“If you build it, they will come,” said the voices to Kevin Costner.
Inspiring as it was, these voices clearly weren’t dealing with the modern housing market.
When Field of Dreams came out in 1989, housing markets and home-buyer behaviors were decidedly more relaxed. Since then, we’ve seen housing slumps, consumer confidence plummet, a series of financial collapses, loan tightenings - and the advent of internet culture.
Today, it takes more than skills with a hammer or blueprints to maintain steady business in construction. It takes sales savvy and persistent sales outreach to prospects.
Fortunately, we in the noble profession are always learning good techniques to get things done right.
Here are my 5 favorite tactics for getting new business in the modern world of construction.
#1 Establish a foundation of quality marketing materials
First, the handshake deal disappeared. Then it was the business card.
These days, websites and digital marketing materials are primary way to convince clients you’re serious about doing business.
I can’t tell you how many contractors and builders I meet that don’t have a shred of a digital marketing presence.
“My work speaks for itself,” they proclaim.
But how loudly does that work speak? And how far does your voice carry?
Yes, good work speaks volumes and earns valuable referral sales. But contractors have to understand what they’re up against. Home-buyers are inundated more than 5,000 advertisements a day, all of them looking very polished.
- Poorly presented advertisement materials are seen as suspect and shoddy
- Consumers expect to be able to reference digital materials later to compare
- Consumers are distracted by a ton of “noise” and have less focus to spare
How can builders stand out within the cacophony of modern tech-culture?
By providing a unified set of concise, value-driven marketing materials.
For example, guys with decal stickers on their company trucks are happy to announce how effective this type of advertisement is Many times, they’ll park their truck for lunch and come back to an inquiry. Earning a bid while parked is sweet - and commonplace.
Apply this idea to the entire internet, or at least your region. Imagine your company logo on the truck, on your business cards (yes, still valuable), and on your website homepage. Take it a step further and link up a basic company Facebook profile as well.
Online marketing is also a great showcase for the glowing testimonials you’ve gathered from previous jobs-well-done. With their permission, proudly display the words of former clients on your social media and on the homepage of your website.
Why is this so important?
People trust other people. According to Nielsen surveys, 92% of consumers trust referrals from their friends about a purchasing decision. This the psychological concept of social proof at work.
Each marketing platform is a channel to potential business. These are essentially the digital handshake to all online business. So display your good work. Build a (digital) platform to help potential clients and buyers see what you can offer.
#2 Distribute materials wisely
Now that you have high-quality marketing materials, print some out and canvas the neighborhoods for prospective customers. This is a numbers game, so expect to do a lot of work for a slight return.
Slip single-page promotional materials into mailboxes. It’s a respectful way to let locals know you’re offering services.
You want to deliver a brief statement of benefits to recipients that highlights your best work and pricing. Here’s some great help for writing quality materials.
Map your routes through neighborhoods to ensure you hit each house. Also experiment with the times of day you approach areas, as sometimes prospects will need a face-to-face meeting to sign on with you.
Always smile, dress in professional attire, and ask anyone you encounter if they know anyone interested in your offering.
#3 Prepare for opportunity
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” --Thomas Jefferson
I’ve earned lots of work from just being on a job-site, hard at work, with the truck parked out front. A neighbor comes to investigate the noise and after a quick chat, I’m setting up an appointment to take measurements. Before long, I’m sending an estimate and have a new contract.
Prepare for these walk-up opportunities:
- Keep sales forms on-hand or nearby (a laptop works)
- Keep a collection of reference work (high quality photos only)
- Stock proposal templates to assist clients
- Present “instant discounts” for in the moment buys
The last point is crucial, as we’ll go into more soon. Capitalize upon buyer’s emotions (people buy with emotion , not rational thought) to close more deals on-site. Be prepared to negotiate and offer incentives for immediate action.
When it rains it pours, right? We’ve all had to turn down work because our schedules keep piling up. But when the sawdust is settled, we’re out of work and wishing we were busy again.
Contractors make hay while the sun shines. The trick is making sure the sun shines for longer - and comes out earlier.
If you’re backlogging work, offer also offer discounts to clients who will wait for the spring or summer schedule. Even if you have to take a cut in profits, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
#4 Capitalize on discount psychology
In 1887, Coca-Cola made recent history and distributed the first coupon. But the soft-drink brand was doing nothing new. Offering discounts is a biologically hardwired incentive used for thousands of years.
Buyers need to feel like they’re getting a good deal with you or they’ll find someone who does.
A buyer psyche wants to feel part of a win-win scenario. It’s a psychological imperative to feel respected in a transaction and very rewarding to feel like we’ve gotten a good deal This makes us feel smart, savvy, and gives us a nice pump.
That pump is the hormone oxytocin, a “happy hormone” that’s released when we receive hugs, kisses - and is crucial for feelings of well-being. In a 2012 study by the Neuroeconomics Group at Claremont Graduate University, coupon recipients had 32% lower respiration rates,and heart rates dropped 5% as well, sweat levels were 20% lower than peers. This is for receiving a coupon.
Imagine the stress levels your buyer’s experience from buying a new home or throwing down serious bucks on a remodel on their nest egg.
Your job during the sales process is to soothe the potential buyer’s anxieties. And help them overcomes the mental obstacles that prohibit their buying. Utilize discounts to help you.
When you’re trying to close a sale, start high and drop the price consistently until you can meet in the middle. Bartering may have gone out of style, and it may stress some buyers out, but everyone will stick around to hear about saving big bucks.
And try out a referral discount. After a finished job, directly ask your clients for three friends or associates who think could use your services. If you never ask, you’ll never get the answer you want.
Studies also show that you’ll see lose fewer sales to buyer-back outs if you’ve cemented the deal psychological foundation of a good deal.
#5 Use visualization
My baseball coach always said keep your eye on the ball and see myself making contact. You know, it really worked.
Yes, visualization is a powerful force.
Imagining ourselves performing an action is proven to get results because imagery in our eyes or minds’ eye is interpreted by neurons in our brains as real-life action. This creates a neural pathway that readies the body to act in the way we’d imagined. The stronger and longer we do this, the more likely we are to get our goals.
Today, professional athletes, success coaches, and scientist alike vouch for the winning benefits of visualization.
Two types of visualization exist:
Outcome visualization is envisioning yourself achieving the goal. To do this, create a detailed mental image of the desired outcome using all of your senses.
Process visualization is envisioning each action necessary to achieve the outcome you seek. Focus on completing each of the steps you need to achieve your goal, but not on the overall goal itself.
It’s recommended that you visualize before bedtime. Take 5 minutes to remember the small wins from the day and organize your thoughts about tomorrow. Envision yourself completing the necessary tasks. Picture completing work on time and how you want it. Walk yourself through the house or job site in just the way you want to. See yourself shaking hands with a buyer and signing the closing paperwork.
You won’t be disappointed. Prior planning prevents poor performance, after all.
It’s proven that organizing your thoughts before you sleep helps coordinate your efforts for the following day.
Can you use visualization to move prospective buyers closer to a buying decision?
Consumer culture today wants everything looking just right. Furniture can’t clash with that new wood flooring, windows need to match the marble countertops or it’s a no-go on the dream remodel. It’s more important than ever that every detail receive custom, premeditated attention. Or buyers won’t be satisfied.
The paradox of choice. These days, there are so many choices that the overwhelming crush of options paralyzes customer decision making.
- Over 60% of homeowners have difficulty selecting walls, paints, and flooring for interior remodel projects
- In nearly all product categories, 30-40% of homeowners have trouble selecting products and colors for exterior remodel projects
- Nearly 50% of homeowners need help finding a “wowing” design for their home
That’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety around a huge decision. However, as I mentioned above, your job in any sales process is to wipe out prohibitive issues and put buyers at ease.
How can you do this?
A visualization platform.
Visualization platforms function from desktops, laptops, and tablets. Premier rendering software at use in these virtual assistants allows customers to imagine themselves inside the finished product, without getting hung up on the details.
When discussing aesthetic factors such as paint color, marble for the kitchen island, interior trim, exterior stain - having a way to compare and contrast options makes all the difference.
If it’s a remodel, have potential buyers upload pics of their home and customize their new interior space with powerful, visually stunning renditions. Upload exterior or interior shots to complete the perfect picture. Then import and apply product libraries to put the finishing touches upon the perfect. Windows, doors, and complex objects - no hassles.
The idea here is to showcase a perfect, finished home - perhaps even before you’ve broken ground. For new living spaces, upload site pics, blueprints, and architectural designs to create a preview at any stage of building. Or walk prospects through customizations of the lighting, colors, furniture, or landscaping.
For real-time results, simply tap the screen to add and remove images to suit the client’s liking.
What’s more, you can embed this platform into a display into your website to maximize product exposure.
Consumers are 5x more likely to request an in-home consultation after utilizing an online visualizer. Making confident decisions and improving overall customer experience also helps us secure repeat business and enthusiastic referrals.
Show people what you can do, don’t just tell them. Because seeing is believing.
Over to You …
If you use these 5 proven sales tactics, you will see more sales and construction business. Each of these tips is grounded in proven consumer psychology and optimized for the modern era.
First, trying to compete without digital marketing materials is no longer an option.
You reach and visibility to prospects will be either invisible or overlooked if it’s not digitally dialed. Next, pound the pavement for new work, freshly supplied and confident in your new outreach materials.
Within your offerings, rely on the good truth of buyer psychology. Offer discounts and be prepared to close new business whenever it arrives. Lastly, when you’re in final negotiations or finishing off a project, turn to newly advantageous digital visualization tools to wrap up projects perfectly or put the finishing touch on a deal.
Ultimately, the tool-belt for those of us in construction has expanded.
Now it’s time to build!