Running Service Step Eight: What to Stress

Editor’s Note: Charlie Greer is in the midst of a year-long primer designed to teach you what to do when running service calls, and how to maximize each call in an honest and professional manner. Here is installment number 7.

You've done your inspection, written up your Paper Towel Close, and set up to do the job. You're getting ready to make your recommendations. Before proceeding, to help you choose the right words, clarify your thinking on a few issues.

What Do People Buy?
The answer is, BENEFITS.

In the sales world, there are features and there are benefits. The feature is what it "is" or "does." The benefit is what it does for you. The feature is the logical component; the benefit is the emotional component. Logic provokes thought. Emotion provokes action.

Why Do People Buy From You?
Because they want to.

That may seem a little trite at first glance, but this simple realization was kind of a life-changing epiphany for me.

Many people define salesmanship as, “the art of persuasion.” Some view sales calls as more of a competition between the prospect and salesperson.

You can't make people buy, you can'’t talk them into buying, and you can't pressure them into buying.

People buy of their own free will. When they buy from you, it's because they made the conscious decision that they wanted what you were offering and they wanted it from you. What they wanted were all the benefits that the product or service offered, as well as the benefits of using you as the provider.

I came to the conclusion that, when I run calls, it’s not so much that I "sell" things to people as it is that they decide to buy. Can you see the difference?

The 'Best' and 'Top Quality'

Have you ever had a customer ask you, "How do your prices compare with those of your competition?"

Many people say, "We're not the cheapest, but we'’re the best." That statement actually translates as saying, "Our prices are kind of high. Why don't you check around? I'm sure you can get it cheaper elsewhere."

Many people feel that that the most important thing to stress is that what you're offering is "the best" and "top quality." Be aware, though, that there some serious problems with the use of the words "the best" and "top quality."

Overuse of the word "quality" in a sales presentation can translate in the listener's mind as "over-engineered, overdone, overblown and overpriced," which all adds up to just about anything except the way to spend the least amount of money possible. And who doesn't want to spend the least amount of money possible? Even when you decide you're going to buy the best product available, don't you want it for the lowest price?

People don’t necessarily want to spend the money for "quality," and people don’t want to spend the money to own "the best.."

Any number of surveys, consumers studies and focus groups contradict my point, but I really think you need to keep in mind that the majority of these surveys, studies and focus groups were formed to prove a specific point and worded their questions in such a manner as to steer people into a certain type of answer. Plus, people tend to say what’s expected of them, and who wouldn't say that, when shopping for any product or service, their top priority is "quality" and that "price" is only a minor concern? It's a matter of pride!

Additionally, overuse of the words "top quality" and "the best" can turn on your prospects' "B.S. alarms." You could be seen as someone who is prone to exaggeration. After all, there really is only one "best."

How do you even know what you’re selling is the best? Have you got a testing lab? Are you the only one in your area selling it? Isn’t the distributor selling the same stuff to everyone?

Who even says you have to be the best and top quality? My unscientific study has proven that the majority of prospective customers out there lack the self-image to feel worthy of owning the best and top quality any way.

The Most Important Thing
The most important thing to stress when you’re in a selling situation is that accepting your recommendations is the way to spend the least amount of money possible.

Everybody likes to save money. Stress the savings. Everyone wants a "deal," so make sure the customer feel like he or she is getting a deal. At least twice, if not three times during a call, I'll find an opportunity to mention that what I'm recommending is the way to spend the least amount of money possible — that’s even when I'm recommending what I feel is the best and top quality.

A Real-life Example
My first year in the business, I was dispatched on a call to provide a quote to a gentleman who wanted to add central air conditioning to a home.

When I called to confirm the appointment, he made it clear to me that he had bought the home to flip, that he would never live in it, and that his buying decision would be based solely on price. He said he had no interest in quality, efficiency or the longevity of the equipment. He was simply adding air conditioning to make the home more marketable.

I was more than a little nervous on the way to the call because I'd been trained to make certain that my prospects knew that what we were offering was the best and top quality. Our customers paid a premium price for a premium product with premium service. About 40% of the time it went over well and 60% of the time it didn't.

I decided that, for the first time ever, instead of what essentially amounted to my bragging about top quality and that best, I would try to make every word that came out of my mouth something to which the person wanting to spend the least amount of money possible could relate.

I still stressed the benefits of my product, my design, my installers and my follow-up service, but I did so from the standpoint of how it saves you money than I did from the standpoint of it all being part of a premium package with a premium price.

I did so, and it worked. After the call, it occurred to me that I didn't need to reserve that type of presentation exclusively for the people who made it clear up front that they were basing their buying decision on price.

Later that year, I sold more of what was at that time, the most expensive air conditioner on the market, than anyone else in the country over a given period of time.

I don't believe I sold a single one of them based on the fact that it was the best. I simply explained to customers that investing in that model would have the lowest overall cost of ownership over the life of the equipment. Only rich people can afford to buy cheap air conditioners and furnaces.

What to Stress
Everyone, even price shoppers, wants the job done right, but for the lowest amount of money possible. This doesn't mean the lowest price.

When you talk about the value of doing business with you, stress the money-saving benefits of your products and services. Make certain your customers know that, despite the fact that your price may appear to be a larger initial investment than some lower-priced competitor, everything you're recommending is necessary and vital, and ultimately saves them money.

Doing business with a quality contractor doesn’t cost you extra, it saves you money.

Doing business with unlicensed, uninsured contractors who don't pull permits, provide satisfaction guarantees, honor its warranties, or sends untrained or unscrupulous employees to their home or business can be one of the most expensive mistakes people can make. They're paying for your level of service, one way or another, whether they buy it or not.

Whenever you quote a product of a service, try to determine exactly what your customers want to buy (as opposed to trying to sell what you want to sell). Make certain they know the benefits of both the product or service as well as the benefits of buying it from you, show them how they're saving money by doing business with you, and make them feel like they're getting a deal.

The whole purpose of this article is to put you in the right mindset to go in and close the sale on a repair and to get the service agreement as part of the transaction. You might also get a "thanks" while you’re at it.

In my next article, I'll tell you exactly how I present the price, and close the sale.

Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." For information on Charlie's products and speaking schedule, visit his website at or call 800/963-HVAC (4822). Email Charlie at [email protected].

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