Why your sales process is taking too long, and wasting precious time

When my client Bob first called me and I asked what was the number one thing he’d like to change in his business and he replied – “I’m bidding at all hours of the night and weekends, and then working in the field during the day.  I feel like I jump through hoops to try and give prospect what they want, and it takes forever to get them to commit if they commit at all. I want to find a way to get more control of this part of my business, and stop working nights and weekends.”

I told Bob he wasn’t alone.  If there is one thing most contractors can agree on it’s this: selling is not at the top of the list of things they love to do. I can understand this since selling is not usually where your greatest strengths lie. It can feel unnatural and awkward and often leave you feeling like you’re wasting precious time trying to get someone to make a decision, especially when you’re competitively bidding against other contractors.

So how do you stop wasting time bidding the wrong jobs, get control over the sales process, have people commit faster, AND, have you be the preferred contractor?

Good news – it’s not as complicated as you may think.

Try incorporating one simple trick into your sales process, and you’ll find that right now, when things are booming, you will get more of the clients you want, stop wasting time bidding work that is not right for you, and get people to make decisions faster.

Want more good news? – doing this will set you up to be the preferred contractor well into the next recession. Yes, it’s true – we hit a recession about every ten years.

It’s also true that I’ve had dozens of client’s revenues climb in recessions by applying what I’m about to share with you.  Like my one plumber client who went from an $800K in revenues in 2010 to $1.6M in 2013 – during a time when many contractors were closing their doors.

Before I tell you more, let’s address a big misconception about sales.

The most common mistake made by those who struggle with selling is that they focus too much on price. While the cost of something is a factor in the buying decision, the perceived value is far more important. In other words, when the value exceeds the price, that’s your opportunity to make the sale.  A well-managed sales process is key.

Why Do People Buy – Anything?

Part of shifting your thinking around sales includes understanding why people buy – anything.

This may be the most important thing for you to understand and incorporate into your sales process.

According to neuroscientific research, human beings don’t like change, of any kind. We’re hardwired to maintain the status quo and are much more motivated by the avoidance of pain than by the promise of rewards. So, if you want more sales, it’s important to first understand what motivates the person on the other side to buy and, second, why they would buy from you.

Your sales process should have the kind of questions built into it that will clearly elicit the customer’s pain. While you may think this would be upsetting for the customer, it will actually have them trust you more.

Help Them Get Clear

As you probe and dig deeper for information, your prospective client will begin to create pictures in their mind about what’s NOT working for them, as well as WHY it’s not working.  As you know, people mostly want to talk about what they want, your job is to get them to first, talk about what they don’t want.  This is how you start to get more control over the sales process.

Here are a few examples of questions you may ask someone wanting to redo their kitchen:

  • While I appreciate you want to update your kitchen, what specifically doesn’t work for you now about it?
  • When you are in the kitchen, what feels like it doesn’t support your lifestyle?

Those same types of probing questions will help them create clear pictures of what they do want.

Whatever the problem is, it’s no longer a vague dissatisfaction, but a great big pain point that needs to be fixed.  Remember the one trick I mentioned? Well, here it is. The key to this working is having a written sales process that includes all those questions you know you’re going to ask ahead of time.

Helping your prospect have clarity about what isn’t working, and what they’d like, will help them make better and faster decisions. 

Another benefit? They will trust you more because you have helped them to have greater clarity, which gives them more confidence and certainty in their decision-making process. When they trust you more, they will want to work with you over the competition, regardless of price.

When you have a clearly defined sales process, you will have more control.  You’ll have a plan that directs and guides your actions and keeps you from wasting valuable time.

If you were a roofer, you’d use a nail gun rather than a hammer as it’s faster.  And if you are a builder, you’d have a plan before you started framing.  Having a defined sales process is just like that. It’s a plan for what you want to accomplish, and a tool that will let you get the job done faster.

There is more to a good sales process which we will explore in future blog posts. For now, if you want to stop wasting time bidding the wrong projects, shorten your sales time, and become the preferred contractor, check out The Sales Process Toolkit. I’ll share with you an outline of how to structure these questions and create a sales process that works!

As always, if you have any questions or comments to add on the topic – please drop a comment below or feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn. I’m happy to help and very interested in how these tools help in your business.



p.s. As for my client Bob – he now spends his weekends with his family, bids less work, and closes more sales.  You’ll see in the The Sales Process Toolkit.that I’ve given you the same outline Bob now uses.

p.p.s.  In my book, The Profit Bleed I provide you with many resources that will help you be more profitable and successful in business.  Keep an eye out for my email on its release.

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of companies achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.