I recently took a job away from a low-ball competitor.

As an act of courtesy, the prospect behind the job in question called our office to let me know that, after considering several proposals, he’d made a decision: We weren't the company he was going to use to replace his roof.

I thanked him for the call and asked how I had fallen short.

Price and Value
It’s hard to hit a moving target, especially when it comes to regaining a lost sale. You want to isolate the single reason or reasons why the customer opted to go in another direction.

In this case, the customer chose to work with a competitor because they were a offering a 50-year shingle; ours was a 30-year proposal. He thought he was getting more value. We discussed the respective merits of the two products and how it was possible for the competitor to offer a 50-year shingle for less than a 30-year shingle.

I then posed a question: If I could deliver a better shingle—one that was verifiably superior based on third-party information—and provide it at the same price, you’d want that on your roof, wouldn't you?

He did.

Quality Not Quantity
I put a lot of time into people. I want to give myself enough time for each person. My staff snaps digital photos of every job and takes time to explain the scope of work involved and the product specs. This attention to detail is why people often feel bad when they decide not to do business with us.

This guy really wanted to use us, but he felt that he was getting a better deal across town. When I pointed out that it wasn’t a better deal, he changed his mind.

He didn’t have to call me to let me know that he’d decided to go with the other company. The reason that he did is because, at that point, we had a relationship. That relationship, and his phone call, provided the perfect opportunity for me to help him change his mind.

Maintaining the Pipeline
I talk to my pipeline every day. When you’re dealing with a bigger project—say $25,000 to $50,000—people do their homework. Every day I contact a potential customer to ask about where they are in their process. In fact, I got a call last night from a guy after I sent him a follow-up email. He explained that he was still working things out. From experience, I know that he reached out because I’m the last man standing. All of my competitors have given up and moved on—I win by default.

The real key to getting business is to follow-up. Customer courtesy, customer care, and building relationships is what gets you the sale. That’s not what we used to do in the old days. Sure, it’s more work. But a sale motivated by pressure is a single sale. A sale motivated by a trusting relationship generates years of additional business.

—Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at madamora@optonline.net