Quote More Than the Bare Minimum

Feb. 1, 2008
In my previous article The "Complete Inspection" I talked about the necessity of doing a complete inspection when running sales and service calls. One of the benefits of doing the complete inspection is that you discover additional needs and problems and, consequently, additional tasks to recommend.

In my previous article The "Complete Inspection" I talked about the necessity of doing a complete inspection when running sales and service calls.
One of the benefits of doing the complete inspection is that you discover additional needs and problems and, consequently, additional tasks to recommend.
When the customer buys more than the bare minimum, you wind up with a sale of a higher dollar amount, make more money, and have happier customers than you would if they bought bare minimum. Also, it makes the job easy to sell.
That's right, quoting more than the minimum can actually make the job easy to sell. Here's why:

1. It makes the primary repair or recommendation seem like less money.
This is the answer to the age old question, "How do you make $579 to do one simple task sound cheap?"
Come up with about $1,600 worth of legitimate recommendations! The best case scenario is that the customer buys all of them. The worst case scenario is that the customer says something like, "Sixteen hundred dollars? No way! Just get it running!" They'll only spend $579 instead of $1,600 and feel they got off cheap. Consequently, you’ve made the sale and kept the customer.
Some people are afraid that recommending and quoting add-on tasks will either make the price too high, or make them seem like they’re trying to sell something extra to make a buck.
Others feel that, when they've already spent money on repairs, they‘ll be unwilling to spend any additional money. Not true. If you’ve never had anyone say to you, "Well, I'm already spending this much money, I might as well spend some more," then you're not quoting enough stuff.

2. It gives the customer something to say no to, as illustrated above, and still allows you to conduct business with them. People need and want options. They want to feel in control of the situation. When you quote the bare minimum, the customer has no choice outside of yes or no, and feels trapped.
Quoting more than the bare minimum provides them with options. Instead of feeling bad about all the money they're spending, the customer has an opportunity to turn down a few things and can wind up feeling good about not spending it all.

3. You can also use the add-on sale as a point of negotiation.
Everybody wants a deal.
Some people have a little negotiating authority, others don’t. If you've got a little negotiating authority, and you've recommended something small that you can tell the customer would really like to have, but just can't convince themselves to spend the extra money, you can occasionally give them a "deal." You can offer either a reduced price on the "extra" item or, on larger jobs, "throw it in," if they're willing to make a decision on the spot.

4. They differentiate your bid.
A bid is actually an acronym for "beat the idiot's deal."
There's no point in competing with the bottom-feeders who quote the cheapest thing they can because they don't have the confidence to go upscale. You can't beat them in price, so beat them in quality.
Some technicians worry that quoting anything extra would turn customers off, which I suppose it could.
On the other hand, there are people who become offended by being pre-judged as too cheap, too poor, or unworthy of the best you have to offer. As a consumer, that has happened to me.
The top salespeople and selling service technicians in the industry consistently sell the high-end equipment, the indoor air quality (IAQ) products, and resolve air distribution problems on the majority of their jobs. I can assure you, on the majority of the jobs these salesmen sold, they were competing against other contractors who had quoted them on the cheapest way to go, and these salesmen still got the job, despite their being the highest bidder.
Believe it or not, when people are considering spending more than a month's wages on a new home comfort system, they want it done right. They know that they're not going to get the best equipment, with the best installation, and the best warranty, done by the best company for the lowest price.
Don't be afraid to bring up the topic of the better options. You can actually say, "Now that we've looked at the absolute cheapest way to go, are you interested in looking at what else is available that will really enhance your enjoyment of your new system?" It's unusual for people to reject even hearing what you have to say.

5. Recommending the extras establishes you as someone who is more interested in doing what's in the customer's best interest than in shooting a low-ball price.
Everyone knows you have to differentiate yourself. You have to do that with expertise and superior service.
Part of demonstrating your expertise and superior is service is by recommending products and services that go beyond the bare minimum.
Don't worry about it costing too much money. That's for your prospects to worry about. Your job is to let them know what's available.
You could say that you have an obligation to educate them on their options. Have you ever installed a low-end system for a customer and had them complain after the fact that they wish they'd known there were better options available?
When you talk about the better products, act confident about them. Confidence sells. The customer wants you to be confident.

6. Extras don’t have to cost extra.
Extras save people money. It’s cheaper to get everything done at once than it is to have it done over a period of time over multiple service calls and installations.
In any industry, the high-quality products tend to last longer and run better than low-quality products. In the HVAC industry, the higher the price tag, the lower the operating cost and overall cost of ownership.
There is a bright side to the current housing slump; people are staying in their homes longer than before. That means your prospects are more interested in investing in home comfort systems that last long, have a low operating cost, clean the air, make them comfortable, and are quiet than they were when everyone was flipping properties.
People with legitimate needs, who are short on cash or maybe even downright cheap, often go for add-on tasks on repair calls, because they save them money.
Here's where we get into the whole concept of making them feel that you're charging them the least amount of money possible, and that you're doing everything in your power to give them a good deal — which is a very important aspect of avoiding the price objection in the first place.
You'll find that when you explain to the customer that the more you do while you're there, the cheaper everything gets, they’ll appreciate you taking the extra steps to try to save them money, even if they don't go for any add-ons.
I've actually concluded conversations on what needs to be done and the pricing structure with, "So, if you've got the money, having me do all this now is the cheapest way to go."
You don't sell add-ons based on how much extra they cost. You sell add-ons based on the savings!

7. Chances are, you'll sell more work on one job.
If you're a service technician who's paid on what is commonly referred to as "billable efficiency," getting the add-on tasks is where it's at. In fact, the only way get your pay up to the bonus level is to sell add-on tasks.
Salespeople working on commission also make additional money.
The more products and services you quote, the more you'll sell. If you never quote them, you'll never sell them.

8. When you quote the bare minimum, you can't use one of my favorite closing techniques.
It's not necessarily a bad idea to make your first quote their best option.
When they start telling me it's too much money, I ask, "How much money did you want to spend today?"
They'll usually shoot me some unreasonably low number. That's okay; it just means they're willing to play the game.
I'll then whip out the calculator and do some figuring. Then I'll explain what we can do, and put some other things off until a later date, making certain that I make them feel good about what I'm going to do for them.
After my explanation, I show them the calculator, which has the price on it, and say, "That’s the least amount of money I could charge you today."
I call that my "Seeking a Smaller Commitment Close."

9. Happier customers.
A little pattern I've noticed is that the more money customers spend, the happier they tend to be. Why is that? I've done more for them than they expected.
If all I do is go out there and replace a contactor, the unit still isn't running any better than it did the day before.
If I also pull and clean their indoor coil and blower, and clean their outdoor coil, they're going to spend more money than they would have, but they're going to get much cooler, cleaner air than before, and dehumidification. I also sold them a service agreement, so they got a discount and a return visit for “free.”
A lot of times, when I go inside to collect, the customer will get all manic on me. They put their hand up to the vent and say, "Wow! This thing is running like a brand new unit! I'll have to admit that I thought this was a gosh-awful amount of money to spend, but this is incredible! I'm going to tell everybody about you!"
The beauty is that extra cleaning didn't cost them a dime. Sure, they spent a little more money today than they'd planned on spending, but I've also saved their compressor from a premature death and lowered their electric bill. I've also increased the lifespan of their furnace.
Let's also remember a little detail that is often overlooked in this industry: comfort. In a manner of speaking, they were paying for that extra cleaning, (which may have cost $1,000 or so) whether they bought it or not.
My favorite extras to recommend on service calls are:
• Clean outdoor unit
• Clean furnace
• Pull clean blower
• Clean/replace indoor coil
• Service agreements
• Digital thermostat
• Humidifiers
• Dehumidifiers
• Improved filtration
• UV lights
• Zoning
• Duct cleaning
• Duct sealing.

Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." You can read his monthly column, "Tec Daddy's Corner," in Contracting Business, available online free of charge at www.contractingbusiness.com www.contractingbusiness.com/> . You can learn more about Charlie's products and speaking schedule at www.hvacprofitboosters.com www.hvacprofitboosters.com/> . Email Charlie at [email protected] .