This is the third in a series of columns on upselling and sales techniques by Rick Davis, a trainer in the construction products industry who also writes the Sell Sheet column for ProSales Magazine.
The best salesperson of your products is the person who gains the most trust with the customer. In the case of consumers, that person is the contractor advising them on the remodeling decisions for their home. If you want to gain more sales with consumers, then teach remodeling contractors how to sell your products more effectively.
Begin the process by first recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of customers who are reselling your products to the end user—i.e., the consumer. You will discover a vast difference in skills among remodeling contractors. They are often former laborers who got sick and tired of working for someone else and therefore decided to become their own boss. As a result, most are not well trained in sales or marketing and therefore enthusiastic recipients of guidance from a credible source of training and advice.
Leverage the Unbiased Authority of Experts
Envision your next sales call where you support your remodeler by making a joint presentation to a homeowner. If you’re like most dealer sales representatives, your plan is to brag about the product in your role as the technical expert. Then the contractor will boast about the capabilities of his company. Your goal to influence the homeowner will be thwarted by an inadvertent lack of sales credibility.
You only met expectations and failed to exceed them. The homeowner expected a product expert to describe the wonderful benefits of the product just as she expected the contractor to promise timely services and satisfying results. The next time you partner on a sales call, envision a different presentation strategy.
You’ll say, “Mrs. Homeowner, I can tell you a lot of great things about our product. But instead I want to tell you how much I believe in Charlie here. He’s one of the best remodelers I’ve ever seen. If you want our products installed properly and on time, Charlie is the remodeler that gets it done right.”
A surprised Charlie will humbly thank you before he says to the homeowner, “I didn’t expect those kind words. The truth is that I only use this brand because it’s been the best one among many I’ve tried. I could have brought another sales rep to tell you about a different product. But this is the only one I’m truly comfortable offering my clients.”
The result of this approach is a dramatic shift in perception by the homeowner, which is the result of something I call the “unbiased authority.” Credibility is not enhanced when salespeople boast about the superiority of their products to skeptical prospects. Conversely they are anxious to hear the opinions of unbiased authorities.
It is the unbiased authority of remodeling experts that you want to leverage. Assume that you’ve established a relationship of loyalty with a remodeler client. At the same time, your client tells you that he is frustrated by the price challenges he faces and suffers from a lack of sales confidence. In other words, he is sold on you and your products but unable to promote effectively on your behave. Your strategy should instinctively be focused on raising confidence by helping him understand the power of his unbiased authority.
Teach Them How To Leverage Sales Tools
It’s too late to practice the use of your weapons before the heat of battle, when chances are high that your clients have never taken time to consider the proper use of your sales and marketing support tools. Create a better sales leadership role by using time during sales calls with remodelers to illustrate how they can resell your product. The time you take to demonstrate effective sales methods will enhance your credibility and strengthen client loyalty.
- Remind them of the power of their authority. One of the mistakes made by in-home salespeople is a focus on features and benefits. After all, they learned their presentation skills from manufacturers and people like you. Thus, they believe (falsely) that their best opportunity to sell is by persuading prospects that your product features are superior. Teach them that their confidence and reputation is at stake any time they make a product recommendation. The best way for them to sell your product is to put their name behind it.
- Show them how to use literature properly. I’m taking a leap of faith on this point that you know how to use it properly yourself. So here is my Use-of-Literature-101 course. Car dealers don’t give out owner’s manuals as promotional tools. Instead they offer glossy, colorful brochures that inspire action early in the sales process. During the sales presentation of a product, car dealers will offer a spec sheet that illustrates the unique features of a particular model. After the sale, they provide the owner’s manual. Teach your remodeling clients how to use your product literature in a similar progression.
- Demonstrate your online resources. Manufacturers have websites rife with inspirational ideas for consumers. They are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in online design tools that allow people to image a product onto their existing home. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your clients know how to present a website to the homeowner. Take time to provide training that inspires them, during the sales process, to use the online resources available.
- Leverage showroom assets. Every salesperson I have ever met agrees that closing ratios rise dramatically when you get a consumer to visit your showroom. This is your turf where you can entertain, slow the sales process, and leverage all of the sales tools in your arsenal. Ensure your remodeling contractor is comfortable using yours. Encourage remodelers to offer your beverages as a courtesy when entertaining at your showroom. Let them know where you keep literature and samples. Ultimately your goal is to be part of the sales process so you can engage in the presentation illustrated earlier in this article.
Establish Brand Confidence
People are naturally drawn to do the things that are comfortable for them. Make remodelers comfortable with your products and sales tools. This will inspire a confidence in your brand that will make remodelers your best salespeople.
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