The two most common errors of all time are value and strategic pricing. Almost every painting contractor makes this mistake. For most painting contractors this is a constant struggle. As a contractor, you could make a lot of money, but when you make the mistake of selling your work at a lower price, you enter the hamster wheel and it’s tough to get from it. I bet you have had to take on work at a lower cost, just to keep your good painters employed. I understand this. After all, you don’t want them going to work for your competitors. When it comes to pricing today, you need to get it right. If you don’t, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. This is a true story.
Selling On A Lower Price Is a Race to the Bottom
This is a race you don’t want to win. Look at some pricing models. Walmart and Best Buy are both successful. Who has the cheapest prices? They are battling each other for price leadership. In a price war, neither company can afford to lose, so they both end up doing anything and everything they can to win. They must make deals with each other and with their suppliers. Suppliers who wouldn’t normally sell to these mega-chains will consider almost any deal now that the race to the bottom is on.
In this scenario, you are forced to deliver what you can afford to deliver in terms of quality and service, instead of what you can deliver in terms of value. This is a formula for building a reputation for being a middle-of-the-road mediocre contractor. When selling at the higher price points you can afford to go above and beyond the call of duty to capture a sale, you can probably ask for far more than what the market will bear, leave your employees happy and less stressed. Your customers will be delighted.
Tactic 1: Focus on Providing Exceptional Customer Service.
If you make great customer service the staple of your business, you will see it flourish. Customers need to know how much you care about their project. They need to feel like they are the only project you have. They are willing to pay you more, but they expect to be taken care of. This starts on the initial sales call, by asking questions and paying attention to details. You want to create a special bond that transcends the cost of a paint job.
When you take the time to ask detailed questions and uncover what is truly important to the customer, you show them what the actual experience will be like. The Container Store sends handwritten thank-you notes to customers who give items as a gift. One of those important things is that people will pay more for quality work and exceptional customer service. It starts with the way you open your sales call. You must demonstrate that you are different. That you’re willing to take the time, slow down and show them you care. Your team will be able to up-sell extra work and get change orders and future projects. They will respond in kind when you send a handwritten note or put some thought into a presentation.
Tactic 2: Immediately Deliver a Powerful Credibility Statement.
Too many painters rely on reviews to do the selling for them. I am in no way discounting reviews, but you need to understand that in today’s digital marketplace, reviews are a threshold strategy. They get you in the door and a seat at the table. They cannot and will not close the deal for you. Having a well-crafted, clean and concise credibility statement sends the message to your customer that you are a real professional company and not some “Chuck with a truck”.
Credibility sells, especially if you are charging what you should in your estimates. We know credibility sells, but do you know the right way to sell your credibility? Do you struggle to get homeowners to pay for quality? Maybe you are not selling your credibility properly.
In my sales training classes, we make estimators write and repeat this every week. The repetition helps them really drive this home. They are offered peer feedback by other successful painters as well as the ever-crucial ear of their teacher.
What most painters and estimators don’t realize is this is truly a cutting-edge tactic. We encourage it in the very begging and then again when the actual estimate is given.
Tactic 3: The Value Propositions Lie within Pain-Gain
As hard as we consumers try to eliminate emotion from our purchasing decisions, we can’t. That just isn’t the way the brain is wired. We are not thinking creatures that feel. We are feeling creatures that think. I’m sure you have heard the adage “People buy emotionally”. It’s been around for over a hundred years.
How do you sell emotionally?
Knowing it and using that information are two different things. What is important to remember is buying decisions all come down to pain or gain. When buying a service there are things your customer wants to gain or achieve:
A contractor who shows up when they say they will.
A job completed on time.
A contractor who cleans up after themselves.
These are just a few examples. When a customer has had a bad experience with a contractor whether it be a painter or any other trade, there are bigger issues they really want to avoid. Pain. In sales, pain is the emotional impact of a problem.
There are things your customer wants to avoid:
Not getting what was promised.
Contractors who show up and leave before the job is finished.
Not showing up when you say you’re going to.
Contractors who leave the property messy.
I’m sure you know this. In my vast experience with painting contractors, they don’t know the right way to approach this. The mistake is they make statements that are factual about their own approach to these issues. The real pros who are closing 50% or higher are using these issues to build bridges to the sale, meaning that they ask questions about past experiences that the customer has experienced. Knowing what the customer is trying to avoid is more important than what the customer wants.
The human brain is wired to learn from past mistakes and is emotionally invested in not making that mistake again. When you are in alignment with these emotional drivers…. the customer will develop a stronger relationship with you.
Tactic 4: Present Powerfully
Too many contractors rely on the estimate or the proposal to sell. Prospects don’t read the estimate, they go straight to the price. At that stage of the call, it’s too late. When presenting your proposal think about how you could implement the following tips.
- Present Visually
Use pictures and select a few that really pop! Customers don’t understand what a quality paint job is. You must show them. The human brain learns through contrast. Load up as many pictures as possible that will really demonstrate the difference between a mediocre or high-quality paint job.
- Sell Emotionally
The Pain/ Gain Value Proposition will either make or break the sale. Get your prospects imagining what it’s going to be like coming home from work, pulling in the driveway, and realizing you have the most beautiful house on your block. Get them feeling what it will be like working with you. vs. another contractor who cuts corners and doesn’t return calls for days at a time.
- Start with their needs.
When you present your estimate, review their needs. Review verbally what they told you was important. The human brain is hard-wired to focus on its own wants and needs, not your impressive track record. Start with the customer’s “why”. A quick sentence or two will help you to draw your customer in and it tells them that you really heard them, and you have paid attention to what’s important to them. One of my clients is a first-year estimator and consistently closes deals at an average of 20% higher than any of her competitors. When she closes, she always asked her customers “Why did you choose us if we are more expensive?” The answer always comes back as “We felt you really took the time to understand our needs and you asked a lot more questions than anyone else.”
A real story can reinforce the value of what you are trying to sell. Make sure your story shows how the other customer received value. Always keep four or five stories handy, or what I call “Hero Stories”.
Presenting why the customer should hire you is the main skill you can have in your business. It is the most important part of the process. Wrap your value proposition inside of a great presentation and you will close the deal.
Importance of The Value of a Product combined with a service
Selling value is done all the time and painting is no different. More expensive products will not need to be replaced as frequently as less expensive ones. The sole of a good pair of shoes can be replaced. A cheap pair is expendable. A custom suit that costs more will fit better. For all high-quality goods, this is true. A custom-made bed or chair will last as long as you do. A cheap chair or bed will not last long. A diamond is very hard to break. A cheap one will eventually be a paperweight.
If your job is of higher quality, emphasize that it will last longer, and the customer won’t have to repaint as often. Is your customer service front and center? Then remind your customer they won’t have to experience the frustration of waiting for some fly-by-night, chuck in the truck to get back to them. These are all good reasons to pay more to get a great paint job, by a great contractor who will give you unmatched quality, white glove customer service by the area’s most reputable painters.