Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Selling renovations starts with finding a mentor

If you are looking for sales mentors in our industry, the pages of our magazine are full of them

Human beings being pushed for time – and none of us having as much grey matter as we like to think we have – we all tend to form mental constructs about various jobs and professions. That way we can pigeonhole entire groups of people in easy-to-remember groupings.

Computer programmers: Nerdy, socially-inept adolescents.

Government employees: Lazy, entitled clock watchers.

Doctors: Super intelligent, learned authority figures.

Architects: Artistic, creative geniuses and nutcases.

Here’s another one. Sales representatives: Pushy, aggressive manipulators.

You don’t have to agree with any of these characterizations, but many people hold to them. Especially that last one.

Maybe this is why – whether we admit it or not – selling is so much more difficult than it needs to be. Anyone who has ever knocked on a door trying to sell anything to anyone, has heard the inner voice of doubt. Of doom, actually.

“Is my tie on straight? Is my fly done up? Geez, I hope I don’t have anything stuck in my teeth!”

If you’ve never felt nervous showing up for a sales presentation to a “prospect” (an intimidating term in it’s own right) congratulations. You obviously have made a fortune by now. You could probably quit already.

Where does this sense of inherent unworthiness – so common in the sales profession – come from?

I think it starts with sad, pathetic salesman figures from popular culture like Willy (Death of a Salesman) Loman and Herb (WKRP in Cincinnati) Tarlek. It’s reinforced by the sales incompetence we all hear in the evening when we pick up the phone to hear some telemarketer reading – often badly – from a prepared script.

What we all need are models of sales excellence. People who are so good at selling that they inspire others to want to do likewise. People who bring honour and class to the professional of persuading other people to sign contracts and part with their money.

In our industry, there is no hall of fame for selling, no Nobel Prize for ‘Renovation Sales Excellence.’ All we have is the continuing existence of renovation and homebuilding firms into their fourth and fifth decades, headed up by builders, first and foremost, who somehow learned to sell.

We believe that Oakville builder Mike Cochren, on the cover of our next print issue (September/October), is one of those models of sales excellence.

Look for the Digital Edition version of this issue, with a Q&A interview with Mike in which he talks very openly about how he sells, coming to this space in the next few days.


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