I find it hard to believe that I have been selling windows and doors to the general public for over ten years now. For anyone who has seen me in person, it certainly doesn’t look like it. #babyface
It’s been a 10+ year stint that has seen highs, lows, even lowers, then big highs. I’ve worked through the great recession. I’ve worked through perhaps one of the biggest evolutionary periods the industry has ever seen. I have worked with a general public that has become very quickly more knowledgeable in the space of just a few years.
So in that time I have learned one or two things that I think are worth sharing. I would love your comments and feedback on them via the comments section below!
1. You will always face pre-judgement
I like to think that I work for one of the more professional installation businesses in our area. We’re a family business that works hard to get the basics right. We turn up on time for scheduled appointments. We always give our best price in the first place. We take time with the customer to design an installation bespoke to their needs.
Yet, whether home owners have heard of us or not, more often than not we face being judged as a stereotypical double glazing sales person before we have even entered the house. Unfortunately in many cases our industry’s reputation still goes before us.
Thankfully, most home owners open up to use once we have sat down with them and they start to understand that we’re not like our industry’s reputation suggests.
Long term however, I don’t think this will change. The good guys just have to keep doing the good things they do, and hope home owners will see them in a positive light.
2. The customer is always right, even if they’re wrong
Whoever came up with the slogan “the customer is always right” wants a slap across the chops!
One big thing I have learned is that for a very small percentage of home owners, whatever you do, it will never be good enough. You can bend over backwards so far that you come back round again and it will still not be enough.
We probably only get one or two home owners a year that seem determined to make life as difficult as possible. You can’t always spot them at the beginning, and funnily enough they turn on you just as the balance is due to be paid. Thankfully we get very few of these, but the stress they cause, often through no fault of your own, means you remember them more than the ones you leave happy and content.
If you’re starting out in sales in this industry, remember that one.
3. Always seek to move forward
Whether you work for a small, medium or large business, one thing I have learned is that you always need to be looking to evolve and move forward. In all aspects of the business.
Be it in the products you sell, the way you run your work, your sales technique, your product knowledge, always be improving. There’s a lot that don’t, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
For me, I try to learn as much as I can about all the products we sell, especially if we bring a brand new product on board. I know that if our product knowledge is better than that of our competitors, this is going to come across to the home owner. We are lucky in that it appears our competition doesn’t appear to value product knowledge all that much, going instead straight for the discounts, sales and manager phone calls. Knowledge, expertise and a desire to constantly improve will take you far when others are happy to stand still.
4. Work with your suppliers
Sales in this industry’s isn’t just a one person show. Sales people have to have a healthy, productive relationship with their suppliers. Perhaps now more than ever.
Our sector is more diversified now than it ever has been. Selling is now more complicated due to the number of products now available, and I have learned to lean on my suppliers whenever I need help or have questions about their products. At the end of the day, that support is vital because if it helps me to sell and land a sale, it’s business for me and it’s business for them.
But don’t take advantage of them. A relationship is a two way thing. Treat your suppliers with respect at all times, even if you’re having a rough patch. It always pays to be polite. Remember, a positive and proactive relationship with your supplier is a successful one.
5. Get your damn paper work in order!
Home owners are savvy, more savvy than they ever have been. A side effect of the internet. And one thing that has become glaringly apparent in my decade and a bit in sales in this industry is that as a sales person you have to get your paper work in order.
Don’t cut corners. Be as detailed and clear as you can be. Keep it neat and keep it tidy. The odd craft home owner, as mentioned above, is likely to attempt to pick apart a poorly worded contract to their own benefit. Sales paper work that is clear, concise and without confusion is rock solid and provides protection for you as that sales person, your business and ensures your stress levels are kept down and the dishonest home owner is sent packing.
It may seem a small point, but in my time working in sales with the general public, I have found it to be one of the biggest causes of problems. It’s worth spending the time to get it right.
I would say that overall in my 10+ years in selling, the themes of the things I have learned are to have patience with home owners. If you think it’s difficult now selling to a home owner, imagine what it is like for them. Protection for you and your business. Consumers continue to get more and more rights, whilst our businesses seem less able to protect themselves from those who abuse the system. And to also fine tune yourself. There are always ways in which I, and everyone else can improve. We should never let ourselves believe that we’re good as we are. Always seek to go forwards.
Lets see how the next decade pans out for me!
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