Effective selling requires a mindset of service. You have to be willing to serve your customers better than your competition. I’d like to share a story from my new book, Consistency Selling, that illustrates the service mindset. I learned it from Joe the Concrete Guy.
For many years, I lived west of Colorado Springs, at an elevation of about 9,000 feet, in the beautiful little mountain town of Woodland Park, CO. Each morning, I would drive down the twisting canyon of Ute Pass into Colorado Springs. As I drove out of town, I used to pass a quaint breakfast place called The Hungry Bear.
Each time I passed The Hungry Bear, I noticed an old white Ford pickup in the parking lot with bold black letters on the side that read “Joe the Concrete Guy” and a phone number. Seeing that pickup every morning brought a smile to my face as I imagined Joe inside eating his eggs, drinking a cup of coffee, and reading the paper.
For some reason, I enjoyed thinking about Joe like that, and I was envious that he had the time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with his paper.
After a couple of years seeing Joe’s truck, I was in my yard one day when I realized I needed some steps poured at the end of my driveway to make it easier to access my “writing shed.”
A couple days later, I pulled into The Hungry Bear and wrote down Joe’s phone number. When Joe got out to my house a few days later, he looked exactly as I imagined—long bushy hair and a long Grizzly Adams beard. He had on shorts, a tee shirt, and flip-flops. There was nothing pretentious or fake about him.
I stood there in my driveway with Joe and explained where I needed the steps. Joe nodded his head and quietly acknowledged that it would be no problem. I asked Joe how much it would cost and he responded, “Well, that depends on who does it for you.”
He continued, “If you don’t care about whether or not it starts cracking next spring when the snow melts, I know a guy that’ll do it for a few hundred bucks. But if you want me to use my forty years of experience pouring concrete in these mountains so it never cracks, I would have to charge a thousand bucks.”
I stood mesmerized by Joe’s cool and calm demeanor. He wasn’t afraid of charging a price that was fair for him. “Well Joe, I don’t want it to crack, so I guess it’s gonna be a thousand bucks.”
Joe smiled like James Dean then said, “I appreciate that you understand that I deserve to get paid for what I know—not just for what I do.”
Just at that moment Joe turned slowly and looked at a motorcycle trailer I had parked in the dirt and rocks next to my driveway. “Why is your trailer sitting there?”
“Well, I mean, you know, that’s where I park it, Joe,” I timidly responded. He looked back at me and said, “You park it there on purpose?”
“Yeah, I guess.” I responded
“Why do you intentionally park your trailer in the dirt and rocks?” he asked.
“Well, because the driveway isn’t wide enough,” I said
To which Joe said, “You know when I’m here pouring your steps, I could widen your driveway.” My budget instantly went from $1,000 to nearly $10,000.
Was Joe pushy? Was Joe doing high-pressure sales? Was Joe selling snake oil?
Of course not.
Joe was the consummate service and sales professional. He identified a problem that I had overlooked and offered a solution. Do you think Joe would have given a damn if I said no to widening the driveway? Do you think his confidence and self-esteem would have been damaged if I said no to widening the driveway?
Not a chance. Joe’s confidence in himself and his solutions did not depend one ounce on my approval or appreciation for his work. Joe had the service mindset. Find a problem and offer a solution.
Once Joe wrote up the paperwork, I told him, “You know Joe, I do sales training for a living and that was a super effective technique to get the ticket higher.”
“Technique? What technique?” he inquired.
“Well, that technique you expertly used to get the ticket from $1,000 to $10,000.”
“Mr. Long, that was no technique. That was just common sense.”
“Yes it is Joe, but as Voltaire once said, ‘common sense is not so common.'”
Then Joe went all philosophical on me.
“Mr. Long, take a look at my truck.” he instructed.
“What does it say on the side of it?” He asked.
“Well… it says Joe the Concrete Guy and your phone number.”
“Exactly.” Joe stated. “It says Joe the Concrete Guy. Concrete Guy is the main thing, right? I mean it doesn’t say Joe the Window, Roofing, Siding and Concrete Guy. It only says Joe the Concrete Guy.”
“You see,” Joe continued, “all I do is concrete. It’s all I’ve ever done since my father taught me how to pour concrete in these mountains. And I learned a long time ago that if I am going to take care of my family, every time I walk on to someone’s property, my job is to look for every problem concrete can solve and let folks know I can solve it.”
Bam. Drop the mic.
You see—Joe’s responsibility is our responsibility. When you are with a prospect, your job is to look for every problem your product or service can solve and let folks know you can solve it. Our responsibility is to serve our customers better than our competition. Doing that requires a service mindset.