Joe Talmon of Dave Yoho Associates will present at Fenestration Day on March 19. In today’s guest blog, Talmon provides some insights into sales and marketing. To learn more of these marketing tactics from Talmon, be sure to register for Fenestration Day.

In late 2008, the “high-flying” era for the home remodeling/improvement industry started to develop complex problems. Over the following years, the phone didn’t ring as much, referrals lessened and in general there was less business to share. Thus began the cries of woe regarding the recession. Yet during that same period of time, while many remodelers were fighting to survive, there were many companies that were actually thriving in the same industry in the same markets.

What really occurred is that the home remodeler succumbed to the concept that business was and would continue to be “poor.” Here, I’ll inject a little known phenomenon called “Make Marketing vs. Take Marketing.” Moreover, this is a key if you are selling a product/service directly to the user which requires installation into or onto an already-existing dwelling.

Take Marketing vs. Make Marketing

Simply stated, “take marketing” enables the seller of goods and services to analyze the market, then design a program which will enable the marketer to sell a percentage of that market. Once accomplished, this is called market share.

This is especially true of the building materials industry. There is a fairly accurate projection as to how many houses will be built, torn down or remodeled over the course of a year. An accurate projection can also be made as to how many feet of piping, flooring, roofing, insulation, windows, etc. will be used. People who offer goods in those markets will decide how to “take” the piece of that market which their product can accommodate by price, quality, distribution, and similar factors.

Next, examine what happens when fewer people plan to undertake remodeling. Remodelers, unable to maintain their original market position, downsize, adjust prices or undergo similar machinations to try and maintain market penetration and revenue retention.

How Successful Companies Utilize Make Marketing

The make marketer finds ways to stimulate prospects by offering them an opportunity to look, preview, see a demonstration, get free inspections, and other similar tactics. Here, a methodology is employed to take prospects (those who can use the product/service) from “no” to “maybe” to “yes.” In order to get a maybe or a yes, you must utilize almost every conceivable manner of communication, though some are a lot more effective than others. All require the development of structured programming and presentation skills unlike that of take marketing.

Here are some of the methods used by successful make marketers for remodeling/home improvement companies.

  • Exhibits at shows and events;
  • F.I. (sell, furnish, install) programs utilized by wise marketers such as Home Depot, Sears, Sam’s Club;
  • Innovative Internet marketing;
  • Effective call centers to utilize unsold or undistributed leads;
  • Sales reps soliciting around installed jobs; and
  • Canvassing, when done properly (most canvassing isn’t).

All of these techniques require thoughtful preparation, supervised execution and budgetary controls. They are however, when utilized properly, the benchmarks of make marketing. Abundant case history supports this concept: it is the make marketer who thrives in a changing economy and effectively introduces new products to the marketplace.

In the Good Times and the Bad

Are you tired of waiting for the phone to ring from that prospect that promised to call back but hasn’t? Are you tired of looking at your e-mail wondering if they are ever going to respond and give you the go ahead? Are you tired of waiting and waiting to only find out the job went to someone else, or that the prospect has decided to wait until next year? If you said yes, then it’s time to put some power into your presentation and selling skills.

The Inspection and Needs Assessment

Spend more time looking the job over, measuring, taking pictures and asking questions of the prospect. Make it clear that you are there for them. Make sure they feel that they’re the most important people in the world at that moment and that your only goal is to understand and help them.

Your Company Story Matters Greatly

The company story presentation is highly misunderstood. Yes, you want to tell them how great you are, but you want to do it in a way that really makes the presentation about them. Switch from first-person (I, me, we) language to second-person (you and your) language. Here is a poor example, “My guys always arrive first thing in the morning and work all day. We never leave mid-day to go to another job … My crew always cleans up at the end of the day.”

Instead, say:

“You will enjoy seeing the team show up bright and early every morning. You’ll come to love the fact that once your job is underway the crew is on site all day every day until your project is completed. You will be pleasantly surprised how we clean up at the end of every day. You’ll see our 18 years of experience unfold before your very eyes as we meticulously complete your project.” You’ll find … You will enjoy … you will observe … you will discover … use phrases like that.

Obtain a Trust Commitment

After your company presentation, ask a brutally honest question: “Mr./Mrs. _____, would you feel 100 percent confident trusting your home with XYZ Remodeling?” It may seem awkward, but will likely close the sale.

Discussing the Project Vision, Building the Dream

It’s been said that the vast majority of the decision is not based on all the facts, data and figures, but what the prospect envisions happening in the future. Take them into the future as if they are already living with their completed project. Get them to imagine (not think about) each part of the process coming together as the project gets better and better all the way to completion.

Achieve the Preliminary Agreement

In most cases you will need to return after additional preparation is completed to present the full scope of work, deliver the price and ask for the order. At the conclusion of the initial meeting, it’s important to obtain a preliminary agreement with regards to your next meeting. The power question comes next: “Folks, when we get back together, if I am able to provide you with everything you want, just the way you want it, as well as work within your budget, could you think of any reason we wouldn’t be able to go ahead and get your project underway when we meet next?” Get the commitment that if you meet all of their criteria, they can and will move forward with you at your next appointment.

The Return Visit for Price Delivery and Sale

At this point, all of your paperwork should be well-documented and prepared for a signature. You will review in great detail all that you’re going to provide them. Don’t leave the little things out because your competition will only provide the basics. Your presentation must stand head and shoulders above their expectations. Once completed, deliver the price by saying, “Mr./Mrs. _____, we can deliver all the customized work listed on the agreement for only $___. Now there are two convenient ways all of our customers do business with our company, the first is our three pay cash plan where you make a deposit with the order of one-third, or in your case $___.”

Then explain that at the point when the project is started, they would provide the additional payment of one-third, and then at completion, the final one-third.

The second way some customers like to do business is by financing options. In this case, they make a deposit of 10 to 20 percent (whatever is workable), and then arrange a comfortable monthly investment through a special program. Then ask, “So what would be the easiest way for you folks to get your project started? The three-pay cash plan, or with one of our financing options?”

By offering them an alternative option question, you are not forcing them to say okay or yes. Once they answer you with the way they want to buy, you have made the sale. Then you just have to wrap it up. For example, if they say, “Well we have our money in order so we would like to use the three pay cash plan.” At that point, you simply stand up, stick out your hand and say, “Great, shake my hand, welcome to the XYZ Remodeling family of customers! I simply need your authorization right here and we are all set.” Hold out your pen, put it in their hand, and assume the order.

I assure you nothing suggested herein is heavy-handed or high-pressure. The most successful companies use these methods and you can too.

Joe Talmon is an account executive with Dave Yoho Associates. His background includes 26 years experience with in-home sales and sales management. He has developed programs for large- and small-size home improvement companies selling directly to homeowners. He is considered the leading expert on the subject of successful/profitable shows and events (have him at yours). Contact Joe Talmon at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *