Business Basics: Sales Handling 101
Regardless of how you get your business leads – through referrals and word-of-mouth or by launching a marketing campaign – you should have a well-defined sales process that every customer goes through to ensure consistency and a strong customer experience. By having a process that every customer goes through, you can also make tweaks over time and see what works best to maximize how much business you close.
Unique Selling Proposition
An important component to the sales process is developing your unique selling proposition. Your unique selling proposition or USP will be used throughout both your sales and marketing campaign and should be highlighted in your marketing collateral and when you speak to your potential customers. Your USP should be whatever is unique to your business that makes customers choose you over the competition.
Some examples of good USPs for home services companies include:
- How long you’ve been in business
- How quickly you get the job done
- Lowest price
- Highest quality
With more competition entering into the home services space daily, it’s important to let your customers know why you’re different than the other options they are considering.
Promotions are things you offer to your customers for a limited time that act as a reason or push to buy. Promotions serve a few different purposes: they can help you boost sales in months when things are otherwise really slow, they can help get a customer over the finish line, and they are also a good way to compete with the larger brands that a home owner may be considering when they are going through the buying journey.
Promotions should have a beginning and end date. A promotion loses its effect if it’s always available to the customer. Examples of promotions could be product upgrade, a percentage off of work if the customer signs by X date or a “buy 2 get 1 free” type of deal.
You should create a promotional calendar that matches up to the seasonality of your business. If you know that homeowners are slow to buy your services in the winter months, you may want to offer a bigger incentive so that you can still get some business during those months. During your busier months, you may want to focus on only having promotions for the services that are more profitable for your business so that you are only getting jobs that are more high margin.
It’s important that regardless of how large your sales team is, that you have a lead tracking system in place where you can monitor and manage how many people are in the different stages of your sales cycle at any given time.
A typical home services pipeline should include a version of at least these four stages:
-Scheduled for estimate
You should also have a plan of what you or a member of your sales team will do to try to push someone from one stage of the funnel to the next and how long you should expect someone to stay in each stage of the funnel.
Customer Experience & Sales
As important as knowing where all of your customers/prospects are in the funnel is having a plan on how you’ll maximize their experience at every touchpoint with a member of your team. There is a lot of competition in your space, so it’s increasingly more important to remember that home owners have a lot of options when making a decision and whenever possible, you want to make a lasting, positive impression.
First Touch Point
The first touch point with your customer is INCREDIBLY important to leaving a good impression. Usually the very first touch point with your customer is your website, but immediately following that it’s either a phone call, filling out a form or sending you an email. You should make sure you have a dedicated resource who is answering the phone when you can’t- that can be a receptionist, a third-party answering system or worse case a very professional voicemail, but you need to make sure that it’s a “legitimate” experience for the customer.
If a customer fills out a form or sends an email, you should set-up an automated response acknowledging that your company has received their inquiry and let them know when they’ll hear back from you. Make sure you live up to your word when it comes to getting back to customers when you say you will.
Empathy with Customer
Customers are going to buy your services for different reasons and it’s very important that you show empathy for every customer based on their unique reason for buying. If someone is calling you because they need a home repair for an emergency, how you handle that customer should be different than someone who is calling you based off of an exciting home remodel they’ve been saving up for. By acknowledging the life event that has them on the phone with you, you’ll be able to build a better customer experience and relationship with that customer from the get-go and help build the trust you need to close the sale.
There’s not one home services company we’ve worked with where you aren’t eventually sending an unknown crew out to someone’s personal property. Maintaining a professional appearance – from showing up when you say you are going to, wearing company branded gear, looking clean and cleaning up after the job is done, etc. are incredibly important at not only building immediate trust when you go to bid a job, but maintaining that trust as you are executing the job.
Not everyone working for you will be comfortable or skilled at closing a sale. At a minimum, you should be able to close 10% of the jobs that come your way, and some home services companies with more advanced salespeople can close at rates of 35%+. It’s important to track how many jobs you are closing and losing and when you lose a deal, try to get feedback from the customer as to why they went with someone else. Getting that feedback will let you know if you’re bidding too high, not meeting customers schedules, etc. so that you can adjust those components of your business operations to close more business.
Follow-up is the number one area where home services professionals are missing a lot of opportunities. Instead of waiting for a customer to get back in touch with you and let you know when they want to proceed, it’s important to stay in front of the customer during the buying process. Not only does constant communication show them how invested you are in building a relationship with them, but it also gives you a lot of touchpoints so that you stay top of mind with a customer. That kind of communication during the sales process instills a lot of confidence from the home owner that you’ll care as much about them once they are a customer as you did during the sale.
After Sale Communication
If you have a sales team that is not involved with the execution, you should have the sales person who built the initial relationship follow-up with the customer every now and then to check in and see how things are going and to ensure that they are still happy. This level of customer experience will help increase the likelihood that they stay a happy customer and send good online reviews and referrals your way!