February 15th, 2023
Is It Time to Adjust Your Selling System?
Many folks have called to check on me to see how I have fared since transitioning from running manufacturing and sales to retail selling. I enjoy these calls very much. It is always terrific catching up with folks in the industry and keeping a finger on the pulse of the window industry.
In the retail environment, I certainly understand how important it is to get products shipped to us in a timely fashion. I also better understand when that doesn’t happen or if something goes wrong, how important it is to have great support from manufacturers. To this, it is also nice to see that lead times have normalized to the three- to five-week mark—of course a bit longer when more ‘exotic’ options are involved. All of this is a far cry from the 20 weeks we were seeing at the peak of COVID.
From a retail perspective, during the height of COVID, many companies were forced to adapt and do online presentations. But when things stabilized, most have gone back to more traditional face-to-face selling. As many of you know, my process is unique as I do my ‘selling’ online and it is much more consultive—exchanging ideas, options, likes, dislikes, etc.
There are obviously some differences between face-to-face versus online sales presentations. In my opinion, the biggest difference is I don’t need to have the urgency to ‘close’ the sale immediately; it is more of a process versus trying to push for the ‘deal’ while in a house. I am not suggesting my way is better or worse; it’s just my process compared to the traditional sales process that has been around for many years. With my style, when I talk with customers, I may suggest alternatives to windows and/or alternative companies if that is the better solution.
With the online process, my mantra is I am not selling windows to people, but more the opposite: People are buying windows from me. This is a huge difference from traditional sales thinking. After my online proposal is sent, I may not hear from someone for a month or two, or often longer. But when they come back to me on their own terms and at their own pace, they are ready to move forward. Going this route eliminates buyers’ remorse as customers are deciding on their own terms when they are ready.
I also understand that I have an advantage over most. With my position and 30+ years of industry experience, I know that I have the flexibility to do more things versus a typical in-home salesperson. But really, homeowners just want real answers to their questions and not canned responses. Sometimes my answers will have folks searching for a different solution than new windows and I am committed to helping them find that right solution even if it is with a different company. I am always looking to help, whether it means someone buys from me or someone else.
One thing I always avoid is negative selling. It never plays well with the customer. Instead, I will focus on the positives I can provide and the positives of the other companies as well. I believe I have the best solution for my customers and in believing in that means, you should have confidence in your company’s ability to deliver. This means letting consumers know that other competitors have positive solutions as well.
Having a positive mentality, steering clear of negative selling or exaggerating features and benefits helps me earn referrals, repeat customers and our positive word of mouth spreads rapidly.
Finally, I am not saying that system selling or in-home selling is wrong or bad. It has worked for a lot longer than I have been around. But I am suggesting that, in my opinion at least, having flexibility in how you present things and really listening to the customers’ wants and needs works better than doing a canned presentation. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your system for selling, but having the ability to listen and offer unique solutions will pay dividends for you and your company in the long run.
If you are not the right fit for a customer, it’s okay to let them know this. The bottom line is simple: Treat your prospective customers and your current customers how you want to be treated. If you do this, everything falls into place and you end up with friends that happen to be your customers.