Ever heard the common (inexperienced) sales person try to sell something? They generally try to “sell” the benefits. Point by point, as if they were reading a script, they tell you the benefits of the buying their product or hiring them for service. It often results in something sounding like a pitch, where the sales person is doing 90% of the talking, and the customers feel like they are being sold.
Rather than doing that, let the customer do the talking. Let them tell you what they want, and what’s important to them, There’s a million articles around the web slinging that advice, but the big questions is HOW. How do you get the customer talking?
It all starts by asking questions. I try to stick with ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions. According to FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, these words get longer, open ended responses than others. On the other end ‘why’ questions put people on the defensive and aren’t conducive to open conversation.
How long are you planning on living here?
This is a great question because it gets customers to open up about premium materials. Most customers are afraid to indicate they want quality materials as they fear it will make you bump up to the price… so they’ll try to anchor low. Yet as homeowners they’re in it for the long haul. If they’re going to be there a while, they’ll let you know and you now have a gauge as to how important long term durability and quality is to them.
[av_hr class=’invisible’ height=’20’ shadow=’no-shadow’ position=’center’ custom_border=’av-border-thin’ custom_width=’50px’ custom_border_color=” custom_margin_top=’30px’ custom_margin_bottom=’30px’ icon_select=’yes’ custom_icon_color=” icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ custom_class=” av_uid=’av-lt33c’]
Have you researched any of the materials you might want to use?
Get some insight into how much research the customers have done into the project and materials. If they have a specific material in mind, they’ll tell you why they want it. Assuming it’s a reasonable choice, stick to it and lever the benefits they see in it.
By actively marketing with informative content, and positioning your company as the ‘guide’, you run less of a chance of having low margin materials or materials you don’t work with requested. [av_hr class=’invisible’ height=’20’ shadow=’no-shadow’ position=’center’ custom_border=’av-border-thin’ custom_width=’50px’ custom_border_color=” custom_margin_top=’30px’ custom_margin_bottom=’30px’ icon_select=’yes’ custom_icon_color=” icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ custom_class=” av_uid=’av-du7xk’]
Who were you referred by?
I love this question because it’s like social proof in verbiage. Right from the get go it indicates that we get many referrals. If they were referred by a friend or family member, they’ll tell you and gives you a relative comparison point (ie. “like we did for Jane”). Even if they weren’t referred by anyone they will usually open about how they found you.
What made you decide to call us?
Sometimes a customer might just say they found you online. That’s great, but you want to know. Was it reviews? Did you have a similar project in your portfolio? Do they feel that you’re the specialist in something? Were you ‘just’ another bid? Often the answer reveals a pain / pleasure point. Whatever the motive behind the call was, you can leverage that in your sales conversation. Of course if you’re ‘just another bid’, you can decide how much time to invest in the customer. [av_hr class=’invisible’ height=’20’ shadow=’no-shadow’ position=’center’ custom_border=’av-border-thin’ custom_width=’50px’ custom_border_color=” custom_margin_top=’30px’ custom_margin_bottom=’30px’ icon_select=’yes’ custom_icon_color=” icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ custom_class=” av_uid=’av-akz94′]
Have any of your neighbors had a similar project done?
This topic will get them to reveal their standards for the project and service provider. They’ll tell you what they liked, and/or didn’t like about it, and where the service provider exceled or flopped. Those talking points will let you know what the customer values. From there it’s your job to show how much better you are.
Have you ever seen a project go south because of poor communication?
Everyone has seen the agony of poor communication in a home improvement project. Maybe it didn’t involve them directly, but perhaps their mother hired a roofer to do a simple job replacing tiles. Yet after they took a deposit, they were unavailable to provide updates while waiting for the tiles. It resulted in painful frustration.
Get them thinking about the value of having easy, and reliable communications methods, and the lack of commonly associated with low cost service providers.
Dropping these questions into a sales meeting gets your customer talking about what’s important to them and focuses on their problems not your service. Then you just have to show them that you fit the bill. No feature and benefit show need.
In this blog post I mentioned using a tablet to show some features / benefits of your company. You can adapt this question asking to your tablet presentation as well. Rather than saying, here have look at some of these pictures from a similar project, open up by asking “have you ever seen any of the similar work we’ve done?”.