At the start of our business, we were growing so rapidly that I was under the belief that I didn’t have to sell.
As a result, we didn’t.
Our primary means of gaining customers was through referrals, we fed off of recurring work from one or two customers, and we also thrived on a health friends and family network. This process worked for the first several years.
But after growing over those years, and as we moved out of the ‘friends and family network’, we started to develop our own identity. Through that process one lesson we learned was that you have to sell in order to continually feed the beast (the system.)
In order to learn the basics of how to sell, I had to just jump right in and do it. We found a weekly published permit list, and from that list we contacted individuals that looked like they could be a good fit for us. Back then, we primarily focused on re-modelers. That was because we did a lot of pre-finished cabinetry for some commercial guys we knew from our college days, and we would contact them.
That was the beginning of our sales ‘method’ per se, but it really wasn’t much of a method. Moving forward, what I’ve learned in recent years is how to make a better sales process.
I’ve found that everything in business can be refined into a process and our company is a great example of that. If you take a look at all of our old blog posts, we really delved deep into lean thinking and standard processes and procedures. This translates well over to sales processes as well, which can be turned into a standard operating procedure.
Recently, we’ve made the transition from a referrals based company to a sales based company. What this has taught me is that sales don’t happen by accident, whereas sometimes referrals do. A referral may result in a sale, but the frequency is not something you can control. This can be a problem, because most businesses rely on referrals to further their customer base. One month, referrals could be streaming in at a rapid rate, but the next there could be nothing.
To reiterate: Sales is something that we can make into a process because the actions leading up to it we can control. A referral is something that we want, but can not control.
So let's dive into closing more cabinet sales by laying out an SOP for how to close more cabinet sales. I believe that there’s a way to make an SOP for everything, so we can break this down into 5 easy steps:
1. Find a source that can generate high quality leads
This can come from almost anywhere, but it will depend on the type of business that you do. For example: if you’re a residential contractor, maybe there is an HVA, or several, around you which you could contact. Perhaps there’s a weekly permit list that someone is posting which you can buy for cheap. There might be a contractor list of all the people who have pulled permits. Millwork shops and online areas can help you buy bid news and lead generators.
Another way to generate leads is to drive around and find a hot residential or building area. You can usually find a large portion of contractors or their signs in the areas. Afterwards, you can call them up and introduce yourself and your company, and ask if you can be placed on their bid list.
2. Store your leads
This may be one of the most important ways that you will be able to build your lead base and sales process. Once you find the leads, you’re going to need a way to store them. Whether they turn into a sale now or later, you need to have a big enough list that you can create a sales funnel which is consistently pouring new leads into the top, and converted sales out the bottom.
Use a CRM to do this process. We use HubSpot which is a fantastic CRM software. It can automate and integrate as deep as you want to go. Or it can just take care of baseline customer management like storing info and keeping track of interactions with the customer.
One crucial step on the CRM is that you need to update it every time you contact the customer so that you keep a running record of what you have talked about. Most CRMs will allow you to call in the app which can allow you to keep track. If not, try to make all your sales calls from the same place where you can make notes as you go.
Updates must be a deliberate part of your method.
3. The rule of seven
It takes seven points of contact before you’re even really given a chance to put in a proposal and even have a shot at gaining someone’s business. So if you’re expecting to make cold calls and get business on the first or second call...it absolutely does not happen. And even if you do convert on the first call, you may want to ask yourself why it was so easy. There could be a red flag as to why they are so eager to switch.
Again, it can take seven times for you to even get something emailed to you to get a quote.
Even after the quote, it can take seven more times to have an opportunity to convert the sale. So you have to maximize your points of contact which can be: a phone call, email, text, or any other form of getting yourself in front of them.
4. Get your game face on
After emailing your proposal and giving them a chance to evaluate your numbers, it’s time to get your game face on. Ask the hard questions. Ask if your price is higher or if there’s a huge difference between your price and someone else’s.
Now is the time to justify the difference in price, lead time, quality, and whatever else you need to reassure them on while they have your numbers in front of them. If price is the only factor, one of the go to ways of mitigating a price argument is to tell your potential customer that while you may charge a little more than the competition, it’s necessary so that you can take care of them correctly.
I have a specific line that I like to use when i’m closing a deal or a contract:
“Give me one and I’ll earn the rest”
The great thing about this line is that it reduces their perception of risk because they’re limiting their potential issues to one project, or one set of cabinets. Then after that, you can go and talk about expanding their thoughts to more projects. Once you clear that first hurdle, the rest clear themselves. Whereas so many people try to attack the closing deal with ‘we want ALL your business’ this method looks to bid one job.
Once that job is complete and both sides are satisfied, let's look at what the future holds with our companies together. It’s much more reassuring for your customer, who may know little to nothing about you, to give you a shot at one job than to give you a shot at all of their jobs.
Follow up - constant contact
You have to stay relevant to your customers, new and potential, and you have to be constantly following up with them. Sales is a process that is continual. So follow up, follow up, follow up!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I would love to know about your sales process and what you do to close more sales!