Pool Sales The Wise Way, Part II

Successful sales start long before a customer ever enters your door. Last month, I discussed some of the specifics of successful swimming pool sales; among them the pre-sale, sales meetings and closing the deal. But the things you do every day to maintain your company's profile and reputation in your community are as important to making a sale as presenting a jaw-dropping proposal to a specific customer. Make sure you're nurturing your business every day and in every way.


The ongoing process of building good relationships with existing customers and prospective ones is critical to the sales process. It can be done in a number of ways and your community will largely determine what is most effective for you. However, there are some basic guidelines that apply across the board.

First, understand the difference between advertising and public relations. Both can be effective for your company, but they are not the same thing.


101 The positive feelings, good reputation and profile of your company in your community form the core of public relations. You must work continually to build this positive perception, and it can take many years to establish.

Ongoing positive publicity is vital to this effort and your organization must make special efforts to seek it. I sum up good public relations with what I like to call The Four Ps: Participation, Proaction, Prospecting and Persistence.

Participate. Get your company active in the community. Membership in the Better Business Bureau, chamber of commerce, civic and charitable organizations, professional organizations and conventions all give you contact with other community leaders and industry professionals. Your local contacts become your best salesmen for you and your products.

Proactivate. Let the community know what you do, are doing and have done. Write — or have someone write for you — articles about your company's events, awards, personnel and special happenings, and send them to the local papers. Include pictures and be sure both the photography and the writing are professionally done. This lends credibility to your organization.

Enter competitions — and enter to win. When you do win, write about it, take pictures and send the information to the local papers. Seek feature stories about your company and personnel. Think of an interesting angle describing what is unique about you and your company. For example, winning the AQUA 100 competition, a design award, small-business awards; these are all opportunities for free positive publicity.

Even more important than generating these press releases is carefully selecting where they are sent. Become familiar with the different media in your area, and send only stories or story pitches that are appropriate.

While you may think it is big news that you moved to a larger location, the news editor of a daily paper in any but the smallest market will not. The local-business editor of the same paper, however, would be able to do something with a press release on that topic, so target your announcements to editors who can use them. If the local paper doesn't pick up your story, don't despair. The editors may remember you and contact you as a resource at a later date.

Prospect. Take the time to create relationships that will result in pool leads. One of the easiest ways to sell pools is to get other people to sell the pools for you. Do this by forming close relationships with homebuilders, realtors, landscapers and former customers — anyone who can refer the customers to you almost pre-sold.

Stay in contact with anyone in a position to send you business. Take them to lunch, or do whatever feels comfortable to you to get them to send leads your way. It takes a little extra effort and time but, in the long run, it will save you time and pay off in increased sales that are easier to close.

Persist. The most important of the Four Ps is persistence — sticking with the program. Sure, you and your personnel will fail sometimes, but if you constantly reevaluate and improve and go back to the basics, you will succeed. Keep training and reiterating, tweaking and improving, hold regular sales meetings, set goals and keep trying. Ninety-nine percent of success in business, sales and life is sticking with it when it gets tough, as it invariably will. But a persistent and positive attitude will see you through.

Advertising is another important part of the equation. And it merits its own column! The most-effective media to use will vary from area to area. Determining what works best for you may involve trial and error. But as you work this out, be careful not to overspend until you get a good feel for what is creating sales.

Sales success in the swimming pool business comes from specific steps you take with each sale — having a great presentation, the right sales atmosphere, prompt and professional salespeople — and from the things you do every day to make your company better. Be proactive and persistent in both areas for super sales success.

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