Is It Hard To Sell a Roof?
Quick Answer: Depends on who you are! For most people, the answer is, “Yes, it’s hard to sell roofs.” In fact, many people quit, especially 1099 independent contractors, before they sell a single roof.
I don’t have the scientific studies to back up this claim because there’s no consolidated pool of reliable information, but years of anecdotal evidence collected while working with hundreds of roofing companies suggests 9 out of 10 roofing salespeople quit within their first three months of work.
So, is it hard to sell a roof?
Yes, for most people, it’s hard to sell a roof.
What Makes It Hard?
The two biggest reasons why it’s hard to sell a roof are wrong motives and unrealistic expectations.
If your primary motive for getting into roofing sales is to have more freedom, you’ve got the wrong motive. Sure, you’ll have more freedom, but most people use that freedom to work less, and this is a job where you’ll need to work more, especially when you’re first getting started.
If you think you’re going to make bank right away, your expectations are unrealistic. It takes time, more time than you think you’ll need, to start collecting final checks. For most people, they need a good, solid year of roofing sales experience before they feel comfortable.
Can you do it faster? Maybe you can, most people don’t.
Little Sales Training
When I started writing articles here on RoofingSalesman.com, back in December of 2010, there was almost no roofing sales training available online.
Today, I’m proud to say, there’s several excellent trainers freely sharing their amazing insight and wisdom. Guys like my friends, Adam Bensman and Deshaun Bryant, are kicking out incredible sales training content just about every week… and it’s all free on YouTube. You would be hard-pressed to find better roofing sales training anywhere else in the world.
Back in the 90’s, you were super lucky to get a day or two of training and a few ride-along sessions with an experienced salesperson. After a few days, they handed you a stack of blank contracts with a few ink jet business cards and said, “Go get ’em!”
There’s so much good information available now… maybe access to sales training isn’t the problem after all.
The Real Problem
There was a time in America when smart, successful men believed the reason why people weren’t more successful was because they didn’t have access to good information.
Men like Andrew Carnegie in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s invested large chunks of their vast fortunes building libraries all over the world to make good information accessible to everyone. Almost 1,700 libraries were built in the United States alone.
That should have solved the problem, but it didn’t.
Even though all the information you need to be successful is available in your local library, only a small percentage of people will go and get the information. An even smaller percentage of those people will put the information they got into action once they go and get it.
It’s even worse now that everything you could ever want to know about anything is available for free on the internet.
The real problem is all the information you need to be successful is available to you, but you won’t go and get it, much less put it into action.
Hey, the fact you’re still reading these words right now puts you in a small, tiny minority of people who go and get the information.
Maybe there’s hope for you after all. Maybe.
Listen to me Company Owners: If they don’t want to go and get it when it’s free on the internet, they don’t really want it when you’re shoving it down their throats in a sales meeting. My free advice for you is to quit working with people who don’t really want it. Quit being so hard on yourself. It’s not you; it’s them. When you get better, they’ll get better.
Fear of Rejection
If you don’t want it, you’ll have a hard time facing rejection all day long, every day, for the rest of your life.
People aren’t sitting at home hoping a salesperson will come knock on their door. You’re probably the last person they want to see.
You may have sales experience, but if all your prospects came to you (e.g. car lot, cell phones, retail, etc.), it’s a totally different ball game when you have to go to them. Before you take that roofing sales job, you better understand how much rejection you’ll face on a daily basis, especially when you’re first getting started.
Don’t like rejection?
There’s only one way to solve that problem… get good at selling.
Listen to me Company Owners: Throw your new recruits out into the water. Sink or Swim! If they can swim, invest in them. Spend your time, money, and energy on the swimmers. If they can’t swim, get rid of them before they pull you under, too.
I know you’re good at talking.
Are you good at shutting up? 😉
Are you good at getting your prospect talking?
Are you good at listening to what they’re saying?
Are you good at selling them what they want to buy, not what you want to sell?
Talking is important, especially when it comes time to talk, but so is not talking.
You’ll make more mistakes saying the wrong thing at the wrong time than you’ll make keeping your mouth closed.
When in doubt, ask another question to get your prospect talking. Only when it’s absolutely necessary for you to say something, and you know what to say, should you start talking again.
Listen to me Company Owners: If they don’t recognize they’re in the presence of someone who can teach them something long enough to stop talking when they’re around you, they’re not doing any better when they’re out in the field, wearing your logo on their shirt and cap, talking to your prospects.
Lack of Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
Some people have that ability, some people don’t. That’s why they call it an ability.
You can sell a few roofs by plowing over people, especially insecure people, but once all the insecure people get hard closed, everyone else wants to feel like you understand them before they buy from you. If you’re not very good at understanding other people’s feelings, you’re not going to be very good at selling roofs.
When people become nothing more than dollar signs, you’ve got “Commission Breath.” Meaning, the more you want the sale, the more your prospect feels you want the sale, the less likely you are to make the sale. Trust me, they aren’t excited about needing a new roof, not nearly as excited as you are most of the time.
Show some empathy!
Take the time to help them feel like you understand what they’re feeling.
It’s hard to sell a roof when you’re trying to sell roofs in all the same places everyone else is selling roofs.
The difference between success and failure in roofing sales sometimes comes down to something as simple location.
They say the three rules of real estate success are: location, location, location. It’s true for roofing sales, too. The last thing you want to do is sell where everyone else is selling. Go find a place where you don’t have any competition and everyone wants what you’re selling.
Length of Time to Get Paid
I’ll tell you what a manager told me a long time ago, “It would be good if you had another source of income while you’re learning how to sell.”
If you don’t have any money coming in, and you’re close to broke now, roofing sales is going to get really hard, really fast. Most of the time, you won’t get paid until the company gets paid. You won’t get a check until the last check from your customer clears the bank.
If you sell a roof today, especially an insurance claim, it could take 90-120 days before you’re paid in full, maybe longer. Retail sales and financing jobs get paid faster, but they still take time.
- Maybe you can find a company that does paid training (hard to find).
- Maybe you can find a company that pays a salary (even harder to find).
- Maybe you better have some money in savings.
Your best bet is to have another source of income, or savings, and work with a company that pays out a draw against future commissions.
A draw is when you get paid a little money up-front, usually 4% to 5% of the total contract, for signing a deal and collecting a deposit. Your draw gets paid back when your final commissions are calculated after you’ve collected the final check from your customer.
Listen to me Company Owners: If you’re handing out free money, a large percent of your money is never coming back to you. Remember, 9 out of 10 fail. It’s safe to say, 90% of the money you give away, with no strings attached, is gone forever.
Draws are safer than paying for training. Paying for training is safer than paying a salary. Paying a salary is only as safe as your ability to quickly let someone go when you find out they can’t “swim.”
Introvert vs Extrovert
I think this whole Introvert vs Extrovert thing is bull crap.
Both personalities have their own unique challenges. For instance, an Introvert is more likely to struggle with rejection. An Extrovert has problems learning how to be quiet.
I have trained multi-million dollar salespeople from both personality types. If anything, I actually know more Introverts who kill it in sales than Extroverts, but they can both do extremely well.
Personally, I’m naturally an Introvert who learned how to appreciate the advantages of behaving like an Extrovert, especially while coaching, consulting, and mentoring my private clients.
If you’re an Introvert, there’s a real sales advantage you’ll have from learning when and how to behave like an Extrovert. If you’re an Extrovert, same is true for you. Understanding how to behave like an Introvert will help you increase your sales.
It’s hard to sell roofs when you can only sell the people who are exactly like you… there’s not many like you out there.
The mark of a true professional salesperson is how many different types of people they can sell.
Introverts and Extroverts are just the tip of the iceberg.
So, is it hard to sell roofs?
Depends on you.
P.S. If you would like to dig deeper into personality types, I’ll send you a link to an easy Myers-Briggs personality test if you’ll message me.
Mike CodayMike started selling roofs in '95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences and training outside sales teams. Today, he works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.
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