The Sales Rep, Don't Cringe

everyone in your home builder, remodeling company, pool company is a sales rep

SALES REP… the two words that make most people cringe. Sales rep, the pushy, arrogant, unstoppable, annoying, sale hungry individual, right?  No! You, the business owner or landscape designer, or industry professional couldn’t possibly be the sales rep.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. What you may have heard is true: everyone is a sales rep – to some extent anyway. Sales reps don’t always have these two words in their title. Often times, your most dedicated sales rep is titled, “owner,” “operator,” “partner,” or “receptionist.” Selling is indeed, arguably, the most important task in your business. Without sales, there is no business.And while there is definitely a need for dedicated sales reps, everyone that interacts with clients, in any manner, is at a minimum, partially, a sales rep. The client-interacting individuals are either maintaining and bringing you revenue or turning customers away. To make sure they’re helping the bottom line, ensure these rules are being executed by all client-facing individuals, including yourself.

Related: Contractors: Quickbooks is not Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

1. Ask for the sale.

This is the hardest part. It belongs in the same bucket as confrontation or risk. How do you ask, when do you, what if they say no? All common questions and all should be thought through. How you ask can be in the form of suggesting a follow up date for a decision (and making it clear that you are suggesting a decision be made on this date). Or it can be offering to transfer the call to the “order taker” – which might be the business owner. It can also simply be a question on clarifying next steps based on the client’s timeline - during the in-person meeting. Most of the time, the “ask” is right before the end of the relevant conversation, and not the end. When the potential client is just about ready to go, it’s too late.  And finally, if they say no (which will usually not be in the form of a direct “no,” but rather an answer that doesn’t quite close the deal), you decide on whether to try again another time or answer more details and try again in a few minutes. 

2.    There is no “them.”

No one in the company can label another employee “them.” There is no “them.” It’s always “we,” no matter what. Even if “they” made a terrible mistake, it's always “we made a terrible mistake and here is how we are going to fix it.” Once you find a way to eliminate this word from your employees’ mouths, you will seamlessly transform the workforce into solution-thinkers rather than problem-focusers. All because without the word “them,” there is no one to blame – for either negative occurrences or positive ones! Share the blame (and credit).

3.    Under-promise, over-deliver.

Yes, certainly everyone has heard this before. This is a truly challenging item to do when Mrs. Johnson begs you to finish her pool before the July 4th holiday during your first in-person meeting in which you’re incredibly focused on winning this bid. Or how about when she calls back to have her invoice resent because she can’t find and your receptionist (who is most certainly a sales rep) says yes, I’ll have it over to you in a few minutes – and doesn’t send it until the following day because the systems went down? Okay, back to the first one, the tough one. Because of rule #4, your potential client has to get what he or she wants – and when they want, and how. But, this can’t be at the cost of over-promising, ever. There is a fine line of meeting needs and setting expectations. Trust me, clients will thank you for it. “We will do everything we can to have the pool done by then. We’ll increase our crew to devote more manpower to speed things along. However, sometimes it’s time that we can win against. Weather and drying and inspectors sometimes don’t play along, but we will keep you in the loop of progress. If these things don’t play nicely, we expect to be done by July 20. Best case, July 3.” Something like that is executing rule #3.

4.    People don’t buy products or services.

When faced with the option of client (or potential client) and employee/business owner, the client is always more important and deserves endless respect. There should be endless thank yous, zero interrupting, and genuine kindness to the client or potential client. Ego doesn’t have a place. This isn’t easy to accomplish and your clients know it. People will spend money to get treated well, even if someone else has a better, cheaper, product/service. People will pay more money knowing they are appreciated and respected, every single time, with every single employee. Related: Sell experience.

5.    Be a chameleon. 

There are limitations here obviously. If the client is cursing or yelling, you don’t, and that’s because rule #4 is never sacrificed. Be resilient with money-spenders. If they prefer texting, you don’t keep calling. If they prefer short emails, get better at summarizing. And if they prefer long, detailed discussions in person or on the phone or email, make time and find patience. Everyone has a communication preference, and certainly you do as well, but since #4 says that the customer rules, their preferred method prevails, every single time. The task is to identify this method as quickly as possible and start mirroring. Related: Send Better Email To Your Prospects and Clients

6.    Bonus for leaders/business owners: 

Employees are more valuable than any tool, machine, or any other resource you can think of.  They’re worth every penny and more. They are your sales reps, your labors, your administrators. They get it done. And if they don’t, train them. When a machine breaks, you don’t really want to take the risk of fixing it during the last week of the big project of the year, right? You probably want to resolve it asap. Same idea with people. If your employee needs training, fix it, spend money it, and do it with a smile. If your employee gives their best and their best isn’t good enough, figure out why. After providing training, it's no longer a skill issue, it's likely a will issue. Why aren’t they willing? Look inwards, are you being good to them? Are you giving them enough time off (I know, seems impossible to do, but you shouldn’t run an engine for 16 hours everyday for four weeks straight and you shouldn’t that with people). Everyone needs a break. Are you paying them enough money? Really, deeply consider this one. (This might be the same reason you can’t find talent – you get what you pay for).  If after you’ve looked deeply and had confrontational, transparent conversations with this employee and the will or skill can't be resolved, help them become happier and replace them. And then treat your golden ones like Gold. Related: Skills Gap Affecting the Landscape Construction Industry?


Image via 10ch on Flickr