Too many sales professionals in construction have fallen into the trap that selling is just another way to make a living. Viewed in this manner it is no wonder that there is such high turnover among salespeople in the pavement maintenance niche.
The real secret to selling is to bring out the best in people (sales person) who try to reflect that best to other people (customer). The individual who is internally motivated, driven by the challenges and opportunities found in selling, performs best! Now, don't think me ignorant of the fact that most salespeople in construction are paid on some bonus or commission basis, but the best salespeople are those who look for the best in any situation.
Viewed this way the real secret to selling is that it is for winners, for those with a winner's attitude. Selling is for those who see hope in every rejection, believing that with just one more contact the prospect will understand the advantages of doing business with the company. Like the golfer who shoots horribly on the first 17 holes only to finish the round with a spectacular chip shot out of the bunker on the 18th for an eagle, the construction salesperson rebounds from a long week with a record-breaking sale late on a Friday afternoon. I assure you, this sales person can't wait for the next Monday, nor the golfer the next round!
But what do the "winners" do that the non-winners don't do? Let me share a few tips that I have observed from some of our industry's finest sales professionals.
1. Winning Salespeople Really Love Selling! The winners view selling as part of their existence. It is the thrill of meeting new people, developing a relationship, building a strategy to meet needs, and then waging a negotiation to win over the customer's perceptions, opinions, and past loyalties. Winners can't see themselves doing anything but sales, think about selling "24-7," and regularly rehearse their sales presentations and customer interactions mentally.
2. Winning Salespeople are Prepared & Organized! Winners go the extra step that mediocre salespeople avoid: They put in the long hours needed to secure "good to great" work and recognize the effort that needs to be made to get new business that is profitable. Winners are quick to call an "audible" if needed, and they make better adjustments on the fly because they studied their "opponent" and are prepared to move from one approach to another if needed.
3. Winning Salespeople Do Their Homework! Related to being prepared and organized, the winners dig for as much information as they can to make the best presentation. They mine deep for information about their customers, looking for anything that brings greater light to the customer's interests, professional focus, civic association, support of social or religious groups etc. Winners spend time reading up on new developments in the industry, anticipating how such information can help a future customer.
4. Winning Salespeople Address the Tough Issues & Questions! When the customer's pavement maintenance need poses a serious difficulty winners don't "punt," they dig in deep to fully understand the entire scope of work. If some of the proposed work falls outside the pavement maintenance area of specialty, the winners use their connections with other construction firms who supply the needed specialty and brings in the firm on a joint venture. Winners simply do not turn from sales opportunities that may be outside the normal work conditions of the company.
5. Winning Salespeople Can Say NO! Winners relish the difficult and odd customer requests, but they are clear about what their company can and can't do. Winners are able to discern the difference between a profitable job and a job leading to ruin. Winners want the difficult jobs, which often lead to greater profit opportunities, yet they realize that to position their work crews for work that is truly out of their scope of reality must be recognized, honored, and protected. In the end, winners realize that the objective is to make money!
6. Winning Salespeople Follow-Up! Customers are much more motivated to work with contractors who get back to them in a quick manner. Even returning a customer's call to say that you will need another day or week shows more interest and respect than simply not calling back. Winners realize that returning every customer call might not turn into a sale but that an image of professionalism is seeded. This seeding might come back to reward the salespeople, and their company, with a great and bountiful harvest in the future.
Brad Humphrey, president of Pinnacle Development Group, joins the National Pavement Exposition for his 18th year of bringing challenging and encouraging learning to our show. Join Brad as he presents "Selling is for Winners!" at the 2006 NPE West, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. For more information about Brad's firm go to www.pinnacledg.com.