Tag Archives: sales

[AUDIO] Construction Equipment in 2018 w/ Jason Apel

Listen as Brad sits down with Jason Apel, Sales Manager for Mustang Cat in Houston, Texas. Jason lays out his knowledge of equipment related issues facing contractors and the trends moving forward into 2018. We know you’ll enjoy this episode!


[VIDEO] Being Sensitive to Customer’s Hot Buttons

Every customer is different – make sure you know their hot button issues while your trying to make the sale!


REMEMBER: You can watch all of our 2 Minute Drill series at videos.pinnacledg.com, and you can download the Pinnacle Development Group App to watch your training videos on any iOS, Android, or Windows device.

[AUDIO] Speeding Up Sales

Speed is the name of the game for every contractor. You don’t have speed you don’t have a future. Speed demands that everyone “raises their game” to the next level of excellence. Focus on making your entire sales process faster and you’ll not only raise your sales revenues this next year, you’ll also see a rise in margins that you can begin getting due to better cost controlling and job efficiency by your field crews.

Learn more in today’s Learning While Listening podcast, “Speeding Up Sales.”



When contractors tell me they need more sales, my first question is always, “What is your current cycle time for your sales process?”  That is, how much time is there between making the initial customer contact and closing the sale?  After they tell me they don’t make calls riding on a Harley Davidson (I actually heard this once), most contractors either guess at the amount of time or just simply admit they don’t know.ow many of you, as you drive through at McDonald’s, expect to hear, “Please pull forward and we will bring the food out to you.”?  The answer is never.  For several years, fast food chains actually had a space reserved for you to wait, and they would run the food out to you.  Why don’t you see this any more?  Because consumers hated it.  They didn’t expect to pull forward and wait.  They came to a fast food restaurant to get their food, well, fast.

To increase sales, you must decrease cycle time.  You must eliminate all the little distractions and hurdles that can prevent you from experiencing sales at a faster clip.  As market research has proven, speed kills – the competition that is, AND builds greater sales revenue potential for you.

Though many factors affect sales, speedier delivery of estimates is the single best way to increase sales.  Why?  There’s an old cliché, “the early bird gets the worm.” This is no less applicable for the contractor.  Come on now,  if you are first to respond to a customer’s request, first to address their special needs, first to get your proposal in their hands, and first to ask for the order, your percentage of successful closings will increase dramatically.  Why? Because customers like contractors who display a sense of urgency, calling back within twenty-four hours, show up when you say you’ll show up to inspect the property, and get an estimate in the customer’s hands so they can make a decision.

As a past commercial contractor, I aimed for responding to a customer’s call within the day it came and 48 hours turnaround from call to providing an estimate.  Did our business hit this target 100%?  No, but we were consistently under this number, and over 40% of our bids averaged under 24 hours.  This speedy delivery resulted in a much higher acceptance rate than when we didn’t have a standard.

How do you achieve faster cycle times in the sales process?  Here are 10.5 rules and guidelines to guide you to turn estimates faster, and increase sales.


Set a goal for cycle time.  As simple as this may sound, the goal should be the driving factor in forcing better customer service, scheduling of estimates, job costing and estimating capabilities, etc. Measure the goal on a weekly basis and post results.  Talk about cycle time with your staff.  Help them see how critical this goal is and how they personally impact the cycle time.  Remember, speed kills your competition!


Develop an estimating system that is user friendly for both the estimator and administrative assistants.  On simpler jobs, estimators can measure the quantities and then hand the task over to an assistant to finish preparing the estimate.  Even if the estimator wants to look it over, it saves estimators’ time, allowing them to focus on more difficult or comprehensive bids.  The real key to this effort is to have prepared templates and formats set up on your computer for quick access.   Having this advantage can cut your actual preparation time for estimates in half!


Assign someone in your office to group prospect appointments together and make an efficient route for estimators/salespeople, whenever possible.  Too much time and gas expense is spent daily by estimators who are horrible time management people.  Plus, when times are a bit slow, poor performing estimators will stretch out distances between calls to incur less rejection with the excuse that they are spending all day in their truck.  Have your inside person knowledgeable about locations in your market area and to take the lead on when to have estimators make their calls.  This will force more communication between estimators and office staff.


Know your costs for your more routine, and simpler, products and services.  You shouldn’t have to perform a lengthy process for bid development on these items.  While each job may contain that one area that will tricky to paint due to architecture challenges or city requirements, you need to have already developed what might be the square foot price for basic walls, ceilings, exterior doors, etc.  This requires you to develop and update a database with job costs, something small paint contractors often lack or leave undeveloped.


When dealing with residential or smaller commercial jobs that can be estimated quickly with the prospect, use a pre-printed contract form.  I have seen many contractors lose work because they want to send their standard packet in the mail.   When you have a school system building administrator with the authority to sign a work order AND school starts in less than a week, trust me, you had better have a standard contract available to close the deal!


Don’t lose the opportunity to close a sale (especially true for residential work).  This builds nicely on what the previous point addressed.  If you do not always carry pre-printed contracts that can be manually completed at the customer’s location you will have a tendency not to close the sale when the customer may be most receptive.  Remember, sales is both identifying and meeting customer needs BUT the faster you can do that and clearly ASK FOR THE ORDER you’ll lose out to other contractors who are hungry.  Also, often the impulse close of a sale rewards you with a higher premium price and better margin.   Remember too, you can always send the formal proposal at a later date, if you didn’t close immediately.


Engage today’s technology.  Equip your estimators with laptops and portable printers, so the estimates can be printed within minutes of developing the take-off numbers.  Again, this may apply to the more simple of jobs but it still must be embraced or you lose out on closing situations.  Also, if you and your estimating people do not have e-mail get it done ASAP.  More and more customers, residential and commercial are quite adjusted to using e-mail correspondence and in some cases may even prefer its use.


Fax or e-mail the proposal back to the prospective client.  In some cases, mail can take 5 or more days to arrive.  Electronic mail or faxes allow you to advise the client immediately.  The formal contract and subsequent company material may not be needed.  Depending on the prospect you may still want to hand deliver some of the proposals but remember that most of your prospects respect those contractors that respect their time.


Have a local courier hand deliver the contract.  For larger projects that require documentation that is too lengthy to be faxed, a $ 9.00 to $12.00 delivery fee is much less than having the estimator drive across town.   It also impresses the client, as it can usually be delivered within four hours.  Again, this effort should be used primarily for the larger jobs, the more demanding prospect, or the prospect whom you can impress with your urgency.


Generate your estimates by computer.  Developing all estimates by hand is at least 40% slower and, frankly, is unprofessional in this day and age.  Have pre-printed paragraphs and task descriptions that can be integrated into your proposal or attached.  Don’t be fooled by software marketed as providing you with all the “bells and whistles” you’ll ever need.  There isn’t a contractor’s estimating system yet that is perfect for every contractor.  Study the available systems and find the system that is best for contractors and that allow the user (that’s you) to modify and tailor the system to their organization.  Spend a few extra bucks and contract with an IT savvy kid who can help you work the bugs out of the system you install.


Double-check the correct spelling, address, and title of the prospect.  This is just a basic rule of thumb that can literally cause you great embarrassment and or loss of sales.  Don’t allow your mail to wander around a large company or be undeliverable due to poor investigative work on your part.

Knowing the rules isn’t enough.  You must commit to implementing as many as you can.  They will increase your sales and image with the client.  Fast cycle time reassures the client that you have effective systems and processes to meet their needs.

Need further proof?   One of our clients who enacted speed into his cycle time reported a 30% increase in sales this past year.  We have had hundreds of contractors experience similar results by simply speeding up their sales process.  Interesting also is the fact that many of these same contractors have admitted that the other areas of their company have improved.  Why?  Because when sales escalate, schedules become tighter and the amount of time between jobs is condensed.  And when there is less time between jobs your workers are forced to find more creative means to deliver a job on-time, at or below estimate, and a superior quality of the first time.

Speed is the name of the game for every contractor.  You don’t have speed you don’t have a future.  Speed demands that everyone “raises their game” to the next level of excellence.  Focus on making your entire sales process faster and you’ll not only raise your sales revenues this next year, you’ll also see a rise in margins that you can begin getting due to better cost controlling and job efficiency by your field crews.

Best of luck to speeding up your selling effort!