When the coronavirus pandemic hit the US, contractors saw an immediate impact. Now, several weeks in, the National Association of Home Builders reports that 96 percent of builders are seeing a negative turn on traffic of prospective buyers. In addition, 87 percent of builders are experiencing cancellations or delays of existing projects. What does that mean when it comes to selling to customers during this global pandemic? It means, we need to shift how we do things.
Sales employees are comfortable with handshake, in-person presentations, and the exchange of printed materials. Since that isn’t possible now, here’s a plan to keep your business in business.
Overcome the Anxiety
The first line of defense in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and succeeding in business, is to stay physically and mentally healthy. Besides the usual protocol, here are a few other things to help overcome the anxiety.
Exercise reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and releases endorphins which are natural mood lifters. It also causes you to breathe deeply, strengthening your lungs—the very part of the body the coronavirus attacks. Just because gyms are closed doesn’t mean you have to abandon your exercise routine. Take long walks or runs, utilize workout videos, or dance with the kids. Whatever it takes.
Fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water throughout the day. When you feed your body healthy foods, you feel better and have a better outlook on life.
Pull Back From the News
Fill your mind with positive stories, not negative ones. Stay abreast of what’s happening in the world, but limit your news consumption to 10 minutes a day.
Set Your Customers at Ease
Customers are nervous about having in-person meetings with sales professionals. So, allay those fears by sharing what you’re doing to keep them safe.
If you haven’t already, post a video on your website sharing your COVID-19 procedures. Seeing your face on video makes them feel comfortable about working with you. Explain everything you’ll do to practice social distancing, and how you’ll use virtual tools and presentations. Post the video on your social media channels and email it to current leads.
Whenever possible, use video chat to speak with clients. If they can see you, they’ll feel more comfortable with you.
Build Your Virtual Office
Now that you’ve cleared your mind to focus on the matter at hand and put your customers at ease, it’s time to set up your virtual office. Remember, selling to customers is possible in a virtual setting. Start by setting up virtual tools and accounts, here are some popular options:
- Video conferencing platform like Zoom for “in-person” sales calls
- Dropbox, for digital copies of materials you usually hand to the customer, but are too large to email
- DocuSign or another virtual document management tool
- Manufacturers’ online tools like those found in the CertainTeed Pro Center
If you’re not too comfortable with virtual tools, have a few practice sessions with friends or family until you’re familiar with the technology and can work out any technical glitches. Also, you may have customers that aren’t worried about having you into their home. Before they invite you in, have a plan in place for how to handle the situation.
Practice Your Presentation
Since you know it works and you probably have it memorized, use the same presentation you’ve always used for selling to customers. If you’re nervous because you’ve never conducted a virtual meeting before, practice. Role play with co-workers until you feel comfortable enough to handle every situation that could arise.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Before your meeting, ask the customer to send you photos of the area they want remodeled. Use those photos to create a before and after rendering of what you can do. That image helps the customer visualize the process. Also, without your showroom or sample case, use a digital catalog or mail samples to the homeowner before the meeting.
Close Like a Pro
Remember to follow up. Send a brief email thanking the homeowner for their time. Include a link to your digital presentation so they can watch it again at their leisure. Include links to your home visualizer tool for them to play around with. Finally, send any contracts using your virtual document management tool.
Current projections expect social distancing to last only until the end of May, and no COVID-19-related deaths in the US after June 21. Still, there is some uncertainty about a new wave of illness in the fall. No matter if you’re projects involve commercial or new residential construction, you can immediately start to overcome the anxiety, put your customers at ease, and learn to use virtual tools now, so you can ride those waves if they come again.