Contractors tend to assume that their technicians “just know” what to do once they’re in a customer’s home. To an extent that’s true. They know that they are there to solve the customer’s problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. But if you haven’t invested the time and energy it takes to teach them how to sell, then the future of your business could be jeopardized.

This is especially true during an age when, the technician is the only member of your company who comes face-to-face with customers and prospects in their home.

What the heck is “selling”?

It’s the process of effectively presenting the value of your products and services to a potential customer. It’s about influencing and persuading. It’s the single business activity involving a person-to-person communication process during which the technician uncovers and satisfies the needs of the buyer to the mutual, long-term benefit of both the consumer and the contractor.

Many people perceive selling as a simple task: persuading someone to buy something. Your objectives should be much broader than that. Being an effective seller means building a relationship that benefits both parties in the long-term. Selling involves:

• Helping a customer identify needs, fears, problems, voids, discomfort, loss, desire. (Commit these to memory. They haven’t changed in thousands of years.)
• Presenting information that solves these problems.
• Providing follow-up to maintain satisfaction, encourage future “solutions” and referrals. (Thus the cycle begins anew.)

One of the interesting things about the contracting profession is that your customers can’t see anything you have to offer – unless you show it to them. Your customers don’t come to you; they don’t browse the shelves of your warehouse. You take your store to them – in the form of your technicians. So if they’re not prepared, guess what?

No one is buying anything from your store. Why? Because…

First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions

I wish I’d coined the phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” but then you’d have to read several pages of me attempting to convince you I actually did.

But there is no ink wasted in convincing you of the truth therein: Your first impression will last long after you say or do anything to counter it, so make it good.

Your appearance speaks volumes about you before you even open your mouth. You should dress according to the client and the climate of the meeting without sacrificing your own professionalism and personal power. Cleanliness is key.

You think I’m kidding?

Be the customer for just a moment (please, humor me) and think of the first impression of a gum-smacking, greasy-haired, significantly tattooed individual in a MegaDeath T-shirt whose first question was, “Hey man, can I use your bathroom, like now?”

Okay – hold this impression clearly in your mind…

Let’s say this tech was completely honest, and he could recite the installation manual from memory. His technical knowledge was so vast that the competition occasionally had to seek his advice. We’ll even go so far as to say – once you talked to him – he was an extremely good and polite conversationalist.

That’s great. He’s not getting this job. And if he persists with this initial impression, he’s not getting the next one – or the next one – and your company will get a black eye when the story of this first impression is retold to the neighbors. How much revenue do you think that’s costing you?

See, he killed the sale – and a few more – before it even started.

Lose the courtesies of professional sales decorum – lose the sales. That about sums it up.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a contractor marketing firm. Readers can call Hudson, Ink at 1-800-489-9099 to ask about the HVAC Sales PowerPack a product designed to improve presentation skills and guaranteed to increase sales closes. To get the free 16-page booklet “How to Double Your Sales in 90 Days”, fax your letterhead with the request to 334-262-1115, or visit www.hudsonink.com for other free marketing articles and reports.