Virtual Selling is the New Normal for the Building Industry
Tips on Keeping Up with the Virtual Age
The pandemic has changed almost every industry’s business model, including the building products industry. Gone are the days of sales cold calls, and frequent business travel has been severely limited. Months after the initial shutdown we experienced earlier this year, we find we have adapted to what is now our “next normal,” which includes all things virtual. From online meetings to video chats and webinars, more companies are creating a virtual space for connecting with their customers.
Moving everything online has drastically impacted the traditional sales process that so many of us have spent years practicing. In-person appointments are not only less convenient, they are less efficient for both parties. Virtual appointments and sales are becoming increasingly popular and accepted across a variety of industries.
Construction projects are no exception. Royal® Building Products began shifting to a virtual sales model several years before the pandemic hit. We started to adapt our technology and train our sales team to continue to work remotely while still maintaining a close relationship with clients and vendors. Because of this shift and the investment the company made for a virtual world, Royal was equipped to handle the challenges that 2020 presented. Like everyone else, we suffered initially in the spring when construction and new home building drastically dropped; however, because of our virtual sales initiatives, Royal had some of our best months on record in the summer of 2020. In fact, according to Paul Burleson, National Remodeling Accounts Manager at Royal Building Products, “The majority of national remodelers are on target to beat last year’s numbers by 20 per cent, and the nation’s top remodelers have set records for their summer sales.”
There are many ways to continue to sell home renovation and new construction projects in this new environment. Below are tips to help you continue to build your business and make sure you don’t fall behind in this industry shift.
Add Virtual Tools to Your Sales Arsenal
Before you get started with virtual selling, consider all the tools that can help you throughout the sales process. Using online and oftentimes free services, you can take more appointments in a given day and have both decision makers “at the table” to make the sales process go smoothly. Virtual tools that have been widely adopted, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting, help create the virtual experience, but there are even more advanced tools to help you streamline the sales process and inspire your customers to purchase. For example, you can share your screen with a customer and design their home online with them right in the meeting.
Royal Building Products offers a suite of online design tools to inspire creativity and help your clients see the end result before they sign. Homeowners want design help and rely on contractors to validate their design choices. This is a great way to allow homeowners to try different ideas before they buy and give them the confidence to sign a contract.
When you are ready to close the deal, you can provide the homeowner an estimate via email and allow them to sign electronically. DocuSign provides free and inexpensive safe signing options. If you take the driveway selling approach, provide a sanitized pen to sign paperwork or ask if they would prefer to use their own.
Find a Virtual Sales Partner to Take You to the Next Level
If you are looking to take your virtual sales experience to the next level, we recommend One Click Contractor. Royal Building Products’ partnership with One Click Contractor Canada has transformed the way home improvement projects are sold. Contractors can run their entire sales process—from measuring to payment—without setting foot in a customer’s home. By making the transition from paper to digital, contractors can easily deliver an accurate, professional and customized sales process with all of the estimates, contracts and presentations that would typically happen at the customer’s kitchen table. In addition to being fast and efficient, One Click Contractor enables contractors to keep all the important information related to each job in one place, allowing them to focus on doing the job right.
Key capabilities that One Click Contractor provides include proposals, CRM, remote measurements, visualization, virtual selling, presentations, configurable estimator, financing, data aggregation and more.
Generate Leads with Virtual Canvassing
While virtual sales might work great for long-standing clients or potential customers you had engaged with prior to the pandemic, the same tactics will not work for generating new leads. Enter virtual canvassing—a sales technique that helps generate new leads without setting foot on a prospect’s property. Pros are using various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Houzz and Pinterest to start conversations, promote their projects and search for new job opportunities. By creating a presence for your business online beyond the company website, you will successfully garner new leads while still keeping your physical distance.
Posting new content on your pages on a regular basis will also help to garner new followers. Attract customers who are actively looking for design and renovation inspiration by sharing your completed projects and before and after photos using appropriate hashtags. There are also countless online community portals and groups, including neighborhood groups on Facebook and apps like NextDoor and Patch. These are great communities to be part of—not only to post about your services, but also to monitor for leads and referral opportunities. Many people use these groups to source recommendations for contractors.
Close the Deal Virtually
One often forgotten step is documentation of your project for future sales pitches, as well as follow up for references and reviews from your customers. In a virtual selling world, this is more important than ever. Create a quick checklist to ensure that you are getting as much usable content as you can for your next sale, including:
- Before and after photos
- Customer testimonial and referral
- Online reviews (request that they post a review to your Google Business page, Facebook page, etc.)
By taking the extra time to capture these as you go, you are building up your virtual sales arsenal to sell to your next customer. For additional resources on virtual selling, visit royalpros.com.
About the Author
Steve Booz is the Vice President, Marketing & Product Development at Royal Building Products, Exteriors Division which comprises siding, exterior and interior trim and decking products.
About Royal Building Products
Royal Building Products, a Westlake Chemical company, manufactures and distributes leading materials for the home remodeling, building and construction markets. With operations throughout Canada and the United States, Royal Building Products offers the renovation, remodeling and new construction industries a broad range of innovative products including siding, trim, accessories, soffit, rainware, mouldings, and decking.