Canadian Contractor

The greatest sales strategy on Earth

"Define the problem. Solve the problem. Set the price."

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March 15, 2019 by Steve Payne

Nothing happens in business until someone sells something to someone. Selling home improvements is no different. You can be the greatest builder since the GC on the Acropolis – but if you suck at sales, you may as well get a job at Timmies.

This is why, at least once a year, we devote a feature article to selling in our industry. It’s coming this summer. I thought I would talk today about one simple sales strategy passed onto me 20 years ago by the owner of a building materials wholesaler in Ontario (who shall remain anonymous).

“Everyone complicates sales far too much,” he told me once over a beer. “We have a really simple three-part strategy for selling. We like to say: Define the problem. Solve the problem. Set the price.

I asked him to explain. This is basically what he told me.

Define the problem. Great companies, the true masters of their industries, utterly define the problems their products solve. Think about Febreeze, for example, and their slogan: “You’ve gone nose blind!” If you can define the central problem motivating your prospective client’s desire for your services, you are well on your way to winning the job. (“My wife just can’t stand the debris and dust of renovating.”)

Solve the problem. You need to explain why their central anxiety will be utterly minimized by your specific process. (“We have long striven to be the cleanest, most meticulous kitchen renovators in this city. We aren’t dustless, nobody is. But we really try to keep things clean.”)

Set the price. Never, ever, ever quote a price on a project until you have utterly established – without a shadow of a doubt that your prospective client’s number one concern is, coincidentally, your total focus. That what they MOST want, you WILL provide. Then quote the price.

If you don’t define the problem, present yourself as a unique solution for it, then set the price, you will forever be a “Me Too” contractor.

What a horrible place to be.



Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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