by Tom Piscitelli
Now that you know what the customer wants (you do if you read last month's article, Selling with T.R.U.S.T.®, CB, December 2002), what do you do with that information, and how do you use it to get the sale?
Here is where fun really begins. In the half-hour or so you've been in the customer's home, you've introduced yourself and confirmed why you are there. You’ve had a nice chat with the customer(s) while walking through their home, asking questions and taking load calculation measurements, and you’ve briefly surveyed the equipment, preferably with the customers present. At this point, your notepad and brain are both full of the information you need to prepare a proposal. What's next?
Some salespeople go back to the office and prepare the proposal. This has the advantage of giving you time to doing a thorough load calculation, perhaps including room-by-room calculations. You can then type the proposal and gather the collateral material you want the customer to have, including literature, studies, testimonials etc. They feel confident because they've been thorough. Unfortunately, this has some disadvantages as well. It consumes time, delays the customer's decision, and allows a competitor to slip in while you’re at the office.
Some salespeople do it all right at the prospect’s home. This is known as the "one call close.”
So which way is right?
My observation is that most successful sales people come to a customer's home fully prepared to make the sale. This means they bring all their sales tools with them, and they know how to use them efficiently and effectively.
Neither way is entirely right or wrong, of course. There will be circumstances that drive you one way or the other. You must decide.
If you’re the type of person who takes pride in working out every detail before making a presentation, please consider what I'm about to say. A very good total home comfort system selling sales person will close about 50% of the jobs they propose. Every minute you invest in each proposal you don't sell costs you money. And every unnecessary minute you invest in each proposal that you do sell costs you money. Evaluate what you are currently doing and decide if it’s really necessary. Stay flexible and adapt to the customer's needs.
Example: Most (95%) HVAC salespeople don’t do load calculations! Hard as this is to believe, it is true. We understand that most existing equipment is incorrectly sized and the only way to determine the right size is to perform a load calculation. Doing a room-by-room load calculation takes 20 minutes or more compared to a simple one-page whole-house calculation, which takes only about 10 minutes. The whole-house method will properly determine equipment size — and that’s all you need at that time. When you get the job, and if you need the data, then invest the time in getting the room-by-room information.
This thinking also applies to your proposal. You don't need to go to the office to create a professional proposal. If your proposal form is a write-everything format, consider redesigning it so that most of the information is preprinted in a fill-in-the-blank form. Even better, consider one of the available computer-based proposal generators that you can print on a portable printer.
Meanwhile, back at the sales call: Where is the best place to hunker down and get all this information processed into a proposal? I hope you said the kitchen table.
Why? The living room separates you, and usually has you leaning over a coffee table. The dining room is a "cold" place that rarely gets used.
The kitchen table is a family place, where family decisions are made. It’s the perfect place to prepare and present your proposal. How do you get there? Just ask.
Say, “It will take me about 30 minutes to prepare your new system proposal. I'll need a little space to do this — would the kitchen table be OK?” In most the cases the customer(s) will answer yes. Every "yes" you get from them counts!
Here's what need to do before you can make the presentation:
- Load calculation — at least whole-house
- Determine the system to propose
- Complete the proposal
- Calculate estimated energy savings
- Insert the product literature you’re recommending.
What To Propose
Last month we talked about having an implicit favorite product or system to sell. This is our unconscious way of pre-selecting what we will propose. At its best, our implicit favorite will be fine; it will make them warm or cool, save them money and they will be happy. At its worst, the implicit favorite will be robbing the customer of the chance to have something they would have wanted, and valued, for the next 20 years or more.
The point? It’s not our job or our right to determine what the customers’ decisions should be. It’s up to us to give them choices — their choices.
The solution? Simply take the information the customer(s) have given you and use your expertise to prepare a solution or solutions to their problems — and ask them what they would like to choose.
Proposing One System Choice or Best-Better-Good
A weekly question I ask contractors is whether they offer one system choice or multiple choices. Most offer three choices, commonly referred to as Good-Better-Best. Then I ask which is usually sold. The reply? The better one. Sound familiar? This strategy works — but recent studies, and practical experience, have shown us there are more effective ways to offer your products.
Offering a Choice
Giving the customer a choice is a recommended selling technique. In one recent study, it was demonstrated that about 50% of consumers will choose the higher priced of two similar products. Why? Lots of reasons including the peace of mind we’ve learned to get from top-of-the-line products, the satisfaction from owning the best, bragging rights.
With the choice strategy, your average job selling price will be better than just bidding the low priced product and hoping for an occasional upgrade.
Offering Three Choices
Adding a third choice changes the sales results dramatically. In the same study, a third choice was added — at double the price of the former higher priced product. The results were incredible: about half of those who were comfortable with the low priced product moved up to the middle, and about 20% who had chosen the higher priced product moved up to the new highest price product.
In other words, given three choices, good-better-best, about 25% will choose good, about 55% will choose better, and about 20% will choose the best!
By offering good-better-best choices, your average job selling price will be solidly in the middle of your upgrade products price range.
Good-Better-Best or Best-Better-Good?
Without question, consumers perceive a greater value to the same products when the best is offered first. What does that mean to you? If you’re offering choices, make sure your proposal form shows the best on the top, or on the left side, so the customer sees it first: always offer best-better-good when offering choices.
What is Total Comfort?
According to Contracting Business research, What Consumers Want From Their Comfort Systems, nearly two-thirds of all homeowners can identify specific improvements needed in their home comfort systems. Many of these improvements can be addressed through common HVAC accessories and contractor services. But, before consumers can buy, they have to know what’s available. Many contractors are leaving money on the table simply by not asking lifestyle questions.
In our August 2002 issue, we presented a special pull-out poster, Guide to Total Comfort, which was developed to help you sell quality comfort systems. You’ll find a list of qualifying lifestyle questions entitled, "Things to Think About." Ask your customers these questions, so you can deliver customer comfort and put more money in your pocket.
Following is a checklist of 12 actions to take when calling on customers. Cut them out and practice them before you make your next sales call.
- During my presentation of "The Guide to Total Comfort," I shall record their responses
to the "Things to Think About" lifestyle qualifying questions
- I shall conduct Manual J and D calculations, then show them to my customer and
explain their importance.
- I shall present the benefits of properly designed, sealed, and balanced duct systems
combined with two-stage, variable speed high-efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, and
heat pumps for maintaining the ultimate in comfort, quietness, and low utility bills.
- I shall match the indoor evaporator coil with the right outdoor unit to provide optimum
comfort, efficiency, and performance.
- I shall recommend comfort controls and zoning. Zoning allows customers to save up to
20% on utility bills while meeting the room-to-room temperature and humidity
requirements of each family member.
- I shall propose fresh air and positive pressure options when needed: HRV/ERV and
whole house HEPA filtration and dehumidification systems.
- I shall offer humidification to replenish the moisture lost in homes of colder climates,
reducing dry throats and skin, cracking woodwork, and even static electricity.
- I shall commission the system by measuring and balancing airflow and testing the
refrigerant charge. Measure for customer pleasure.
- I shall provide customers with a maintenance agreement to maintain the peak
performance and comfort of their homes. Explaining the benefits of maintaining their
comfort system is just as important as changing the oil, lubing the chassis, and
replacing the dirty air filter in their car.
- I shall impress upon them our reputation and professionalism because our company
is backed by NATE-certified installers and technicians.
- I shall visualize my close with the Total Comfort House.
- I shall have anything I want if I help my customer to get what they want first.