Photo by iStock

Photo by iStock

Do They HAVE to Like You?

They don’t have to like you to buy from you — they have to trust you. 

Two common misconceptions about salesmanship are that:

  1. The prospect MUST like you in order to buy from you
  2. People buy from people they like.

Those are old-fashioned and outdated notions.

When people set a service or sales appointment, they aren’t hoping their new best friend will show up.  They’re hoping the ultimate HVAC professional will show up.

They aren’t looking for charm, personality, or good looks.  What they’re looking for is someone who lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps HVAC.

When people set a service or sales appointment, they aren’t hoping their new best friend will show up.  They’re hoping the ultimate HVAC professional would show up.

I take a lot of flack for taking this position, and I only recently figured out why.  When I talk to the people who insist that it’s essential that they like you in order to buy from you, after a while I learn that they don’t know much of anything about HVAC. Charm and good looks are their whole game.

Success in salesmanship is not personality driven.  You can be utterly devoid of personality and still make it in sales.

You do not have to be an extrovert.  In fact, the majority of the best salespeople I know are more introverted.

People decide NOT to buy from people they like all the time.  It’s happened to you.  How many times have people said something to you like, “I like you, but your price is just too high”?

They don’t have to like you to buy from you – they have to trust you.  By "trust you," I mean that they believe you competent and capable of solving their problems, and that you’re looking out for their best interests.

What About the “Warm Up”?

It used to be that the first thing you did upon meeting a prospective customer was the “warm up.”  Naturally, this statement doesn’t apply to everyone, but my experience has been that people don’t have time for that any more.

On a personal note, I’m in the process of renovating a home and have a lot of tradesmen come to work and/or provide estimates.  I’m not really interested in getting to know them on a personal level or share a lot of personal information about myself.  All I want them to do is take care of whatever issue I called them for.

By "trust you," I mean that they believe you are competent and capable of solving their problems, and that you’re looking out for their best interests.

The irony of forcing a “warm up” on customers who don’t want to be warmed up is that it can backfire on you and they start out not liking you too much because you’re wasting their time.

Be careful about coming across as someone who is just befriending them to make a sale.

A lot of people say that the purpose of their job is to make friends.  I say that’s untrue, even of the people who say it.  How many times have you gone fishing with a customer, or gone over to their home to watch a movie together?

Instead of saying we’re making friends, let’s change that to we’re “establishing healthy business relationships.”

I quit doing formal warm-ups around 1986.  What I realized was that, when I first met the prospect or customer, I was seen as a commodity — just a nameless, faceless person.  Gradually, as they observed my attention to detail, and my interest in their unique areas of concern, they would take an interest in me and would often start an off-topic conversation with me themselves.  It was as if my prospects were warming me up.  I’m in favor of that.

Can They Dislike You?
To be clear, it’s preferred that they like you, but it’s not a deal killer when they don’t.

I was doing a follow-up visit with a gentleman who had a lot of questions.  I was kind of stone-walling him. 

One of the hardest things to get service techs and salespeople to understand and believe is that you don’t need to answer all their questions.  In fact, don’t answer all their questions.  Sometimes, the purpose of a lot of questions is to just keep asking them until they find one you can’t answer, or that they don’t like the answer to, and use it as an excuse to put off making a decision.  Before I go answering a lot of questions, I want to know just how important they are.  I want to know if they can make a decision without me answering their questions.

He said, “You’re the worst salesman I’ve ever seen!”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because you’re not telling me anything. You’re not answering my questions.”

I just shrugged.

He took my proposal and pen in hand, and as he signed it, he said, “I’m just gonna go ahead and sign this just to get you out of here!”

That was a $10,000 sale from a man who clearly did not enjoy my company. I would have preferred that he liked me, but I’d be willing to take about one of them per day.

Why Did He Buy From Me?
Simple, I wasn’t there to sell him something.  I was there to determine what needs he had that I could remedy.

When I run calls, I ask the questions.

Probing deeper and changing the conversation is what gave me both a higher closing ratio and a higher average sale.  Plus, it allowed me to help a lot more people.

When you run calls, do you probe a little deeper and discover that their ductwork is dirty, leaking, and undersized?  Is their gas water heater back-drafting carbon monoxide into the ductwork when both it and the furnace run at the same time?  Do their skin and sinuses dry out in the winter?  Is noise an issue?  How is everyone in the home sleeping?  Is it too hot on the top floor?

He bought from me because I changed the conversation from boxes, scroll compressors, and efficiency ratings, to how improving the airflow and indoor air quality in his home has the potential to improve every aspect of the lives of himself and his entire family.

Probing deeper and changing the conversation is what gave me both a higher closing ratio and a higher average sale.  Plus, it allowed me to help a lot more people.

Why Even Bring This Up?
Believing that they have to outwardly show signs of liking you in order to by from you can stifle your efforts.  Human nature almost dictates that when it seems like they don’t us, we’re less likely to make the same recommendations we would if they did like us, and that hurts both the prospect and the HVAC professional.  The question is not whether or not they like you.  The question is, do they truly need what you’re recommending or not?  If they need it, shouldn’t it be called to their attention, even if they don’t appear to like you?

Conduct Business in a Business-like Manner
It's not as important that they like you as it is that they feel good about buying from you.  They're going to feel good about buying from you if they feel like you know what you're doing and that you are looking out for their best interests.

When you deliver a superior level of service, they’ll see you as the ultimate service professional, and, even though they may not invite you over to watch movies or go fishing, they may ultimately end up liking you.

Charlie Greer is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video series that provides a year’s worth of weekly 30-minute sales training sessions.  For more information on Charlie’s products and services, got to www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or  call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822).  Email Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com. 

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