Sales for Tradespeople

middle aged tradesman standing by his van

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The normal rules of selling appear to be relaxed for tradespeople. Consumers have long understood that manual trades quote for their own business and are not salespeople.

It’s acceptable to arrive at the end of the day, in work clothes and with the muck of the day’s work evident. Consumers understand this.

There’s a trade off for accepting lower standards of presentation. They expect to pay less. They know that your overheads are lower and they are less likely to treat you as a professional.

It works when all of your competitors are working the same way but how do you compete when your competitors are bigger companies with professional salespeople?

Do you want to build a business or be a one man band?

It’s tough running a business. Most of us imagine that we will have more freedom, more money and control over our lives but it takes a long time, a lot of money or a bit of luck to get to that point.

The reality is that you often work longer hours, have more stress and less money than you ever had when you were working. The working day just doesn’t happen in a linear way and you often spend more time fighting fires than building the business.

What did you imagine when you started your business? Did you think that you would be able to run the business and employ others to sell your services and install them?

It’s incredibly difficult to get to that point. Good salespeople are hard to find and if you employ the wrong one, your business can suffer.

How do you employ one anyway? If you’re not a salesperson, how will you train someone else?

Taking responsibility for your own sales.

Likely you’re here because you’ve taken responsibility for your own selling and you want to convert more appointments to sales – good quality sales.

These are some of the most common problems for small business owners.

  • Not enough time. Of course there’s not enough time. there isn’t enough time to do anything with 100% attention but without sales, there is no business so unless you start giving sales the time and attention it needs, you will always be chasing your tail.
  • Trying to do everything yourself. It’s hard to trust other people to do things for you when mistakes cost money and it takes valuable time to train other people to do it your way. Start by thinking about the jobs that don’t require your skill or attention. Even the smaller jobs like cleaning and paperwork.
  • Poor time planning or management. Most business owners are spending their time being reactive to outside influences with no plan and then pulling late nights or wasting weekends to catch up on paperwork. From when you started your business, you may have not taken a minute to step back and look at the bigger picture.

So many small business owners are exhausted and miserable, having created a worse situation than they escaped from in being employed. Scared to pay anyone in case it leads to running out of money.

Obviously sometimes, emergencies do occur but you don’t have to treat everything like an emergency. You don’t have to respond to calls and emails immediately if you’re in the middle of a task which often derails your plans completely.

Plan your work and work your plan.

Decide which days you will work in your business and which days you’ll run it. These are two different mindsets and you will benefit from separating them as much as you can.

If you are trying to fit sales appointments in, you are likely always in a rush, arriving after or in between jobs, looking harrassed. That’s normal and is acceptable but if you want customers to see you as a ‘proper’ business then make some effort to present yourself as one. You don’t have to wear a suit but you can keep a shirt in the car or at the least, wear a branded polo shirt.

You can introduce and present yourself properly and professionally.

You can put the outside world away and focus on your customer while you’re with them. Take the time to ask questions and present your company and products to them.

If you really want your sales to improve, separate your selling time. Dress smartly and show up as a business and not a one man band. Sell the value of doing business with you.

Be properly insured and tell your prospective customers about it.

Not only is insurance important for protecting your business if anything goes wrong, but a good tradesman insurance policy also shows potential customers that you take your responsibilities seriously and you’ve got back-up if you face a compensation claim. Tell them in your sales talk about your insurance. It will make them think about it and shows transparency. If anyone else quotes, they will ask for it and quite possibly won’t get it.

Public liability insurance is the key cover for tradesmen. It covers compensation claims that are made by a customer or another member of the public if you’re held responsible for injury or damage.

For example, if your customer trips over something that you have left lying around or you cause damage accidentally. The compensation claim can take into account medical bills and lost earnings, and legal fees can be very steep too. Your public liability insurance would cover these costs, up to the limit of your policy.

Remember to keep a copy of your public liability insurance documents handy, as some customers may ask to see proof that you’re insured before they hire you for a job.

You can add other insurance covers to your tradesman insurance too, including employers’ liability cover if you have employees and tool insurance to cover your tools if they’re stolen or damaged.

Step up your game. Stop presenting yourself as small. Your customers see you the way that you present. Start presenting as a professional business. Talk about your business with pride and stop selling yourself short.

If you want a professional business then then the first step is to start thinking like a professional business owner.


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