If there is one thing I have learned over all the years I have been involved in the roofing industry, it is how many roofing salespeople have no idea how to go about selling a roof to a customer. Too many roofing sales folks tend to think the roof will sell itself because it is an “essential” and the people would not have called for a quote unless they had a leak, were selling the house, or something dire had happened and the roof had to be repaired or replaced. What they forget at times is homeowners and those with businesses needing roofing work usually have a choice, and they will choose the roofing contractor who gets the job most often on two things – how you present the inspection and estimate, and price. It is rare that you cannot overcome objections on the second if the first is done correctly.
Too often over the years I have seen salespeople show up with shirt tails hanging out, holes in the jeans, no company identification, and generally not presenting a professional appearance. You are going to sell an expensive item, and people need to feel that the company doing the work will do it correctly, thoroughly, and neatly. It is essential to make a professional appearance in a clean shirt, with good hygiene and company identification of some sort. Being able to answer basic questions openly and thoroughly is important. Customers are forgiving if you are new to the job, they are not forgiving or forgetful if you seem disinterested, pushy, disrespectful, or clueless about what you are selling. I have seen all those behaviors exhibited by people who thought getting the roof job was a slam-dunk, and trust me, it was not, and never will be.
Good listening skills are essential to not only the interaction with the potential customer, but also to make sure you have the facts you need to accurately document and assess the roof for a quote that includes everything that needs done, denotes things that could have to be dealt with after the old roof comes off, and how the roof job will be paid. These details make a difference in credibility with the customer, and makes certain the correct work is quoted, and that the job does not encounter things that lose money for the company. If you listen well, a customer often will tell you details that are critical, like the stain they have fought for years in one bedroom where a skylight used to be installed. In a case such as that you would know to mention that there might be issues requiring sheeting to be replaced, and that the attic or air space under the sub-roof would most likely need checked. Looking out for the customer is also looking out for the company, and builds rapport and trust with the potential client.
It is important to educate the potential buyer about the benefits and features of your company and the products they carry over the competition. It is not usually helpful to tear down the competitors, though, as you do not know if that is their Uncle Joe. It is extremely important to point out that your company is licensed, insured, state licensed, and bonded if true, as well as any other precautions you take, such as background clearance on employees, and clearly marked trucks and identification required for all staff. Be prepared to provide referrals, completed jobs they can drive by, and let them know how your crews leave a site. Many a future roofing job has been lost due to messes left for a homeowner to pick up, from dead shingles in the bushes to nails that puncture tires.
If the conversation progresses to what types of roofing materials your company works with, make sure you have brochures, color charts, and samples of the asphalt shingles, metal roofing, tiles, or even insulation and other materials used by the installers. Have accurate information available about potential lead times, scheduling, when payment is expected, warranties and guarantees. Half of a sale is being prepared and sincere, respectful and positive. And speaking of positive, make sure to close each interaction, even a solid “no”, on a positive note. That might be the difference of you getting the call when they do need a roof, and if it is, it usually will be without having to go up against the competition.
You need to be able to get to the point, and be watching for buying signs and language. Using flip charts, videos, and other technology is fine as long as it is not overdone. Your attention needs to be on your customer. Turn your phone off while you are with them, it is the respectful thing to do and will gain you points, whereas taking a call mid-pitch means you may as well wrap up and head out, because in all likelihood you have just lost the customer.
More often than not the answer may be “no”, “I need to talk to my spouse”, or another objection that must be overcome. Never let an objection stop you dead. Every roof has to be replaced at some time during the life of a home, even if the property suffers a catastrophic loss and has to be rebuilt from the ground up. The new structure will need a roof, and the non-pushy, professional salesperson is the one whose quote and card will be kept.