Business Articles - Sales

Missing a Sale

On average, about two out of three calls you go on will not sell— this is the ratio that all good sales people in this business face every day. Do they accept these numbers? No, they constantly try to improve their sales-to-leads ratio. But the fact remains, they will never sell them all. Good sales people understand this, they don't let the process get them down, and they just keep striving to increase their sales-to-leads ratio.

But is there anything you can do about the sales you miss?

Phone Calls
Depending on the client, you can give a call back within the first hour, the same day, or whatever time frame you think appropriate. Be cordial, be nice, and be friendly. Don't be negative, and don't spend a lot of time on the phone unless they want to talk. Let them know it is just a quick call to see how they and their job are doing. Is their job still on hold (depending on the situation), or how is the contractor doing what they selected? Has John's job situation stabilized, or is Susie out of the hospital yet? Anything at all we can do to help?

You will never know what kind of response you will get, but if you have done a good job, the worst you will get is, "We are doing fine, thanks for the call." Time to move on.

Anything else makes the call worth your time. I have made calls back to potential clients as much as a year after the original call, and was able to resurrect and sell the lead. That doesn't happen often, but it is definitely worth the effort to try. If you don't try, you will never know what might have been. As Wayne Gretzky, the all-pro hockey player said, "You miss every shot you don't take."

Thank You Cards
You should be sending Thank You cards to everyone you see. Not by fax, not by email. Send a hard copy Thank You card that gets there by snail mail. Nothing says you care like a Thank You card. It's small, inexpensive, and takes very little of your time to prepare and mail. Few people in construction use Thank You cards for any reason, and especially not to the clients they didn't sell a job to. Be different and show you care. Send a Thank You card.

While we are on the subject of Thank You cards, when was the last time you sent a Thank You card to a customer whose job you'd just completed? If you are working for a company, and the company sends out cards, you should also send your own Thank You card. If one is good, two is definitely better!

When was the last time you sent a Thank You card to one of your subs for being on time and/or doing a good job?

When was the last time you sent a Thank You card to a supplier that went above and beyond in getting that special order for you and on time no less?

And, of course, every Thank You card you send should have not one but TWO business cards enclosed. They will get the hint.

Personal Visits
If you didn't sell the job, and you are in the neighborhood, you can always stop in for a personal visit. Don't do this if they threw you out of their home because of some perceived dastardly deed you did while trying to sell your services. I'm assuming you left with goodwill all around. There isn't any law I know of that says you can't stop by and say hello. Who knows where that conversation might go?

When to Let It Die
There are times when you just won't hit it off well with the potential client or clients you are calling on. They won't look you in the eye, they are rude, they won't pay attention, or they are very demanding. In short, they are people that you wouldn't want to deal with personally, and certainly don't want to do business with. If that is the case, don't contact them.

However . . . don't let the fear of being told "No" stop you from calling, and then rationalize it by telling yourself that you didn't get along well with the folks or that you didn't like one or both. Make the call, stop and see them, do what you need to do to make one more contact. Do your job.

By: Michael Stone, Markup and Profit Michael Stone has more than three decades of experience in the building and remodeling industry. He can be reached by e-mail at, by phone at 1-888-944-0044, or on the web at

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