Often times I hear complaints from a sales team or from sales reps that “all customers care about anymore is getting the lowest price” and that the “backyard contractor just undercuts until he wins the job”. This is a faulty thought and a sure tell sign that the sales rep is poorly trained and inexperienced in sales.
If you are looking to revamp your sales process, skills, and percentage of closed sales, this blog post is for you. And will help at making you a better fence salesman.
Qualifying YOUR Customer
The first step to any sale is qualifying your prospect. Selling fence product and services is no different. By properly qualifying your prospect (homeowner, business owner, maintenance manager, etc.) you will know if the prospect is ready to buy a fence, if they want to buy a fence, and if they can afford a fence.
Doing this will allow you to manage your time more efficiently by not wasting time with “tire kickers” and focusing your direct attention on the “buying customers”.
While doing an estimate, you should always be asking yourself the following questions to qualify your prospect/home owner:
Is the prospect the decision maker?
You always want to make sure you are talking with the decision maker so they can make the decision to give you a deposit.
Can the prospect afford your product/service?
You don’t want to judge a book by the cover when considering this question but you do want to watch out for comments such as: “we are looking for the lowest price”, “the economy is so bad…” etc.
This is often a sign that the prospect is just curious about pricing and most likely will not buy your product/service. Unless you are one that doesn’t have enough confidence in your service to attend your ground on price.
Does the prospect want your product/service?
In sales, it is said that you want to get your prospects ATTENTION, gain their INTEREST, influence their DECISION to buy, and then take ACTION! Is your prospect ready to make a decision? You need to know this so you can take action and properly go for the close.
Before going on an estimate, it is important to know what objections your customer may have and how you will handle them. You should always be asking yourself ”What are some objections that a customer may have?” After asking these questions, you should consider a solid and persuasive response to each of the objections.
Below are some examples:
“We would like to get a couple more estimates”
This is a classic rebuttal that customers will always throw at you. Sometimes there is nothing you can do in this situation however, you can always save a final offer for the customer if they sign the deal with you today. (ie: free removal of old fence, free decorative caps, extended warranty etc.) Never offer an additional discount (such as 5% off etc.) because that makes the prospect feel like you could have given them a better deal in the first place but chose not to. Instead offer them something for free, most will love you for it!
You can also try to overcome this objection by selling based on timing, your reputation and warranty, or any other competitive advantage you might have. If a customer wants other estimates, that means they are looking for something you did not provide for them. You need to find out what what something is, and correct it.
“The other company had a lower price”
Never just lower your price because the prospect says they received a lower quote. This shows a customer that you do not value your product and service enough to know that it is worth more than Pookie Fence down the street.
In this situation, sell based on the value of doing business with YOU. I have been known to tell customers “yea, but you don’t get ME if you hire Pookie Fence”. Don’t be afraid to let your confidence show. Many uncertain consumers will love this and find security in it.
If you find that the lower quotes are comparable to your product, service, reputation, etc. And that you have no competitive advantage against them. You might need to re-evaluate your pricing all together. As you might not be in line with the market’s pricing.
“We have another project that we would like to complete before getting a fence”
This one hurts, and is a good time to throw in the deal that was mentioned before. For example, if a customer tells you that they would like to get new siding on the house before having their fence installed, You can try telling them something like “Mr. Prospect, If you would like to do it the other way around and have your fence installed first, I would be willing to remove your old fence for free which would save you approximately $300 and we can also discuss an extended warranty on the installation”.
Try to cater your offer to a ‘direct need/want of the customer. If they were talking about decorative caps but decided not to because of price, you could offer a free upgrade on caps and an extended warranty. It is important to make an offer that greatly benefits your customer because they have already set their mind to a different project and you are trying to encourage them to change their mind.
“We are just getting prices for right now”
This one can really get under your skin! In this situation, there is nothing wrong with asking the prospect a simple yes or no question that may be able to turn the tide in your favor and that question is… “So, if you were ready to get your fence installed, would my quote be acceptable enough for you to approve?” If they say yes, ask them when they are looking to have the installation completed and make sure you follow up!
What you want to accomplish here is finding out the ‘one true reason’ that the customer is not ready to get their fence installed and try to address it. If they are researching prices, they are interested in having the fence installed sometime in the future. It is your job to encourage them to buy right now. (This is also a good time to throw in a deal as mentioned above). What you DO NOT want to do is say “uhh, well you know… material goes up so much now days, it will cost you more on a later date so you should get it done now” because your competitor’s salesman who offers something free as encouragement for the deposit will obtain the sale and you will be wondering why your sales are low this month.
Closing – Getting The Sale
Whether you are the company owner or a salesman for the company; the name of the game is what I like to call “CHA-CHING” (Close the deal, make the sale, get the deposit). This is easily recognized as the toughest part of doing an estimate when you are a fence salesman. Below are some general tips for helping you close the deal and get a deposit from your customer.
“Mrs. Prospect, it appears that you are quite eager to get your fence installed quickly, maybe I can help your decision by upgrading you to some decorative caps for no additional cost or removing your old fence for free and we can take care of the paperwork right now”.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For The Sale
Telling is not selling! The worst thing you can do as a fence salesman is tell your customer “it will cost you this much, call me if you want to move forward with the job”. Instead, try closing with something like “Mr. Prospect, we would love to install your fence for you. I believe we have the price you are looking for and we are able to get started on your job right away. I have a good understanding of your needs for this fence and know that we will address your needs. Can we agree on moving forward with this job today?”
Talk As If They Have Already Hired You
When you are speaking with the customer, say things like “when our installers are here…” or “after we are finished…” etc. This will psychologically get your prospect thinking about your company installing their fence and make their decision to select easier.
Follow Up. Follow Up. Follow Up.
If for some reason you do not get the customer’s deposit during your estimate, the new single most important objective at hand is a proper follow up strategy. By using good follow up strategies, you will keep your company’s name in the prospects mind for when they are ready to buy.
Below are some good follow up strategies that are ideal for fence salesman:
Send a ‘Thank You’ Card (or Gift Card)
When was the last time a salesperson or rep met with you and then followed up with a thank you card or by giving you a gift card? It simply does not happen anymore and will dramatically set you apart from the rest of your competition.
I only recommend this follow up strategy for larger jobs that have potential of bringing you a larger ROI. A simple thank you card will usually do the trick however if you really want to excite your customer, send them a $5-$10 gift certificate for Starbucks, be sure to include a letter of thanks and let them know that you are looking forward to installing their fence. I assure you that more times than not, this will score you the job.
Follow Up Calls
You should always make follow up calls to your customers 1-3 days after performing the estimate. I personally would make a follow up call 2 days after the estimate and ask the prospect where they stand in the decision making process. You will usually get a solid response on when the prospect is looking to have the fence installed or they will say something like “I still have to talk to my wife about it”. If this is the case, you can respectfully ask to follow up at a later date. Make sure you take notes and follow up on the later date. Many sales require 5-10 follow up efforts before closing the deal. I bet you aren’t even making 3 follow up efforts right now…
Follow Up Emails
I recommend following up with an email immediately after your estimate and after your first follow up call. This is another venue that you can use to maintain further communication with the prospect and ensure that your company will receive the sale when the time comes.
If your customer has a Facebook page, do not hesitate to include them in your network and send them a message letting them know that you want to make it easy for them to contact you when necessary.
While every prospect and situation is different, the above strategies will greatly increase your chances at making the sale and obtaining a deposit at the time of your estimate. By using them, I guarantee that you will close more deals and increase your income.
Have a tip that I forgot?
If you would like to share a tip that I forgot, please share in the comments section below.
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