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What Keeps People From Buying?

Oct. 21, 2017
People fear making the wrong decision. This fear has three levels.

Due to the fact that I started selling in the 1970s, and the techniques being taught at that time were all that high-pressure, intimidation, manipulation, and word games that don't work, I spent fifteen years studying salesmanship before I got any good at it.

I was also a rated player in the United States Chess Federation. In a tournament chess match, if you're at a loss as to what to do, it's perfectly legal to stand up, walk around to the other side of the board, and look at it from your opponent's point-of-view. Doing so gives you a completely different perspective on the game.

How does this apply to us?
Around 1986, I had the sudden realization that I'd spent the last fifteen years concentrating all my efforts on trying to figure out how to get people to buy, and I'd spent no effort on trying to figure out what prevents people from making a buying decision. I'd only been looking at the sales game from one side of the board.

I believe what keeps people from making a buying decision is fear; the fear of making the wrong decision. This fear has three levels.

When you choose the wrong contractor to replace your home comfort system, you have to spend more money than you'd planned to have the job done correctly. That's bad, but it gets worse.

When you choose the wrong contractor to replace your home comfort system, and you tell people about it, you may have to endure criticism from others. I've had problems with the contractors doing renovations on my homes, and when I've told family and friends about them, I've had to suffer through what I call "victim shaming." They've said things like, "You just don't know how to choose a contractor," or worse yet, "What are you doing to cause these problems?" And of course, you may have to sit through your significant other saying things like, "I told you I had a bad feeling about him." That's pretty bad, too, but it gets even worse.

The worst part about choosing the wrong contractor to replace your home comfort system is not the criticism of others, it's the self-criticism. I've been through that as well.

I've lived in the same home for 17 years now, and I'm on my second round of renovations. I can tell you that it's nearly impossible to find someone who does what they say they're going to do and gets the job done on time. I have a terrible time with home improvement contractors. They sweat you out. They disappear for days, even weeks at a time, and take forever and a day to complete a job.

 Eventually, I give up and just pay them out of disgust and to get them out of my hair.

The hassle of all this is one thing, but things like this are really hard on the self-image. I find myself asking myself, "Am I causing these problems?" Also, I know I should confront them and put my foot down, but after a while, I get tired of doing that, and just cave in. Then I feel like a wuss.

The "Million-Dollar Question"
I'd been working my way through this whole concept of trying to determine what keeps people from buying. I was running a one-legged appointment (one-half of a married couple). We'd gone over all the details, and it felt like we were coming up on decision time. I could tell the guy knew he needed it, he wanted the system I was proposing, and that he wanted it from me. It just seemed to me that he was nervous about making the wrong decision, especially without his wife there.

I said to myself, let's get this out in the open. I asked him, “Is there any doubt in your mind as to my ability, and the ability of my company, to do this job right for you; that there is no way that having me do this for you could be a mistake?”

He was kind of looking off to the side. The expression on his face told me he was thinking it over. Suddenly, you could see the realization hit him  ̶  he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was no way that having me do that for him could be a mistake.

He got all manic and started shaking my hand and saying he'd take it, and thanking me. I incorporated that question into my closing procedure, and it made me over $1,000,000. That's why I call it the "Million-Dollar Question."

Charlie Greer is the creator of "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales," the audio book that includes Charlie Greer's entire sales call procedure, his closing procedure, techniques to overcome objections, and how to make self-generated sales. For complete details, call 1-800-963-4822, or go to Email your comments and questions on salesmanship to [email protected].