Perfect Your Pool Sales Pitch

Many of my colleagues wonder how we land so many pool-building projects. The fact is, if you can’t sell it, you will never have the opportunity to build it in the first place.

There were certainly many builders more experienced than us in the beginning of our career, but we always got the opportunity to build projects because our sales pitch was better. Now, I’m not talking about doing a design that works for the client, then swooping in and underbidding the competition in order to get the job.  What I am talking about is focusing on several keys I have always used to sell projects.

Firstly, the “job interview” starts when you answer the phone. I have always started the sales pitch the second I get the call. I used to have a secretary answering calls and scheduling appointments for me. I do it myself now to avoid having to repeat the basics of what we do on the first visit to the customer’s home.

Of course, in this initial phone conversation you can possibly eliminate the customer, but, if they want something you can’t offer, it’s best to discover that right away rather than waste precious time visiting the site. This first phone conversation should excite the customer and let them know right away that they called the right company. You can bet that the three or four other companies they probably called didn’t give them such a positive impression on the first call. When I arrive at a home after having a great conversation on the phone I’m usually greeted with open arms, thus I can deal with a customer who is very excited to see me.

The old standard sales school of thought says you should ask a lot of open-ended questions. This is important. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a customer what they wanted to use the pool for and they said, “Well . . . to swim.” There is much more to that question and I always try to explain that I want to know exactly what things they want out of a pool. For example, is a diving pool most important? Is a pool for swimming laps most important? Or is the customer looking for a free-form design along with a fabulous backyard design?

By knowing the answer to each of these questions you will know in which direction to take the estimate. I always try and get the customer thinking about what they want or need during that first conversation. Some already know, of course, and this makes it easier. If they know right away they want a diving pool, then you need to simply attack the design issues such as, “Are design aesthetics important along with getting the diving pool you want?”

Follow-UpAfter the initial phone conversation, and with the potential customer now thinking about what they need and/or want, I’ll typically follow up the conversation with an email, usually with attached pictures of pools similar to what they may want. This also allows them to email back with questions they may have before we actually meet.

Face To FaceWhen going on a sales call, always remember that you can’t treat everyone the same. I have seen many professionals who have been to sales seminars and collected all types of ideas on how to sell things. While that is not necessarily bad, if you walk into a home and start following a routine that you learned, it will show. You have to be yourself.

Some of you are self-starters, owners of your own company. Others of you are sales associates working for a pool construction company. In either case, we are all members of a very exclusive industry. The swimming pool and spa industry is a very exciting industry that is fascinating to many people you will be dealing with. This should be exploited. I can’t tell you how many homes I have been in and the owners were just amazed at the things we do.

As a result, it’s very important to let these customers know how you learned your craft; how you started building. I have always tried to show the client how much I care about the industry I am in and how much pride I have in my projects. I feel like if the customer sees the pride I take in the projects I have done, they’ll be more likely to hire me.

Many sales coaches say that you should find common ground with the perspective client and try to make a connection with them. To some degree I concur, but be careful. I am a huge sports fan, so if I see a client is a fan of an opposing team or even the same team as I am, I will strike up a conversation. This is something I would do with a total stranger and doesn’t necessarily have to do with them being a prospective customer

Then there’s the opposite effect.  I have had salespeople meet with me and try to start up a sports-related conversation because they see I am a huge sports fan by the pictures on the wall. If it becomes evident they know nothing about what they are talking about, it irritates me. I feel like they are trying to make a false connection just to please me in order to more easily sell the product.  To avoid this, just be yourself.

Be PromptI have gotten several projects where another builder just never got back with them with a bid, or got it to them late. All of us are very busy most of the year, but prospective clients shouldn’t suffer because of it. The combination of a great initial phone conversation, followed up by a timely in-home visit and a prompt paper estimate will make a potential client will feel very comfortable from the start.

Over the years personally and professionally I have gotten so much better at design and building, literally with everything involved in being a successful builder in this industry. Yet, without selling the projects I bid, I never would have gotten the chance. My sales techniques have gotten better, as well. I started out in a retail setting selling sports equipment, so visiting a home selling a 100K project is a little bit different, but it’s not as different as you may think. The landscape and the client type are different, but the core sales pitch is still the same. Good luck.

Brian Worley is President of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Everclear Pool & Backyards Company.

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