by Lane Mangum, VP Business Services of The Concrete Countertop Institute
Selling concrete countertops to a homeowner is a very different experience than working with a general contractor or architect or designer. For one thing, the homeowner will often not know exactly what to expect, or will have biased ideas of what the process is going to entail, so it’s very important to communicate well and effectively. Even if you’ve been selling countertops for years, you still might have some kinks in your processes to work out.
The sales process for each client will generally go through the same steps:
- Initial inquiry/info seeking
- Meeting for sample viewing or measuring
- Buying decision/closing
- Project execution
This article explains the all-important information seeking phase. You need to make the homeowner comfortable in this phase in order to progress to the next steps. They need to trust you, to think, “Wow, he really knows his stuff!” (or she).
The potential client may have found your website via a web search, seen your yellow pages listing, or heard about you from a friend. They may call or email to get more information.
Always respond to inquiries the same business day if at all humanly possible. Not responding quickly sends a message that you don’t care about the person’s inquiry and don’t want the sale. The prospect doesn’t know or care about everything else you have to do.
Spend most of your time asking and answering questions, not spewing information. Answer the client’s questions succinctly and in a way that is consistent with your messaging, and then encourage them to tell you more about what they’re looking for or to ask you more questions. Engage them in conversation.
Always try to follow up your answer with another question to the client. For example:
Client: “How does concrete compare to granite?”
You: “(Give your standard answer.) What other countertop materials are you considering?”
Show interest in and be excited about their project. You don’t want to come across like you’re grilling them, but your goal is to learn as much about them as possible so that what you teach them about your company and your product fits what they are looking for.
Here are some possible questions to ask:
- Tell me about your project.
- Have you chosen your cabinets yet?
- Are you working with a designer?
- What look are you going for?
- What made you consider concrete?
- What do you like about concrete?
- What are your concerns about concrete?
- What other materials are you considering?
- What stage is your project in
- Do you have a tile or paint sample you would like to match?
- Do you have a sketch of your kitchen (or bathroom), or would you like for me to come by and take some measurements?
- Would you like to come to my showroom (or have me come out) to see some samples?
Establish a next step, which could be:
- Getting a drawing or measurements for an estimate
- And/or coming to the showroom/meeting to see samples
- And/or them letting you send them some more information (the Guide to Concrete Countertops and your brochure)
- And/or getting them to agree that you should call them in a specified amount of time for some specific follow-up purpose (e.g. Call them in 6 weeks to see how their floor tile decision is coming along)
Keep in mind that there is nothing you can do to push their project along. If they don’t yet have a cabinet design, you can’t do one for them. Just establish whatever next step is appropriate, and then follow through. Always do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to be at their house next Wednesday at 9:00am to show them samples, be there, and be on time! If you say you’re going to call in 2 weeks to check on the cabinet drawing, call!
Your contact management system can help you remember these things, and it can help you remember what you talked about last time. You can also note things like “her 6-year old boy was sick”, and then inquire about them the next time you talk.
Note: if you are able to establish a showroom visit as a next step, encourage the client to bring their cabinet drawing, any photos they may be modeling their project on, and any samples of their tile, paint, cabinet doors, etc. This establishes the showroom visit as a working meeting where they will be making a color choice.
In the next article, I will explain how to answer common questions like, “How does concrete compare to granite?” Know the answer ahead of time, and you will be much more confident in your selling.