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Cut the Cord on the One-Call Close

The one-call close is on life support. I say we need to cut the cord! Regardless of which economist you believe about the future, one fact can’t be argued: Today's consumer buys differently than they did before the "great recession." Today's consumer is saving more and buying less. Today's consumer is more concerned with value and "getting a deal." Today's consumer evaluates whether he or she can afford a purchase. Today's consumer places more emphasis on quality and less on luxury.

So what does that have to do with the one-call close being on life support? Consumers are more cautious about every purchase, particularly a major one like heating and air conditioning. Combine that fact with the incredible accessibility of information via the Internet: the place where Generation Xers and Millenials go first to research before making a major sales purchase. These consumers don’t rush into decisions.

As a result, most consumers won't make a purchase decision at the conclusion of your great sales presentation, regardless of how many objections you overcome or how many closing techniques you try.

"Okay," you're saying, "but shouldn't I still try to close the sale in one call?"


Your appropriate response is, "But that goes against everything I've ever done and everything I was taught."

And that may be true. But ask yourself this: Within the first quarter of this year, how many sales presentations have you made? And how many did you close immediately at the end of that sales presentation? Possibly a few, particularly, if they were maintenance agreement customers. Why do maintenance agreement customers purchase at the end of the first sales presentation? Because your company has been making sales presentations to that consumer for some time. Need proof? Think about this:

Your service technicians arrive to their homes on-time, with a neat appearance, a positive attitude, and helpful energy saving ideas. That's a sales presentation.

Your dispatcher was friendly, helpful, worked with the consumer's schedule and patiently answered questions. That’s a sales presentation.

Your website showed how the company gives back to the community and outlines all the company’s services. Guess what? That’s a sales presentation, too.

Your sales presentation isn't a one-call close. It's the last step of a sales call that may have lasted for several years.

Okay, but why not at least attempt to close the sale on the first call? Three reasons: mindset and processes for follow-up; differentiation; and more money.

Mindset: If the emphasis is on closing the sale at the end of the first call, your mindset is one of disappointment (at a minimum) if the sale isn’t closed before leaving the customer. And as a result, you count that call as a lost sale instead of an opportunity and forget the follow-up.

If your mindset is that the sales presentation is the first step of a successful sales process, you know the call is only one of those steps. You also know the next step is an immediate e-mail or text message thanking the customer for his or her time. Since testing and measuring was done on the first call (another column), the next step is an e-mail the next day with the analysis of the test results and the three options that you propose to solve the customer's comfort problems. Followed the same day by an e-mail or phone call for follow-up questions that the customer may have and a request for a time and day to discuss by phone the solution the customer chooses. Our industry fails in the category of follow-up because we believe if a sale isn't complete at the end of the presentation it's a lost sale. And systems and processes aren’t in place for the required follow-up.

Differentiation: Tell a customer that your company specializes in offering customized options for home comfort. Tell the customer that his or her home and comfort requirements are unique. Tell the customer that your company will propose several comfort options for the customer to choose from. And tomorrow by email (or phone?) the customer will receive several comfort options and the cost of each. Suddenly, the customer relaxes, breathes, takes down the barriers and provides information. And, your company stands out, because you do test and measure, and because the customer perceives he or she is receiving customized options based on his or her home’s needs (even though you may use cook book pricing).

More Money: Consumer research in this industry verifies that the customer who takes two weeks to make a decision for HVAC equipment spends approximately $2,000 more than the customer who makes a decision on the first day. Do you really need any more reason than that to cut the cord on one-call closes?

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