Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
By Greg Weatherdon, Small Business Expert
Sales pay the bills. It doesn’t matter how good we are at our trade, if we have no sales nothing else really matters. The challenge for most business owners is juggling all the other operational priorities while still finding time to generate sales.
Simply put, sales is a process of looking for opportunities, getting leads, initiating contact, getting an appointment, site visits, preparing quotes, following up and hopefully securing the order.
That’s a lot of steps and each of those contain specifics tasks that need to be completed in a specific order. Of course, repeat business from existing customers usually lets you omit many of those steps, but unfortunately repeat customers only make up a small percentage of business for plumbing and HVAC companies.
Wouldn’t be wonderful if you had some help in a filling the leads pipeline? No, I’m not going to suggest another over-hyped social media solution. Don’t get me wrong, social media does have a place in your sales strategy, but it is just another tool in your toolbox and certainly not the be-all-end-all. My suggestion is much simpler: get the whole team involved in sales.
Sales is everyone’s job
As business owners, we sometimes forget that every employee can have an impact on sales in our organizations. Sure, you can say that it’s not their job or that they don’t know how to do lead generation, but I beg to differ. It’s in everybody’s best interest to ensure that the company has an ongoing pipeline of work. Because without it, the company doesn’t survive, and people will lose their jobs. Luckily, opportunities are everywhere. Getting your team to help generate sales leads should not be difficult.
As a business owner, you can’t be everywhere. You can’t see everything. Yet, many of you have employees that are out and about everyday, whether that be on their way to and from work or taking their kids to hockey or soccer practice. What about your plumbers or HVAC techs driving around in your vehicle as they make their way between service calls? All it takes is for them to be aware of their surroundings to identify sales opportunities.
Here are a few ideas for getting your staff engaged in the sales process:
Start with the first point of contact
So where do you start the process of engaging your employees? One of the easiest places to start is the first point of contact, and that is usually with whoever answers the phone. Since the majority of calls coming in are to book a service appointment or to enquire about your offerings, why not take advantage of a captive audience? Instead of ending the call with the standard “thank you” or “is there anything else I can do for you today?”, why not change it up to “before I let you go, did you know we have a complete line of … ?” and fill in the blank with your product or service. You can also let them know that you have special pricing on one of your services. It’s just a few simple words that could easily generate additional revenue.
Keep an eye out for neighbourhood activities
Home renovations in Canada is worth over $70 billion, this includes repairs and improvements. They are happening in every community and many of the general contractors proudly place a lawn sign up while doing renovations. This spells opportunity. Have your staff be on the lookout for these neighbourhood activities. All they need to do is simply record the contact information and pass it on to you for follow up. I know your first instincts are that they already have a contractor that they use, so why waste your time? That may be true on occasion, but not always. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to make a phone call.
In the same vein, there are lots of small home builders that specialize in infill lots and usually place a billboard up on the property prior to commencement of construction. Many of them only finalize their trade selection, especially mechanicals, only a couple of weeks prior to the start of construction. This is another example of a simple opportunity for your techs to be on the lookout for these infill sites during their daily travels. And don’t forget those “Just Leased” signs on commercial properties, especially storefronts. There’s a good chance they are going to require some renovations, so why not you?
Upsell on service calls
At the end of every service call, make sure your technicians make a point of reminding each and every customer of the all services your company provide. The customer usually calls you in for one specific reason and may not be aware of everything you do. This simple reminder usually garners the following response “I didn’t know you guys do that?”. It only takes a minute before leaving the call to let the customer know of your capabilities and could lead to additional sales.
Get in with the neighbours
Referrals are great, but you don’t need to wait for them. Why not promote yourself to the neighbours of your customers?
Before your technicians hurry off to their next service call, try getting them to hang a door hanger on the neighbours on either side of the customer and those directly across the street that says, “We just did some work at your neighbours’ home” and list your services. You don’t have to say which neighbour so you can keep the cards generic. Just another quick and easy way to promote your services.
Hand out business cards
Make sure that all your employees have some of your business cards that they can hand out to people they meet. Think about how many times people ask us what we do for a living? Why not equip them with some business cards that they can pass on if there is any interest. It’s the oldest, and easiest, trick in the book!
So you have a sales lead, now what?
In business, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is how you deal with this information. Based on my experience of working with many HVAC and plumbing professionals, following up on leads or prospecting for sales is way outside their comfort zone. However, like most things in life, the more we do it, the better we get.
Once we step back and look at the interaction that each of our employees have with our customers and the public in general, it’s our job figure out how to harness those opportunities. At the end of the day, everyone is in sales!
Greg Weatherdon is a small business expert and author of Get More LIFE Out of Your Business. He also produces The Small Business Minute Podcast that available on all major platforms including iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Visit www.gregweatherdon.com for more information.
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