Closing Sales: The 3×3 Formula
Today’s blog is based on a tip from Josh from Tennessee. We’re going to talk about the 3×3 strategy for follow-ups.
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The light of my life is my daughter, Silvia. She’s cute and tiny. I’m gregarious and extroverted, and her mother is rather reserved and introverted. We’re both short, wee folks. Silvia takes after me. She’s outgoing and persistent. She doesn’t let anything go.
The moment I get home every day, Silvia says, “Daddy, can I have an airplane ride?” This is where I put her down on the ground. She says, “Contact”, like an old biplane. I make her say it several times to start the engine. Then, I pick her up, and we run around the house until she runs out of gas and falls onto the bed. I’m a big comic book guy, so we watch a lot of old Marvel and DC cartoons. She loves superheroes (or loves watching them with her dad), so we also do an Iron Man version, where she flies around like Tony Stark.
Sometimes, though, I’m tired when I come home. I want to unpack – just five minutes to settle in and collect myself. On these days, I hear, “Daddy, what about in five minutes? Are you ready now? Daddy, will you come in here?” She does this persistently three or four times within 10 minutes, and I always relent.
There’s a proverb in the Bible about the persistent widow. She appealed to a judge who wasn’t very righteous. She wasn’t that extraordinary, and he wasn’t interested in giving her justice. He gave in, though, because she had continuous, unrelenting questions and requests for justice. He wanted to get rid of her.
I don’t give Sylvia justice to get rid of her; it’s because I love spending time with her. She always gets what she wants as long as it’s safe and she’s showing respect in our home.
The Problem with Follow-Ups
There’s a big place where painting contractors fall down in the sales process, and we can learn how to fix it from Sylvia. We have to follow up. I’ve had an opportunity to do about 350 business studies with painting contractors. We’ve done in-depth sales assessments as part of this Painter’s Weekly segment. Follow-up is in shambles. It’s BAD. It’s not just bad because there’s money left on the table. It looks past how people buy. G Capital does a study of what they call a major household purchase: think Best Buy or Ashley Home Furniture. When people buy something from these places, it’s a $200-$700 sale. But the thing is – these aren’t impulse buys. From the time a person initially thinks about making a purchase until the time they actually purchase is about 13 months. That’s forever in this “instant gratification” digital age!
Let’s compare: when you go out and write a painting estimate, the average is more like $3,000 to $3,500. That’s 500-600% more than what G Capital calls a major household purchase. But, we write an estimate, and if someone doesn’t buy right away, we call them a tire kicker. Sometimes, we call them a couple of times, but we still call them a tire kicker and move on. But we need to start thinking about this more. People take a long time to make big purchasing decisions. The strategy we’re talking about today can help you make sure you’re there when the person is ready to buy. You’ve already spent money on the lead to go out and look at it. You have time invested. You need to turn this thing into cash, right?
What’s the 3×3 Strategy?
So how do you do that? How do you turn more of those estimates into jobs?
Let’s talk about the 3×3 strategy. When you follow up, start with a phone call. You’re already doing that, right?
However, you shouldn’t stop there. Let’s assume you don’t get them and have to leave a message. Follow up with an email. Immediately. Do this even if you did get them on the phone, and they didn’t make a decision. Keep your emails templated, so all you have to do is copy and paste.
Now, I’m going to ask you to do one other thing that you might not typically do. You might think it’s old-fashioned, but it works exceedingly well. Drop a postcard in the mail. You need to premake these postcards: one for if you talk to someone and one for if you don’t talk to them. Make them yourself, or have a marketing specialist do it for you. Have them preprinted and precut. Keep them on your desk.
Every time you leave a phone message, send an email, and then drop a note card in the mail. Why? Because no one else takes the time to do it. Your potential customer will perceive you as the only person who really wants their business. I’ll suggest an addition, and Josh backs me up on this: 90 days later, if you still haven’t been able to close the sale, use the same strategy again. Why? Again, we’re going to the Capital G study. If people take 13 months to make a decision on a smaller purchase, think about how much longer they may take for your larger transaction size.
Be there when that person is ready to buy. Go back for the last 90 days. When you’ve finally given up on a potential client, go into your dead estimate file, and walk through this strategy again. Call them, email them, and send them a postcard. My recommendation is that you do this three times for a total of nine contacts before you give up on them. That’s a total of three voicemails, three emails, and three postcards.
Sometimes people give you hope. They may say, “We’ll probably do it in September.” Give them a rest, and follow up again on their timetable. If a person never, ever, ever gets back with you at all, I would still make nine points of contact. Most of the time, people don’t want to just say, “No.”. They want to call you when they’re ready (not when you’re ready) and say, “Yes.”
When you’re at the end of your rope, wait 90 days. Circle back.
Does the 3×3 Strategy Work?
I’ll tell you what this did in my business. We wrote 25-30 estimates a week. I had Tuesdays and Thursdays scheduled for follow-ups, and I used this strategy.
I designed a tracking sheet to use for the estimates. Every time I called through the estimates, I made money. On the second pass, I made money. On the third pass, I made money.
After 90 days, we took all our estimates, sometimes for the entire calendar year, and we ran through the strategy again. Without exception, someone on the list would pop up and say, “I’m ready to buy.” It took so little effort and so little money on our part to just go ahead and get a return on investment. We had already purchased the lead, generated the lead, and the estimator had already used time, gas, and vehicle wear and tear to run the estimate. This strategy is much less expensive than doing all that again with a different prospective customer.
I hope this tip is helpful for you. I know that it will make you money. Don’t follow up weakly. If you’ve only been using one medium for follow-up, or not following up at all, or you stop after two or three touches, change that. Be very specific in how you follow up. Include what you say, how many mediums you use, and how many times you’re willing to reach out before you call someone a “dead” estimate. Do you have other ways to get people to call you back? Maybe you incorporate texting? Maybe you have a twist on one of the mediums we discussed? Share those with us in the comments. Let us share your follow-up techniques that work with other Painters Weekly subscribers.