As a trade business owner, growing your sales and profitability will likely be top of mind. You may ask yourself questions like “What can I do to increase my revenue?” or “How can I maximise my gross profit on jobs?” As a sales coach for many tradespeople, including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC contractors, I’m often asked these same questions.
The truth is there’s no quick fix or short answer. Successfully growing a trade business requires learning crucial sales, marketing, and management principles and then actively applying them. The traders I coach who take this approach have increased their sales by 20-50%.
To give you a clear roadmap for improving sales, I’ve outlined the seven core steps my coaching program teaches tradespeople for profitably closing more deals:
1. Make a Great First Impression
They say "first impressions last" for a reason. Within seconds of meeting a potential customer, judgments are formed that can make or break securing their business. Even one negative first impression can lose you a profitable job.
So, how do you make a stellar first impression? It starts with being polite, respectable, and friendly in your introduction while maintaining professionalism. Having a warm, authentic tone and smile puts people at ease.
Arriving punctually at the scheduled time also builds trust. Timeliness combined with an affable manner establishes you as reliable, laying the groundwork for a successful sales relationship.
The initial greeting and meeting set the stage for the rest of your interactions. While it’s only a brief first exchange, those critical first moments carry weight that can influence the entire customer experience. Taking steps to get off on the right foot, such as addressing them warmly, smiling, making eye contact, and promptly arriving, shows you’re there to provide excellent service.
2. Gather Information Through Observation
Observing the customer and their home environment provides insights as valuable as inspecting the maintenance issue. Pay close attention to body language, tone of voice, word choice and other subconscious cues to gauge if they feel relaxed or sceptical.
Key things to look for include:
- Posture - Confident, open posture vs. closed-off, crossed arms
- Facial expressions - Smiling/frowning, furrowed brow
- Stance - Facing you or angled away
- Fidgeting - Signals discomfort or impatience
- Mirroring - Imitating your movements shows engagement
These and other behavioural indicators will reveal how receptive someone will likely be to your recommendations or proposed solutions. Understanding where customers are coming from enables you to tailor your approach to one they’ll be most responsive to.
Actively observing and listening also provides insight into the customer’s priorities, concerns, and constraints related to the project. All of this information will assist you in crafting options tailored to your specific situation.
3. Thoroughly Evaluate the Problem
Carefully examine the damage, faulty part, or malfunction from all angles to diagnose the underlying issue properly. Take your time with this step - methodically inspect and analyse what needs to be fixed before determining solutions.
Take time to understand the root cause fully. Based on your expertise, make a mental list of all possible options to remedy the problem. If needed, leverage technical manuals or consult fellow tradespeople if dealing with a complex or uncommon issue.
You want to gather all the necessary information to determine the optimal fix that solves the problem and prevents future headaches. This diligent evaluation process is what sets true professionals apart.
4. Present Options Clearly
Next, present your recommendations in clear language the customer can easily comprehend. Avoid using too much technical jargon and explain options simply. Outline the pros and cons of each proposed solution regarding cost, effectiveness, durability, expected lifespan and other considerations.
This does two things - it builds trust and credibility by demonstrating your expertise. And it makes it much simpler for the customer to choose the best solution for their needs. Part of your role is to guide them to that decision.
It often helps to present a "good, better, best" range of options at varying price points. This lays out the differences clearly while giving the customer flexibility. Sometimes, it makes sense to recommend a higher-cost option if it has added benefits that outweigh the price difference.
5. Address Objections with Empathy
Hearing objections or pushback is frustrating but doesn’t automatically mean outright rejection. The customer likely just needs more information from you to make a decision. View objections as an opportunity to educate and build even greater trust.
Remember, as the expert, it’s natural for you to know important things the customer may not, especially involving finances. Calmly respond to any concerns with facts and empathy. Avoid being defensive.
Instead, paint a clear picture for the customer of the consequences of delaying repair or choosing inferior options - things like higher future costs, risks of further property damage, voiding warranties, needing to redo work, etc.
The goal is to help them understand why your optimal recommendation is in their best interest. Patience and empathy will overcome most objections.
6. Directly Close the Sale
Many tradespeople need to ask the customer for their business explicitly. They assume the customer will volunteer to move forward if they want to. But most people need a clear call to action to make a buying decision.
After presenting solutions and addressing concerns, directly ask the customer if they want to schedule the work or provide a quote. If you’ve developed a rapport, this closes the sale smoothly without pushback.
Use the same process to close potential add-ons during the initial job. If you notice additional issues like a leaky tap or cracked grout, recommend solutions and follow steps 3-6 to add them to the overall work.
7. Collect Feedback, Testimonials and Referrals
After completing the job, make sure to collect customer feedback on their experience. This consistently provides insights to improve your sales approach going forward. It also supplies testimonials to build credibility and reviews for your business listings.
Referrals are the gold standard of rewards for excellent work. Consider referral reward programs to incentivise your satisfied customers to recommend you. The sales process will be much easier with these pre-qualified leads.
Mastering and properly applying these seven sales principles will enable you to increase your trade business’s profitability significantly. Are you ready to take your sales abilities to the next level? Join my coaching program today!
Sales Mastery is a Learnable Skill Set for Tradies
Hopefully, this sales process outline provides a clear roadmap for tradespeople to win more profitable jobs. While sales is part art and part science, it is a learnable skill set. Your confidence and abilities will grow exponentially by studying and practising these concepts daily.
If you are ready to realise your full potential as a tradesman and business owner, consider investing in a structured sales training program like my 12-week coaching course. Having an expert coach will accelerate your skills development through interactive classes, roleplaying exercises, accountability and feedback. I assure you the return on investment will be well worth it.
Remember - making ongoing investments in yourself is crucial to growth. Commit to being a lifelong learner. With dedication and practice, you can become a tradesperson who does great work and can sell its value confidently. Let’s talk about how we can make that vision a reality. My team is ready to help.