This month, the Construction Innovation Alliance is talking about preselling services. We will
be breaking the conversation down into four pieces:
- preselling to potential future customers,
- preselling to past customers,
- tips for effective preselling,
- resources that can help you with preselling.
This week we are talking about preselling to future customers so let’s get started!
Preselling is the process of changing future customers behaviour to think of your business
before they have a need to purchase a product or service you provide. However, I like to think of
preselling in terms of building relationships to get the first sale and maintaining relationships to
get repeat sales.
Building relationships requires gaining trust and providing value. Potential future customers,
PFCs, prospects, tirekickers, whatever you want to call them, are people looking to educate
themselves before making a decision to purchase. The greatest value you can give them is
to provide the information they are looking for without pushing them to purchase right away.
Providing information and not pushing for a sale right away build trust with potential future
customers because you are giving them something without attaching strings and are implying
that you trust them to make the right decision for themselves.
So what information are potential future customers looking for? This is a great question, and the
answer will vary slightly depending upon who your business sells to. Factors that can influence
this answer include whether your business sells B2B or B2C, what industry your business
is in, how large your business is, and how well known you and your business are. However,
PFCs generally want you to get to know you and your company as part of their decision making
Getting to know you and your company will go beyond answering the basic:
1) Who are you?
2) What do you do?
3) How is your product or service different from your competitors?
Although you should absolutely answer the previous questions, you can also use pictures,
videos, and instructional guides to show potential future customers what you mean. Looking
at residential construction as an example, many homeowners may think that they have “loose
brick” but they may not know if they need a repair. So if your masonry company offers repointing
services, it might be a good idea to have images that show PFCs what does and does not
constitute loose brick and maybe a short video that explains how the homeowner can determine
whether or not they have loose brick. This information alone can set you apart from your
competitors by providing value and engendering trust.
You should also provide PFCs with information that tells them what it’s like to work with
your company, and then show them the truth of what you just told them. For example, many
contractors talk about, “making the customer a partner in the process(,delete)” but then don’t
provide testimonials or case studies that feature past customers explaining how they were
partners in the process. This tells PFCs what it’s like to work with the contractor but, it doesn’t
show PFCs what its like to work with the contractor from a customer’s perspective.
Right now some of you are thinking, “why would I give away all this valuable information for
free? What do I get out of it?” The answer is the contact information of PFCs and a good idea of
what work PFC’s need done. Simply put, PFCs are literally telling you what to sell them and how
to contact them! Now, the new anti-spam legislation in Canada introduced a lot of uncertainty
around who business(plural?) can and cannot send emails to. So when you are collecting PFC’s
contact information be very clear about why you are asking for it, what you would like their
permission to do with it, and if you can contact them in the future. Please refer to the CRTC
guidelines if you have specific questions.
To summarize: Preselling is the process of changing future customers behaviour to think of your
business before they have a need to purchase a product or service you provide. Thinking of
preselling to PFCs in terms of relationship building narrows the goals of your preselling efforts to
gaining trust and providing value. To gain trust and provide value to PFCs you need to educate
them about you, your company, and the work your company does. Let them get to know you a
bit, show them what it’s like to work with you, ask for their consent to contact them, and follow
up with more focussed information.
Tune in next week when we discuss preselling to existing customers, and please leave your
comments and questions below. Good luck out there!