Help your customers see that they're making an investment that's no different than their car or their home.

Two years ago, right around Christmas, a package arrived. Ellen Rohr had sent me a holiday gift. Could it be more food? Another tie? Another sweater?

No! It was Tom Hopkins' “Low Profile Selling” audio CD series.

Gee, how nice. Just what I wanted, more sales-related training stuff. For more than 25 years as a contractor, I have been selling jobs that were consistently 25 percent to 50 percent more than my competition, and my customers loved me. What was I going to do with this thing now? No, the thought of re-gifting never crossed my mind.

One day I decided to plug the CD into the car's CD player. Tom Hopkins began by saying, “If you don't listen to a training CD at least six times, you've wasted your money.” Wow! That was frank, and frankly daunting.

I began listening as I drove all around town for the next several days, and as I was listening, I said to myself, “I do that. Yep, I do that, too.” But when I finished, I remembered Tom's warning about listening to it six times.

Doing as I instructed, I plugged the CDs in one more time, much to the annoyance of my wife, who was sick of hearing this sales babble already. A funny thing happened when I listened this time. I started saying to myself, “I used to do that. Yep, I used to do that, too.” By listening again, I realized how much I had forgotten about the sales basics, let alone the more advanced techniques I used to put into practice. I had been short-cutting the sales process.

Rest assured, I didn't know everything Tom talked about; so, once again, I learned how much there is to know, especially when you think you already know so much about a subject.

Back To The Basics

Just one of the sales concepts that struck me again was the need, as Tom says, “to reduce it to the ridiculous.” Simply, this means taking the big number you're quoting and reduce the investment to a much smaller number based on daily, weekly or even monthly payments.

I'm sure you've never succumbed to such a thing. Oh, by the way, that car you lease - I'll bet you know the monthly payments, but you may not be so sure what the total price is. How about the lovely house you “bought” - you know, the one the bank really owns because you only have those small monthly payments to make?

We've all experienced it.

Haven't you seen the ad for replacement windows that “Pay for themselves!” with lower energy bills. But how many of us have actually used this technique to improve the closing rate on big-ticket items? Some very smart contractors I work with actually offer “same as cash” financing, even for the service work they do. It helps their average dollars per call and their total sales a lot.

Reducing it to the ridiculous is actually helpful when you have a business decision to make about what to invest in. The big number can be scary, but it's not so bad if you weigh the long-term benefit to the long-term investment. For instance, there's a new style of truck and layout that you know will make your guys much more efficient. If you buy the truck on payments and add that cost to your selling price, you'll find the truck should pay for itself.

If you need to buy software because you're throwing people at the problem instead of technology, adding a few dollars to your selling price and paying it out should help you come out ahead in the long run by either reducing a bloated staff or redeploying existing staff to where they'll better help the company.

This technique will work whether you're selling a boiler or a bathroom. Help your customers see that what they're really doing is making an investment that's no different than their car or their home. The dollars spent averaged over the years ahead is a very small number for the comfort, convenience, safety or savings your product or service provides.

Is it time to invest in yourself? If you get stuck on the big number when you know you need to get a business coach or join a business trade group - reduce it to the ridiculous. What is the cost if you break it up into what it'll return to you over the long run? Then, have the guts to pull the trigger.

I put into action what Tom said about reducing it to the ridiculous with new customers. I now explain what their investment in the products and services I provide will mean in added dollars to their existing selling price. And, I make it clear what they'll gain over the long run. I sell them by using the testimonials from contractors just like them who have benefited by their work with me. It really works!

What I know is that contractors who have invested wisely with the right business coach will tell you it really doesn't cost anything; it saves money when you “reduce it to the ridiculous.”

And I can tell you that Ellen's holiday gift turned out to be one of the best presents I ever received.