Casting for success: Building a better sales process for your construction business

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Building Today business columnist Andy Burrows — The Trades Coach.

Building Today columnist Andy Burrows — The Trades Coach — presents some tips to help construction companies improve their sales process and convert leads into jobs.


At a recent industry event, I had the opportunity to speak to several Auckland builders. A common issue mentioned by a significant portion was, “we’re pricing lots of work, but not a lot is getting over the line”.

Is that currently an issue for you as well? Could be your sales process needs a tweak.

In periods of high demand, the conversion rate of leads into sales is often high enough for even an average sales process to be successful. However, when the market becomes more competitive, those companies with a well-developed sales process will fare better, and those with a poor to average process will struggle.

A common response to a drop in sales is to spend more money on lead generation. While this can work, it is not where I suggest starting. Lead generation often costs money, whereas improving your sales process to convert more of the leads into jobs costs very little.

Think of it like fishing. Putting more lines in the water may help you catch more fish, but if you have the wrong bait, the wrong sized hook and are putting the lines in the wrong place, all that extra effort probably won’t help.

Here are some ideas to improve your sales success.

Identify your fishing grounds (target market):

Just as a good fisherman chooses the right fishing spot where the target species is known to hang out, you must identify your target market and ideal client.

Do some research with past customers on what their issues, fears and desires were when planning their building project. The better you understand how your clients think and feel, the better you can resonate with them, both in the marketing and sales stages.

Lure them in (marketing and lead generation):

Every angler knows the importance of selecting the right bait to attract the desired fish. A pilchard near the bottom for snapper, a live bait near the surface for kingfish. That’s marketing.

Offer valuable content such as project case studies, planning and design tips, and industry insights to lure the ideal clients to your company fishing grounds.

Setting the hook (engagement and presentation):

When a fish takes the bait, it’s crucial to set the hook swiftly and decisively. In sales, this equates to the first steps in the sales process where you must resonate strongly at the emotional level first, and then provide educational information to build trust.

Once trust has been established you can then highlight your experience and the unique value proposition that sets your business apart from the competition.

Reeling them in (negotiation and closing):

As the fish struggles against the line, the skilled angler carefully reels it in, maintaining some tension without risking the catch escaping.

Likewise, in sales, negotiation skills are essential for reeling in clients. Be prepared to provide information, address objections, and demonstrate flexibility while staying firm on crucial points.

Aim to secure a mutually beneficial contract that lays the foundation for a successful partnership.

Casting again (continuous improvement):

Just as a successful fisherman is always looking to improve their gear and techniques, construction businesses must continually evolve their sales processes.

By treating sales as a multi-step system, you can focus on making small changes to one step at a time and see what effect that has. This is usually more successful than just thinking, “I need to get better at selling” and not knowing where to start.

In the current competitive landscape of the construction industry, those who embrace the concepts listed above are poised not only to survive but to grow.

So, arm yourselves with the right bait, cast your line where the best opportunities are, be patient, and prepare to reel in an improved catch of lucrative contracts and satisfied clients.

For help to analyse and improve your sales process, reach out to me at [email protected], and we can make a time to have a no-obligation discussion.

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