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Two Sides to Every Story, Part I: The Salesman

March 1, 2008
Last week, a salesman sent me an e-mail complaining about the difficulties of selling in his area. I was just warming into a response when the salesman’s wife forwarded me an e-mail she received, which contained negative feedback from one of the very prospects the salesman had written about.

Last week, a salesman sent me an e-mail complaining about the difficulties of selling in his area.

I was just warming into a response when the salesman’s wife forwarded me an e-mail she received, which contained negative feedback from one of the very prospects the salesman had written about.

These two emails provide a rare look inside the minds of both a residential replacement salesman, and the prospect he couldn’t close.

This month, I’ll respond to the salesman’s e-mail. Next month, I show you his prospect’s e-mail, and comment on it.

The Salesman’s Side
One of my prospects said I did a great presentation and will refer me to his friends, but is going with the other guy.

Just the other night a man got ticked off at me because I would not give him the make and model, laughed at my 17% APR, and ended the call with me saying, ‘No, I will not come back and stick a proposal in the door.’ I can go on but I think you get the point.

I am the owner of this two-man, one-wife company. If I can’t sell this stuff to these jerk customers, then that leaves very few prospects. Please help.

Dealing With ‘Jerks’
I called the salesman. He told me he worked in a very tough market area that was full of jerks.

I replied that some salespeople seem to attract all the “jerks,” if you catch my drift.

Here was my question to him: What do you care if he’s a jerk? What’s that got to do with anything?

Personally, I love jerks. Most salespeople, like this one, cut and run on jerks. They take themselves out of the bidding process and make it infinitely easier for every other salesman to make a favorable impression.

You give up and walk away, and you make yourself a loser. There is every reason to believe that this prospect was as demanding and curt with every other salesman who showed up at his door, but someone is going to make the sale. The customer’s probably already bought from someone else. Someone who might not have been as good a salesman, but has more patience and tolerance of the social problems of others.

Never give up.

17% APR
So what if the prospect laughed at the salesman’s 17% APR (annual percentage rate) financing package?

There are a number of ways this can be played, but as it works out, this particular salesman had a built-in “cash discount.”

I could see asking, “Other than the 17% APR and the price, is there any other reason why we wouldn’t want to go ahead with this?”

They’re supposed to respond pretty positively to this question, otherwise, why are you in the closing phase?

I’d then say, “You laughed at the 17% APR. Is it reasonable to assume that you’re in a position to arrange for more attractive financial terms on your own?”

When the prospect answers in the affirmative, say, “Then, if I understand you correctly, as long as we can agree on a price right here on the spot, we can go ahead with this.”

If I get yet another positive response, I ask, “What makes you want me to do this for you?” I’m getting them to reaffirm in their own mind the reasons to choose me for the job. When it appears they’re running out of reasons, I usually add a few myself.

Then I ask, “What is the absolute most you’d be willing to spend?”

As a rule, no matter what they say, I usually flinch a little and say, “You’re going to have to do better than that.” As you can see, I’m turning the tables on them. Instead of me trying to get them to agree on a price, they’re trying to get me to agree on a price.

If they budge up slightly in price, I’ll usually ask them if they can “split the difference.”

From there, I’ll go for another commitment. I’ll say, “If I understand you correctly, as long as I can do it for $(price), we’re going to go ahead with this.”

As long as they’re in agreement, I’ll explain the cash discount to them. It’s usually not as low as they’ve told me they want it to be, but it shows I’m willing to give a little in price, and that’s really all they want. Contrary to what they may tell you, they don’t really expect their number one choice to be the lowest priced.

Where’s the Rapport?
Obviously, there was no rapport. When there is no rapport, your prospects question, debate, and criticize everything you do.

I asked the salesman what he did to establish rapport. He stated that, when he asked about a photo of the Pentagon hanging on the wall, he learned they had both served there in the military.

At first glance, this area of common interest would seem like a sure bet. It wasn’t.

The prospect had been an officer and the salesman had been an enlisted man. While there are exceptions to every rule, generally speaking, officers do not communicate with enlisted men on a peerto- peer basis, even long after both of their military careers have ended.

Areas of common interest, humor, and compliments are the least sophisticated ways to build rapport and are pretty transparent. A more professional and subtle method is the use of Psychoneuromotorlinguistics.

Psychoneuromotorlinguistics is just a big word for copy them, then lead them.

People tend to establish rapport with people that are most like themselves. Good salespeople adapt themselves to their prospects’ social styles. Stand the way they stand, use the same hand gestures, and even try to copy their speech pattern. Try to use any oddball phrases that they happen to use.

After you’ve copied about four gestures, try using one of the gestures the prospect had used before. When they copy you (which will happen immediately if it’s going to happen), you’ve established rapport.

I won’t start offering opinions or making recommendations until I can lead once, and they follow.

Speaking of areas of common interest, bear in mind that you’ve always got at least one thing in common with every single prospect you see. You both want them to invest in the right HVAC equipment, and have it installed correctly by the right company. Theoretically, you and every prospect you see, are a “match made in heaven.”

Eye Contact
The salesman admitted that he has a problem with eye contact.

Failure to make good eye contact causes a multitude of problems. On the other hand, the better your eye contact, the less they’ll question, argue, and try to dominate you. The better your eye contact, the better your sales calls go.

If you’re not comfortable with making eye contact, stare yourself in the pupil in the mirror for five minutes a day, and make it a point to start making good eye contact on your sales calls. You’ll see an instant improvement.

Next month, Part II: The Prospect. I’ll show you the prospect’s e-mail on this sales call, and address the issues of the salesman’s refusal to provide the make and model number of the equipment, and to leave a proposal.

Charlie Greer is the creator of “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD” and “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD.” For information on Charlie’s schedule and products, or to request a catalog, call 800/963-HVAC (4822) or go to E-mail Charlie at charlie@