Selling tips for skilled trades professionals

Spend less time selling and win more business by applying these simple sales techniques.

For busy entrepreneurs running a skilled trades business, it’s always challenging to balance getting the work with doing the work.

You’ve got to bring in the next job or contract before the current project is complete – and the work needs to pay well. So you don’t have time to waste chasing dead-end leads or quoting on low-profit jobs. You’ve got to make every pitch count.

There are some simple changes you can make to the way you sell your trades service that will increase the number of jobs won, generate qualified prospects and boost your bottom line.

Sell the benefits of your services

Business owners tend to focus on product or service features instead of promoting product or service benefits. For example, an expensive new high-definition television may feature a Wi-Fi connection, but the benefit is being able to stream Netflix on a big screen.

You can do the same thing in your trades business by talking with prospects about the benefits of your service and the finished work:

  • A remodelled kitchen will make meal preparation easier and allow the host to entertain guests in a beautiful space.
  • The 10-year warranty on new roof shingles guarantees a leak-free roof.
  • Your track record of jobs completed on time and on budget means the customer won’t have to worry about delays or cost overruns.

Focusing on the benefits of your work will distinguish your trades business from competitors just listing the services they’ll perform. Plus, you can charge higher prices because you are selling results instead of materials and labour.

Provide a written estimate

A written estimate provides clarity to your customer because he or she can read about the work you propose to perform, and ask questions. It opens dialogue and creates trust between customer and supplier, demonstrating that you are so confident in your ability to deliver as promised that you’re willing to write it down.

An estimate is also for your own protection as it reduces confusion arising from verbal quotes – as in, “I thought you were going to fix the roof as well!”

Make your written estimate as detailed as possible, by listing all items, materials and services you’ve agreed to supply. It can also be an excellent technique to increase an order. By including a section on the estimate labelled “optional services available” your customer can think about adding-on to the contract for an additional amount of money.

Ask for referrals

Most new business comes from referrals, which is a favourable recommendation from your satisfied customer. Building your business based on referrals is a lot easier than trying to get work from people with no connection to you – otherwise known as cold calling.

Once a job is complete, simply ask your customer if they are happy with your work. If there are no issues, ask the customer, “Do you know anyone who might benefit from my services?” Chances are your customer will need a few days to think about it, so offer to call them at that time.

Once you have the referral, call that person immediately to introduce your business and mention the referring customer. It’s also a good idea to loop back to the referring customer to let them know you made contact with their referral.

Some customers won’t have a person to refer to you, or may just feel uncomfortable making a referral. In that case, ask your customer if he or she could serve as a work reference and receive the occasional inquiry from a prospect.

Finally, read up on additional selling techniques for your business, and ask your colleagues running other skilled trades businesses what they do to win more customers.

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