Slow sales? One option is to mope around, felling sorry for yourself and waiting for the phone to ring. But a much better option is to think of ways to generate sales that not everyone else thinks of. Here are five such ideas for your perusal.

Produce Pocket Calendars

Everyone wants to print schedules for the high school football team. However, not everyone pays similar attention to the soccer team, community orchestra, or a dozen other groups. Coated pocket schedules are inexpensive ways to build your name among all of these patrons.

Prepare Your Own Brochure

Why should someone buy from you?

Not from your company, but from Y-O-U, you? What sets you apart from other salespeople? What unique training, skills, certifications, awards, and other credentials do you offer? Tell people about yourself in a brochure. Describe your background. Describe your business philosophy. Include testimonials from past customers. Outline the steps you take in designing their system. Give them full contact information. Give people reasons to want to do business with you over and above any other salesperson. Give them a reason to want to do business with You and your company.

Commission Jobs

Depending upon your company’s procedures, you may or may not be required to commission or finalize a job at start-up. Whether you’re needed at the end or not, show up. And bring the homeowner a small thank-you gift.

When National Comfort Institute President Dominick Guarino sold residential replacements, he would bring the homeowner a small padlock. Guarino would make sure the homeowner knew he paid for the lock himself. He would then take the homeowner to the disconnect box and padlock it. Jokingly, he would give the homeowner the keys, stating, “Here are the keys to your system.” Turning more serious, Guarino would then explain that he bought the lock because of a personal concern for the safety of any kids in the area. The point was made to the homeowner that Guarino cared.

Once the final check out on the system has been completed and the homeowner agrees that everything is satisfactory, reinforce the value the homeowner received. Buyer’s remorse is a natural human emotion, especially when spending thousand of dollars. The buyer made the purchase emotionally and needs your help justifying the decision logically to fend off the buyer’s remorse.

Finally, tell the homeowner that a big part of your business is referral-driven. Ask the homeowner to tell his friends and neighbors to give you a call when they’re considering a new comfort system. Give the homeowner a number of business cards and tell him about the referral fee that you will personally pay the homeowner if he sends someone your way who buys a system.

Follow Up Old Proposals

People are taking longer and longer to make replacement decisions these days. If you haven’t heard from a homeowner, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve purchased from a competitor. Open proposals and quotes should remain open and followed up on until the prospect informs you he has purchased from someone else.

All of your proposals should include an expiration date (price good until…). Because some homeowners stretch out the replacement process, give them 30 days. Call the week before the expiration date and remind them that you cannot guarantee you can get the boss to hold the price after the date.

Open proposal follow-up is critical. For homeowners who take their time, the sale usually goes to the most persistent salesperson. Follow up and keep following up.

Remind Your Family and Friends About Your Business
Sometimes salespeople forget to let their family and friends know what they do for a living. Don’t take it for granted that everyone knows. From time to time, e-mail your family and friends, offering them energy saving tips, and remind them to refer people to you who are in the market for a new comfort system. Don’t forget to offer referral fees to family members as well.

In your communications with them, tell them what makes you and your company different. Give them your selling points. Differentiate. This will give them something to talk about when referring people.

Matt Michel spoke at HVAC Comfortech 2004 on marketing. This rant was solely the opinion of Matt Michel, CEO of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.