Dealer Keys to Success
by Joe Mills
April 2nd, 2019

Why Can’t I Close Like I Used To?

Why do you think that the industry’s average closing percentage has dropped so much over the last five to 10 years? While there are many possible answers to that question, I think one of the biggest reasons includes the fact that the quality of the leads these days is so much better.

Sounds kind of counter-intuitive, right? Especially based on our last conversation.

But it does make sense when you think about it. For the most part, which would you say is a higher quality lead: one you reach out to, or one that reaches out to you?

Back in the day, I worked with guys that closed telemarketing leads at a rate of about 60 percent. But those same individuals couldn’t close a television lead to save their lives.

The reality is that, no matter how rosy my sales manager painted a picture about telemarketing leads, they weren’t very good; they were just easy.

Human nature loves easy, but easy isn’t necessarily better.

I haven’t seen statistics to back this up, but I bet the industry’s gross to net rates have probably grown proportionately with the decrease in close rates.

The other reason easy isn’t better is because it makes us lazy and complacent.

If I could coin one word to describe the difference in today’s leads and those past, the word would be: intent. If a homeowner reaches out to you, it’s pretty much a no-brainer—there is generally a higher level of intent than if you reached out to homeowners.

Here’s where the real dynamic comes in that distinguishes the “good” leads that stem from telemarketing, from the higher quality leads of today … and that’s competition.

When leads were easy, they were less competitive. And when you’re used to running on easy leads, then have to deal more with a more competitive landscape, closing rates decrease.

How do we combat that and help ourselves, and our sales teams, to “become great again?”

One word: passion.

Passion, as we’ll discuss, is partly about strong emotion and strong interest. I’m willing to bet that the sales folks you know that are beating industry averages for closing percentages have this in spades.

But I’m not talking about personal passion for being the best salesperson, although that’s really important.

The passion that I’m talking about is a strong interest and emotional investment into helping customers succeed in their missions. Today’s superstars in home improvement sales recognize that intention is everything. They perceive that, by reaching out, the homeowner understands that they have a problem and are ready to get it taken care of. A high-performing sales professional believes that helping the homeowner to find a right solution is of paramount importance, and will be absolutely passionate about helping customers to make those decisions.

So how about the rest of your salespeople? How do you develop this type of passion in them?

  • Product knowledge: I’m not talking superficial; I’m talking about knowing the product as well, or better, than your manufacturers’ sales teams. If they know it, they’ll believe it. If a member of your team doesn’t believe that the product you are offering is the best of its type, and is the only real choice for homeowners, they won’t passionately fight for them. These folks need to go sell something else.
  • Competitive knowledge: This isn’t about calling out competitors by name, but by understanding and being able to articulate the difference in processes between products (like how gas gets inserted into your IG units as opposed to the way a different manufacturer does it). The focus of this is also related to the next point …
  • The ability to really listen: Like it or not, the time that we have in homes today gets pinched more and more, for any number of reasons. The ability to do some form of full-blown pitch is gone. Listening will uncover the homeowner’s passions and can help a sales pro to dedicate themselves to communicating how your product solves needs. Use this test to help your team understand how good (or bad) they are at listening, and how to improve.

Remember, easy isn’t always better.

Next time we’ll get to the most controversial statement I made in my original article about Making Salespeople Great Again: Feature/benefit selling is dead.

Talk then.

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