The more I work with contractors on their sales approach, the more I find one or two of the very basic sales steps missing. There are many viewpoints on what the proper sales technique is, but some aspects are undeniable. No matter how talented you may be or how hard you’re willing to work, you have to know the basic steps. Just like any competitive sport, if you don’t do the fundamentals you will rarely win. As you fight on price on virtually every transaction you get involved with, you may want to take a look at your sales approach before blaming the customer or competitor. Below you’ll find the traditional sales framework you need to effectively sell. This does make the basic assumption you’re getting in front of your customer base and targets. See if these steps are in your repertoire:

1. Lead Generation and Prospecting – Are you collecting lead information and looking for opportunity? Or are you waiting for it to come to you? Have you designed a format to generate this information as well as a system to capture it? Without prospects you severely limit opportunity. Not the best way to grow a business.

2. Time and Priority Management – How are you organizing this opportunity? Are setting specific time aside for sales work? How much? Are you using some type of tracking tool to keep you committed to your sales time? You can’t get out and sell if you haven’t slotted time for it.

3. Presentation Format – Have you structured the way you will present your product or service to a potential client? Do you have effective support materials? What’s your personal approach and how will you communicate your competitive differentiation?

4. Closing Technique – Will you be able to bring the client to a decision point? At that point, how will you tilt the scales in your favor? Are you confident in moving your client to the closing point?

5. Collecting – Many people struggle with this area because they feel its someone else’s job. It is a critical part of the sales process. Not having a policy or procedure leaves the whole process to the customer. Being clear on payment practices throughout the sales process buttons up any misconceptions on the backside.

These five steps are far from the entire sales process. They only serve as a basic framework to build the rest of the process. Even though some of you may be thinking this is common knowledge, you’d be surprised how many business development people or straight up sales agents do not follow these guidelines. Not practicing the fundamentals causes big gaps in gaining business. Shooting from the hip is not a sales technique. Many people fly on talent or personality and miss far more opportunities than they realize. They may even have some level of success but get nowhere near their potential. These steps may not be the most enjoyable aspects of the sales practice, but I’m sure practicing bunting isn’t the most exciting aspect of hitting a baseball. It isn’t important till the point in the game when that bunt needs to be laid down and you end up popping it up to the catcher!

The fact that technology can help with some of these steps doesn’t mean it can replace the personal aspect of them. Use the technology to speed up the processes but not eliminate the need for any of the steps. Before you say; “You forgot this!” remember I’m only outlining the “must do’s”! Your creativity, other standard sales practices and a strong work ethic will turn the tide even more in your favor. I find an incredible amount of seat of the pants sales in our industry. No wonder we battle so fiercely on price. Being low is the easiest form of getting business, it’s not selling. Anyone that tells you that these steps are not necessary knows absolutely nothing about selling. Construction sales is no more difficult than software sales, real estate sales or even automotive sales. We just don’t effectively practice selling in most cases. I know you think it is different, hear it all the time, but it is all relative. Smaller dollar transactions require more transactions to be lucrative. Profitability is paramount in all sales dynamics and repeat business is a goal in most sales scenarios. Transferring these steps into your sales process will strengthen your sales position. Not doing them can give the edge to a competitor that does. In this competitive environment can you really afford to give anyone an edge? Being fundamentally sound in sales separates winners from losers. I’ve watched this for 25 years and never had a rep consistently succeed without doing them. Just think of it as if you were learning a dance move. Just remember; 1,2,3,…1,2,3,…1,2,3!