What is your sales process? More importantly, do you have one? Using a predictable sales process will take the volatility out of your business. So, what’s predictable about a sales approach and process?

A sale is the result of a formulated process. Leave one component out of your process, and you walk away with no sale. The formula is:

Calls/Leads x Conversation Rate x Average Sale = Sales Volume

The following is a 10,000-foot view of this sales formula:

  • All sales start with a customer’s request for service or product — this is your “Calls/Leads”;

  • Your success is dependent on how well you convert these opportunities into a sale — this is your “Conversion Rate”;

  • Maximizing your success is how well you understood your customer’s needs, wants, and desires; this step separates the great and the average salesperson or service technician and is your “Average Sale”; and

  • The above is the mathematical formula for measuring your sales success.

In this column, we’re not going to focus on marketing. We will assume you have calls/leads to run. What you do with these calls/leads is the measure of your success.

You’re about to learn how to make the secret sauce in the sales process. In order to master the sales process you must first understand it.

People say, “Customers buy from people they trust.” The key here is how to get people to trust you. I’m going to assume you’ve figured out that personal hygiene is a basic human dignity activity. Clean yourself up. Enough said.

Next, you will need to understand the face-to-face “selling a process equation,” which is: Know + Like = Trust.

Your first step for every sales or service call is to build the relationship with the customer.

Building a trusting relationship is the end game. All processes are created with the end in mind. You can’t just jump to trust; you can’t start with trust. Trust is something you earn by building a relationship with your customer. No relationship-building means no trust, and this leads to you going broke.

Let’s look more closely at the elements within “Know + Like = Trust.”



Step one for building trust: Ask your customer a question.

The key to asking questions is to have your customer respond. As your customer is responding to your question, listen closely, because the magic is in the second question.

One of the six steps in the service/sales process is to explore the needs with your customer. While you and your customer are exploring the plumbing, heating, or cooling system, you will be asking questions to gain further understanding about their specific system.

For example, while you and your customer are at the main water shutoff, you stop and look around with a puzzled look on your face and say, “Mr./Mrs. Customer, where’s your water softener?” This was always my first question to get the ball rolling. Most customers would respond with, “I don’t have one,” or “Should I have one?” or “I’ve been thinking about getting one.” The key now is to ask a congruent follow-up question to gain more understanding about your customer’s needs, wants and desires.

Keeping the conversation in line with the response, “I don’t have one,” I would follow up with something like, “Is there a reason for not having water softener?” This allows the conversation to continue, giving the customer a chance to explain further as to why they don’t have one. The importance of asking follow-up questions is to continue the conversation. Based on what your customer’s response is to your question, be prepared to ask another congruent question. If your customer asks you, “Why do I need one?” You would respond with another question, such as “Do you notice soap or calcium buildup in your showers, tubs, or lavatories?” Again, always follow up with questions. Questions allow you to guide the conversation. Following up with your customer with congruent questions is part of the next step in the sales process.



The second question is the follow-up question. These questions should be congruent with what a customer said. The follow-up question communicates to your customer that you are listening intently and are paying attention to them.

All people (including customers) love it when you are listening to what they’re saying. You will show you are listening by asking the follow-up question. Your questions should be aimed at gathering as much information as possible about your customer’s wants, needs and desires.

When you are listening closely and asking follow-up questions to gain more understanding of what your customer truly wants, you can deliver to your customer precisely what they want instead of what you want. Your customer doesn’t care about what you think they want — they care about what they want. The only way for you to find this out is to have a conversation with your customer.

Caution: Be aware that your speaking part here is to only ask questions.



To continue asking follow-up questions, your customer has started to dip their toe into trusting you because you’re having a conversation that is meaningful to them.

I’ve seen techs and salespeople have diarrhea of the mouth and start telling customers everything about anything. The customer is not interested in you. Your customer is interested in you knowing what they want. Stop spewing your excellence onto your customers. They don’t care. You will lose more sales than you make if you make this about you. Don’t be that guy.

Take it a step at a time. Take a deep breath and ask your customer a question. This is getting to know what your customer wants. Listen intently to your customer’s response, then ask the follow-up question. Your customers will start to like you.

Add these two steps together and you will earn your customer’s trust with a sale.


The test of time

My mentor Frank Blau coached me that the key to sales is to schmooze the customer. It took me years to understand the equation for schmoozing. Schmoozing is posing questions to your customer, listening intently, and asking follow-up questions.

After you have your customer’s trust, you can present your customer with options that are congruent with what your heard your customer say.

It makes for a powerful presentation when you have your customer’s trust and are using your customer’s words to talk about what they want, need and desire. Build customers for life and watch your sales soar by following this process.