Photo by Christina Kiffney Photography
I have been told that I need to have a system for everything in order to be successful. This is especially true when it comes to sales and fulfillment. Sometimes I joke about my old “sales” techniques. Looking back, they weren’t really techniques at all. It was more like I fell forward into sales. My old process, or lack thereof, for analyzing the clients’ needs was haphazard to say the least. I talked too much, tried too hard to convince prospects to choose us, and I let decisions drag out too long. My friends in the industry convinced me and Mike to commit to a “sales system.” In a nutshell, it’s a predictable, repeatable process that expedites the path to common ground with our clients.
The COVID-19 crisis has interrupted nearly every system in our society, and our company is no exception. I’d like to speak directly to how it has impacted our sales system. To start at the beginning of the process, thankfully the pandemic hasn’t had a big impact on how folks initially contact us. For the most part, people connect to us through our website: either directly or indirectly. They either send us a message through our web portal or look up our phone number on our website and call us. This makes sense, because the ways that people learn about us (“I saw your trucks driving around,” or “we saw your yard sign,” or “my friend recommended you”) leads to a Google search, which ends at our website.
Thanks to technology, when people message us through our website, it feeds into our project management system, Co-Construct. This helps us keep track of all of our leads, and keeps us organized. We rely heavily on this system, and I’ll speak briefly to how a small mistake can lead to a big miscommunication. One of my colleagues recommended our services to his neighbor, and she emailed me directly to discuss her project. We had a nice conversation over the phone, and we agreed that an in-person meeting at her home would be a good next step. However, since she had emailed me directly and not through our website, she had not been automatically entered into our tracking system. I had not been diligent enough to manually enter her into our reminder system, so she slipped out of my mind for several days. That is, until I woke up in the middle of the night and frantically remembered that I still needed to schedule an appointment with her...yikes! This is why we have our systems, and I’m thankful that mistakes like these are a very rare exception to our usual process.
After an initial phone call to our office or message through our website, our office manager gathers more information about the project and determines if it makes sense to set-up a phone call with me. Since I do all of the initial schematics as well as building up the scope of work and implementing the baseline budget, I like to speak with folks in the early stages of their project. I usually spend about 30 minutes on the phone trying to determine if we are a good fit for each other. This is one step in our process that we’ve updated in the midst of COVID-19. Instead of having an old school phone call, we’ve moved to video conference calls. Even though video conferencing has been around for awhile, we hadn’t fully embraced its potential until now. Clients can make a special request for a phone call, but we assume that nearly everyone can handle a video call.
This has proved to be a big improvement for our process. Instead of stumbling through project descriptions over the phone and spending precious time driving to and from a prospective client’s home, I can learn valuable information about the project much more efficiently. With video conference calls, the client can walk me through their home and visually point out their pain points. On a personal note, I like that I can see their faces on video calls. I am a very visual person, and I like to see facial expressions and read body language. This has become difficult for me in this age of face masks.
On a side note, I have less than perfect hearing. I wear hearing aids to boost my comprehension. They are a tremendous help, but I still tend to pair my listening skills with the visual assistance of reading lips. Voices being muffled by a facemask paired with not being able to read lips is very challenging for me. However, video conferencing eliminates the need for masks, allows me to read those visual cues, and I can control the volume of the conversation with the click of a button.
Another advantage to video conferencing is the fact that I do not need to enter peoples’ homes. If prospective clients feel any trepidation about having a stranger in their home during these uncomfortable times, we can easily substitute video conferencing with in person meetings.
Although we had a good system in place, the pandemic has pushed us to evolve and adapt quickly. Video conferencing has proved to be an incredibly useful tool for meeting clients and getting information from them clearly and quickly. In this time when everything feels like a challenge for our company, it’s nice to have a win-win situation for our team and our clients.
Next in the pandemic series: How to start a remodel during a pandemic