Running a contracting business can feel like riding a bucking bull or jumping on a rollercoaster without a harness. You bid a bunch of work, your crews get busy, and you grab on for the ride and hope you survive and make a profit. There are many owners living in a world of unknowns, which tends to cause one’s esophagus to tighten. If this is you, you probably don’t have confidence in the future of your business and usually, this boils down to a single underlying cause: You don’t have predictability in your current sales model. If this is you, here are five steps you can take to transition from a terrifying rollercoaster ride to a predictable sales system.
Invest in Sales Leadership
The Sales Manager is one of the roofing industry’s most neglected positions. When filled properly, it is like replacing a puttering four-cylinder with a massive turbocharged V8. Finding a quality sales manager is not easy, but with the right tools, you can identify key competencies for the job. This may take a bit of a time investment, but trust me, this is the absolute first step you should take.
I’ve worked with several top-100 contractors and one of the tricks often used is to grab a sales leader from a parallel industry. They will need to learn the nuances of your contracting business, but they likely have a more developed knowledge of sales structures that will translate easily into your vision. To refine your search, I recommend using tools like the candidate assessment tool produced by the Objective Management Group. It’s a great way to identify sales competencies and cut down the resume sorting. Some of the attributes I always look for are desire for sales success, commitment to do whatever it takes, as long as it’s ethical, and the right outlook on themselves and your company. Once you get your sales manager(s) locked in, you’ll be ready to grow your team.
Prioritize Service and Maintenance
Preventative maintenance and services should be a top priority for your team. Service and repairs take the least amount of time to close, making the sale easy and the cycle shorter. Once you shorten your sales cycle, you can reach more people in the same amount of time. Plus, more satisfied customers mean more recommendations and new client access. When you follow up and execute on the work, you’ll create a virtuous cycle: Happy customers and quick turn arounds generating new leads and a reputation for reliability that lands you big jobs. This is why I preach that big work comes naturally when you’re focusing on small work. Service revenue will usually drive increases in construction revenue, but you need to stay focused on service repairs and preventative maintenance.
Define Your Sales Pipeline
I often see contractors running a “bid it and forget it” operation. When meeting with a potential customer, they jump right into presenting the bid without slowing the process down to ask great questions and listen. Most contractors just ask, “where’s the leak?” They never learn what the problem is, or how their customer is thinking about the buying process. Before jumping into bidding, it’s critical to ask questions like “what do you think a project should cost?” “what is your decision criteria?” and “when were you hoping to get this done?” This isn’t just my opinion. The Objective Management Group has data on over 3,000 specialty contractors and their findings say we are in the bottom 11% in consultative selling and qualifying competencies out of 1.8 million salespeople around the world. In other words, our industry really sticks at managing a sales pipeline. This is bad news for the industry but good news for you. I’ve worked with a number of top contractors who see massive transformation in their results simply by creating and refining their sales pipeline.
Integrate a CRM
Every efficient sales organization is able to follow up with their customers, track their history, and anticipate future needs. If you are serious about growing your revenue, then you should track every deal in a sales pipeline and hold each team member accountable with appropriate expectations. Every deal should be followed up until a decision is made and the status should be tracked, period. No excuses.
Define Clear Goals for Success
You should set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive goals for yourself, your organization, and each team member. This starts by considering what it is that you want to achieve. Hope to net two million next year? Want to become the number one contractor in the country? Define your goal and then reverse engineer it. Set up your teams so that their compensation plan aligns with your stated goals and then hold your team accountable for executing the plan. Let me be clear, you don’t need a perfect sales team in place to start. Just get moving today. You won’t transform into a predictable sales organization overnight but start with what you can control. Reflect on your personal goals and your vision for the company and then start in on the five steps I’ve outlined. Get off the rollercoaster and into a predictable sales system. I know you can do it!
If you’re looking for a step by step program that teaches you how to design a high-performing sales organization for your company, check out this video now.
Sales Transformation Group, Inc.