an exemplary response time. While studies show that consumers expect responses within 10 minutes, responding in 5 or less minutes is impressive. This may take automating customer service, hiring more staff and creating a strict customer response time policy. In a highly competitive world where attention spans have decreased rapidly to seconds, above-average response times may be the only differentiating factor.
Tip 6: Keep up With Trends
You could be experiencing low contractor sales because you haven’t moved with the times. Established contractors still need to evolve or risk going out of business. There are many kinds of trends to keep up with ranging from economic to universal and tech trends. Keeping up with economic trends is important for ensuring projects stay on budget as material and labor costs fluctuate.
Universal trends include things like sustainability. Embracing environmentally-friendly practices and creating capacity for such practices as a contractor is a great trend going forward as many people care about the environment. Technology trends are important for finding newer, better and more cost effective ways of doing things. Using drones, robots, project simulators, etc. is a great way to stay competitive.
Tip 7: Have a Digital Strategy: CRM software, Digital Sales Funnels, Website, Social Channels
You may have succeeded as a contractor without a digital strategy. However, in 2022, you need one to close more deals. This tip goes beyond tech trends. You need a separate digital strategy for your business that includes CRM software, an SEO-optimized and mobile-friendly website, social media channels, social media ads, digital sales funnels, AI tools and more.
A digital strategy taps into digital customers who may search for a contractor on Google or social media and land on your website. It informs their entire journey online. You should be able to offer quotes online, schedule meetings, sign contracts, manage clients and do more online.
Tip 8: Work on Your Social Proof
In sales, social proof refers to using other prospects'/customers' behavior to influence. Social proof is one of the best ways of showing your potential clients what you are capable of. Studies show that 88% of customers consider social proof when making purchasing decisions.
Reviews are a perfect example of social proof. Having verifiable reviews from actual people is a great way to close more deals. You can ask past/current loyal clients to write reviews for you. Video reviews are even better, if possible. Case studies are also great forms of detailed social proof. Including such social proof in your website and social media lets clients know of your capabilities even before contacting you.
Tip 9: Consider the Role of Emotions
There are vast studies confirming the role of emotions in consumer behavior. You may want to understand the role of fear, spectacle, urgency and scarcity in closing sales. For instance, a roofing contractor can exploit the fear of a roof caving in to increase their odds of closing a roof renovation deal. An upcoming rainy season can be used to create urgency to close the deal.
As an established contractor, you can also create scarcity by saying you’ll only be available at a certain time due to other commitments. Using this tip strategically and subtly can make seemingly reluctant clients eager to make a decision.
Tip 10: Establish a Referral Program
It also helps to incentive your current customers, past customers, employees and other third parties to recommend you. A referral program can take several forms. For instance, you can share profit with people who bring you business or offer them discounted prices for referring you. Having a financial incentive tied to a referral program is a great way of getting new qualified leads at no cost depending on whether you choose to use software or not.
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