Salespeople are often misunderstood, sometimes even by themselves! Here are five common misperceptions about sales and how to overcome them.
There are five aspects about salesmanship that are often misunderstood: enthusiasm, showmanship, the concept that “more is better,” body language, and making multiple closing attempts. Let’s shed some light on these.
Enthusiasm is one of the most misunderstood concepts in salesmanship. It comes from the Greek word, “enthos,” which means God, and –“iasm,” which is an acronym for “I Am Sold Myself.” Being outwardly enthusiastic about a product or service does not mean you’re manic about it. But when your enthusiasm originates from within, it can be subtle and clearly apparent at the same time.
If you don't possess first-hand knowledge of how well your products work, you won't be able to sincerely convey the enthusiasm required to get your message across to the customer. When you actually believe in your products, you’ve bought them yourself. Are your blower wheel, indoor coil, furnace, condensing unit, and ductwork spotlessly clean and properly sized? Do you own a high-end filtration system and a couple of UV lights? If not, why not? If it’s because you don’t feel you can afford them yourself, that might explain why you can’t sell them.
Testimonials are important, and no testimonial is more important than your own. When you own the products you’re selling, and customers ask you about their performance and reliability, your response will be based on personal experience. That upgrades you from the position of salesman to “fellow customer.”
Combining the concepts of showmanship and salesmanship makes people think of the old-time carnival barker. Some think showmanship in salesmanship means telling jokes. It’s nothing like that.
Part of showmanship is the use of visual aids. Many people are visual learners. Instead of telling them about a product, whenever possible, show it to them.
Visual aids command attention. When you’re running service calls, bring the contactor, the capacitor, the relay, the valve — just about anything and everything you’re recommending, in with you, and you’ll have a significantly greater probability of success.
Sometimes what you’re selling is too large to carry around with you. Some manufacturers have smaller samples of their products you can show to customers. I used to have a small-scale model of the high-end condensing unit I sold the most of. People loved it. I also had a small sample of the material the cabinet was made of, a small sample of a standard cabinet, and a piece of emery cloth. Prospective customers could use the emery cloth on both samples to see how the unit I was recommending had a superior finish that would help it to look better and hold up longer than the competition. It also had a special coil, which I had a three-inch sample of.
When you provide visual aids, you more than likely will be the only salesperson who does so. Visual aids make you more memorable, and this really helps when customers are “getting bids.”
Visual aids also provide a little break and a change of pace for both the presenter and the prospective customer.
3. ‘More is Better’
Some salespeople seem to think that the more they talk, the more likely the customer is to buy. The truth is, the more you say, the higher the probability you’ll say something a prospective customer won't like.
Make your presentation shorter. Shorter presentations work well on people who are in a hurry or who just want the basics. Shorter presentations ensure that prospective customers know everything they need to know, and nothing more.
Don’t feel the need to go into a big sales pitch prior to quoting prices in order to “build value.” Think about yourself as the consumer. When a salesperson has to give a big long sales pitch prior to quoting the price, what’s the one thing you know about the price before you get it? You know that the salesperson thinks it’s high.
4. Body Language
Traditional thinking in salesmanship states that when prospective customers cross their hands and/or legs, they’re tuning you out. It might just mean that they’re comfortable like that.
When I recruit service technicians, I say, “I’m looking for technicians who are thorough and can’t turn a blind eye to things like dirt, obvious biological growth, corrosion, and undersized, leaky, or inadequate ductwork, without at least giving people a chance to remedy the situation. I want technicians who are willing to make a list of every single deficiency they see in systems, in order of priority, and go over these deficiencies with prospective customers. They would do this regardless of:
- Where the home is located
- How the home looks
- The age, condition, or type of car the prospective customer drives
- The customer’s appearance.
They would also do this regardless of:
Whether or not prospective customers seem like they:
- Like you
- Have money or a good credit rating
- Appear to be interested in what you’re saying
- Are going to buy.
Most people count themselves out before they even get started by pre-judging the call based on the above. There is no way of knowing in advance whether or not customers are going to buy. When you’re the consumer, do you fawn all over salesmen, or do you keep a poker-face and make them work for their money? Has it ever occurred to you that you’re not the only one who does that?
The only way to truly know whether or not they’re going to buy is to follow all the steps to a successful presentation, then give them an opportunity to make a decision.
5. Multiple Closing Attempts
Don’t be afraid to give customers more than one opportunity to make a decision. The first objection is almost never the true objection, especially when that objection concerns money.
Many people in our industry will make their point once, get one objection, and back completely off because they don’t want to appear to be a “high-pressure salesman.” If you’re making honest recommendations about things customers really should buy, and you completely back down without at least making sure they understand the seriousness of their situation, they may think that you’re just quoting things to try and make more money. They may think that if they really needed everything you were recommending, and you really cared about them, you would have asserted yourself a little more and made a little stronger case.
Charlie Greer is the creator of “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales.” Service Roundtable CEO Matt Michel, who was recently named one of “Contracting Business' 22 Most Influential People in Residential HVAC” said, “I consider [Slacker’s Guide] to be a better audio sales training program than anything produced by Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, or Tom Hopkins.” For more information and an audio sample, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 800-963-HVAC (4822).