Many professionals including “design-build” contractors and specialty home improvement salespeople have some of the same needs because:
“Whenever an interaction between two or more parties takes place, for the purpose of establishing new ideas, exchanging goods or services, or the development of a relationship, some form of selling will occur and the skills of the communicator will determine the outcome.”
If you or those in your company interact with prospects, give proposals or estimates, this relates to you.
DO PROSPECTS/CUSTOMERS OFTEN SEE SALESPEOPLE AS A THREAT TO THEIR WELL-BEING?
Yes, people resent shoddy sales tactics and pushy salespeople who drone on and on without ever examining the customer’s values or uncovering their true needs. Yes, customers resent those providing services who stretch the truth, make erroneous statements submitted as fact, and, yes, they resent “time wasters.” On the other hand, when people are satisfied with the way the goods or services were sold and installed and when proper sales tactics were used, their comment usually is “I bought it from XYZ Company” — or — “XYZ Company did my work.” They don’t stress that someone “sold them” something.
So what of the contractors, designers or remodelers who don’t like to be called sales representatives? All too often, those who are new to the selling profession, or those who have to use interactive communication skills to acquire business, frequently misunderstand there are certain core values involved in becoming more effective in what they do. Like it or not, improved communication techniques, which are embodied in well-trained salespeople, may be a key.
RUNNING A MODERN REMODELING/HOME IMPROVEMENT BUSINESS
“In this modern era, the concept of scientific selling is described as a problem-solving discussion between salesperson and prospect that leads toward a meeting of minds that deepens the dependence of each on the other. The primary aim is to collaborate effectively and establish mutual trust.”
Certain skills applicable to selling are apparent in many professions people wouldn’t consider sales jobs, including lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers and even clergymen. In fact, anyone who has to convey an idea to another is regulated, knowingly or otherwise, by major components of selling. To use one example — rapport. This word plays a powerful role in the success of selling and to those other professions just mentioned.
Now, here’s the catch: Rapport is a feeling. It is based on, among other things, trust, confidence, credibility, comprehension, feelings of well-being, empathy and believability. You may nod your head and agree, yet you may not fully understand the skills necessary to create and maintain rapport with your customers.
HOW DO LISTENING AND RESPONSE TECHNIQUES PLAY INTO THIS?
We believe rapport can only be accomplished by understanding some of the core processes that go into structured selling. If you’ve dealt with prospects who want to acquire products or services such as yours, I guarantee at some time you have heard early on in your customer contact expressions such as these:
- We’re looking at two or three other companies.
- We’re not ready to buy now; we’re looking to get ideas.
- We know your company, and we’re familiar with your work. We want you to know that price is very important.
Whether you like it or not, these statements enter your thought process and cause you to believe erroneously or refine what you are prepared to say.
And when you’ve completed a review of the project, done your homework, made a presentation and presented your price, maybe these statements were made:
- This is more costly than we had anticipated.
- We may have to “back burner” this project.
- We are getting other prices and we will contact you again.
- We want to talk it over with _____.
- Leave us your card, and we’ll get back
Statements such as these are not necessarily true. So why do people say them? Objectively evaluate how someone providing similar services to yours will get this contract and you may never be recontacted?
Frequently the issue of price appears to be a barrier. And you will find it convenient to blame the loss of a contract on price issues. Here is a statement that may shock you; however, we have the research to substantiate it.
“There is seldom a cold, rational, dispassionate buyer who buys solely based on a lower price or lesser quality. It requires trust to be established, needs uncovered, and a cooperative feeling between buyer and seller based mostly on rapport.”
We believe that when you’re making a presentation in the home, the prospect/customer is the key ingredient in a sound sales methodology. How the prospect thinks and feels has to be the major consideration in the development of a sales system — or that system will eventually fail. If you’re not thinking about how your product will benefit them, much of your presentation will fall on deaf ears.
When the issue of customer feelings or values is raised, many people (you may be included) get uncomfortable, assuming that we’re moving into areas often called touchy-feely or invasion of private issues — yet these same people want to build trust and create rapport in their customer relationships.
RAPPORT IS A STATE OF MIND WHICH BEGINS WITH FEELINGS
For some salespeople, building rapport seems a snap, while others try and never seem to get it. Rapport is most easily developed in the early stages of contact. It is usually based on understanding how prospects think. To understand the basics of this phenomenon, here are three simple guidelines:
- Stop telling: Are your presentations too short or long, yet void of a strong needs assessment? Are you utilizing excuses, defensive statements or even price drops to compensate for objections/negotiations?
- Listen and process information: Ask more questions and listen more effectively. This needs to happen particularly in the early stages of a presentation, as this will be perceived by the customer as a helping and caring attitude. Learning to do it properly requires a new attitude and usually some extensive training.
- Customer perception: You are selling efficiently when the buyer is convinced it is his/her decision to buy. Notice that the satisfied customer often says, “I bought it from …” and seldom, “What’s-his-name sold it to me.” Remember: Closing is the natural conclusion to the satisfactory completion of each step in a sound sales methodology. Effective sales practices don’t come off as strong selling. They are classified as customer satisfaction practices.
SELLING IS A SCIENCE, NOT AN ART
There is a science to selling, and it’s a lot more than glib, talkative presentations that often are too long and provide little, if any, feelings of well-being for the prospect. Like any science, you have to work at it and understand that you have certain cultural, emotional and perceptional blocks that may prevent you from doing/saying what is in your best interest and that of your customers. Scientific selling is best described as “a problem-solving discussion between a salesperson and a prospect that leads toward a meeting of the minds that deepens the dependence on each other (a collaborative effect).”
However, don’t be misled. In order to sell more efficiently, you will still need to utilize modern, proven sales techniques, and perhaps change what you are doing and/or how you are doing it.