By Frank Sciarrino
As fabricators, we were taught that the best way to sell countertops to retail consumers is to draw them into the showroom, where you can impress them with your facility, show them samples and slabs of different materials, and give an excellent sales presentation. It’s a successful model; selling in the showroom is a high conversion opportunity. But there is another way to close more sales and make it easier for the consumer: in-home consultations. This is when your salesperson goes out to the client’s home, reviews the project onsite, and sells them your products and services.
It’s a popular strategy with remodeling and refacing companies. They call it a “one-call close” when they go out to the home and make the sale on their first attempt. For fabricators, this isn’t typically an ideal approach because they do not want to “waste” the time and gas to make house calls on a client that isn’t even a client yet. Time is money, and fabricators are busy, but in today’s market, you have to compete, and many fabricators may lose business by not offering this service.
With modern software, it is extraordinarily easy to close a home sale, making the trip worth the time and investment. Quoting and visualization software can render the project using digital images of your inventory and figures the pricing right there on the spot, even if the project changes throughout the conversation. It makes it easy to keep the conversation going toward the close of the sale. You can make a professional presentation in the home and gain a lot of business if you have the right tools.
Some affiliate programs will require you to sell in-home. The Costco Countertop Program, for example, is a lead program that requires service providers to meet customers in the home. Fabricators using this program are seeing an increase in business by being available to approach the customer in a different way.
You might be thinking, “Don’t I give the client some advantage, or upper hand, by having this conversation on their turf?” The short answer is no, and there’s some psychology to it. When you are a guest in someone’s home, they are less likely to put their guard up, and may be less reserved about the sale. You see the job site firsthand, and the conversation becomes more natural when you’re in or near the space you’ll be working on. They’ll be emotionally invested in your suggestions on materials, finishes and accessories because you’re in the space. Being a guest in their home also opens the door to a stronger relationship with your customer and leads to higher ticket sales.
If you decide to offer an in-home consultation to your customers, here are five tips to get you started:
- Make sure your salesperson has a tablet or laptop with quoting software so they can do a full quote, sign contracts and take payments in the home.
- Identify the stakeholders. Always make sure the decision makers are present during the meeting. It’ll be nearly impossible to close the sale if one or more of your decision makers is not present.
- Do the research. Get as much information about the project from the customer before the consultation. Find out if the customer has a product or design or color scheme in mind so you can bring relatable samples. Ask about the budget, so you keep your suggestions within the scope.
- Determine a signing promotion. Incentivize your client to sign on the spot with a discount or additional complimentary service.
- Build in extra time for the appointment. Schedule more time than you need so you don’t rush the conversation. Allot two to three hours to make the presentation, build a relationship with the customer, answer any questions and close the sale.
No doubt about it, your showroom is still an integral part of your business. But consider the possibilities if you broaden your strategy and start offering other ways to sell. It is only a matter of time before your competitors start offering in-home consultations, which some customers prefer instead of going to your showroom. Beat them to the service and give your customers another easy way to buy from you.
Frank is a third-generation stone fabricator with more than 20 years of experience in the stone industry. Currently, Frank is a managing partner of Quote Countertops, a leading consumer-facing visualization and quoting platform, and president of Granite Gold Services, Inc., a provider of countertop care products and services. He regularly advises fabricators and marketing companies across the nation to help drive more sales through digital marketing strategy and technology.