CCN: Sales Training, Networking & Success Stories in the Home Improvement Space

In the fast-paced world of home improvement, staying ahead of the game is essential for contractors looking to build and scale their businesses profitably. That's why we sat down with Gary Cohen, a business veteran and Vice President of Certified Contractors Network (CCN). With over three decades of experience in the home improvement  industry, Gary has witnessed the challenges faced by contractors firsthand. As a certified coach and professor of business, he also brings a unique perspective to the table. In this enlightening discussion, we delve into CCN's mission, the impact of formal processes, the power of networking and the exciting collaboration between CCN and Ingage. Whether you're a seasoned contractor or just starting out, get ready to gain valuable insights and discover how CCN can help you unlock the door to unparalleled success in the home improvement market.

Ingage: Can you give our readers a little background on CCN and how you work in the home improvement space?

Gary Cohen: Certified Contractors Network, CCN, was founded in 1996 by Richard Kaller, a roofer based in Philadelphia. Richard recognized the need for training in the home improvement industry, as many contractors were naturally entrepreneurial but lacked formal business training to build and scale their companies. Unfortunately, Richard passed away unexpectedly in 2006. However, Scott Siegal, an original member of CCN, purchased the company and successfully grew it even further. Today, CCN offers comprehensive training in all functional areas of business, networking opportunities and comprehensive support to contractors in the home improvement space.

Ingage: Can you give me a snapshot of your background and what brought you to CCN?

Gary: I joined CCN in the fall of 2021 and handle the day-to-day operations. Prior to that, I spent over 30 years in the DIY space. My experience ranged from working in distribution to being a supplier of DIY products for major big box retailers. In 2008, I decided to retire from my career and sought a change of pace. I discovered my passion for positively impacting people's lives on a personal level, which led me to become a certified coach. I specialized in career coaching and executive leadership, and also served as a professor of business at the University of Maryland. Retirement brought me to Florida in 2019, but I couldn't stay away from the industry for long. When I connected with an old friend and owner of CCN, I jumped at the opportunity to join the company and continue making a difference.

Ingage: Why should contractors go to CCN for sales training and networking? Any success stories you can share?

Gary: Contractors choose CCN for sales training and networking for several reasons. Firstly, unlike other training companies, CCN goes beyond sales training and provides comprehensive training in all areas of a contractor's business. We cover sales management, production, marketing, finance, operations and more. We believe that success lies in implementing formal processes in every aspect of the business, not just sales. 

CCN's customized sales process, known as the 5P Process, has shown remarkable results, with contractors experiencing significant increases in their close rates. Additionally, CCN operates as a membership organization, fostering a tight-knit community of contractors. Through collaboration and knowledge sharing, contractors can benefit from the collective wisdom and support of like-minded professionals in the industry.

As for success stories, we have several inspiring examples. One contractor in southern Michigan was initially struggling to survive with $1 million in annual revenue. However, after implementing CCN's training and systems, they are now on track to achieve $10 million in revenue this year, with double-digit net profits. Another success story involves a contractor in Ontario, Canada, who used CCN's training and systems to revamp their business. They surpassed the $10 million mark and experienced substantial growth. CCN's focus is not just on sales but on building generational wealth for contractors and their families.

Ingage: As an expert in sales fundamentals, what are some key fundamentals you think every salesperson should know?

Gary: Sales fundamentals are crucial for every salesperson to succeed. One key aspect is consistency in following a proven sales process. Many companies have salespeople who may not be selling in the same way, leading to inconsistencies. To address this, CCN emphasizes the importance of memorizing word tracks and scripts, ensuring that salespeople deliver the sales process consistently and effectively. Our sales boot camp includes role plays, which provide practical experience and help salespeople understand and execute the process correctly. Following a sales process to the letter is the biggest recommendation I have for salespeople.

Ingage: How were you introduced to Ingage, and what made you want to partner with us?

Gary: I was introduced to Ingage by a mutual partner at a conference where I had the opportunity to see what you were doing. As a marketer at heart, I recognized that Ingage's presentation software was head and shoulders above traditional PowerPoint. I was also impressed by the Ingage team and your dedication to providing a superior presentation experience. It was a natural fit for CCN, so we created a partnership program. We have been supportive of each other, and Ingage has played a crucial role in making our members better.

Ingage: Can you share how Ingage and CCN work together to support contractors?

Gary: Ingage and CCN collaborate to support contractors by incorporating our proprietary  5P sales process, which is a cornerstone of CCN's training, into the Ingage platform. The 5P sales process is designed to make contractors better by enhancing their sales techniques. Ingage's platform not only offers aesthetically pleasing presentations but also provides valuable analytics. This allows sales managers to ensure that their representatives are following the sales process accurately. The integration of front-end and back-end tools from Ingage into our 5P process creates a win-win-win situation for contractors, Ingage and CCN.

Ingage: What is a trend you're seeing right now that every contractor should be focused on?

Gary: A significant trend we are observing is a decline in digital lead flow. Contractors are experiencing a decrease in the number of leads generated through digital channels. To counteract this, contractors need to focus on increasing their close rates and demo rates. It's essential to invest in traditional marketing methods and explore other channels for lead generation, such as home shows, snail mail campaigns and radius marketing. The ability to effectively present your offerings becomes even more critical in converting those leads into sales. By improving conversion rates and demo rates, contractors can mitigate the impact of the declining digital lead flow and ensure continued success in their businesses.

Join Ingage and CCN September 28 in Baltimore for the Elevate Conference hosted by CCN. 

About Certified Contractors Network

Certified Contractors Network has proved to be the best-quality, most-effective contractor consulting network for over 25 years. What began as the simple vision of our founder has evolved into a robust professional network with the goal of helping organizations of all sizes achieve a better business and better quality of life through support, training, and improved processes. At CCN, we believe in creating a smarter, more energized contracting community by upholding the highest standards of Integrity, Honesty, and Professional Responsibility.

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