sales strategy

A Sales Strategy for Tradies

Knowing a bit about small business marketing and your Sales Strategy is a must for any Tradie. Tradesmen and women are no different than any other small business in the country. They generally love what they do, but the myriad of other things that have to be done when running a business get in the way of actually doing what we started the business for in the first place. Things like Bookkeeping, Tax Planning and watching the cashflow of the business are important to its longevity. One of those is having to sell ourselves. Call it sales, tendering, quoting for jobs, winning business or any other name you like, at the end of the day it is selling the reason why you should get the business over your competition.

A common gripe I hear from tradies who run their own business is: I have put in a long and hard day’s work, and now I have to get changed, make sure I don’ stink and go and do a quote. Then I have to go home and do the paperwork, follow up customers, phone the next days job etc etc etc. If only there were a better way so I could just do what I do best.

Well, let me help you firstly with the sales side of things so you have more time to spend on all the other crap, and secondly how to win more of the jobs you quote so you have more money coming in and less quotes to do.

Breaking down Sales Strategy

In actual fact, small business marketing and your Sales Strategy overlap in a big way.

Let me break this down for you so you have a more efficient approach to your sales and marketing activities.

  1. Do you have a specific sales strategy, or like most people do you just go through your process and play the numbers game?
  2. Do you qualify the work to be done (and the customer) before you jump in your van and go and waste your time?
  3. Are you professional in your activities and interaction with customers?
  4. Are your quotes well-presented or are hey scrawled on the back of an old invoice with a mud laden pencil?
  5. Do you follow up your quotes?
  6. Have you stopped and thought why it is your prospect (potential customer) should choose you?

While there are many more questions to consider, these 6 will get you started on the road to more sales in less time. More than that, if you address them properly you will get more repeat business and referrals from your customers – that is if you ask them of course.

Let’s address them in the number order.

Your sales strategy

Don’t just sell / quote out of a routine without knowing what you do and why you do it. Here is one of the places that small business marketing ties in with your Sales Strategy.

Here is an example I’m sure all tradies will understand.

If I am asking you for a 6mm drill bit, what is it I’m wanting? ………. A 6mm hole. So, do you just quote the customer for a 6mm hole, or do you find out why they want the hole in the first place and address that issue. Now you’re getting to the real wants and needs of the customer.

Sales isn’t about giving the customer what they ask for, it‘s about finding out what their motivation is behind it all.

  • So what are their “6mm holes” you are there to attend to?
  • Why do they want it?
  • What is the problem you are going to solve for them?

Talk to your customer in these contexts and you have a much better chance of winning the job. In fact I would suggest you are not a plumber, or a sparky, or an air con tech, or a brickie, a concreter, a tiler, a plasterer, or whatever your trade is.

YOU ARE a problem solver! So solve your customers problems in a way that changes their emotion from frustration, anger, fear and annoyance, to one of hope, satisfaction, relief and happiness – this is where you win the business.

Why are you there in the first place?

  • Is this the type of job you want?
  • (remember a small job done well today can lead to a big job tomorrow)
  • Is this the type of customer you want to deal with?

Now you may not find that out until it’s too late, but if you get the feeling, they will be difficult then walk away. It’s often not worth the trouble. But qualify the job first before you book the visit /quote. Have some standard questions you ask to determine as much as you can if this is the job you want. You won’t always determine it before you get there, but you will eliminate enough to save your valuable time, to quote ion the ones you do want.

Being professional

Well I could write a book for you on this one. But I’m sure if we stop and think about it for a while, we can all come up with a reasonable set of answers. The fact is that professionalism is the foundation of your Sales Strategy, which in turn leads to more sales.

The word professional has a few contexts here, and we certainly know the first context, which is our ability to do our job well and use our skills with excellence. The context that we don’t often think about is the one the customer wants and expects.

This one goes beyond their expectation of you being good at what you do, that is a given. This is HOW you do what you do. Do you talk to and quote your customer from your perspective, or do you talk from their perspective? Remember your customer doesn’t’ speak your language, nor understand your acronyms or terminology.  Learn to communicate to their world and what they might be experiencing – this is being customer professional.

I want to add one thing here that annoys…… no, infuriates every customer in Australia that trades just don’t seem to care about.


Sorry for shouting, but you really need to get how infuriating this is for your customer who has taken time off work, changed their plans to fit your schedule etc, and you don’t even bother to turn up!!!!!~ What the ****. Please, if you can’t make it or are going to be late, then call the customer and let them know. Isn’t that just common courtesy? When you think about it, if you have caused the customer this much frustration by not doing what you say you will, haven’t you just lost the job anyway? So be professional and communicate with your customer and put yourself in their shoes. Show them you really do what and deserve their business.

How do you present your quotes?

Your quotes are also a big part of your Sales Strategy. In fact if you create them right they will help the sales process along as well!

Is it laid out or written so it’s easy to understand and know what is being stated?  Again, talk in their language not yours and keep it relatable. If there are contingencies you need to allow for, then make it clear with a reasonable expectation of what that might be.

Don’t assume the customer knows what you are saying, make sure so there is no confusion. If something bites you in the bum while you do the job, you have already had this discussion with the customer and hey won’t need to jump up and down. This is what wins referrals. Anyone can do a good job! It is how you deal with the problems and unforeseen things that happen that will win favour, and referrals.

Follow up your quotes.

Here is a sales principle for you to follow.

“30% -50% of business goes to the person who follow up first.” 

So, follow up straight away by way of a quick email when you get home, thanking them for the opportunity to solve their problem and you look forward to hearing from them soon.

That’s it, job done. Did you know that over 60% of tradies don’t even follow up at all! That means all you have to do is “be professional” and the job is yours 60% of the time. As consumers in Australia, sadly we have the expectation that all tradies are the same and just can’t communicate and don’t really care. Surprise your customers by showing them you are different and see how much more business you win.

The more you follow up the more successful your Sales Strategy will be.

This is an overview of the first 5 points.

Stop and think why it is a customer would want to do business with you? You need to realise what their world looks like, and act, relate and communicate accordingly. Stand out from your competition by being professional in both contexts, solve the customers problems, and take them from a negative emotion to a positive one, and you will win more than you can probably handle.

A quick personal story about an interaction with a tradie.  I’m sure I’m not the only customer who has responded this way, or at least wanted to.

I had the need for a plumber for a reasonably easy job that he could have done in a few hours and fitted in when it suited. He arrived over an hour late without a courtesy call.

As I often work from my home office, I saw him arrive and get out of his van which had a rather large hole in the side which had obviously been there for a while as it was quite rusty.  He had a torn pair of overalls, boots that were muddy with shoe laces that were well past their use by date and falling apart, and a baseball cap that looked like it had been run over 45 times and was just managing to stay on his head.  Armed with a dirty clipboard with paper hanging off it and all dog eared, he made his way to the front door and banged away as if there were 40 rampaging bulls about to bust through my house. I opened the screen door and as he started to speak, I politely stopped him and interrupted with the following.

     “I’m very sorry mate but you can’t come in and you may as well turn around and leave now. Looking very bemused he asked why. I said, again as politely as I could, if you can’t look after your own property, and are happy to walk mud through my house, why would I think you would look after my property? “

Better Sales Strategy Could have Save him!

Now I may well have missed out on the best tradie in the neighbourhood doing my job, but would you take that risk based on what was presented to you? If he had stopped and thought about what my customer experience needed to look like, and was professional in that context, he would have got that job, many more and lots of referrals as well.

Sales Strategy

These tips are more about how you do things than what you do. It is about treating customers with respect and think about how you would like to be treated. Answer these 6 points and have a strategy to deliver on all fronts and you will make life a lot easier for yourself,  and start to enjoy doing your chosen vocation much more as well.

If you want to get some help implementing the knowledge here feel free to call me about my Core+Selling solution. It’s a Sales Strategy designed for you and your business to improve your customer experience.

Good luck, and remember to put yourself in your customer shoes.

Cheers for now, Bruce Bowen 

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