The 800-pound sales gorilla was in the room.
When I was selling oil heating to homeowners in the late ’70s and the rage was gas heating, I knew they were going to seek out pricing from the local competitors selling gas heating.
With enough “We’ll think about it” responses and then not closing the jobs, I switched tactics and began to end my sales presentation with the most unusual of closing statements.
“I thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation on how to modernize your heating system with oil heat. But, you owe it to yourself to get a price on gas heat.”
I could see their faces and bodies relax. The awful secret they thought they were hiding from me had been revealed.
I continued with, “But when you compare, take a look at long-term cost comparisons and you will see that oil has been cheaper over the long run. Also, knowing who does your work and comes back when you need service is something you’ll want to consider.”
I then proceeded to list a bunch of things they probably never considered and wouldn’t have been listening to if I hadn’t used this new technique. I called it “Raising the Objection.”
No matter what you’re selling, we as salespeople are always afraid of what customers think and know. And coming from a background in sales where I knew that my pricing on service work and install was going to be anywhere from 33 to 50 percent higher than most of my competition, I learned to apply the same key sales technique.
You may be in the habit of “quote and hope,” which means either you let your techs quote a price or your salespeople quote a price for work and hope the customers bring up their price objections. They may never do that and just select someone else. I know because they used to do that to me.
Don’t be fooled by their smiles and head-nodding as you make your presentation thinking they’re buying. They’re usually just being polite.
I learned how to improve my sales technique and I spent more than 20 years teaching my own techs and salespeople. Now my consulting clients all around the country for the last seven years know how to sell better.
How It's DoneIn any solid sales system, you need to have a correct set of steps that allow you to reach the right point where you raise the objection at the right time before the customers do. Because when you bring up their concern or objection first, you can control it and turn it into a competitive advantage if you know how to disarm that concern.
The way I did it was to wait until I presented what I felt was the very best solution based on their answers to my questions and my thorough preparation with the features, advantages and benefits for all of my recommendations. Then, I’d take a deep breath and say, “If I were you, I would consider getting some other price quotes. But before you do, here’s something you should consider so you’re comparing apples to apples.”
Sometimes, I might even say, “You know I might be slightly higher than the other prices you’re getting. So, may I show you why that might be?” And then I’d continue on with a scripted and visual presentation that backed up why my company and I were worth the money.
This one technique alone improved my own closing ratio (sales calls I went on to sales calls I closed) by more than 25 percent.
Know why? Because it was the last thing they were expecting me to say!
They were surprised I’d be open to bringing up what they were already thinking about doing. What it allowed me to do is bring up good reasons why my company and I were the best choice and what pitfalls to be aware of when they were comparing prices.
I truly believe my closing rate went up because customers could see I wasn’t fearful of them getting other bids. Frankly, I doubt a lot of them ever did once I helped them put all the cards on the table.
Practice it, take it into the field and watch your sales closing rate climb.