by Steve Howard

Approximately 80% of today's consumers are willing to pay more money to be more comfortable. However, until they discover what true comfort is and how to get it, they'll opt for the lowest-cost-minimum-solution almost every time!

The key to selling comfort today was given to us 2,400 years ago by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He said, "The fool tells me his reasons, the wise man persuades me with my own." In other words, don't sell people on comfort, let them sell themselves. When this occurs, selling becomes more fun for you, easier for the customer, and more rewarding for you both. So how do you help people discover the benefits of better comfort, while making it their idea?

1. Ask questions to help them discover discomfort. Here are some favorite, thought-provoking questions that will help you satisfy more customers, provide more comfort, and make more money selling comfort enhancement products such as variable speed indoor equipment.

"Does your home get too muggy ... or too dry certain times of the year?

"Do you ever turn the fan(s) on to circulate air in your home?"

"Does the noise from your indoor fan ever bother you?"

You're probably thinking these questions make sense, but they’re not rocket science. You're right, asking good questions is only the beginning. What you do after you ask determines your level of success.

Pause. Since our natural tendency is to talk or even interrupt, a two to four second pause is vital. It allows you to internalize what customers have said and gives them time to tell you more. The more problems they tell, the more comfort you sell.

Take notes.You won't remember everything customers say without writing it down. Writing it down also shows you care. Most folks go out of their way to do business with people who care.

Listen. Listening is much more than hearing — it’s understanding. Today's buyers want to know you understand them and their problems before they'll seriously listen to your solutions and spend their hard-earned money.

Place problems in priority.Let’s say the customer told you the master bedroom is too hot in the summer, follow up their answer with: "Would taking care of that problem be a high, medium or low priority?" Their answer helps you both determine their most pressing problems. The bigger the problems, the more people pay to have them solved.

2. Show why they're uncomfortable. The customer said properly cooling the master bedroom was a top priority. During your survey show why it’s hot in the summer and briefly detail how you'll take care of it. This is a blast! By answering your questions, they've told you exactly where to start looking for problems. You become the caring expert while setting yourself way above your uninformed competitors.

3. Show how they'll get exactly what they want. Just tie what they said they want into the benefits you offer. Use your presentation manual to:

  • Discuss how your company will address any concerns.
  • Review the benefits of a good installation and explain how customers lose with a bad one.
  • Detail how your complete comfort system gives them the benefits they want. Explain why you believe the brand you offer best solves their problems. Discuss how a variable speed indoor product provides the level of comfort they desire. Review your warranties, maintenance agreement and financing.
  • Tell how you will personally stand behind what you say.

4. Let them overcome their objections. Price is the most common objection. By using the process outlined so far, you have what you need to deal with this potential sale-stopping speed bump. Just review the benefits in a way that reminds customers it's their idea.

You said even temperature was important and you liked the way the variable speed fan delivered it . . . You also wanted to reduced the mugginess in your home and you felt variable speed would do just that . . . You said you liked the warranty because you wouldn't have to worry about a repair for 10 years . . . (Pause) . . . The price reflects all the benefits you were looking for. Pause again and give them time to reflect on everything they'll be getting and give them the opportunity to say yes.

If the price is still too high, work with the customer to determine which benefit(s) can be removed to lower the price. By letting them review their options they don't feel pressured. Because most people don't want to give up important benefits, many will choose the first proposal and price. When you let customers sell themselves, closing the sale becomes a natural conclusion, not a dreaded event at the end of your presentation.

Aristotle also taught us that, "Men do not resist their ideas." When you use the customers’ ideas, you're not selling, they are!

Steve Howard is president of the ACT Group, Inc, a firm specializing in sales training for the HVAC industry. He can be reached at 800-515-0034 or Steve@NoPressureSelling.com.