Converting Leads into Sales
May 2, 2013
COLUMN : Dealer Perspectives | Management, Sales & Marketing
My first foray into the window and door business was in early 1984. Many things have changed in the sales arena since then, except for one: the challenge of converting a lead into a sale.
The first step in the sales process is to find a prospect interested in your products and to set up a sales appointment. With the appointment comes the challenge of converting the homeowner's interest in the product into a sale. It is at this stage in the actual sales presentation that most leads are lost.
During my 30 years in the business, I have seen the same basic problem when it comes to converting the lead into a sale: Those selling are not meeting the needs of those buying. Many salespeople simply do not know their products well enough to create consumer confidence in the window or door they are selling. Remember, most homeowners are purchasing a product for the first time and want the seller to be knowledgeable.
The opposite can also be true for many salespeople. They know all the finite details and want to make sure the prospect hears about them all. Most prospects don’t care about the minutiae and are more interested in the best solution to solve their problem. Somewhere in between is the happy medium where seller meets buyer.
The sales call
I sat in on a recent sales call in which the prospects―a couple in their late 60s or early 70s―had lived in the home their entire married life. Over the years, they had added several rooms onto the home, and some of their earlier material purchases were in need of replacement, including two 4-panel casements in a sunroom addition.
During the early part of the call, the salesman failed to confirm what was really important to the prospects. They had seen the window at a recent home show and had already determined it was a high quality, well designed product. Despite this fact, the salesman continued to review the reasons the product was best of its kind as the call progressed.
It was very apparent he did not know the products well enough to explain the features and benefits that would be important to the homeowners. He did a few things well, such as suggesting the couple replace the existing units with three-panel casements. The woman agreed this would be an improvement to increase their viewing sightlines. The salesman also showed the homeowners a woodgrain offering in his vinyl line of products.
In the end, he presented a favorable price and wrote the contract. As an observer on the call, I could tell that these knowledgable homeowners bought the windows even though the salesman was not properly prepared. Shortly after the call, the salesman quit. I could easily understand his frustration with the lack of sales training.
Companies spend a fair amount of capital generating leads, only to lose sales because their salespeople are not properly trained. Sales professionals have an obligation to learn the features and benefits of a company’s products, but most need better training to be able to identify prospects' needs and present them with the best solution.
Converting leads into sales is a multi-step process that can be compressed into a one-call close if properly handled: The prospect expresses interest. The salesperson visits their home or business. The prospect presents his or her problem. And, the best salesperson presents the best solution.
Consumers' buying processes have changed. Many dealers, however, have not changed tactics. The market is projected to improve in coming years, and preparing for the upswing will help you gain sales and profits. One opportunity to do so is by attending the 4th Annual Window and Door Dealers Forum, Sept. 9, in Atlanta. For more information on the event―which will include roundtable discussions on how to convert leads into sales―visit www.wddalliance.org.