In sales, there’s a fine point that can make or break a customer – whether a company’s systems can keep up with the pace of technology and expectations of that customer. Having the right system can help sell more pools, spas and complementary products while managing inventory more efficiently. But as many pool and spa companies know, technology is not always easy to adopt – nor an asset if it’s difficult to implement, train, and maintain.
Great software is out there, but unfortunately, many retailers fall into the trap of sticking to a software or method they've been using for a long time because that's the way they have always done it. This way of thinking is why some businesses rely on carbon paper or clunky software to manage essential business functions.
Pool and spa retailers who have adopted digital sales are not only more efficient and streamlined, but also hold a competitive edge by showing their forward-thinking ways. It can also help companies grow sales that may otherwise be lost due to disorganization, miscommunication, or inability to close a sale.
There are many types of software available that can create quotes, deliver contracts, send and process invoices, change orders, update inventory, and allow customers to keep track of their pool and spa sales. However, each software has its pluses and minuses. For example, if the sales software is incompatible with the company’s customer relationship management software (CRM), then the entire system will not work well or at all.
The key is to look for software that can easily walk both pool companies and their prospective clients through a sales process from start to finish, and can deliver easy-to-read, company-branded statements instantaneously, or even automatically. An added benefit is one that allows the pool and spa clients to choose how they receive their statements, whether it be through print, email, or text to stay connected and keep them in the loop.
“Clear statements make customers feel as if the company is organized and reliable,” says Samara Zia, product specialist at QuoteMachine, a manufacturer of cloud based sales software built with tools designed for the pool and spa industry. “They have shown an uptick in sales and customer retention as much as 40 percent.”
A good software can also provide the opportunity to upsell using interactive features that allow customers to easily add optional items to their quote, using a “recommendations” or a “you may also like” section. For example, spa customers can choose a cover lifter or cabinet color for the hot tub.
Software also often helps track customers’ actions, such as whether a customer viewed a quote, invoice, or email proposal. This helps determine the next steps to take with a customer and avoid losing them during the decision-making process. It can also help stay in touch with customers through in-document chat available on quotes, orders, or invoices.
Zia also notes that it’s important to make the customer experience personalized and seamless, especially when it comes to collecting payments. Invoicing should be as simple as possible, with little or no obstacles, and provide an online payment option.
Lastly, some software may be too cumbersome or difficult for staff to learn and maneuver. So look for software by a company that provides free support and onboarding to make the transition smoother. Zia says this is an important benefit for users of QuoteMachine.
“We don't want you to be in a system that you don't know how to use,” she says.