One of the most frustrating experiences we can have as Craftsmen is trying to sell our services, knowing the fit is great, but failing to sell the job. We sometimes see lesser trained people at the supply houses, picking up big orders, and asking questions that prove their inexperience, yet they have a job. We rework tasks that are done poorly in homes and that further frustrates us.
How did they get there and how did we get here?
Many of us think we are very good at getting Consumers to purchase from us. We think we are able to sway people to our point of view. Did you ever track your success rate? I am not talking about standing in a foot of water and telling someone you can fix the leak. I am talking about work that needs to be done soon but is not an emergency. Are you selling one out of three? I know pros who sell four out of five. How they do this will be talked about in another blog, but if you are not selling at least one out of three, you need to work on it.
Some of us Craftsmen have hired professional salespeople in the past and had varying degrees of luck. We do it for the wrong reasons, like to save time. Few Craftsmen actually sell what they do well, most seem to want you to do anything that earns them money today. It is hard to get to the right Consumer, who needs exactly what you are doing. Then, if you do a good job, you may never see them again, unless you answer the phone anyway.
I am going to express, in no uncertain terms, how I feel about leads. I would like to refer to this simple formula: Sales = Leads x Close Ratio x Average Job. Then this formula: Sales – Costs = Profits. This is not rocket science, unless you listen to marketing people.
If you want to improve sales, you can get more leads, or improve the close ratio, or increase the average job. That’s right, leads are not the only answer. Now, I have often made a living by simply finding ways to improve the average job, compared to others, but we are talking leads here.
A good Salesperson, and this is you, the Craftsman, when in front of a Consumer, will listen very carefully to what a Consumer wants, then tailor what you say to either change what the Consumer wants, or simply explain how the job should be done.
Craftsmen need to learn selling skills. Often the special language of our trades gets in our way, but if you honestly want to help the Consumer, they will most often pay you to do it. If you don’t want to help them, don’t, they will find someone else. The average Contractor spends around thirty percent of his time, obtaining work. I am not counting advertising expense here. You can save most of this time when the job is presold. You are also saving the advertising expense. Wait, maybe you didn’t need to wear the sales hat after all?
Leads: A lead is simply Consumer information.
So, they want you to pay for Consumer information. Are the just kicking the tires and getting started? Where did the lead originate? Was it just someone looking up remodels or current style trends? Was it someone calling the Consumer and offering generic services?
So, let’s looks at some Common lead sources...
Yellow pages, Yelp, Facebook, Google, Manta, Nextdoor Now, HomeWyse - These companies provide information to get information. You can advertise on their sites, just like in the newspaper.
Big Boxes-Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, Best Buy, even Amazon, but I put them in the lead gen group. Consumers demanded they sell installation by buying far less products when they didn’t. They also save money when jobs are done correctly in warranty expense. They sell some installations directly, give out leads on others, sell material and ask you to provide labor. They may directly hire service people to compete against you.
Lead Generators-Angie’s list, Fixr, Groupon, Handy, HD Pro, Home Advisor, Living Social, Manna, Newworx, Porch, Lowes, Takl, Taskrabbit, Thumbtack- No bones about it, they are in the business of getting Consumers to inquire about Products and selling their information. They are all proud of the small number of times they sell this information. What a service!
Franchises-Servitz, Clockwork, many plumbers, and numerous HVAC companies. You pay. They advertise and sell you stuff. The good part is they usually have a model that actually works. They want you to go in business with them. The bad news is that it only works if you work it.
Craftsman Republic™-Real jobs, no leads, little expense. We have an automated model that puts a button on the Web and connects you to Consumers. You can subcontract for others and get jobs, but you will give up more of your profits and have someone, besides that Consumer, looking over your shoulder.
The Vacuum Story
Guys selling vacuums in the old door-to-door days saw your front door as a lead. Their goal, when they knocked on your door was a relationship, not necessarily a sale. They were taught the value of a personal referral. They would demonstrate a vacuum cleaner if you would let them, but they never lost sight of their goal, which was for you to refer them to a couple of friends.
So, look back at the formula above, they added three leads to their total if it went well. A referral is the best kind of lead, it is a recommendation. The more leads they got, the more sales they would have in the long run. They tried to make a friend, a permanent relationship, at least until you ran out of friends to whom you could refer them. Yes, they only made money when they sold a vacuum, but they knew how to demonstrate one, and the more times they demonstrated, the more money they made. This is the lead business.
Do you hate selling and not consider yourself in sales? Are you going to buy leads? Who do you want to be associated with? A cartoon lady that refers you, a company that originally sold cleaning Products? Retailer that just wants to sell more Products, a marketing company, Google, Yelp, Facebook, The Yellow Pages? Confused yet? All of the above have advantages and disadvantages. I had friends that worked for Sears and had success. They went to Home Depot and could not succeed with a lower end Product and Consumers that just wanted it done as fast and cheaply as possible. I know another guy in the same business who built his business at Home Depot, but when the Sears Consumer wanted to constantly change and upgrade things it drove him nuts. He understood, get it done quickly and cleanly.
What fits you? When they give you leads, how many do you sell? What is your close ratio? Do they sell the same lead to five guys just like you? Three guys? Do you only succeed if you are the first to call them?
I have been associated with salespeople who had 70 percent close ratios, they sold themselves, their Company, and then the Product. They did not rush and knew the sales appointment did not end when they left the house. All the top sellers believed they were giving a good service to the Consumer at a fair price.
The 20 percent closers, well, they don’t structure their sales calls and touch all the bases. They forget to do something on most of their calls. They worry about price, where the lead came from, and forget to listen because they are too excited or just too needy.
No one sells every job. But what if every job was sold and there was no cost to get the lead? You just must sign up, get tested on how the system works, and what the Client wants. Does it sound too good to be true?
Yes, the Consumer has purchased the basic installation from you without you having to do anything. You will need to reassure the Consumer that you are “the guy.” You may have to upsell some Out Of Scope work, but it is a sale already. You just need to do the work. You are now Craftsman Republic.
The founder of Craftsman Republic® is a lifelong Craftsmen that set out to find a way to connect Retailer and Manufacturers, who have an online presence, directly with installers, electronically. Craftsman Republic® is startup that represents Craftsman like you. We use our automated Installed-Sales (strategy) EcoSystem™ to get the work from Consumers directly to you. Sign up with Craftsman Republic® today and get paid jobs and not just leads. Change your formula to: Sales= Craftsman Republic® and see if the profits improve, they should.