That Moment You Realize This Is A Tough Call
Carol looked at me and said, “Just so you know, we’re getting 3 estimates before we make a decision.” Not to be outdone by his wife, Bob yelled, “Four estimates,” as he turned and walked into the other room. I thought to myself, I haven’t even taken off my shoes yet and this is what I get. I hate these multiple estimate tough calls. Just then Joe walked in the door and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Joe Crisara, the quality control manager. How are you today, Carol?”
Carol gave Joe that same determined look and said, “I just want you to know that we have 3 estimates lined up this week and we won’t be making any decisions until we hear them all.”
“First, let me say thanks for calling us and for the opportunity to help you and your family with this issue. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here today and it really means a lot to us that you chose our company to assist you. Carol, can I ask you a question?” “Of course,” Carol said.
“Carol, I really appreciate your honesty about getting 3 prices before making a decision. We don’t go out for dinner these days without seeing the different options available to us and the prices alongside them thanks to social media and sites like Yelp. They’ve changed the restaurant industry.”
Joe wasn’t phased a bit by Carol’s comment and immediately followed with, “We like to think that we are changing the way service contractors do business with homeowners like yourself as well. You said you are only going to get 3 estimates. Our company gives 6 estimates on every call, kind of like that insurance company where you name your own price. This way you have all the possibilities right in front of you at the same time. So why are you limiting yourself to only 3 estimates?”
Carol was a bit stunned and didn’t know what to say but was able to stumble out the words, “We are actually getting 4 estimates.” Joe just rolled with the punches, but I could tell he was wareing her out. “I understand Carol. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. It’s just that if I were to show you my 6 estimates instead of only 4, and you liked one of those options, what would happen next?” Continue reading “Selling On Tough Calls: Multiple Estimates”
It seems like one of those weird, counter-intuitive rules, but it’s true. Removing yourself emotionally from the outcome of a frustrating sales or service negotiation is the winning move when confronted with such a conundrum. You’ve probably been there- a wrenching, difficult interaction with someone at work. It could be a superior, an associate or a customer. Afterwards you felt exhausted and also had that electric “fight-or-flight” feeling. It’s not a good sensation, you don’t want this much drama in your life- and especially not at work.
When you feel like you’ve been through the emotional ringer after a work argument, it means that you grasped too tightly to the importance that you assigned to the result. It also means that you closed off your mind to listening to the other person’s point of view, even if it seemed totally incorrect or suspect at the outset. It seems like an impossible contradiction, but it’s not. You should care deeply about your work performance generally, but not care too much about the results of any one transaction.
It’s natural for us to mix our emotions into things that we invest out time and energy into. Even more so when those activities involve making a living and have an element of competition. The big winners in any field, however, learn to divorce themselves from the “scoreboard” as a measure of their value. They also stop seeing others’ actions as being personally against them.
A sales transaction can be emotional for the buyer, but it shouldn’t be for the seller- which is you. Train yourself not to care too much or become attached to the result of any given customer situation. Or even interactions with co-workers, suppliers or whomever. When you “need” a certain outcome too much, that desperation makes you appear as if you don’t really hold power and inarguable quality. Real quality never has to beg and scrape. Real quality can walk away today and will get more than enough jobs tomorrow. Buyers are attracted to that because people generally want to go with a winner.
Is ‘Yes’ Your Dirty, Overused Word? Continue reading “The Art of Not Caring (…when you actually do)”
It’s easy to have a great, confident attitude when the wind’s at your back and victories are coming in. Those are the times when just about anybody can show the grace of professionalism. But face a prolonged dry spell or series of difficult obstacles, and that’s when you find your deep inner character. When a winner faces uphill battles, he displays the same commitment to the basics as when things are easy. He doesn’t check out or feel sorry for himself, he puts his head down and hits the heavy bag, so to speak. Luckily, you can work on your traits when facing adversity. I’ve learned from years in the service industry, and these tips will make you the kind of diehard professional for whom defeat is simply not an option.
1. Who Is At The Center of a Customer Interaction?
Who’s the most important person when you’re talking to a customer? Your ego wants to say that you are but your professional mind should know that it’s the customer. You put the customer and their needs first, and your needs will be taken care of in the long run. Nine tenths of your effort should be on finding out about the customer, and one tenth should go toward telling about yourself. Too much paperwork or show-offy materials will sink a deal fast.
You must find out about your customer’s life, family, pets, job, interests, hobbies, etc. What do they love? Do they have children with allergies or other medical issues? You can offer a higher quality AC unit with a HEPA filter or dehumidifier. Are they all about protecting the environment? If they are, you can offer them some green, environmental-friendly solutions like solar panels or a water efficient toilet. Continue reading “8 Reasons Why You’re Losing Sales and Wasting Time”
Let me start by saying I LOVE sports. I believe anybody who is a competitor, is drawn in by those who strive to reach the highest level of a sport they are passionate about. When playing a professional sport, an athlete would never neglect practice. They would never choose the easiest, low-pressure scenarios as preparation for actual games. They push their bodies beyond the limit and that’s why they are the best. If they only took slow, steady grounders in the infield, they probably wouldn’t win a game or have a job for much longer.
The same scenario applies to contractors in the service business. It’s not the easy, friendly customers that you need to worry about. It’s how you respond to the ones who throw difficult curve balls that separates you from your competition.
Using the strategies below, you can anticipate conversation-stoppers or deal-killers, and break on through to create productive and profitable working relationships with your clients.
They Come By Many Different Names & Games
You will start to notice patterns in the types of frustrating answers that potential clients throw back at you. You can name them and tape those labels to the wall (where no customer would ever see them!) if that helps motivate you and your team. I have certainly noticed these repeat types of objections or challenges you hear from customers on a service call, and I’ve applied my own set of labels to them. I’ll share some of them here:
– The Gatekeeper wants you to tell him all your prices upfront and then he’ll go talk to his wife and get back to you.
– The Apple Buyer got a full proposal from another company and just wants to know your price.
– Mr. Stuck in the Past tells you he had it fixed during the Nixon years for $187 and asks if that’s still the price.
– The Broke Ass just spent a load of money on his gold-lined Jacuzzi and now has nothing left for the house electrical.
– Mystification Man tells you everything’s working fine right now but he just wants to get it checked out.
– The Know-It-All informs you that he’s already figured out exactly what the problem is and that’s all he wants done.
There’s a lot more of these colorful characters but they all really have more in common than not. The good news is that you only have to stick with a small set of simple, strong principles in order to take back control of the interaction and create outcomes worthy of the professional, pure motive service that you and your company are providing.
The concept of value-added selling has been a popular one for a number of years. In fact, in today’s contracting world you are left with two choices.
1. Provide excessive value for the price that you charge.
2. Charge a cheaper price for the low value you provide.
That’s right, the natural laws come into place here. In the world today the buyer will either force you to either provide more value to get the price you need. Or they will force you to lower your price if you refuse to raise your value.
There is no doubt
Without value-added components, any product or service can be driven down to the most bottom line – price.
What is the problem with that?
When you are only selling price, you’ll never be able to make high margin sales where profitability, long term growth and sales success reside. Let’s take a look at 10 ways how you can add value to your product or service, no matter brand of equipment you sell.
Some salespeople might argue by saying, “You don’t understand, my product is different,” or “My service is different.” The truth is that every product or service can have value added to it. Let’s take a look at 10 specific ways that you can do this:
1. Providing expert advice and a high level of professionalism. Lots of professionals are paid a tidy sum for the level of advice that they provide. However, for you as a home comfort sales professional, in order for you to be able to provide value, you need to understand that you have to provide a level of advice that is significantly higher, more sophisticated and more valuable than that of your competition. Plus, you have to be able to communicate this to your prospect in a meaningful way. What this means communicating to your prospect a higher level of sophistication, wisdom and understanding about what it is you do. In a nutshell, why are you different and better than your competition? Odds are you have already purchased things like IAQ monitors, Infiltrometers, duct blasters and heat exchanger cameras. Now know when to use them. By all means, do use them.
2. Bundling and packaging. I’m not only talking here about the way your product or service actually looks. I’m also talking about desirable packages, purchasing levels and a series of added benefits that are significant in value and are, themselves, a whole lot more valuable than simply the product is by itself. Clean air packages, Silent system packages etc. Continue reading “Ten Ways to Avoid Price Objections”
One of the most important jobs we have is turning a customer’s “No” into a “Yes”. And it’s not as complicated as you might think. A great tool to help bridge the gap between a doubtful or resistant homeowner and a happy, satisfied customer is the option sheet. It serves as a set of firm guidelines, ensuring that premium, pure motive service is offered every time. This helps to remind techs communicating with potential customers to be thorough and diligent about every part of the service interaction. But an option sheet is only as strong as the words written on it. That’s why it’s important for dispatchers / SWAT team members to run their own quality assurance on it every time.
The first question a SWAT team member (this stands for Strength Weakness Analysis Threat) needs to ask about the service tech’s option sheet is…
Are There Options?
The service tech should always offer 2 premium, 2 mid-range, and 2 economy options. By giving a variety of service options at 3 major price levels, we are accommodating different kinds of customers and making them feel like their particular situation with regard to needs and costs is understood by us.
The option sheet’s different price points need to reflect an even spread. Imagine if you went to Best Buy to purchase a television and the 6 TV’s you saw their cost $3,500, $1,200, $1,197, $1,150, $1,125, $1,100. You’d be thinking- where’s the one for $2,400? Where’s the one for $600? If there are excessive gaps in price between options, customers will start to think that some other service provider out there will offer something in that gap.
Does the option sheet show an absolute least expensive bottom option? This would be like finding the customer’s broken wire, even if you weren’t fixing it. It could be just a diagnosis.
In the home contracting field, you will experience what I like to to call “service terrorists”. Yes, it sounds harsh, but these folks are extremely disgruntled customers- for whatever reason- who can disrupt your day, get in your face, and make experience a temporary loss of self esteem.
You don’t have to let this happen, there are ways of maintaining a sense of control and balance during even the most trying and emotionally reactive customer service call. Unfortunately, it can be the one bad customer interaction, especially where you feel that you dropped the ball, that you’ll remember and will bother you, after you’ve had 1,000 good ones. That’s why I am presenting to you this list of 7 tools which will aid you greatly in keeping your heading and a sense of control when dealing with highly emotional, angry, out of control customers.
Use Pure Listening
Often, as a home contracting professional, we want to jump in and fix the problem before we’ve even heard the customer’s whole speech. Maybe we assume something about a customer’s issue and jump to a conclusion. Or we decide that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Or, we say to ourselves “I’ve heard this one before.” Let them speak first and listen completely. Have no filters in your listening. Offer no resistance. Actively listen but don’t say a word, except the briefest acknowledgment that you’re actually on the line. Let them say everything they want to get off their chest, and then create a time buffer between them speaking and you speaking, so it doesn’t feel like you had your answer anxiously waiting to go.
Excuses are like emergency vehicle sirens. They grate against our ears and if we hear them, there better be a damn good reason they’re being used. Sure there are some excuses that are completely warranted – your car really did get a flat tire, your doctor truly gave you a signed medical note, or your dog actually ate your computer flash drive. But a great deal of the time, excuses are just made up stories meant to buy time and goodwill from our clients, and to avoid taking head-on responsibility for the shortcoming or misstep. In the home contracting industry, if you use the following excuses on a regular basis you will find angry clients followed by a severe drop in your company’s profitability. It’s not too late to avoid these pitfalls- read on!
Everybody has a dream, and some people’s dream is getting fired. Ya know- canned, pink-slipped, see ya later alligator! Okay, I don’t know positively for sure that being let go is their dream, but observing some sales managers in the home contracting industry, it sure seems like it. I mean, if these guys weren’t trying to get cut loose then they just coincidentally happened to be doing the very same things that’ll send you out the door and down to the Unemployment office faster than you can say “Invoice attached.”
I don’t want anyone to get fired, especially if they actually like and want to keep their job. I have a special soft spot for people in the contracting industry, because I’ve spent decades actually working in that field and also as a consultant helping other contractors improve their business, using the things I have learned and observed over the years. But I realized that it’s so easy and so common for seemingly bright and well-intentioned contracting sales managers to make decisions that were really detrimental- and self-destructive- in the long run without even knowing it. It turns out, a lot of this stuff is NOT just common sense!
Instead of telling you- a current or aspiring sales manager or other supervisory position in the home plumbing, HVAC or electrical contracting field- what to do to keep your job, I’m going to tell you what to do to get fired. If you don’t want to get fired, just use reverse engineering. Continue reading “Dead Man Walking: 5 Ways to Become an Ex-Employee”
The word “shy” seems to be a rather easy, catch-all term, all too often applied in sweeping statements to justify or at least explain away various potentially problematic behaviors. That child who freezes up and runs away when spoken to by a safe and friendly stranger? “Shy.” That friend you go to parties with who seemingly won’t initiate or act on any social situation, no matter how potentially beneficial? “Shy.” That person you try to network with in a professional manner who leaves you hanging with awkward, icy near-silence? Also, just “shy.”
But what does the word even mean? What is shyness? When does it come out in a person’s behavior? What causes it and what can be done to change it? If you think shyness is an issue in one’s regular private life, imagine how large an impact it can have in business, especially sales.
It only stands to reason that a company that considers itself a premium quality company would offer it’s customers a premium quality option for any work that it would do. If you agree that this is true, then you would undoubtedly be shocked to find out the staggering number of service companies that think they are a premium quality company but then fail to offer their customers the most premium option when given the opportunity to offer their services.
Most of the resistance to offering the highest premium option stems from the fact that sales people and sometimes owners of companies “mind read” customers and assume they would not make such a purchase due to the higher investment. The reality is that many consumers prefer to purchase quality options while spending more money to avoid the hassle of making a mistake by spending too little and receiving a poor quality product or service. Continue reading “Do You Really Offer Premium Service?”
The job of a top professional is doing what seems impossible, on a regular basis. While there might be a few truly unworkable situations, the vast majority of the time solutions to the most difficult, stress-inducing obstacles really do exist- and we see evidence of this all around us.
When’s the last time you had occasion to hire, say, a great mechanic or a computer tech? You know, the type that remain cool under fire in the most seemingly “throw-up-your-hands” predicaments. The kind that patiently, methodically pokes around under the hood of your broken down car or zips through the operating system and file registry of your crashed and buggy laptop. When either machine is finally, magically restored to its perfect working order your sense of relief and appreciation can hardly be described by words.
The best performance-delivering professionals almost never make excuses, almost never give up and almost never put the problem on insurmountable external issues. It’s always on themselves. Although the problem may a challenging doozy, it’s always “What am I not thinking of?”, “What am I not seeing?” or “What angle or tool have I not yet employed?”
By the time we encounter any top professional, no matter the field, they have equipped themselves for the challenges to be faced and brought the precise tools for success. They have the discernment to know that perhaps not every single challenge can be won, but the vast majority of important ones can be, if one is prepared.
Do you know what Leverage is? Leverage is an incredibly important concept in physics and in everyday life.
When your car gets a flat tire, you lift up your car with a jack using leverage.The common emergency car jack is a brilliant example of the mechanics of leverage. Ever pull a nail out of the wall with the back of a hammer? That’s leverage. When’s the last time you used a simple pair of pliers? That’s leverage, too.
Leverage is all about doing relatively little and getting back a lot. It’s a mechanism that magnifies our actions, giving results that are often multiplied as compared to our efforts. Leverage is the wise use of energy. It’s working smart instead of over-working. But it’s all about the specificity of your actions (and thoughts) and where they’re directed.
You would never start playing golf and expect to be Tiger Woods. You would never take up hoops and think you were LeBron James. I know, these examples sound crazy, but that’s sort of what newer salespeople do all the time, under the direction of equally unrealistic sales managers, who send them out into one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood positions on Earth, expecting them to dunk the ball when they can’t even yet see the basket.
The above mentioned star athletes (let’s pretend poker is a sport) worked very hard on their craft, their game, honing it to perfection and success. But let’s just say that they didn’t, and were totally born with the tremendous natural advantages of skill, instincts and physical abilities. Let’s assume they were inevitable champions even if they’d never diligently studied the game or been trained by the greats who came before them. They are the absolute exception, the statistical oddity, the needles in the haystack.
The fact is, in any demanding field, 99.8% of entrants can NOT use these superhuman exceptions as their example. Your company’s sales people need to be conditioned to possess methodical advantages that will put them on the field and let them win points- over and over again. Why did I say 99.8 instead of 99.9? Because I’m GENEROUS! Continue reading “Great Salespeople – Few are Born, Most are Made”
As contractors, many people in our industry are facing challenging times.
Call counts in many areas are down, competition has increased, and costs continue to rise.
Those are all very real factors that influence how you do business.
But at the same time, we can all name a lot of other companies who are thriving and enjoying more profits than ever before while facing the exact same challenges as everyone else.
So what’s the difference between the companies who are struggling to survive and the ones who are hitting it out of the ballpark?
The answer is simple, but instead of telling you the answer, let me share some documented facts with you to show you instead…
There you are in your customer’s house.
You’ve diagnosed their entire system and come up with some top-notch solutions to solve their problem. You’re proud of your solutions and can’t wait to present them to your customer.
As you present, you explain your solutions and tell your customer exactly why you created these custom solutions just for them. When you finish, you give them the old reliable, “What should we do?” – and you wait with full confidence that you’re about to get a yes.
Your customer examines each solution carefully and says, “These are really great! It’s obvious you really listened to me and put a lot of thought into all these.”
You think, “Here comes the yes! This is a done deal!”
Your customer continues, “…but the thing is…”
…I need to talk to my wife.
…My husband just has me gathering quotes.
…I always consult my son-in-law about financial matters.
…My cousin is a contractor, so I want to run this by him first.
…This is my sister’s house. I’ll give her your quote.
Just then you realize…
You’ve been selling to the wrong person!
You’ve just given away all your best ideas to someone who isn’t even in the position to say yes.
Let’s say you’re having the best day of your life. Your ride to work is filled with sunshine and green traffic lights.
At work, every customer you call on loves you and they all say “yes.” You have such a great day, that the boss pulls you into his office and offers you a big, fat raise. Everything is going right and you feel on top of the world.
On your walk to the parking lot at the end of the day, you find a $50 bill on the ground. But as you bend over to pick it up, you notice a dent on your bumper that wasn’t there before.
In the scope of your best day ever, how big of a catastrophe is that dent in your car? It’s not such a big deal after a day like that, is it?
But let’s say it was your worst day ever. You got a flat tire on the way into work which you had to change in a cold rain. While changing the tire, you busted up your knuckles pretty good, and they’re now bleeding. After you change the tire, you speed to try to get to work on time and get a ticket.
When you get in late and wet, the boss chews you out for being unreliable and tells you your job is on the line. Once you do get to working, the customers don’t seem to want to have anything to do with you. They’re downright rude and don’t buy a thing. When the day finally ends, you feel totally beat down. You shuffle out to the parking lot and discover the dented bumper on your car.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it.
Being a contractor in this day and age is tough.
The cost of equipment, employees, marketing and just about everything else you can name goes up every year.
Not to mention that, in most markets, there’s also an increase in competition.
Yep. It’s tough alright.
But only for those who are focusing on all the wrong things.
They focus things like cutting overhead, replacing “underperforming” personnel, or running more calls.
The truth is that those things aren’t usually the issue. And they certainly aren’t the solution to any of your problems.
There’s one simple ingredient that can turn your business around, and it’s not any of those things.
You know how they say that nothing is certain except for death and taxes? I’m not sure I agree with that.
Because every single year as we approach the holidays, I get a flood of phone calls and emails from salespeople and techs saying that the holiday season has caused the number of price objections they get to spike.
Now, honestly, I wonder if it’s really the customers objecting more around the holidays, or if it’s just something the salespeople and techs subconsciously expect – and therefore get.
But either way, it seems to happen every year, so it needs to be addressed.
So how about this year, we get prepared to deal with all those “price is too high” objections ahead of time?
Have you ever watched a guy on TV named Cesar Millan? He has two shows you might have seen: The Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911. I admit it. I find myself kind of addicted to watching him work.
It’s a reality show, so each week you get to see Cesar go out to families with “troubled” dogs and fix them.
This guy is really skilled at dog training – but what’s incredible to watch is that he’s even more skilled at training people. In fact, At the beginning of each show, he says, “I rehabilitate dogs… I train people.”
He uses his vast knowledge of dogs to teach dog owners how to relate to their dogs in a way that is most meaningful to the dog. And the results are phenomenal.
Think about it… do you know anyone who goes out to see families with “troubles” on a regular basis?
(Hint: check the mirror!)
And do you think that person in the mirror would be even more successful if they used their knowledge and expertise to relate to their customers in a way that is most meaningful to the customer?
Continue reading “Doggone Good Sales Advice: The Cesar Millan School of Selling”
I consider myself a positive guy, so I usually try to focus on good news.
But today I’m afraid I have to share some bad news with you… for your own good. Here it is…
You have a popsicle’s chance in a heat exchanger of getting your clients to buy anything other than a minimal repair from you if you’re making this one very common mistake.
The bottom line is that your customers aren’t going to listen to you or choose your best solutions if you run your calls the way most techs and salespeople in this industry do.
And unless you’re a veteran of our Total Immersion training, that’s likely exactly what you’re doing.
Do certain aspects of the selling process make you feel like you’re being pushy?
Do you leave parts out of the sales process because you worry some of that stuff might make you look like a (oh no!) salesperson?
A lot of people in our business feel that way at one time or another.
Now, it’s not going to surprise you to know that yours truly, The Contractor Sales Coach, is going to tell you that’s the wrong attitude to have.
So instead of me just telling you to “stop it”, I’ll share a story with you that illustrates my point.
We’re in a cyclical business, and those “in-between” months can be tough going for a lot of contractors. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In my last article, we covered why most shops are leaving tons of money on the table by not having active referral programs. We talked about how a good referral program benefits the company, the employees, and the customers.
I even gave you some talking points to use with your people to get them enthusiastic about seeking referrals.
Today, I’m going to give you 25 great ways to get the referrals flowing and keep them flowing all year long. Some of these are super quick and easy to implement, and others may take some setup, but I’ve personally witnessed each and every one of them work over the years.
You’re going to want to save this one!
Choose the ones that will work best for you, and start booking all those referral calls!
Pop quiz time!
What makes the absolute best business lead imaginable?
How about someone who already has a positive impression of you and your business? Better yet – maybe someone whose friend or family member has already told them they’d be nuts not to call you and has pre-sold them on how wonderful you are.
Obviously, I’m describing a referral, and I don’t think it’s new news to you when I say that they’re a gold mine. No doubt about it – referrals are the easiest and most profitable type of lead to close.
Here’s the gut-check question…
How many referrals has your team closed this week? Continue reading “How to Turn Your Team Into a Referral-Generating Machine”