While there is no formula that guarantees sales success, repeating these solid strategies will yield consistent results.
Selling construction services can be simple: Develop a winning selling system that beats your competition on a regular basis. In order to build a profitable company, you have to do only two things well: get work and build work. The primary responsibility of the owner or president of a small- to medium-size construction company is to be the chief salesperson in charge of getting work at the price needed to pay all job costs and overhead expenses and to make a fair profit.
The chief salesperson must love to tell people how great the company performs and be enthusiastic about the reasons why they’re the right choice to be awarded contracts. Owners must also dedicate at least one-third of their time to sales meetings with customers. To make this happen, they need a good team that is 100 percent responsible for estimating the work and getting it done on time and under budget.
Sell to the Right Targets
Successful salespeople do not have to be good at selling or cold calling if they have a systemized plan of attack and use it on a regular basis. Top salespeople have a lengthy list of potential and repeat customers who fit the target market. This list is focused on customers who award contracts based on how you want to do business.
Make Calls Every Day
Winning salespeople know success is about numbers. The more calls you make, the more leads you will generate, increasing proposals and, hopefully, contracts. When you wait for the phone to ring, hoping your excellent work and quality reputation will generate enough qualified opportunities, you will never win enough work to make substantial profits.
Start by making a list of 50, 100 or 500 qualified customers who might need your services. Rate them according to the potential you have to win their work. Also, rate the potential to develop relationships with them in order to generate repeat business and referrals, and keep in mind that a thoughtful approach goes a long way. As a general contractor, I get at least five calls a day from untrained subcontractor employees asking to get on our bid list. When I ask why they want to be on our list, they are stumped for answers because their assignment was only to call a list of every contractor in the area—not to build a list of perfect potential customers.
Improve Your Odds
To get a high return on your sales effort investment, increase your odds. To be added to a general contractor’s short list of bidders, get to know the customer, and ask for an opportunity to submit a proposal. Getting to know contractors often means attending local association meetings, chamber of commerce events and charity golf tournaments where they spend their time. As a subcontractor, you must develop relationships with decision makers. This is a better investment of your time than cold calling 500 general contractors to try to get on bid lists.
Another simple strategy is to ask your current and past customers to go to lunch or attend a sporting event with you. Make it your goal to build rapport, talk about personal and business issues and tell them how you are trying to grow your company. Ask them how you can do more business with them and if they will introduce you to a contractor who could use your services. Remember: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
The key to winning more work than your competitor is to be more aggressive. The purpose of your bid is not to price the work and hope you get a contract. While you’re waiting for a customer to call you after you bid on a job, they are talking to your competitor.
If you are willing to do what is necessary to grow your business, try this simple sales system to get started today:
Make sales your top priority every day.
Make five to 10 calls per day, and meet with at least one customer per day. Show up on time, and keep meetings short.
Dress like a professional, and incorporate PowerPoint or video in presentations.
Ask questions. Show customers you care, and get to know their goals.
Sell confidence and trust. Tell them what you will do for them.
Make their lives easier. Give more than you get.
Ask for the order.
Ask for the order again.
Send a thank-you note.
Follow up aggressively.
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