Can Anybody Sell When Given a Process?
authors Scott Siegal | March 13, 2019
The truth about sales is that most people can do it if you show them a process. One of the principle reasons contractors were drawn to Certified Contractors Network when Richard Kaller founded it more than 20 years ago was sales. Richard was a natural born salesperson. He knew his subject and it was fun to listen to him. He also made sure to do as much listening as he did talking. Contractors were drawn to Richard. He was going to teach them how to sell a job, which many of them needed to do because they sold on price and were losing their shirts.
Richard would say, “The price is irrelevant if you, the contractor, know how to win the trust and confidence of your homeowner customer by focusing on what they really need, and using your expertise to propose solutions. Figure out how to do that systematically and you’re selling, not giving jobs away.”
All in the System
If you’ve tried selling without a system, you know why so many contractors default to low price as a way to get a signature. You’re there trying to explain what needs to be done and why the cost is what it is, and you get an objection: “Your price is way too high.” That’s only one of an almost infinite number of ways customers will push back. If you have no system for processing that—acknowledging the validity of the objection while reaching past it—you’ll soon get blindsided.
So Richard created a systematic, procedural sales process called the 4Ps. We teach this system in week-long boot camps at least a half-dozen times over the course of a year. Sometimes owners come, especially those who are new to our group. More often they send their salespeople and soon see a big difference in performance.
Can It Be That Easy?
There are plenty of home improvement people who’ll tell you that sales success is limited to a certain type of personality. They cite profiling tests—DISC for example—which predict sales success based on personality traits which make up a behavioral profile. The argument goes that high “D” and high “I” scores indicate a dominance attitude that predisposes people to take control of a conversation and sell effectively. These people—the high D’s and I’s—have a need to do that.
I don’t totally buy it. What I’ve found is that those high D’s and I’s will crash and burn. They take rejection personally and don’t like to follow the rules. They ignore paperwork until you get on top of them about it. When people complain about “sales guys,” this is the type they’re referring to. And when they hit a slump, they’re helpless.
In my view, anyone in any behavioral profile can sell effectively if they can be taught a process to sell. A process can be replicated. It’s a matter of teaching them what they need to do to alter their behavior somewhat. The high S’s and the high C’s? They follow the rules. They’re highly compliant. Supposedly these people are great for production, not sales. But I find that type of person actually does well in sales if you provide them with the right system to follow. Follow the system and you’re going to close a statistically set amount of sales, based on the number of leads you’re given. So the first thing I want to know in hiring salespeople is whether or not they’ll follow our process.
Training and Coaching
Three things make for sales success, initially and ongoing: training, coaching and accountability. And they’re the sales manager’s responsibility.
Since it starts with training, selling is the first boot camp our group ever offered. It’s a highly structured learning experience stretching across a week. It provides a narrative path to follow—point A to point B and beyond—and a consistent way to present. It can be replicated. Yes, you could go, learn it, and teach your salespeople, but it’s far more effective—believable—when the salespeople are there learning it for themselves.
Of course, then they come back to the real world of running leads. Which is where coaching comes in. Notice “coaching,” not “managing.” When someone works with salespeople and shows them how to respond to the endless challenges of that job, they soon improve.
All About Accountability
Too many owners retain people because they like them. And salespeople are likeable—they have to be. Would you buy a job from someone you disliked?
But as an owner, it’s much more important that every salesperson follow our process. The process sets certain expectations I use to hold them accountable via sales metrics. I have an objective process for evaluating their worth to the company, as opposed to a subjective process where I’m reacting to how well a personality meshes with my own.
If you’re building a company, it’s almost beside the point whether you like employees or not. What matters is whether or not that person perfects your process to become a solid performer. That’s how you scale a company. And that’s how you build your sales. QR
Scott Siegal is owner of Maggio Roofing in Washington, D.C., and also owns the Certified Contractors Network. You can learn more about CCN by going to the website contractors.net.