Improving sales is like everything else you want to improve in your business. It goes a whole lot better when you’ve got a plan and you’re prepared. To make quality sales, you need a documented, systematic approach and practice to be successful.

I don’t believe in a “born salesperson.”

The reason I feel this way is because I was terrible at sales when I first started. I was painfully shy and I went into every sales call with a haphazard approach. I found myself repeating things or leaving out key things that should have been done and discussed with the prospective customer.

Then, I made two key rookie salesperson mistakes:

  • I was getting so many people saying “no” to me I decided I needed to go faster on sales calls and see more people.
  • I tried to copy a successful salesperson. In this case, my dad’s approach to sales calls.

Well, that was stupid on my part!

What I learned first is to slow down. I learned to block time for doing sales and nothing else other than being present on the call. I created a sales system that got more people saying “yes” to me, rather than rushing through sales calls and getting even more rejections.

And I learned to be myself. My dad would speak in a very quiet and deferential way that made people lean in when he spoke. He wasn’t doing it on purpose; he was just being him. But I’m not like my dad. I’m passionate and I don’t speak at a low volume.

Finally, I began to be systematic in my selling approach. And I got so good that I was selling $1 million a year in big-ticket sales back in the late 1990s. And it was not my full-time job.

I knew the real leverage was as I got better closing sales, I now had a way to teach others at my company a sales system that allowed them to be themselves yet more likely to make sales.

They weren’t born salespeople either!

They got better because I shared with them the belief that it is in the customer’s best interest to be better prepared and follow a systematic way to go about selling. It required that we find out what the customer really needs and wants.

Our sales team got so good, we actually helped customers discover we had solutions to their nagging problems they assumed could not be solved.


Serving the customer

To me, selling is a term that should be replaced with serving.

Good to great sales are accomplished in the long run by teaching technicians and big-ticket salespeople how to run a service call or a price quote opportunity in a consistent way that serves the customer best.

To do this, you are well-served to train your techs and sales staff on how to demystify the sales process for your customers and to build value in the unique services your company provides. This is what’s required to separate you from your competition.

A great place to start is by asking three good open-ended questions that get the customer talking to you about what is going on today, what they see as a successful outcome and what they want in the way of comfort, safety, energy savings and more.

You also need to organize the process of what your technicians are going to do, from when they arrive all the way through the sales process, so they can help customers make good buying decisions.

Here is a good overview:

  1. Have three questions ready for technicians to ask a customer about his existing comfort and efficiency to make sure the tech knows exactly what the customer wants. This will help techs pay special attention to what solutions they can offer in the customer’s best interest.

    Technicians should take notes because the words customers use are the same ones techs want to repeat back as they present solutions.
  2. If selling a replacement heating and cooling unit, techs should get permission to do an intensive heat loss and heat gain of the home.
  3. If performing a service call, techs should get permission to do a visual survey of the home or business so they don’t miss anything that could be problematic in the future. It’s worth their time to make good suggestions on what they can do to take care of the potential problem immediately. Typically it will never be cheaper for the customer to approve the work while the tech is there.

    However, doing multiple jobs at the time of service deserves a legitimate discount based on knowing your numbers.
  4. Technicians should let customers know they’re going to spend some extra time looking at the trouble spots where customers said it was either too warm, too hot, too cold or where they’re running out of hot water too fast.
  5. Salespeople need to let customers know how long they will spend onsite creating a customized proposal for them. That includes time to explain the proposal line by line so customers know exactly what they will be getting for their hard-earned money. And if the salesperson can’t do it onsite, let the customer know when he’ll be back so they can go through it together.

    Don’t kid yourself by thinking emailing, faxing or mailing the proposal will result in customers magically knowing the value of what the salesperson selected and how the work is done. It’s going to have a negative impact on the amount of closed sales you get.

    If the salesperson absolutely cannot get back to the home or business, set up a GoToMeeting session to run through the proposal with the customer. Or schedule a phone call where the salesperson can at least go over it line by line. This will greatly enhance the chances of making the sale.
  6. Technicians are well-served to create a menu of options to address the need on the day of service as well as legitimate recommendations for repairs or upgrades that improve comfort, safety, efficiency and more.

Selling the right way is a skill like all other skills and that means it requires practice. If your company has a training center, you’re already ahead of the game. If you don’t, use your home or your office to simulate tech and salesperson selling scenarios and watch the money roll in!