Last issue we looked at how differentiation, marketing, and referrals can keep your sales funnel filled, improve your "hit ratio" and your sales success. This issue looks at four more proven techniques or processes you need to consider as you work to improve your sales efforts.
Goal Setting & Keeping Score. Only 5% of all sales people set goals, yet these same folks outsell others 100 to 1. By focusing your energy and committing to a plan, you will achieve better and higher results. Everyone has distractions that take him/her away from the sales process, but a plan that clearly identifies the quantity of calls, contacts, etc., needed to achieve your revenue and margin goals is essential.
It is important to track the volume of bids put out as well as the win ratios. These two items should be tracked by size of project, type of project, and by geographical area. All of these measureables should be tracked and documented weekly and monthly and can be used to set goals. Carefully monitored, a contractor can also learn to identify what mark-up values and projected gross profit figures can be predicted to win jobs.
Seek Speaking Opportunities. While the fear of speaking is terrifying for some, it remains one of the best ways to secure new and repeat business. Public speaking, using a professional media presentation, is an excellent way to be seen as an authority and expert on your specialty.
If you are a contractor in search of commercial property work then you had better prepare to present to property managers. If you are a contractor to the industrial market, then presenting your company's benefits to site managers will be critical. No matter what group of "listeners" you need to address, improving your public speaking skills will enable you to make a more favorable impression.
Use Consultative Selling. Using targeted questioning, the first goal of consultative selling is to clearly find your client's true needs and wants including the problem(s) they wish to solve. The key is to ask several questions, strategically placed, then to be quiet and write down everything you hear. Using this information as the basis for your proposal you will have a greater opportunity to design proposals that are truly tailored to each client's exact needs.
Contractors who embrace greater thoroughness in uncovering customer needs will find their quality of work going up. They will also realize fewer problems in jobs won and greater satisfaction from the customer. Contractors who hold on to the traditional "rush in and get the business fast" approach will find fewer profits, increased quality problems, and eventual loss of market share.
Strategic Retreat. Contractors should break away from the daily grind once a year and participate in a strategic effort. Called a strategic retreat, this time away should be spent analyzing the current market place and the success of the contractor in the market. Additionally, the contractor should assess what growth opportunities exist in the market and whether additional markets or services should be pursued. In short, strategic focused effort should produce:
- The projected volume of work in the contractor's geographical market by type, size, and locale
- A comparison of competitors in the contractor's marketplace and what their market shares represent
- A customer profile representing the characteristics of the type of customer the contractor feels is best suited for his services
- A plan of action that details what efforts will be made to gain access to the needed markets
- A business plan that incorporates the techniques and methods that will be employed to make sales presentations, sales follow-up efforts, and closing strategies
- A projection of costs to gain greater sales and the anticipated ROI (Return on Investment)
Once the strategic focus is made, and a plan is developed, it is then time to proceed to employ the techniques and processes needed to fill the sales funnel with those customers who represent the best opportunity for the firm to win.
Keeping the sales funnel filled will require you to take not one path but many paths. The marketing or sales approach that works today may not work tomorrow, and you will need to be educated on the many different techniques and processes that can strengthen your sales. Hang in there when sales slow down and do not let up on the marketing effort.
Brad Humphrey is president of Pinnacle Development Group (PDG). A regular contributor of practical and insightful articles for the pavement maintenance contractor, Brad is also a top-rated speaker at National Pavement Expo, National Pavement Expo West, and other programs. Reach him at 913-963-6459 or via e-mail at Humphrey.Brad@gmail.com