Just the other day someone sent me a scanned, hand-written fax, and I felt like I’d just received a telegram. 

We don’t have a fax machine. We don’t have filing cabinets. Selling is paperless. And homeowners love it.

Tools of the Trade

Today, here’s what I take on a sales call: a laptop, a hotspot—i.e., portable Wi-Fi—an iPhone, an iPad, and an extra battery. I have all the information I need, or the tools to collect any additional information; an office isn’t required. I can literally work out of my car. If I need an office, there’s Starbucks or Panera. I’m a frequent flier there. I can get something to eat and you can’t beat the rent. If I have to have a physical office, I’ll use Regus, a company that offers ready-to-use offices on a daily, weekly, or annual basis. Regus has all the amenities, including vending machines and free coffee.

Today, for instance, I’m meeting a client at Panera about a $50,000 fiber-cement siding and trim job. It’s our third meeting, the one to move the project forward, and the client, who works in Manhattan, doesn’t have time to drive all the way back to his house in suburban Jersey. 

Old Days, Old Ways

I think of selling as pre-recession and post-recession. Pre-recession I sold in one call. In 2008, we began the shift to a multi-step system. In 2009, we started using design software in the sales process. 

Here’s how that works. MarketSharp loads all the prospect data and generates the appointment. Before the appointment, the prospect receives an email with my photo as well as links to Angie’s List, our Facebook page, and manufacturer websites. I go to the house to meet the prospect and to gather the information I need to create a proposal. I take a picture with my iPad or iPhone. I use Roofing Estimator Pro software and Pictometry to calculate labor and materials. If there’s a foot of snow on the roof, it’s always sunny and 72 degrees with Pictometry. I don’t need to be on the roof, I only need to know its features, slope, and dimensions.

While I’m at the house, I make a second appointment. I prepare a proposal for roofing, siding, windows, or doors using our design software program. It allows me to change colors, features, even details such as where windows are located. I show up for the second appointment and unveil the design. And because the homeowner is right there, looking at it, he can pick colors or change details. 

Tech’s the Thing

All of the jobs I sell are combination jobs. Say the homeowner wants siding. When I create the design, I never design just for siding. I put in roofing. I add new windows and a door. I do everything. And there hasn’t been one instance where I wasn’t able to sell at least one other product. When you show the prospect their house in this way, they start to take ownership of the project. 

I can show you beauty shots from manufacturers or before-and-after pictures of jobs I’ve done, but it’s still not the place where they live. 

Technology has changed the way we sell. Gone are the days of the “company story”—who needs it when all that information is already out there and available online? 

Today’s Tools 

lf you streamline your old pitch book sales presentation and spend more quality time with the prospect, you become less the salesperson, more the expert. The key: You have to be good at using them. And like finding your way to Carnegie Hall, all it takes is practice.