Frustrated Contractor

There’s a series of myths regularly commented in the media that Construction contractors earn easy money by working a a shorter day and having no commitment while hard-working salaried employees get on with the “real work”.

In our experience however, the facts are very different. Most independent specialist Contractors and other professionals work long hours, dedicated to helping their clients finish their project. They’re still often there early mornings and working into the night long after the “hard-working employees” have gone home.

Yet most earn less than they did in the corporate world. And many struggle to survive, and it’s not for lack of talent or hard work.

Commonly it’s because they’re not good at marketing and selling their services.

And often, that stems from “a series of myths” they have about marketing and sales that undermine their attempts to get new clients.

In my time I’ve seen 5 myths that stop contractors from growing and some particularly damaging beliefs that are commonly held by specialist contractors – such as lift engineers, Fire Alarms etc. – to name just a few. Beliefs that must be removed if you want to succeed at winning and retaining clients.

Myth No 1: “If I do good work, clients will hear about me”.

The painful truth is: no they won’t.

Unfortunately, good news doesn’t travel well. When research company TARP looked at word of mouth, they found that if you have a bad experience with a business then on average you’ll tell 12 people, and those 12 people will tell 6 more each. You’ve probably heard of similar facts before.

On the flip side however, – much less reported is that they also found that if you have a good experience with a business then on average you’ll tell just a couple of colleagues. And those colleagues won’t remember much, and won’t tell anyone else at all!

Furthermore the problem with relying on word of mouth is that as most people practice it, you’re reliant on the goodwill of others to generate leads for you.

If you want more clients? Well, you just have to hope you get more recommendations.

So while word of mouth is great – relying on it alone is a sure fire way to stop you from growing.

Myth No 2: “I just need to get my name out there”.

Painful truth: it won’t make any difference!

Having your name out there more, having more people know about you, just means you’re adding more noise to the constant barrage of promotional messages we all face every day.

“Getting your name out there” causes specialist contractors to pay for advertising, send out meaningless flyers, and hire SEO companies to generate traffic to poor uninspiring websites.

Unless you have a great marketing message that resonates with potential clients and that sets you apart from the myriad of other specialist contractors clamouring for attention, then getting your name out there is a waste of time and money.

Myth No 3: “I can copy what others are succeeding with”.

The painful truth: it might be working for them, that doesn’t mean it will work for you.

We are constantly overwhelmed with opportunities and information. Every day we see other contractors “pushing it” with webinars, events, product launches, direct mail, networking, social media…

And it’s really easy to become distracted – to try and copy all the things other contractors or consultants (who always seem smaller and less experienced than us, but are more successful) are doing.

However by doing this we’ll constantly hop from one strategy to another. Always following and copying the latest technique or method we’ve heard about and never mastered any of them.

And to make it worse still, just because networking or social media or direct mail worked for one of your competitors or someone you saw speaking at an event doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Your client types are different. Your knowledge, experience and skills are different from theirs.

You have to find your own path. Yes learn from others, but find the things that work for your business – your specialism. Then focus on them and become really good at them.

Myth No 4: “I haven’t got the time for marketing”.

Painful truth: if you don’t market, you’ll soon have too much time on your hands!

Not having the time for marketing sounds ridiculous when you say it – but I hear it almost daily again and again.

You don’t need to find the time for marketing – you must make the time and set 1 hour a day to do just that

We recommend small firms and specialist contractors that they should be spending between 10 – 20% of their time on marketing and business development. More in the early stages of their business.

If you can’t make that time, then you’ve either got your priorities wrong, or (if you need to be billing for 80%+ of the time to make ends meet) you’ve got your financial model seriously wrong.

Most Commonly, the problem is that people avoid marketing because they don’t feel competent or comfortable with it they don’t have the desire, skills, knowledge or training, and unlike the area where you are an expert, it holds out the terrible potential for failure and rejection.

If you really want to be successful in your’e business you’ve got to get over this, and you’ve got to get over this yourself. You’ve got to book the time, take a big breath and get your marketing done.

Myth No 5: “I’m not a natural salesperson”.

Painful truth: almost no one is a natural salesperson. However it doesn’t stop them from doing it, and it shouldn’t stop you.

For some reason, many of us seem to have acquired this belief that natural salespeople have the gift of the gab and can “sell snow to the Eskimos”. So we look at people who are good at selling and we assume we could never be like that and feel overwhelmed, and therefore don’t do it for fear of “cocking it up”

However when we look at people who are good at selling, the fact is we’re seeing the finished article. The product of years of formal experience and training. They didn’t start off that way and weren’t natural.

Yes of course, there are some skills like listening, empathising, making friends and being friendly and sociable that some people seem to be naturally good at or pick up at an early age. But those are skills that can be learnt by you too. Along with the more structured skills involved in selling.

And we don’t need to have perfected our skills to still have success with them. Most people see significant improvements in their success rate winning clients just by learning and following a simple, structured sales process.