Hey, hey, hey welcome and today I want discuss Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential election, the border wall, and running a roofing company. Yep, no joke and I can guarantee you I am stone cold sober as I write this!
Now here is the thing, I am totally like Michael Jordan and while I do live in North Carolina I am not nearly as rich, good looking, and can only dunk on one of those little kid basketball hoop I never mix business and politics, so this article isn’t about that. I’m not here to talk about my political opinions or anything like that. I am all about business, and fully acknowledge I want to do business with everyone that would be a good fit be they conservative or liberal.
So while this article does discuss Donald Trump, the election, and immigration, it’s not a political article and I’m not discussing any of my political views. Instead, we’re talking about these things as they relate to marketing and sales.
And what is marketing and sales, if not persuasion? Marketing and sales are persuading other people to voluntarily give you their money in exchange for your product or service. And over the last year I’ve been reading a lot about persuasion.
I’ve been obsessed with persuasion since I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and recently I finished Win Bigly by Scott Adams. I strongly recommend both books to all fellow business owners. Adams has a great article on his blog where he uses the immigration and border wall issue to highlight President Trump’s persuasion skills. Adams explains several of the most common and effective persuasion tactics in the article. And it is a fascinating and concise read.
Persuasion in the Roofing Business
Several of the persuasion tactics that Trump uses are directly connected to success in the roofing industry. As Scott Adams says, Donald Trump is a Master Persuader, and if Donald Trump ran a roofing company, I believe he would use the following persuasion tactics. And if you want more sales, new installs, and revenue, you should too.
Visual persuasion is the most effective form of influence. Trump didn’t talk about statistics, border security, or a multifaceted policy approach, instead he talked about the wall.
Use descriptive, visual language in your website copy, ad copy, social media, during in-person estimates, and when you’re on the phone with potential roofing customers. The goal is to paint the picture of your professional, reliable roofing company in their heads. Talk about things that can be visualized. Instead of saying we are “professional” roofers (which isn’t visual and means nothing), talk about singles, your roofing warranty, your strong employees. ABC stands for Always Be Closing. ABV stands for Always Be Visual. Talk in a visual way with your potential customers.
Simplicity is a key persuasion tactic. Simple beats complex every time. Thing about how Trump talks and communicates with voters. He doesn’t breakdown complex, comprehensive immigration tactics that will make up overall border security, instead, he says build the wall. When it comes to terrorism, he doesn’t talk about troop levels, timelines, or use terms like counter insurgency, instead he says bomb the shit out of ISIS. When it comes to trade strategy, he doesn’t usually talk about exact tariff percentages and domestic joint venture requirements, instead he says we’re being ripped off. People can argue the merits of his policy positions all day long, but the fact is that the way he communicates to his voters is simple, highly memorable, and persuasive.
You should be simple in your marketing. Instead of talking about how complex the logistics of the roofing business are, and how your company uses satellite technology to accurately estimate jobs, and that your crew cleans up after every job, you should just discuss quality workmanship done right the first time. Instead of giving detailed breakdowns of all the different types of roofing materials you install and what kind of work goes into the roofs, you should just say no roof is too big or too small. Instead of talking about your customer service standards and solid reputation, just say over 200 5-star reviews (assuming you have them). Simple is memorable, and memorable is persuasive. Be simple with your advertising and messaging.
Think Past the Sale
Trump got everyone thinking past the sale on the border issue. Instead of both sides debating if we even needed more border security in the first place, we all jumped straight into debating the merits of the wall, whether it should be called a wall or fencing, and how much budget to allocate to a border structure. Trump talked past the sale of more border security, and everyone on both sides went right along with him.
To translate this to the roofing business, get the customer talking and thinking as if they’ve already hired you. Instead of saying would you like to hire us or what do you think, say what day would you like to schedule your new roof installation for or what time should our roofers show up. The sale is getting the customer to hire you, so assume the sale, and get the customer to think past the sale. We’re no longer considering whether or not the customer should hire you, we’ve all moved on to what time your roofers should show up, or how many singles you’ll provide, or what day to schedule the install. Think past the sale, and your prospective customers will too.
Trading Imaginary Assets for Real Ones
In the DACA for the wall grand deal that Trump wants to make with Democrats, Trump is trading protecting Dreamers in exchange for the wall. Protecting dreamers is an imaginary asset. As Adams points out, there’s no political will for Dreamers to be rounded up and sent back to countries they last saw as little children. Democrats and most Republicans don’t want that to happen, so it’s not going to happen. So Trump “giving that up” is him giving up an imaginary asset in exchange for a real one… getting the wall.
This is classic roofing company sales 101 stuff. Give up something that doesn’t matter to you, in exchange for winning the customer’s business. If you go ahead and schedule today we’ll knock off 15% from your new roof (that we’re already quoting 15% higher than we expect to get most times). Or we’ll throw in free dumpster rental when you hire us to re-roof your house for you (we couldn’t care less about the cost of dumpster rental, we want the real win of you hiring us for a massive, high-revenue roofing job). Or we provide all of our customers with a “12 month roof inspection and gutter cleaning service (this is nothing to us, we want the $3,000 average profit we make on every job, so we want the overall new install job and would be happy to pay the extra labor costs of sending someone out to clean their gutters a couple of times in the next year).
Pacing and Leading
Trump paced and led his base. He understood their frustration about illegal immigration and let them know he “got them” by talking about large amounts of deportations and other hardline but probably not feasible positions on immigration. This told his base that he felt their pain, and he earned their trust. Then, when it’s time to make deals and let Dreamers stay in exchange for the wall, his base trusted him and was open to a deal since their guy was the one making the deal.
As Adams writes, pacing refers to matching someone physically, verbally, or in terms of philosophy, and I would also include emotionally. And when people are paced and think you are just like them, they are more malleable and open to being persuaded. When they’re paced, they melt like butter on toast.
In the roofing business, pace how your customers think and talk about the process of roofing and dealing with roofing companies. In your advertising, website copy, and conversations with customers, say things like we know how stressful re-roofing can be, this is one of the biggest events in your life, most roofing companies are unreliable and unprofessional, it’s hard to find a good roofer, and roofing prices can be expensive.
Pace with your roofing customers and show them you understand them, show them you understand how stressful and difficult roofing can be, and how hard it is to find a good roofing company. And then once you pace with them, lead them. We take the stress out of roofing day, no re-roofing installation is easy but we make it as smooth as possible, honest up-front pricing, we’re always on time, all of our roofers are certified and a team captain with at least 5 years of roofing experience is on every job, etc. Match their stresses and frustrations about roofing and working with roofing companies, and then lead them and persuade them that you’ll take that stress away and you’re the most reliable, trustworthy, and skilled roofing company that they’ll ever find.
High Ground Maneuver
The high ground maneuver is taking arguing parties out of the details and out of the weeds and getting them to agree to your high-level principle. Trump does this with diplomacy all the time. Whenever he wants to go negotiate and talk with a dictator his opponeants will lose their minds. The media, Democrats, and some Republicans will start talking about how evil those dictators are, they’ll discuss in detail the bad things those dictators have done, and they’ll be upset that Trump is talking to them. But then Trump will come back with messaging like talking to everyone is a good thing, diplomacy is a good thing, and it’s better to talk with these countries than to be at war with them. Trump takes the argument to the high ground that everyone agrees on… diplomacy is a good thing, and yes, talking with people is always better than being at war. And once we’re at the high ground, it’s hard to go back down and argue about the details of what each dictator has done and how we shouldn’t be talking to them.
Use the high ground maneuver with your customers when it comes to pricing. Pricing is a big challenge for licensed roofing companies because of the lack of barriers to entry to get into the business. All anyone needs to start a “roofing business” is a few guys, some tools, as ladder, and a truck, so new companies are entering the market all the time. They come into the market, charge a low, non-sustainable rate to attract new business, and it depresses prices for real, solid actual roofing companies that deserve to charge premium prices. One way to deal with customers’ objections to your prices that are probably higher than they’re being quoted by those small, basically not-real companies, is to use the high ground maneuver.
Talk about all the things that go into a job, tear-offs, materials, safety, disposal of old materials, costs, labor, insurance, etc. and get them to agree that a professionally installed roof is a really important Get them to agree to the high level concept that roofing is a big deal, you get what you pay for, and securing a roofing installation with a reputable, high-performing roofing company is worth the cost, given how important a new roof to their family and property and all of the things that can go wrong if they hire the fly-by-night company. Once they meet you at the high ground, your prices will seem not only more reasonable, but also assuring, comforting, and required.
The Roofing Business Is the Persuasion Business
You’re competing with a lot of roofing companies in your city. From the flies on the wall, to the biggest franchises in town, there’s competition everywhere you look. You can compete on price, you can compete on service, you can compete on brand, and those strategies will always work for some pf the time, but everyone else competes on those factors as well, and eventually they will catch up. The smarter way to do it, is to become a Master Persuader, rise above your competition, and play the game on an entirely different level.
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