Our first ever virtual sales meeting was a rousing success. There were over 1000 companies on the line for this 90 minute event that featured renowned sales trainer Brian Smith.
Over the course of the program we addressed numerous topics from the best-selling recorded series The Science of Successful In-Home Selling and answered many questions; however, there were several questions which we did not have time to cover. Let’s get to some of them now:
Q: How do you get prospects/customers to trust you over the phone?
A: Talk more about them (ask questions) and less about you/your company. During phone contact, search out the true reason that they want information from or about your company or the product. What is the specific condition that causes them to call now? Draw out their specific observations and values regarding their home and its relationship to the project. This usually has to be scripted, otherwise it turns into a “homey” discourse on a world of issues.
Q: How would you motivate construction estimators to become salesmen that can close sales?
A: The answer lies more in how do you select the people for this task. Beyond having relevant knowledge and information about the construction aspects of your product, you have to hire people who have a behavior which would enable them to accept training on sales issues. Remember that telling is not selling, and selling is not pushing people into things they do not want or need. It is important, however, that estimators are taught how to uncover “unstated needs” (beyond “wants”) then utilize this information to extend the presentation of your product and service so it meets the needs and value system of the prospect(s).
Q: What is the biggest obstacle in training a sales staff?
A: In-home sales requires an understanding of “step selling” which essentially breaks down the presentation of a product/service and the company performing that service into elements which are presented in response to the actual “needs” of the customer. Most companies do not have a dedicated, virtually unaltered sales methodology which is constructed on the basis of responding to customer’s needs and values, the salesperson simply presents products and services which they believe meet their “wants”. It is important to understand that training does not begin with the first day of employment and end ten days later. Sales training is ongoing, keeping in mind that you are dealing with the vagaries and personalities of the individuals you are training. Those who are more accomplished may resist the idea that training is a “constant”. Those who are newer to training usually present less of a problem. The major obstacle is often the manner in which a manager or owner delivers information. If it’s mostly critical and corrective without an objective overview and doesn’t provide new methods to deal with the ever changing buying habits of the customers we serve it will usually fail. One final thing on this subject, no matter how much you know or think you know about selling and your customers, upper management/owners have to upgrade what they know and understand so they constantly remain involved in the ongoing training process.
Q: Do you still believe that it is a “no-no” to present to a one-legger? We have noticed that prospects are getting more estimates than before.
A: First of all, the job of each company and sales representative is to serve the needs of the prospects who come to them for advice, estimates, and what have you. In that sense, if the request for “all interested parties” being present is perceived as a demand or an absolute necessity, it is a “mistake”. The issue of all interested parties being present is a benefit to the prospect. It eases the transfer of information from one party to another. Often, if the husband intakes the information, he may be overlooking a portion of the needs that fit the wife more than himself. He may also present what he considers “preferential information” when relaying the presentation to her, overlooking some things that they both would need to know. All that being said, when setting the appointment, you also should be selling the “Value of the Visit” which is covered in depth in our recorded work Leads, Leads, Leads.
If a question is raised by one of the parties during appointment setting regarding the necessity for both parties to be there, your answer should be as follows:
“No problem. We want to make this as convenient for you and (the other party) as we possibly can. Because we’ve been in business (x #of years) we understand what works best and for most homeowners having the other party present turns out to be the most preferable way.”
Remind them that we (your company) are here to give them a proposal based not just on the project but respond to their specific values (both parties), all of which are important to them.
If you can’t get an appointment or you arrive at an appointment where all parties are not present, again, no problem. Do a “walk around” (examine the project), ask specific probing questions, take notes/pictures, and then suggest you’ll return to your office and prepare a complete proposal with recommendations, samples of specific products and options which you will discuss with both parties (another attempt to get both together).
Our opinion is that proposals delivered orally or written are not completely valid because we have missed the other person’s input. When they bought their house both parties were likely present. When they closed on title both parties were probably there, and when they make the major decisions in their life, whether it be parenthood, vacations, interactions with family, etc. they presumably find it important that both be present in the decision making process. Your transaction is no less an important situation. In summary, find a way to make the concept of all parties being present more valid and more applicable and appreciated as a benefit to the prospects you’re working with.
Be on the lookout as we address more questions from this meeting in a later blog posting!