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How Do Technicians Sell?

In our industry we have two terms for technicians. Service & maintenance techs, and selling techs. Typically, we only allow selling techs to sell equipment and service and maintenance techs to do service and maintenance. But shouldn't all your techs be selling techs? Each and every home they enter needs products and services you offer, not just equipment, yet we reserve the selling for those who show the potential to close. All technicians have the opportunity to offer and sell much more than just equipment. All your technicians should be selling products and services that the customer needs.

Why should you train all your technicians to sell? Selling creates more revenue for your company. It helps your technicians make more money for their family. It makes your company a preferred place to work. And providing solutions to homeowners lets the customer see your tech as a pro. Your customers need the products and services you offer to live better, more comfortable and healthier lives.

All technicians should be selling maintenance agreements, indoor air quality products and services, humidity control products, thermostats and replacement leads. When they understand the value they offer to the homeowner, they will have the desire to help people. Homeowners all have real needs that our products and services provide. They have a family member that has respiratory issues or a room in their home that is uncomfortable. They might experience dryness in the winter or they keep running out of hot water. They might want the latest technology and controls that they can control from their phone. Every home has a need for additional services you offer.

Many technicians feel that when they "sell," they are trying to talk customers into something that they don't need or want. They feel like customers just want them to perform the repair or maintenance and not try to sell them something. However, homeowners need and want their family to be healthier and safe while saving money. Most homeowners want advice from the professionals that visit their home, but if the pros are timid or afraid to make suggestions the homeowner loses. The technician loses the extra income and the company loses the revenue as well.

Technicians want to serve. They believe they bring value to a homeowner when they perform a repair and most do not want their customer to spend too much. Well, if that customer is spending too much on allergy medicine, utility bills or repairs then that technician has solutions to help. And, by not discussing those solutions with the homeowner, they are allowing them to waste money. I would say that is doing the customer a disservice. We don't know what we don't know, and it is the technician's responsibility to let customers know about the ways they can live better.

So, how do we get them to step out of their comfort zone and begin offering solutions to homeowners? Training and encouragement. Training technicians each and every week about the products and services you offer will give them the knowledge to look for opportunities when they are in a home. Training them on how those products and services benefit the people they serve will give them pride that comes when you truly help people have a healthier, safer, more energy efficient home. Technicians need to know all about how your products work and what the benefits are for the customer.

Once your techs know what the products' and services' benefits are, they need a way to deliver that knowledge to their customer. Having a conversation with customers is hard for a lot of technicians. They can talk about the mechanics of the repair easily but they feel like they are "selling" when they take it to the next level.

It doesn't have to be so hard. If they ask three simple questions of the homeowner in a casual way, the customer will respond naturally. It does not have to be an interrogation, just relax and ask whenever they have the customer's attention. Those three questions are:

"Do you feel like your utility bills are higher than they should be?"

"Who in your home suffers from respiratory issues?"

"Where in your home is it uncomfortable?"

After the homeowner responds positively to any of these questions they will want to ask drill down questions for each one that creates emotion and urgency where the customer will want to effect a change and take advantage of the solutions they provide.

There are a lot of other questions they will eventually become comfortable asking but these three are a great start to helping homeowners understand that they bring more value than just fixing stuff. These questions will start conversations that will require the tech to begin figuring out how to help the homeowner live a better life through their comfort system. They now have a reason to discuss indoor air quality solutions and maybe even updated equipment that will help them have better comfort, lower humidity in the summer, lower utility bills and repairs, etc.

Once they have mastered the main three, you may want to suggest more. A few suggestions are:

"If I could help Andrew breathe better would you want me to?"

"Is your home dry in the winter?"

"Do you ever feel cold and clammy in the summer in your home?"

"Do you ever wake up hot and sweaty and struggle getting back to sleep?"

"If I could help you sleep through the night would you want me to?"

"Have you experienced frequent breakdowns?"

"Did you know that cleaning both your furnace and air conditioner every year can save you money by lowering your utility bills and making your system last longer?"

"If I could help your family be more comfortable in your home, would you want me to?"

"If I could help you lower your utility bills and reduce the breakdowns, would you want me to help you with that?"

"Would it make sense to find out what a sump pump costs so you can stop the flooding in your basement?"

Most homes in North America have old single-stage equipment. They have utility bills that are too high and repairs that always occur at the most inopportune times. One in four people has some type of respiratory issue, and most homes have four people living in them. That means that someone in that home is suffering and needs better indoor air quality. Walmart and Walgreens sell more indoor air quality products than anyone, yet we are the indoor air quality experts. That needs to change.

Your technicians have the opportunity to change people's lives. They want to help people, so why don't they do it? They don't have the training and information they need to have the confidence necessary to do their job. When we have information that will benefit people we usually want to share that message.

Training and product information is the key. Confidence in that information that the products and services they offer are the right thing to do and will truly help people live better, healthier lives will make them want to be their best -- the best comfort advisor they can be.

Stop Selling And Your Customers Will Buy

Jeffrey Gitomer said it best, “No one likes to be sold to but everyone loves to buy.” He’s right. So why do we continually treat homeowners like they just walked onto a used car lot and we need to make quota this month? Stop selling. Your customers today are educated, smart and like to make decisions for themselves, yet we just keep trying to tell them what to do. And they do not like it.

Imagine a situation where a family needs something and there are hundreds of possible combinations of solutions to fit their need. If that family was yours would you want to take the cheapest route or would you want to check out all the possibilities and make an educated decision? Let’s say you are in the market for a new grill. Do you take the lowest price you see at the hardware store or do you look on the internet, read some reviews, think through whether you want pellet, gas or charcoal? Porcelain or stainless grills? How many burners do you need? Will you ever use the side burner? You have questions, right? The answers are specific to your family. What will you be cooking? How much food will you be cooking? What temperatures will you need? How often will you use it?

Why do we assume what homeowners’ needs are? I work with comfort consultants every day that tell me they sell a specific furnace and air conditioner most of the time because they have determined what is appropriate for their community. I work in all communities in North America and I have found that in every community there are homeowners that need the economy of single-stage equipment. Those same communities have homeowners who need two-stage and multi-stage to get their child’s room more comfortable or the family room downstairs more comfortable. Some homeowners have family members with respiratory issues that need a sanctuary where they can be safe and breathe their best. Some homeowners just want better control. From smart thermostats to smart systems, ask and they will tell you.

So, what to do? Stop selling. Build a relationship with your customer based on trust. Be competent knowing all the proper solutions to needs that families have. Ask in-depth questions that evoke emotion and get to the heart of what a comfort system is designed for and provide real solutions based on their needs, not what you usually sell. Find out that she wanted to buy this house because of the lodge style family room but they have never been able to celebrate Christmas out there because it is horribly cold in that room all winter. Or that Andrew has allergies, is on prescription medicine and they would desperately welcome some way to help him breathe easier.

Let’s take the comfort issue. She wants to get the family into the family room but it is cold in the winter. Once we determine her desires we need to probe into what they have done to make it more comfortable. Is it also hot in the summer? Whatever is important to her. Find out.

Now you need to “tie-down” the issue. Ask, “If I could help your family celebrate Christmas in the family room, maybe make it comfortable all winter long, is that something you would like me to help you with?” If they say yes you now have a goal to meet.

When you take them to the furnace to educate them on how different your installation is, we have the opportunity to educate them on how new systems work. When talking about their old system it might go like this: “Your old system is a single stage system. What that means is that it is designed for the coldest and the hottest days of the year. When your thermostat calls for heat, for example, your old furnace thinks it is 5 degrees below zero because that is how cold it gets here. How many days is it -5 degrees here? Right, just a handful. Then would you agree that every day that it is above -5 degrees your furnace is oversized for your home? On those days, it blasts your house with its full capacity of heat, raising the temperature quickly and satisfying the thermostat prematurely. It does not run long enough to push heat to the family room.

“Imagine you had a furnace that comes on at about half its size every time it runs and slowly heats the home pushing comfort to all the corners of the home. Or how about a furnace that has over 60 stages of heat? Running almost constantly, these super high-efficiency furnaces constantly fill all rooms of your home with heating comfort making all the rooms almost identical in comfort. And the super high-efficiency systems have the lowest utility bills, thus paying for themselves faster than any other system you can buy.

“Let me ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, which one do you think will give you the best comfort and help you spend this Christmas in your family room?” You have now put your customer in the position to make their own decision based on a conviction that two or multi-stage heating will be best for them.

The key is finding out what they want to do and then prescribing a solution or set of solutions that can be fit to their needs. Don’t tell them what they need, educate them on how things work and let them come to the right conclusion for their family.

No one wants to buy what everyone else is buying. They want solutions that make sense for their family. They want to be the hero making their home more comfortable or healthier, maybe drastically lowering their utility bills and saving enough money to do some other things they have always wanted to do. You don’t know till you ask. I believe you will be surprised at what they tell you.

To Succeed Above and Beyond the Ordinary, Techs Need Human Skills

The ability to connect and work effectively with your clients without hassle or issues arising is an important skill a home service technician should possess.

As a home service technician, be it HVAC, plumber, or electrician, you will be welcomed to your clients’ homes. Thus, one of your responsibilities is to make them feel as comfortable as possible, as the home is a client’s personal space.

As a tech, effective communication should be a skill mastered and deployed, as this will help create a good first impression about you and your company, while also helping to promote your company. First impressions are essential in every business to make your customers understand that you are different from the rest, and also guarantee that you are good at what you do to ensure they come back to you when other home issues arise.

For instance, as an HVAC technician, a lot of your work involves interacting with clients who outline their home or office problems to you. Since it’s not all clients that will understand the technical language of the industry, you should learn to listen and pay attention to every complaint a client makes. And not in a way that irritates or insults the client. You need to exercise patience as you try to understand the problem, and relate the solution back to them in a way they can understand it.

As a technician, the following skills are essential for you to succeed above and beyond the ordinary.

  1. Time Consciousness

    As a home service technician, you should learn how to manage time, for it serves as a useful skill in the technical field. There will always be days where you will have several appointments to attend to in one day, and it is crucial to know how to efficiently finalize the necessary tasks on time to ensure that the arrangement with your clients runs smoothly and does not suffer any major setbacks.

  2. Accuracy

    Taking detailed notes and paying great attention to detail are two important skills of a home service technician. These detailed notes help emphasize what work was executed, the type of equipment that was serviced and all other details that are of relevance to that task that will help provide background information for any future work.

  3. Customer Relations

    It is a must to have a friendly demeanor at all times if you want to get along well with your clients and retain them. In addition, you must develop outstanding communication skills to always appear confident when working alongside a customer.

  4. Willpower

    Most times home service technicians have to carry equipment that is heavy, and it is inappropriate for you to appear clumsy, unsure or weak and unequipped for the job in the presence of the homeowners. Thus, it is essential to know the correct way to lift heavy objects to protect yourself from getting injured on the job.


    The problems a tech encounters can sometimes be quite severe. You must endeavor to possess the persistence needed to see the job done thoroughly and to a successful finish.

    Oftentimes you might get to work alone without assistance. In that case, you will need to figure out the source of the problems without help, and will need self-motivation to keep yourself on task. You will therefore need to utilize strong problem-solving skills and analytical and logical reasoning talents, while paying great attention to detail in order to be successful and also blow the minds of the clients you are working with.

    When dealing with homeowners’ issues, and under so much pressure, you must have an expert understanding of how the home systems work, in order to avoid looking like an amateur or novice.

  6. Follow Directions

    Following crucial directions is one of the things that makes a technician a professional. It is the rule that defines the type of person the technician is and how the culture of the company the technician works for goes.

    A person or organization can be defined simply by looking at their personnel and the kind of work culture they possess. “Personnel” and “culture” act as a mirror for your company, revealing its true face to its customers. So, when a client gives direction on what to do, as a technician that wants to be perfect and succeed, you must ensure you follow your client’s directive in order to prevent unnecessary argument or chaos. This will go on to prove that you are a disciplined and serious technician, and this can result in greater productivity for you and your company.

    This indirectly helps in the growth of the business you have, because if directions are not followed extensively it will leave a strong negative impact on the customer and reflect poorly on you and the company you represent.

If Not Now, When?

The year has started off in a whirlwind. We’ve had the NCAA National Football Championship, Super Bowl LIV, political unrest in an election year, and it seems winter weather has not showed up yet in most areas of the country. In my travels and phone/video coaching sessions recently, a lot of salespeople feel as though customers are putting off making buying decisions, sitting on the fence, or simply stalling.

As with any objection, you cannot overcome it. Only the person with an objection can resolve their objection. However, you can better understand it and help the customer reframe their perspective by sharing additional information to facilitate advancing the buying process by asking a series of questions to break down the objection and determine the nature of its roots.

The last thing you want to do is simply drop back and punt with a weak and pathetic offer to follow-up by saying, "Okay, when can I call you back to follow-up?"

Scheduling a follow-up visit or phone call is of little use if the prospect is not interested. Their agreement to a date is simply a polite way to dismiss you. Whatever day or time the prospect gives you is the next time they'll stall, give you the brush off, or avoid you altogether.

When confronted with any objection, your first move is not to concede, but rather commence a dialogue regarding the issue. You can do this by asking clarifying questions and follow-up questions that advance the process.

In the case of an objection that stalls the process such as “I/We want to think it over,” “We are going to wait until next year” or, “We are going to wait until our current system breaks,” say: "Okay. I can certainly understand your wanting to take your time. That lets me know how important it is to you to get your decision right, and I agree with you 100% since it’s a large investment and long-term commitment. To help people get the best possible outcome most of our customers like you ask themselves a question that provides clarity and certainty: Money aside and based on everything we’ve discussed, would you agree that the solutions you’ve selected are a good value and will fully address your concerns, make sense and be handled by someone you can rely on to do the right thing?"

This step is critical and confirms that the prospect is not just blowing smoke. There is no use wasting your valuable time getting caught in voicemail jail, endless emails, text tornadoes or having your follow-up calls avoided or met with put-offs. In other words, if the prospect is going to say ‘No,’ better to get it now rather than to be strung along and waste both your time and theirs when their effort to be polite is really anything but their inability or cowardice to say ‘No.’

Don’t make the mistake of attempting to create urgency for the prospect to act by offering a discount, a deal to fill an installation slot, the impending event of your promotion expiring or some other gimmick that will destroy the position of trust you have established. You will only validate their fears of you being pushy or pressuring them.

Since your prospect has confirmed that they have a genuine and sincere interest in your offering, then understanding their timeframe becomes useful. State:

"We know educated customers make for happy customers, so we want you to take all the time you need to make an informed and intelligent decision to get the best possible outcome for you, your family, your home and your bank account for the next 20+ years or however long you plan on staying in your home. We want you to be happy with whatever direction you go as long as you do so knowingly. We also realize you won’t really know if you are happy until the system is installed and running over the range of seasons. That’s why we give our customers a two-year unconditional happiness or your money back guarantee. This gives you a two-year trial rather than a short-term test drive with no recourse. Live with it for two years and if you are not happy, give us an opportunity to make things right or we’ll buy it back. No games, gimmicks, excuses, compromises, or surprises. There’s no risk. You can’t lose!”

Take note. Use phraseology that has the prospect acting and removes and reverses all the risk. Providing such assurances typically gives the customer clarity and peace of mind to take a leap of faith with certainty. Simply asking to callback, visit or follow-up only requests permission to call or visit again and does not advance the process.

Remove money from being an issue by ALWAYS quoting small monthly payments before energy and repair cost savings, confirm with them the reasons they are interested and then ask questions that get them to agree that the monthly investment makes sense and will help them to avoid missing out by waiting any longer to remedy the situation. In fact, it may cost more.

When a future price increase looms, energy savings would be foregone, or the additional repairs may occur, help the prospect quantify real dollars possibly lost. For example, “By waiting until next year you are probably going to incur a 10-12% price increase and meanwhile you still have to maintain and repair your current system that is going to cost $450 more to operate if energy costs remain stable, wouldn’t you agree?”

Ultimately, if you conclude the prospect has a valid reason for waiting, and they agree that they want to work with you, gain a firm commitment now to advance the process to closure. For example, “I will call you as we’ve noted in our calendars, however if any questions arise or anything changes between now and then, please don’t hastate to contact me, okay?” Or, "Great, then the next time we speak we can discuss how you want to proceed. We can then arrange to take care of the paperwork and pick an installation date, or if for any reason you don’t want to move forward you can let me know that, too. Either way is okay with me as long as you make a decision you and your family are happy with. Fair enough?"

The key to getting closure on sales leads when there is no sense of urgency is to get upfront mutual commitments as to how to proceed that always let the customer know that they can pull the plug on the process at any time and that, if they make a commitment, there is zero risk and 100% recourse. People want to know that you understand the burden they feel to make a good choice and not regret it or lose, and want to know that you’ve got their back when they spend a ton of money with someone they don’t know, representing a company they don’t know, for a product/service and provider they may not feel qualified to select properly for such a long-term commitment. You’re a consumer, how would you feel in this position? Act accordingly.

Communication Excellence for Technicians

Communicate with excellence. Isn't that what we want our technicians to do? Communicate with homeowners the opportunities for them to be comfortable, safe, healthy and how to save money. Imagine if your technician was so excellent in his or her communication skills that every homeowner they talked with completely understood all the possibilities available for them to take the best care of their family through their HVAC system. Had all the possibilities laid out for them so that all they had to do is make a decision. To give a simple yes or no. And be happy either way.

What helps you grow your business? Is it repairs? Is it tune-ups? I don't think so. Sales is what grows a business. Sales of replacement systems and accessories are necessary for growth and long-term success. Sales.

And technicians typically do not see themselves as salespeople. They want to help people. Help them save money. Help them to have a running system that accomplishes the family's needs. But do they ever ask the homeowner what those needs are, or do they assume they know what the family's needs and wants are. I think it is the latter. They assume a lot and who loses? The family AND the entire HVAC company.

All that said, let's figure out how to fix this. First of all, we need to get our technicians to admit that they make decisions for their customers every day. They decide the customer does not want to have better air quality in their home, so they don't ask. They decide that the customer does not need to be more comfortable throughout their home, so they don't ask. They assume that the customer does not want to spend a bunch of money on a new system in order to save money, reduce the inconvenient breakdowns and become more comfortable and healthier. They make all these decisions for customers.

Technicians should let customers know that they are there to fix the problem. Let the homeowner know they are going to find out what is causing the issue and will provide solutions adding, "I am also going to be looking for anything that may be costing you more than it should just to heat and cool your home." Now, when they see worn parts that will fail sometime in the future, old equipment that has high utility usage, inefficiencies in ductwork or just poor installation details, they will be able to talk with the homeowner honestly about what they can do, offering solutions to specific issues. When we tell technicians that they need to go out and "sell" something, we get push back. When they are the pro and they determine just what an HVAC system needs, then they are in charge and they will be proud of their recommendations and their work.

Maintenance agreements lead to trust. Trust leads to sales. Sales grow companies. Techs should always offer a discount option while describing how regular maintenance lowers utility bills and reduces repairs -- and maintenance agreement customers receive a drastic savings on replacement options. Let's face it, we do not make money on maintenance agreement tune-ups. Those customers are replacement customers lying in wait. And when they are ready, they will use the company they trust. So if they trust you and your technicians, when the tech points out what parts are going to fail in the future, the customer many times will approve the work to be done now instead of waiting for it to fail. And when the technician asks, "Would it make sense to find out what a new one cost, just so you know?" the maintenance agreement customer is willing to take it to the next level.

To take it to the next level of trust, technicians can also ask:

"Who in your home suffers from allergies or respiratory issues?" and, "Where in your home is it uncomfortable?" or, "Do you feel like your utility bills are too high?"

When the customer likes and trusts your technician, they will give them honest answers. Then the technician can offer solutions to the homeowner; solutions that are specific to their family and will provide them with real results based on real needs. A perfect follow up is, "If I could help you with that would you want me to?" You would be amazed at how many times homeowners will respond with a resounding "YES!" Make it specific: "If I could help Andrew breathe better, would you want help with that?" Or, "If I could help your family be more comfortable in the bonus room, is that something you would want me to help you with?"

Homeowners will respond with true interest when they see that the technician truly cares. When the tech shows empathy and thinks about how their solutions offer families a way to be healthier, comfortable and save money, then people will say yes.

Technicians are the life blood of our industry. They need to know how important they are to all of us. Asking just a couple of questions that lead to opportunity and offer solutions that are specific to that family's needs will lead to sales. Most technicians will tell you they don't like to sell. But they don't need to sell; just offer real solutions that are specific to that family and customers will buy.

Quit Quoting, Stop Selling, and Start Compelling

How to get more people to buy from you

I conduct training seminars and ride-along coaching sessions across the entire country and complete hundreds of video and phone coaching conference calls each year, and one of the most frequently asked questions from owners, managers, salespeople and technicians is: “How can we convince customers to upgrade or replace their comfort system now?”


The answer is quite simple: Stop trying to convince people to replace or upgrade their equipment, and instead simply create an extraordinary experience by providing good information, while guiding the buyer to make the best choices for their family, their comfort, their home and their bank account for the next 20 years of their lives (or however long they remain in the home).

We all learned Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law, The Law of Motion, at some point in our lives either through education or everyday living, even if you were unaware as to whom to credit with the discovery. To paraphrase The Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This law can be applied to sales. When you try to convince someone of something, you are exerting a certain amount of force to prove your point no matter how gentle your demeanor may be. The force you exert will be met with resistance and/or apprehension from your customer and yield low or no sales.

To reverse this disastrous effect, stop telling your customers they should replace their equipment and start asking them a series of questions that lead them to discover for themselves that it makes sense to consider replacing their equipment and use your services to do so.

Most salespeople tell potential customers everything they know about their products and services and why they should buy from their company. Customers tend to have their guard up when dealing with anyone trying to sell them anything and doubt a fair percentage of what salespeople say.

The larger the expense, the more guarded the customer and more skeptical of the information provided. This is the reason most homeowners say they’re getting multiple bids.

"You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves." ~ Galileo Galilei

You can't teach homeowners anything, but you can help to point them in directions where they might learn, consider, and become motivated. You are not telling, selling, or quoting and hoping. You are sharing information and compelling people to make choices and act in their best interest.


To differentiate yourself, begin with trying to learn and understand who the customer is and what’s important to them. Seek first to listen and hear before seeking to be heard. Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.

Change your mission on a sales call to seek the TRUTH rather than to close the sale. When you seek the truth about what the customer really wants – desired outcome, experience, lifestyle, change in comfort, health, energy management, safety, and peace of mind; what’s important to them in a solution and installation and service company; what they’d feel comfortable investing to address their concerns; how they plan to pay for it; when they want the work done and when they hope to make a decision – you’ll find that the customer is more open and honest with you.

Inquire about what the customer likes and dislikes about their current system; if they could improve something what would it be; are they happy with the comfort level; is the system noisy; are they satisfied with the energy bills; and many other questions that will help you better understand how your customer interfaces with their system and how they like to live in their home. The answers you gain are exactly what the customer wants and is willing to pay for if it all makes sense.

After you have the answers, tell the customer that you don’t yet know if it would sense or not to consider replacing their system, but that they may want to at least get some information so that they can make an informed and intelligent choice for them, their family, their home and their bank account as to whether to maintain, repair or replace their existing system. You want them to rest assured that no matter what choice they make that they do so knowing all the facts. Assure them you are okay if they decide to do nothing at this time (if the equipment is still operational and safe) in order to prove your intent.

Let the customer know that you are not there to sell them anything they don’t want, don’t need, can’t afford or doesn’t make sense to them. Once the customer is assured you are there simply to inform, help, serve, and offer solution choices with their best interest in mind, gain their permission to share information with them as it relates to their concerns.

If that means doing nothing at all or doing business with someone else, promise the customer that you are okay with either scenario as long as they are willing to live with the long-term impact of their choice (and hopefully not later regret it). This level of honesty, trust and respect is paramount and more important than any level of rapport, technical expertise, or sales skills.

You should be happy if the customer is happy with their choices. Explain that you don’t want to earn their business today only to lose them as a customer tomorrow when what they buy doesn’t meet expectations.

Removing your interests from the process purifies the process and removes bias from the information shared. When consumers feel the salesperson does not have an agenda, they reveal their true nature and act in their best interests. Engaging and educating a customer opens a path to discovery to work with the person that guides them rather than sells them. Compel, don’t sell. You will do well by doing good.

Supercharge Your Sales Closure Rates with Personality Profiling

In a previous article titled "Using Personality Assessments to Manage Your Business" we talked about the importance of understanding basic human personality traits. We worked to make the case that personality assessments can help your company improve hiring, placement, and management. By knowing what motivates people, and what stresses them out, you can improve your ability to hire the right person, supervise your staff, and even improve your sales closure rates.

In this article, we will dive deeper into how understanding personality traits can supercharge your sales closure rates. It doesn't stop there. Remember, everyone is a salesperson. When you speak to your spouse, children, employees, and clients, you are often attempting to persuade or influence their thinking. That's sales.

What are Personality Assessments?

You may recall from our last article that there are many different methods of assessing human personality traits, characteristics, and makeup; most of these work in similar ways. In that article, we discussed the DISC method of personality assessment. In this article, we are focused on improving our sales closure rates. Obviously, we will not be able to ask the people we are speaking with to take a personality test. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss how you can and assess the people you are communicating with and identify human personality traits on your own. This will allow you to place their dominant trait as either D, I, S, or C.

Using DISC in Sales

When you are selling, you need to know who you are dealing with. Once you understand how to quickly identify the four personality types, you will be in a better position to tailor your approach and message to that particular person.

Let's cover the four personality traits in detail. We will show you how to identify your client's main trait, and how to adjust your sales presentation just for that person.

The Four Personality Types and How to Recognize Them

D for Dominance (10-12% of the population)

This person is often a business owner, CEO, head coach, or serves in some other leadership role. Chances are, you are a "D" or you work for one.

How to Recognize Them

They are punctual, usually have a louder voice, are animated while speaking, and can be argumentative. They tend to sit forward in their chair or prefer to stand. While standing, their hands are often on their waist. While seated, their arms are usually not folded, and their legs are typically not crossed. They tend to offer quick responses to questions. They might interrupt you or finish your sentences. They are unlikely to ask many personal questions. They are not afraid to challenge people and they can't stand weakness.

How to Sell to Them

Show up for your appointment early. Make them feel important. Keep the conversation professional but friendly. Don't engage in small talk unless prompted.

Do not offer too many details to a "D" person. Talk about how energy savings, reduced maintenance costs, and other factors will create a return on investment. You may not have to get into the specific details but be prepared for tough questions. Show them that your proposal solves problems.

Instead of saying, "I would highly recommend that you . . .," use phrases like, "based on what we have talked about, which option do you think is best for you?" A "D" wants to feel like they are in control of the sales process.

Caution: Don't try to out "D" a "D." Now is not the time to be aggressive or domineering. A "D" will push back, resist your aggressiveness, and go somewhere else.

Tip: Their biggest fear is being "ripped off" or "taken."

I for Influence (10-12% of the population)

Ask them what they do for a living. They usually work in sales, marketing or some other role that requires public speaking, presentation skills, and lots of social opportunities. They are very rarely engineers, accountants, or any other role that requires a lot of desk work and/or attention to detail.

How to Recognize Them

They tend to be friendly, energetic, and spontaneous during discussions. They usually have a good sense of humor and often like to tell jokes. They are great listeners and will likely use and remember your name as well as remember personal traits. They are usually very positive and enthusiastic. At first, they may seem like a "D" because they might be loud and outgoing. However, the "I" is more interested in socializing than they are with dominance or leadership.

How to Sell to Them

If you are dealing with an "I" type, you are going to need to build a rapport and establish a relationship. Be ready to talk about their hobbies. They are typically not interested in lots of details. They live by the "nobody buys from a stranger" rule. They will want to get to know you.

Be positive and upbeat. Involve them in your presentation and make it interactive. Ask them to hold something while you explain it. Use storytelling techniques and metaphors.

Remember, if you work in residential sales, chances are that you are an "I." You may naturally find this person to be the easiest to deal with.

S for Steadiness (60-70% of the population)

They often work in human resources, teaching, or other job that require a combination of people skills, consistency, and attention to detail.

How to Recognize Them

This is the most common personality trait so you will likely encounter this person most often. They are people-oriented but more reserved than the "I." Thy are usually gentle, great listeners, patient, accommodating, soft-hearted and accepting, slow, methodical, detailed, and they have a steady pace. They are usually sensitive and low-keyed. They tend to speak more in statements rather than questions. They will ask about your personal life and listen carefully.

Here is one more very important trait of the "S": they resist change and take a long time to adjust to it.

How to Sell to Them

You will likely be doing most of the talking. When dealing with an "S," keep in mind they are averse to change. They will ask more risk-related questions about product warranty, guarantees, return policies, and the like. You will need to paint the picture of simplicity and assure them that the new system will be easy to use, and the process will be pain free.

Tip: Their biggest fear is change and loss of security.

C for Conscientiousness (10-12% of the population)

They usually work as an engineer, accountant, warehouse manager, purchasing agent, administration, or some other job that requires extreme attention to detail.

How to Recognize Them

They are usually reserved and quiet and may be considered to be "standoffish." They are cautious, analytical, and logical. They will ask a lot of fact-finding questions and may pause between questions to think about your answers. They are serious, direct, and formal in meetings and conversations. They are not typically very animated in speech or while listening. They like data and prefer to deal with facts and figures as opposed to feelings and emotion. They are systematic and have high standards. They may avoid confrontation and lively debates.

How to Sell to Them

Save all of your facts, figures, and other details for the "C." Be prepared for a longer sales cycle. This person will be interested in heat gain/loss calculations, product specifications, capacities, tolerances, and other technical information. They will want to know about time tables, insurance coverage, city permits, certifications, and licensing. If they have the time, they may grab a chair and watch the entire installation.

Caution: They will likely avoid confrontation and appear to give in rather than debate a point. In fact, what may have happened is that they disagreed with you, or didn't believe you, but did not reveal their true feelings. They might end the sales call by saying, "I'll think it all over and get back to you." You'll never hear from them again.

Tip: Their biggest fear is that others will criticize their decision and tell them they made an incorrect choice.

How to Quickly Tell Who You Are Dealing With

When speaking to someone, ask yourself which word best describes this person. They can't be both. You must select just one word.

Are they extroverted or reserved?

If Extroverted:

Are they Very Direct or Friendly?

Very Direct = D
Friendly = I

If Reserved:

Are they Cooperative/Obliging or Analytical/Detailed?

Cooperative/Obliging = S
Analytical/Detailed = C

Dealing with Multiple Traits

As mentioned in our last article, people have a dominant trait that is usually accompanied by a strong secondary trait. Few people fall neatly into just one trait. That means you may encounter a "D" mixed with a lot of "S" or "C". You will need to detect that secondary trait and incorporate what you know about that trait in your presentation. For example, a "D-C" may want plenty of details, facts, and figures but still wants to know that they are the ones who decided on what options to accept and ultimately controlled the sales event.


Trait If They Appear To Be Then You Should
D Direct, results-oriented, firm, strong-willed, and forceful. Show up early. Make them feel important. Link emotional elements directly to benefits. Ask them what they want to do. Do not hard sell/close.
I Outgoing, friendly, personable, enthusiastic, optimistic, high-spirited, and lively. Socialize with them. Involve them in your presentation. Do not rush into the sales process. Follow their lead. They buy from their "friends".
S Even-tempered, shy, sentimental, accommodating, patient, humble, and tactful. Show them how your system and accessories will benefit their family or employees. Make their decision as simple and risk free as possible.
C Analytical, reserved, precise, private, and systematic. Interested in the details. Stick to the facts but be friendly. Talk about ROI, processes, and timelines. Emphasize engineering, quality work, warranties, and guarantees.

More Calls, More Fails ... More Sales

"The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the salespeople on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made." -Zig Ziglar, Author, Speaker

Sales is an art and a science. The art constitutes the soft skills. The science deals with the numbers. How many calls do you make each day, each week, each month? I interviewed Pat McCarthy, author of The Nordstrom Way shortly after that amazing book was released. He told me over breakfast, "The turning point in my sales career came when I committed to making 40 calls a day, no matter what!" I don't care what you sell. If you make 40 calls a day, you will be wildly successful in sales. Pick a number. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty calls a day. The key, especially if you are new to sales, lies in making the calls.

I was 23 years old when I started my chimney cleaning business. I ran into a chimney sweep one day on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle one April. April is a slow month for chimney sweeps. As we talked (he was covered in creosote and had just finished cleaning a chimney) he asked me why I wasn't working. "It's slow," I said. "Nobody cares about chimneys in April." He looked at me as if I had two heads. "That's simply not true. If you knock on enough doors, you will have all the business you can handle." He went on to tell me that after cleaning a chimney he knocks on twenty five doors handing out business cards or until someone says yes. It was a paradigm shift for me. From that day forward I convinced repeat customers to let me clean their stoves and chimneys in the spring leaving the fall open for new customers; and I knocked on 25 doors after every cleaning. Business boomed.

Frank Bettger in his classic sales book How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling writes:

"You can't collect your commission until you make the sale;

You can't make the sale until you write the order;

You can't write order until you have an interview;

You can't have an interview until you make the CALLS!"

I was a technician for ten years. I accepted an offer to sell full time. The reason I had success my first year in sales was simple. On the advice of my friend Les (who made the president's club at Xerox five years in a row) who advised me, "If your boss tells you to do two proposals a week, you do four!" I did five a week! Every week! Although my close ratio was only 25% that first year, I was 150% of plan. The reason? Activity. I made the CALLS.

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life." - Mary Kay Ash, Cosmetics Pioneer

"I love working with customers. Sales has really influenced everything I do. It has instilled in me the important traits of operating with a sense of urgency and listening to people." -Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, GE

"Goals aren't enough. You need goals plus deadlines: goals big enough to get excited about and deadlines to make you run. One isn't much good without the other, but together they can be tremendous." -Ben Feldman, Life Insurance Superstar Sales Pioneer

Here are three simple suggestions to increase your sales this next year:

  1. Double Your Activity
  2. Track Your Activity
  3. Be honest with yourself about the numbers

Tom Watson Sr., the founder of IBM, told his salespeople in the teeth of the depression, "Double your failure rate!" If you see twice as many people over the next six months, you will learn everything you need to be successful. Ask yourself in your journal after every call: "What did I do well on this call?" and, "What could I improve?" It won't be long. You WILL be the top producer in your company.

Take it from a former Chimney Sweep… just make the calls. You will be glad you did!

Communication Excellence for Technicians

Homeowners trust technicians. They figure out why a system is not heating or cooling. They restore the comfort and the trust, and a mother can rest assured knowing it’s all going to be okay now that the heat is back on – everyone will sleep comfortably tonight. So when that technician asks, “Are there any rooms that are hard to heat and cool?,” the homeowner trusts him or her enough to answer honestly.

If a homeowner says yes, they do have hot and cold spots, then the technician is in a position to follow through and help the homeowner take care of their family. Let’s see where this can go:

The technician asks what room in the home is uncomfortable and the customer says, “The room over the garage.” Tech: “What happens in that room? Is it a closet, a bathroom or maybe a bedroom?” Homeowner: “It is our daughter’s room.” Tech: “Is it uncomfortable in the summer or the winter or both? What have you done to help it be more comfortable?”

The homeowner says, “When it’s cold, it is really cold in there and we used a space heater a couple of years ago but I was afraid it was dangerous and took it out.” Tech: “What does she do when it is really cold now? And, if you don’t mind me asking, what is her name?” Homeowner: “Her name is Miranda and when it is really cold she comes and gets into bed with her dad and me.” Tech: “Are you okay with that or would you rather she be comfortable in her own room?” Homeowner: “Well, we would love to have her stay in her room. And, her feet are cold.”

Tech: “So, Miranda’s room is cold when it is really cold outside. And, you have tried space heaters but they are dangerous. When she gets cold she comes and gets in bed with you and your husband. If I could help you guys get Miranda back in her own room, maybe get those cold feet off of you, would you want me to help you with that?”

If the technician was able to create emotion by asking in-depth questions then asks a solution based tie-down the customer should want to do the right thing responding with a “yes” to getting help.

There are three important questions a technician should ask a customer. The first, of course is:

Where in your home is it hard to heat and cool?

The other two are:

Who in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or any respiratory-type issues?

Do your utility bills seem higher than they should be?

There are two important things that have to be incorporated into this questioning. First, when you ask these questions you have to ask in-depth qualifying questions that create emotion. When you create emotion, the homeowner feels the need to do something about it. When you create emotion your customer feels that you are sincere about wanting to help them.

Second, follow up with a solution based tie-down. When a homeowner becomes emotional about wanting their family to be more comfortable, healthy and/or to stop spending lots of money on high utility bills, they want to see options that will help them. When the technician asks, “If I could help you with that, would you want me to?,” most people will say “yes.”

Now the technician has the opportunity to help with indoor air quality solutions to help with the respiratory issues. When we then educate homeowners on how filters work, most of them can tell the technician which number filter would be best for their family. When we show a homeowner the bio-growth in their coil compartment and educate them on how the ultraviolet rays of the sun do not allow that type of growth to occur, they want to have an ultraviolet light source to protect their family.

When the homeowner has areas of their home that are uncomfortable, the technician has the opportunity to educate them about systems that can help level out the temperatures in their home. How a two-stage or multi-stage system will make those rooms more comfortable. Maybe even get Miranda and her cold feet back in her own room.

Selling technicians will create more interest in indoor air quality and system upgrades when they master asking these three questions. There has to be a series of questions behind each question. Creating emotion is the key. When a homeowner starts to feel the need to get Andrew to breathe better, get Miranda back in her own room and save money with lower utility bills, they listen to ideas. They listen when the technician educates them on how they can get results. They have a true desire to have a healthy, safe, comfortable home.

Stop Selling and Start Serving

"People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy." Jeffrey Gitomer

We must move beyond selling to homeowners and transition to serving homeowners. There are two reasons to make this change: the vast amount of knowledge and research homeowners do before purchasing a new HVAC system and the homeowner's contaminated perception of contractors. Our approach must consist of transparency, expertise, and an openness to present options based on the homeowner's needs and wants. This is an emotional purchase that exceeds logic, caused by the expense they are about to incur.

Our position, as an expert and a service professional, commands our undivided attention from the communication connection with our office to our demeanor the moment we pull up to their home. Our first impression, our truck and uniform cleanliness, our greeting clearly stating customer's expectations, set the tone for the in-home evaluation.

Our paradigm must shift from sales to service through education, asking great questions, listening, taking notes, and building trust, all through our positive attitude and empathic understanding.

Mindset is the starting point and this begins as you travel to the customer's home. What are you feeding your mind? Have you researched the home before getting into the car? Have you pre-judged the client based on where they live or other external factors that have nothing to do with their ability or desire to use your company? If you pull up believing they can't afford your company and won't buy anything… you are correct. That negative mindset will set up failure every time. Start with the mindset of another great opportunity to serve this customer! Understand that you have a responsibility as an expert in the HVAC field to always exceed their expectations.

Your number one goal is to create a "WOW" experience for this client by first differentiating yourself and your company from every other operation. And this begins with serving the customer. Why should I buy from you and your company? How will you serve me? What makes you stand above the rest? If you attempt to compete on price, there is a strong chance you will fail. You must build value and trust through unique conversations with your client and your attitude of positivity, ability to listen and willingness to serve and go above and beyond. People buy from people they like. It's an emotional purchase that depends on their experience with you. It's conscious empathy focused on serving others with real intent and the understanding of their emotional state of being. Although you may do this every day, your customer only experiences this pain about two to three times in a lifetime. This experience is unique to them.

A "WOW" experience is that moment when your client realizes you went above and beyond. You have won the moment. Anyone can walk into a home and talk about HVAC and quote a price. It takes a conscious effort, to apply a servant, leadership-driven passion to guide the homeowner with the freedom to choose what investment they desire. We are offering comfort, safety, reliability, and energy efficiency. It has nothing to do with the commodity we sell but has everything to do with the experience we provide. Exceptional, over-the-top customer experiences is our value proposition where we compete beyond price. When I think of exceptional businesses outside our industry that constantly create "WOW" experiences, I think of Disney, Apple, Chick-Fil-A, Ritz Carlton… and none of these flagships compete on price. They simply raise the bar with the priority of providing every client amazing service driven by empathy, respect, honesty.

So, I ask you: What WOW service are you going to provide to convince me I should use your company over every other HVAC company in your market?

To Close More Sales, Make it Personal

How do you pick a car for your family? Do you drive onto a lot, tell a salesperson that you need a car and let them choose one for you? Do you trust that they know how you will use the car without even talking to you? Is there an unspoken language that allows that salesperson to know how many kids you have, what sports your family participates in, how long the drive to grandma's house is and how much we want to spend? No.

So why, when it comes to a heating and cooling system, do we assume we know what is best for a homeowner and their family? I train and coach in-home salespeople every day and I find that most people I work with are not asking in-depth questions to understand what a customer needs and wants. They assume. Most people ask a few questions but do not ask clarifying questions that not only pinpoint the need, but also create emotion and then urgency. Emotion and urgency will increase the amount they spend and also move the sale forward sooner.

It is no secret that a female is at the heart of the family business. She influences or controls 85 percent of the major purchasing decisions. And she makes her decisions based on emotion. Her family is at the heart of all major decisions so wouldn't it make sense to ask questions that will create an emotional reaction and then ask even more questions that clarify and assist her in taking care of her family? If she makes decisions based on emotion we need to find something to discuss that she can be emotional about. She doesn't care about adding water to the air in the winter to protect the floors and wood products in the home; she cares about her own skin and how the continued dryness adds years to her looks. She doesn't want a filter or an ultraviolet lamp; she wants her children to be healthier and her home to be cleaner.

We are so afraid of people anymore that we tend to put on a show instead of just sitting down with people and talking with them like humans. We want a trusted advisor that will work with us with integrity and character, educating us on how we can achieve the goals any good homeowner wants to achieve. We just want to know how we can have a healthy family, be safe and comfortable and save as much money as possible in our own home.

The problem is that most people replace their comfort system when it is broken. That means that they are usually in a hurry and are faced with a major expense that they were not planning on. Many people even believe that they just need something similar to what they have and have no idea that a comfort system can change their lives. So, they are in the market for a box. And we play into that kind of thinking.

You have to be different. Take people someplace that they were not expecting. Talk with them about their family's comfort and ask questions to clarify. "What is the name of the person who is uncomfortable? What do you do to make them comfortable? What happens when that doesn't work? What is the name of the person who uses that room the most or whose bedroom is it?"

Now we know that Miranda is uncomfortable in her bedroom in both winter and summer, and that they have tried using a space heater but are afraid that it might start a fire. When it gets uncomfortable, Miranda comes into Mom and Dad's room and crawls in bed with them. Not only is this getting in the way of their alone time, her feet are cold.

As an advisor, not a salesperson, we ask, "If I could help Miranda become comfortable in her own room, maybe get her out of your bed, is that something you would want me to help you with?" If at this point, we start selling product we will push them away. If we say, "I have something that would help with that?" they might say no because you are trying to sell them something. A salesperson sees an opportunity to sell where an advisor wants to help. If, at this point we tell them that they have to spend more money to get their desired result they will more than likely tell you no. If we simply ask if they want Miranda to be comfortable and let them know we will see what we can do, then they will want us to help them.

We know that two-stage and multi-stage equipment will fill their house with both heating and cooling comfort, including Miranda's room. But if you bring that up now they won't understand. They will naturally push you away. Teach them all about two-stage and multi-stage heating and cooling at the appropriate time and get them to completely understand how their house will be comfortable everywhere including Miranda's room, and they will be more likely to pick that type of system when you present all their options. If you "sell" during the question phase of your visit, you will lose.

You can lead a horse to water, but you know the rest. Find out what your customers need and want. Find emotion and talk about it until it has meaning. When you educate people about how they can effect change in their own lives, as homeowners and as parents, they will drink.

How to Increase Service Technician Revenue

Before we cover some ways to increase technician productivity and revenue, we should go over a few key performance indicators used to judge service technician output.

Residential service technicians should produce at least $250,000 in annual sales with a 63% or higher gross profit margin. A better way to measure technician output is by annual gross profit dollars. That number is $157,500 annually or $630 gross profit dollars per average man day. Techs should run an average of four service calls per day with an average retail invoice amount of $250 each.

When technicians are allowed to sell equipment change-outs, those numbers need to be adjusted to consider the potential reduction in repair revenue and the increased revenue from the replacement sale.

It gets a bit tricky to assess the performance of a technician who does both service work and installation work. Installers should produce $825 gross profit dollars per day. A two-person crew should produce $1,400 gross profit dollars per day. You will need to consider both types of work independently when assessing their performance.

There are numerous ways to increase technician revenue. The rest of this article will cover some of the most significant ones.

Supercharge Your Diagnostics.

One of the fastest ways to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction is to detect additional legitimate service work. This is done through high level diagnostics. Implement a weekly training program to teach technicians the finer points of diagnostics and pre-emptive failure detection. Technicians should think and work like aircraft mechanics. These highly trained and regulated technicians replace parts before they fail, and the public should agree with that philosophy. After all, no one wants an aircraft mechanic to wait until an aircraft part fails before they replace it.

Your technicians should have sophisticated instuments such as megohmmeter, combustion analyzers, anemometers, digital manifold gauges, and more. These tools should be thought of as an investment. They will pay for themselves over and over again. Of course, training will be necessary to assure that they are being used properly.

Reduce Unbillable Time

Unbillable time includes labor hours paid to the technicians but not billed to a customer. You should keep unbillable time under 25%. Reduce efficiency crushing trips to suppliers by creating and maintaining a customized inventory list for each technician. Consider performance-based compensation that pays technicians far more per hour for billable time than unbillable time. Improve service call management by implementing an integrated business management software system that includes a strong mobile software app and GPS tracking.

Reduce Callbacks

Callbacks reduce billable time and kill profitability. They also hurt your customer satisfaction scores. A callback can be defined as the following: "Any repeat service call that is unbillable, for any reason, within thirty days of the original call." Callbacks should be less than 5%; 1% is best in class. Sometimes techs simply don't have the correct tools for the job. Create a Required Tool List for each job function and train your techs on how to use the lists.

Sometimes a callback isn't really a callback, but we have no choice but to work for free. Often it is simply due to the fact that the technician did not properly document what they may have very well told the customer. Thorough documentation will help reduce callbacks. Mobile apps can make this process easier through a database of prewritten repair descriptions and voice recognition.

Give Technicians Time to do Their Jobs

This might require a change in culture. Technicians need to take their time. They should be able to run three to five service calls a day. Anything more than that might mean that they are hurrying through their work or that they need additional training. It is better to charge a customer $600 for a single service call than it is to charge them $300 each, for two separate service calls. When you need two service calls to repair a system, your customer will always wonder which service call wasn't necessary and they will resent paying for it.

Selling Accessories

Families want cleaner, heathier, and more comfortable living conditions but they rarely realize they have so many options. Technicians should sell one accessory for every 12 service calls they run. Accessories might include whole house dehumidification systems, air filtrations systems, and water treatment systems. They can also include UV air treatments and WIFI thermostats. I consider service agreements to be accessories too. Technicians should be able to sell one service agreement for every six service calls where there is no service agreement coverage.

Generating Replacement Sales Leads

You may not wish to have every service technician sell replacements, but all service technicians should be working to create solid sales leads. Technicians should be able to produce one good sales lead for every 12 demand (non-maintenance) service calls they run. Obviously, this depends on your customer base and average age and condition of their equipment.

Technicians should be educated on the various signs that a system may need to be replaced. A "Replacement Decision Worksheet" can be a useful tool in helping the technician assess the pros and cons of repair versus replacement. This worksheet should be filled out in the customer's home and a copy should be printed or emailed for future consideration.

A replacement lead may not count towards annual technician revenue, but it should factor into your annual assessment of their production.

Selling Equipment

Service technicians are in a unique position to sell equipment upgrades and replacements. Customers see them as experts and are often less defensive than they might be with a "salesperson". Think about it like this. Would you rather talk to an auto mechanic about the need and cost of replacing your truck's transmission or with a salesperson? Sir, you are going to need a transmission replacement. Wait here while I get our transmission salesperson to speak to you. Technicians will need product training, basic sales skills, and complete cookbook pricing for all common replacement scenarios.

Let service technicians sell if you believe they have the skills required to do so; otherwise, they can help the team by creating quality sales opportunities for someone else.

How to Encourage Technicians to Sell

I am often asked, should technicians sell equipment replacements? Yes. They certainly should. I believe selling is a natural part of being a service technician.

As long as they have the desire and the ability, service technicians should be allowed and encouraged to sell equipment change-outs. I have worked with technicians that didn't believe it was proper for them to sell equipment. Many believe it is a conflict of interest for a service technician to sell replacements. I ask them if they would take their children to a doctor who refused to sell x rays, physical therapy, an MRI, or other medical services. Of course, they wouldn't. They would expect their doctor to recommend whatever was proper and necessary for the wellbeing of the patient. The same is true when it comes to HVAC service. Techs will become more comfortable with selling once they have been introduced to some basic selling tools and techniques.

I believe that the word "selling" has something to do with the apprehension that some feel when talking about system replacements. Again, I would go back to the doctor patient metaphor. Reiterate that it isn't so much about selling as it is doing what is best for our customer. You are simply asking them to give people options and recommending what you think is best.

Many technicians are proud of their ability to "fix anything". That's noble but it may not be in the customer's best interest. Training is the key here. You will need to provide your service technicians with high quality training and ongoing encouragement. Show them how to calculate energy savings based on EER and AFUE increases. Teach them concepts such as cost of ownership, return on investment, the cost of future breakdowns, enhanced comfort, the value of peace of mind, and so forth. Remind your technicians that they are a customer, but they are not their customer. Just because they have certain feelings and opinions does not mean that they should impose them on their customers.

One final point I would like to make with your service technicians is this; you never know if someone can or cannot afford to properly repair or replace their system. Many poor people may look rich and many rich people may look poor. You cannot always tell someone's economic state by the clothes they wear, the car they drive, or the house they live in. Do what's right. Passionately explain your recommendations and let your customer decide for themselves.

Changing the Game of Sales: Empower People to Buy Through Process

Success in sales is not about pressure, it's about performance. Top performance comes from executing a structured not scripted, and planned not canned, effective, efficient, engaging, endearing, educational and empowering process CONSISTENTLY. If a salesperson feels pressure on a sales call, they are either working too hard and/or working on the wrong end of the problem.

"Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what the heck you are doing." ~ Chuck Noll- Former Head Coach & winner of 4 Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Sales is not a numbers game. More leads do not necessarily yield more sales. Typically, closing ratios and average sales go down when a salesperson runs more leads. Thinking sales is a numbers game results in wasted opportunities, poor customer experiences and bad results.

Good results come from executing a process consistently that is designed to yield a desirable result more often than not.

Yes, the customer is in complete control of whether a conversation concludes with them buying. However, a salesperson can have some influence in the decision-making process with their behavior and information shared during their time with the customer. Salespeople can only manage that which they can control, and they cannot control when or if a customer buys. That's a matter of freewill and choice.

Salespeople can manage and control their behavior, information and timing of sharing it, and the experience the customer realizes through a standardized and systematic process - A process that is designed to keep the salesperson in control and guide the customer through a proper buying process, always knowing what happens next and when, and yields success more often than not.

If a salesperson gives up their personal power and caves in on their fundamental obligation and fiduciary responsibility to properly guide a customer to make a good buying decision or try to cast blame for your lack of execution and say that the problem with the customer, the competition, the marketing, prices, weather, etc. – THOSE THOUGHTS ARE THE PROBLEM!

Nothing happens on a sales call that salespeople should not expect. There are no unforeseen pitfalls or surprises. We all get what we tolerate and allow to happen. Salespeople should be prepared for everything, because they will encounter it at some point in their career.

Unfortunately, most salespeople DO NOT have a process they execute consistently, they tend to "wing it". The challenge is that most customers have a buying process and system of deferring salespeople which is more effective than the salesperson with no process or a poorly executed one.

Research shows:

  • 98% of salespeople do not follow a consistent sales process
  • 95% of customers say salespeople talk too much
  • 93% of salespeople volunteer a price decrease without being asked
  • 87% of customer inquiries are never followed up or not followed up appropriately or adequately
  • 82% of salespeople cannot differentiate themselves from their competitors

"You have a 92% chance of making a sale with a linked, integrated selling system – without one it drops to less than 42%." Bill Brooks, CEO The Brooks Group

The value of using a defined process allows us to:

  1. Have a common framework for planning, executing, and reviewing activities and results. Like NASA, the military or a chef, the process is a standard operating procedure or recipe for success that is universal, teachable and coachable.
  2. Communicate and strategize about sales opportunities with salespeople and company leadership using a common language.
  3. Make fewer mistakes since everyone knows the standard operating procedure and actions that must be taken. This reduces the chance of important steps being forgotten when a salesperson encounters a "curveball".
  4. Shorten the buying cycle as salespeople can work through the steps of a pre-planned process much faster than just winging it, making it up as they go along, or allowing the customer to dictate the process - the number one mistake most salespeople make.
  5. Shorten the ramp up time for new salespeople who need to learn how to engage customers in the market and industry.
  6. Quickly diagnose and fix problems and coach individual sales performance.
  7. Ultimately, sales success is not about being perfect or how far from perfect one strays dictating success. Just as success in golf is not about hitting perfect shots all the time. Sales success comes from having a defined process and executing it consistently with as few mistakes as possible and knowing how to get out of trouble or correct a mistake when they occur.

There are no perfect scripts, one-liners, glib presentations, smart phrases, clever closes that work all the time. They are canned routines of traditional selling practices that are archaic, antiquated, predictable, manipulative, and weak shtick for weak salespeople. Therefore, there are no perfect sales calls.

By executing a process consistently, salespeople invite their customer to learn more and discover for themselves how to make an informed buying decision. The salesperson's job is to provide good information at the right time to the right people, so they can make a choice that makes them happy. The process engages, educates and empowers customers to buy. If a salesperson executes the process consistently, customers will discover they will be best served by the company and solution offered.

Now that you understand the importance of having a process, we will take deeper dive into the process in a future article.

As the Philadelphia 76ers'all-star center Joel Embiid says: "Trust the process".

Sales Expectations Drive Sales Results

One of the biggest challenges I see with contractors is a failure to understand how our beliefs and expectations of the sales function impacts our business success. If a contractor sees the sales function and sales professionals in a negative light, those limiting beliefs will undermine the company's sales results.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "We become what we think about all day long." And those words are consistent with what most of us have learned through our life experiences - our results in life and business are typically aligned with our expectations for our life and business.

I mean think about it. When was the last time you accomplished something you didn't expect to accomplish? When was the last time you accidentally reached a business goal or objective? Our results are always a reflection of our expectations.

Consider this, if your expectations for your business is to generate $1,000,000 in annual revenue, what is the likelihood you will accidentally generate $2,000,000 in annual revenue? It's not very likely because your expectation of $1,000,000 in sales drives everything you do in terms of marketing, sales and other business activities. Your actions will be in alignment with the $1,000,000 expectation and those activities will drive the expected result.

Your results are a reflection of your actions and your actions are a reflection of your expectations. It isn't rocket science.

The same reality is true for sales. If our expectations and beliefs about sales are fundamentally negative, what is the likelihood we will accidentally become really good at sales? Why would we become highly skilled at an activity that we see in a negative light?

If we want to create outstanding sales results in our companies, we must ensure that our thoughts and expectations about sales are in alignment with our desired results. We are not accidentally going to excel in sales anymore that we are going to accidentally double our company's revenue.

Your sales results are a reflection of your sales actions and your sales actions are a reflection of your sales expectations.

In my training seminars I often invite attendees to play a game of word association. I give the audience a word and they take 10 seconds to write down the characteristics they associate with the word. Let's try that here.

Take out a pen and piece of paper and write down the first few words that come to your mind when I say the word "salesman".

Did you associate positive qualities or negative ones? Be honest. Did words like pushy, high-pressure, greedy or sleazy come to mind? Or did you think things like problem solver, high service or helpful?

Think about the implications of having negative thoughts and expectations about sales people. If you think sales people are sleazy and pushy, what is the likelihood that you are going to excel at something that you fundamentally dislike? If you want to be great at sales it is imperative that you believe and expect positive things about sales.

Recently I was training at a company in the northeast and I ask the team to play the word association game. I gave them the word and lady in the audience started writing very quickly. Somehow in 10 seconds she had written 7 or 8 words the she associated with the word "salesman", and EVERY word was negative.

She wrote things like dishonest, pushy, scam artist and crook. I was shocked as she shared her thoughts about sales people with the group. But I was completely dumfounded when I learned she was the sales manager!

What are the odds she will build a group of highly motivated and skilled sales professionals? With expectations about sales people like hers it's doubtful she will ever build a sales team that reaches its true potential.

Our thoughts and exceptions drive our actions which, of course, drive our results. Success in sales and business is rarely an accident. We create the results we expect to create.

Our thoughts and expectations must be in alignment with what we want in our business. It's very unlikely we will ever create a sales program characterized by high volume and high margins and high service with an expectation that sales is a profession characterized by high pressure and dishonesty.

So I urge you to examine your core beliefs about sales. If the core belief is negative, take a few minutes and write out positive and empowering statements about sales and repeat them to yourself a few times a day. You can change the way you see the sales function, and if you want great sales results you better have great thoughts and expectations about the sales function and sales people.

If Your Sales Are Down, Don't Worry, You Are Not Alone

In an effort to provide weak and mediocre salespeople with an adequate supply of poor performance excuses for each month, I submit the following "Reasons I Can't Sell This Month." If you find it difficult to lay all the blame on the weather, the economy, prices, the competition, the Republicans, the Democrats, the President, an election year, or the latest negative world event or fake news story of your choice isn't enough to justify your downward performance, try these…

January: The climax of college football bowl season, the BCS Championship and the NFL playoffs are in high gear. There is some soccer league or cup being contested in every month of the year, so you might as well give up now. Toss out the first week since most people are still on holiday vacation or have a holiday hangover. While you're at it, toss the second week as well since the people that were on vacation are just getting back to normalcy after the holiday season and need time to catch up on their backlog of duties. Besides, the weather is horrible with all the snow and bitterly cold weather. People have no money due to holiday shopping bills. I'll attack next month when the weather is cold and people's systems are dying.

February: In an Olympic year, people are busy experiencing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Too much snow... People don't want us in their homes with the messy weather. Add in the people waiting to see if Pauxatawny Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog Day and hoping there are NOT six more weeks of winter. Throw in Super Bowl Sunday, The Daytona 500, Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year's, Valentine's Day, and the Oscar Awards as big events that consume my customer's time. Toss in Black History month, Presidents' Day, and the fact that it is a short month and you can understand why no one is buying this month. Pitchers and catchers report to MLB camp. Things will pick up next month.

March: St. Patrick's Day, Spring Vernal Equinox, and a few religious holidays possibly falling early and people will be traveling and not have time to see me. Many people have taken Spring Break vacations. Besides, spring weather is coming and most people feel they dodged a bullet with their heating system this year and will put off replacing it until the fall. Dare I mention March Madness. Plus, it's much too cold to think about air conditioning. We should get an early heat wave next month and business will pick up for sure.

April: April showers bring May flowers. And with the showers, the weather is a mess. The religious holidays that did not come early, came late this year. Earth Day has people in conservation mode. Who wants to focus on buying with spring in the air? Besides, it's tax season and people busy getting ready for Uncle Sam and paying tax bills so they have no money. Opening day for Major League Baseball and people want to see how their team does out of the gate. NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing and the NFL draft has people's minds elsewhere. The hot weather is around the corner and should drive leads and sales through the roof next month.

May: The start of warmer temperatures and the promise of hot weather has arrived and with it Cinco de Mayo. Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekends have people traveling with no time to see me. The NBA and NHL playoffs are headed to the finals. People told me they spent their tax returns paying off credit card balances. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness have any leftover cash reserves being bet in hopes of a Triple Crown winner. Don't forget the Indy 500.There will be more opportunity next month.

June: The first dollars spent this month went to picking a Triple Crown winner or a longshot to upset the Derby and Preakness winner(s). NHL and NBA finals baby! In a FIFA World Cup year for 32 days in June and July, soccer reigns supreme. The kids are getting out of school and people are headed for vacation in droves. Flag Day, Father's Day and the Summer Solstice cause people to lose focus and no one buys in this weather since who in their right mind would replace their air conditioning in the midst of a heat wave. Plus, everyone that would have thought about adding A/C to their home would have done so by now. July will be much better since the sultry nights will cause most older systems to die under the strain of the weather. We'll have at it next month.

July: The hot weather we expected did not arrive. In a FIFA World Cup year, the finals are in July ... must watch TV with no interruptions. With Independence Day this month, people took the week off. Most people are at their beach/shore, lake or mountain summer cottages, out on their boats, traveling in their RVs or hanging by the pool. In other words, with everyone outdoors no one is indoors and thinking about their cooling system. I thought for sure this would be the best month of the year. We'll see what happens next month.

August: In an Olympic year, people are glued to the tube chanting U.S.A. Plus, it's too hot! Besides, most people are on vacation, and I am one of them. Buying clothes and school supplies to get the kids ready to go back to school has consumed any cash reserves left after my customers had to pay college tuition. With people returning from vacation, next month should be much better.

September: Most people feel they dodged a bullet with their AC system this year and said they are going to wait until next year. Considering the long Labor Day weekend and the fact the many people take off the week before or after, no one has time to see me. MLB playoffs baby! The Autumn Equinox, Grandparents Day, and the start of the Jewish holiday season are gaining greater recognition each year. October is the beginning of heating season and things should heat up.

October: Indian Summer, need I say more? People are not thinking heating just yet. Don't forget the Fall Classic – The World Series. Columbus' birthday: We don't have the day off, but many people do and spend it with their kids. Toss in a couple more Jewish holidays. Halloween – my kids have their costume pageant/parade at school and I have to take them Trick or Treating. Plus, I am helping with the Jaycees Costume Party and The Lions' Club haunted house and hayride – it's a four week commitment as part of my volunteer community service. I am going to work hard down the home stretch and finish the last two months of the year strong.

November: Work has slowed for many of my customers and many are skittish about their jobs. Some have gotten laid-off and others are experiencing a cash crunch due to holiday shopping. With Thanksgiving falling in the middle of the week, it kills that week. People that were planning on replacing their heating system already did so or are waiting until next year unless it dies. That could happen next month with the colder temperatures.

December: Isn't it the start of college football bowl season? Where's the cold weather? It's going to be a Green Christmas for sure. Ah dang, we got snow early this year ... can't drive in this weather, it's too dangerous. Besides, people don't buy anything when it snows. Between holiday parties, shopping and visiting with family and friends whose got time? Besides, with homes decorated for the holidays no one wants us in their home. More and more people seem like they are taking vacations in December. Since it is usually slow anyway we planned our family vacation for Disney. The two weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's are just brutal. Plus, everyone is crying the holiday "cash vacuum blues."

Look on the bright side, if people are not buying from us, our competition is probably hurting too.

Next year will be much better. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a blizzard to rival the one from 1985 or 2010 early next year and a record heat wave come late spring that continues all summer long. Hurricanes will surely drive business on the east coast while climate change will impact the rest of the country.

Seriously, when you are finished explaining, complaining and blaming everyone and everything for your lack of consistent performance (which is lame and ultimately results in shame); and you are ready to get out there and make it happen and be a catalyst for change and action, then you can quit pointing fingers, feel empowered and take the necessary steps to move your sales and career forward.

Get a coach or mentor. Read a sales book. Attend a seminar. Attend a webinar or teleseminar. Join an online support network. Join a business networking group. Subscribe to a sales newsletter and sales magazine. Listen to a sales podcast. Watch a sales video. These resources will allow you to take your one year of experience that you have repeated many times over and actually learn and apply something new to your craft, because odds are you have not really had any real training and coaching since your first year sales except the product training you have received. You need to become a student of the game; study, practice and improve your craft every day.

Let me know how I can help. The call or email is free of charge! Have a great year!

How to Increase Sales of Replacement Residential Heating Systems

In my travels I often hear many tales of woe when it comes to sales and profits companies have been generating, or more realistically — have not been generating.

The owners and sales managers are quick to blame the salespeople.

The salespeople I talk to are quick to blame the weather, the economy, government, low-priced competitors, or any other convenient scapegoat that shirks them from taking ultimate and complete responsibility for their mess or success.

If you are looking outside yourself and your company for reasons and answers, that thought is the problem. Your focus is looking in the wrong direction. Look inward.

You can point the finger of fault, but there are three fingers pointing directly back at you indicating to explain, complain and blame is lame and leaves you full of shame. The ability and responsibility to change mediocre results for excellence and success lies squarely on the shoulders of all parties (excluding the customer). The answer for your turnaround is looking back at you in the mirror and rests solely within each of you.

There isn't anyone coming to your rescue. I can promise you that the little pity party you throw for yourself will be sparsely attended, except for those other weak-minded individuals foolish enough to believe that external factors determine success or failure who also choose not to take responsibility. Let's face it, if you can cast blame elsewhere then you have your excuse for failing and do not have to do anything since you are powerless to make a difference.

Sure, external factors may have some influence on your level of success, but they are not directly responsible for it. The quicker you realize this fact of life, the quicker you can take control, change course and drive your performance considering those external factors as influences, and adjust accordingly.

As Zig Ziglar, world-renowned motivational speaker, said, "You need a check-up from the neck up", or as I like to say it's time to "take out the head trash."

I perform training seminars, conduct many ride-along coaching sessions across the entire country, and complete hundreds of video and phone coaching conference calls each year, and one of the most frequently asked questions from owners, managers, salespeople and technicians is, "How can we convince customers to upgrade or replace their heating equipment now?"

"When you try to convince someone of something you are exerting a certain amount of force to prove your point no matter how gentle your demeanor may be."

The answer is quite simple: stop trying to convince people to replace or upgrade their equipment, and instead simply create an exceptional experience by providing good information, while guiding the buyer to make the best choices for their family, their comfort, their home and their bank account for the next 20 years of their lives (or however long they remain in the home).

We all learned Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law, The Law of Motion, at some point in our lives either through education or everyday living, even if you were unaware as to whom to credit with the discovery. To paraphrase The Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This law can be applied to sales. When you try to convince someone of something, you are exerting a certain amount of force to prove your point no matter how gentle your demeanor may be. The force you exert will be met with resistance and/or apprehension from your customer and yield low or no sales.

To reverse this disastrous effect, stop telling your customers they should replace their equipment and start asking them a series of questions that lead them to determine for themselves that it might make sense to consider replacing their equipment now and use your services to do so.

Most salespeople feel compelled to tell potential customers everything they know about their products and services and why they should buy from their company. Customers tend to have their guard up when dealing with anyone trying to sell them anything and doubt a fair percentage of what salespeople say.

The larger the expense, the more guarded the customer and more skeptical of the information provided. This is the reason most homeowners say they're getting multiple bids.

"You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves." ~ Galileo Galilei

You can't teach homeowners anything, but you can help to point them in directions where they might learn, consider, and make choices.


To differentiate yourself, begin with trying to learn and understand who the customer is and what's important to them. Seek first to listen and hear before seeking to be heard. Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.

Change your mission on a sales call to seek the truth rather to close the sale. When you seek the truth about what the customer really wants — desired outcome, experience, lifestyle, change in comfort, health, energy management, safety, and peace of mind; what's important to them in a solution and installation and service company; what they'd feel comfortable investing to address their concerns; how they plan to pay for it; when they want the work done and when they hope to make a decision — you will find that the customer is more open and honest with you.

"When you seek the truth about what the customer really wants, you'll find that them more open and honest with you." ~ Drew Cameron

Inquire about what the customer likes and dislikes about their current system; if they could improve something what would it be; are they happy with the comfort level; is the system noisy; are they satisfied with the energy bills; and many other questions that will help you better understand how your customer interfaces with their system and how they like to live in their home. The answers you gain are exactly what the customer wants and is willing to pay for if it all makes sense.

After you have the answers, tell the customer that you don't yet know if it would make sense or not to consider replacing their system, but that they may want to at least get some information so that they can make an informed and intelligent choice for them, their family, their home and their bank account as to whether to maintain, repair or replace their existing system. You want them to rest assured that no matter what choice they make that they do so knowing all the facts. Assure them you are okay if they decide to do nothing at this time (if the equipment is still operational and safe) in order to prove your internet.

Let the customer know that you are not there to sell them anything they don't want, don't need, can't afford or doesn't make sense to them. Once the customer is assured you are there simply to inform, help, serve, and offer solutions with their best interest in mind, gain their permission to share information with them as it relates to their concerns.

If that means doing nothing at all or doing business with someone else, assure the customer that you are okay with either scenario as long as they are willing to live with the long-term impact of their choice (and hopefully not later regret it). This level of honesty, trust and respect are paramount and more important than any level of rapport, technical expertise, or sales skills.

Let the customer know you'll be happy if they are happy with their choices. Explain that you don't want to earn their business today only to lose them as a customer tomorrow when what they buy doesn't meet expectations.

The reasons why a customer may choose to replace their equipment are as many and varied as the snowflakes you may see this winter. The critical point is to strike an emotional chord with the reasons they may want to consider buying before trying to justify the purchase.

Balance Emotion and Logic

A buying process that focuses on emotion only or mostly will get a customer enthusiastic and probably yield a sale that cancels the next day when the customer has a chance to think about it and realizes there are no logical reasons to justify their investment. A buying process that focuses exclusively or mostly on logic and lacks an emotional hook for the customer rarely yields a sale (more often it yields an educated consumer that purchases from your competition using your knowledge to get what they perceive to be a comparable solution for less money — a solution that was not even offered by anyone other than you).

The key to achieving a balance of emotion and logic during the buying process starts by discovering an emotional hook, then provides an adequate amount of logic, so that the customer has enough information to justify their investment.

Your questions yield the emotional hooks and allow your customers to tell you what they want and why they want it. It's much easier and enjoyable to allow someone to choose to buy something for their reasons, than to sell them on your reasons as to why they should buy. Customers love to buy and own things, but they hate to be sold.

Your job is to share appropriate information with the customer as to why it may make sense to consider a system replacement, and allow them to discover for themselves the reasons to make specific choices.

"It's much easier and enjoyable for all parties to allow someone to choose to buy something for their reasons rather than sell them on your reasons as to why they should buy."

Rarely does the appropriate information need to include equipment brochures and technical details. Instead, include information that addresses the concerns the customer shares freely and divulges in response to your questions. The answers need not be technical, rather they should convey your solution will put their concerns to rest once and for all and deliver the desired experience.

Establish, Maintain Your Positive of Trust

Consumers buy from people they trust and respect, not necessarily like. If you educate people on the buying process they should go through and the process all good contractors should execute, you can easily differentiate yourself as a credible advisor. Simply let the customer know that you don't care what they do as long as they do it knowingly. This proves your intent to serve, and not sell, and establishes your position of trust.

These two criteria are critical in establishing a relationship with the customer. Customers more often buy from the person with whom they have a relationship.

To this end, share good information in a helpful manner and guide them on how to make an informed decision considering all the required variables. Help the customer feel you understand them and are capable of addressing their wants, wishes, problems, and desires with their best interest in mind.

Company licenses, certifications, certificates of insurance, pictures of your company and co-workers, before and after pictures of past jobs, testimonial letters, reviews and surveys from other customers, references for customers to speak with, stories of how others have handled similar situations, written warranties and guarantees, an upfront straightforward investment guide with printed prices showing solution options varied by features, benefits and pricing are just a few of the things you can share with a customer.

After you've taken the time to actually get to know the customer and what's important to them, and they determine they want what you have to offer, they'll want to ensure it makes sense to them financially. To help the customer with this justification, share pricing information in a user-friendly manner.

Most consumers make large purchases with monthly payments, deferred payments and/or in-store financing (e.g. cars, appliances, furniture, electronics, etc.) because either they don't have the money or it simply makes sense.

When quoting the investment for a new heating system, illustrate the monthly investment with a unsecured low fixed-rate fixed-term investment plan for up to 10 years; the monthly investment with an unsecured revolving payment plan (no-interest plans are available); the monthly investment with a secured low-interest tax deductible refinance or home improvement loan from 10 to 30 years (secure loans take longer to process); the payment and benefits of using a credit card; and the total investment at the bottom of the page if they choose to pay by check.

Tell a customer that you don't need their money to finance the purchase. Share how most of your customers use other people's money to leverage the fact that the energy and repair cost savings alone can pay for or greatly offset their investment (it always covers any interest making it an interest-free loan), but that it's their choice based on what makes sense and feels right.

Sharing a variety of investment options with all customers, allows more customers to get their brains around a large investment even if they choose to write a check upon completion.

As needed, use cost of operation tools to show homeowners how much they are currently overpaying to heat their home. Don't talk in terms of savings first as there are no savings until the customer replaces their equipment, plus people don't typically save money, they spend it. Instead, talk in terms of needlessly overpaying on energy when they can heat their house for less and turn the current overpayment into a tax-free savings that can work for them and pay for a new system.

Be sure to also show them a comparison between operating costs of a new system vs. their current system over the anticipated life for the system or expected continued life of the existing system. Include current and potential repair costs as well as maintenance costs that must be paid for out of pocket if the customer keeps their old inefficient existing system versus the operating cost for new high-efficiency equipment that includes several years of parts and labor warranties and maintenance; enhances comfort; improves healthy air; safe operation; a money back guarantee to remove and reverse the risk along with other guarantees to protect their investment and offer other peace of mind.

Use the current monthly energy overpayment (i.e. energy savings) and subtract it from the quoted monthly investment to show a customer the net out-of-pocket investment to own their new system. Show the customer 15-20 years of projected savings with an annual adjustment for inflation (conservatively at least 3 percent to 5 percent annually) to show a customer the economic impact a system upgrade can yield.

Choices Instead of Decisions

A customer who emotionally wants to improve the comfort of their home and solve other problems will see that it makes sense economically to do so now versus waiting, repairing their existing system and paying more for a new system later along with the higher energy and repair costs in the interim. Instead of being manipulative and trying to force a sale, you allow the customer to discover for themselves and make an informed choice.

The resistance you may experience on service and sales calls goes away when you communicate effectively with your customers and let them make choices instead of making decisions. Choices usually result in one of several options, whereas decisions usually yield a buy or don't buy outcome and paints the customer in a corner with an all or nothing proposition. Most people fearing risk or loss will decide not to purchase.

"You don't have to and should not try to sell or convince customers to buy a new system."

You don't have to, and should not try to, sell or convince customers to buy a new system. When you lead from a perspective of serving, not selling, doing what's in the customer's best interest and sharing the appropriate information in a user-friendly manner, customers will choose to do business with you versus deciding not to. Be a servant leader, not a salesperson.

Objections: A Natural Part of the Consumer Buying Process

Objections are a natural part of the consumer buying process. They are simply the manner in which prospects communicate their status in the buying process. They come in forms of challenges, opportunities, problems, requests for more information, cries for help to better understand, stalls and value shortcomings.

Sometimes one objection will masquerade as another to conceal the true objection.

Your job is to determine the true objection and nature or root thereof. An objection is simply a person's way of requesting additional information before making a new and more informed decision.

People will not change their mind, but they will make new decisions based on new information you provide and do so in your favor if you properly determine what new information they require to make a favorable decision.

If there are no objections, it could mean that the prospect is apathetic. But when there are objections, the key to overcoming them is to turn negative to positive.

To effectively deal with objections, learn what type of buyer you are dealing with. Create customer-specific variants of three basic ways to handle common objections:

  1. Learn as much about the customer as possible.
  2. Never let an objection take you by surprise.
  3. Never deal with an objection at an emotional level.

It's not enough to know about the industry and the particular client with which you are dealing in order to handle objections effectively. You also have to discern the best way to approach the individual decision maker based on the way that person approaches information. Knowledge of the industry and the particular person will tell you whether an objection, especially about price, is a real condition or simply a mask for another underlying problem.

If there are no objections, it could mean that the prospect is apathetic. But when there are objections, the key to overcoming them is to turn negative to positive.

For example, a person may not really have the cash to make an outright purchase. Armed with this knowledge, you can suggest lower-cash alternatives or financing, for example — when appropriate.

Drew Cameron will be a featured presenter at Contractor Leadership LIVE

Once you know the real reason behind the stated objection, you need to look at the buyers themselves. The type of person dictates your response.

There are three basic types of decision makers:

  1. The relationship buyer who wants to get to know you.
  2. The driver is a person who wants to be in control. Price objections are often this person's most common concern.
  3. The analytical buyer. This person wants a lot of data.

If you do your homework, an objection should never take you by surprise. In addition, you should never engage at an emotional level or take anything personally. Even if the customer bases their objections on factual error, your first response should be to validate the customer's feelings.

Objections help you understand your customers. There is no "one answer fits all" for objections. When you turn your knowledge into customer-specific responses, you move the sales process toward a successful closing.

Objections help you understand your customers. There is no "one answer fits all" for objections. When you turn your knowledge into customer-specific responses, you move the sales process toward a successful closing.

The problem for most salespeople is that they wait to deal with objections after the presentation and conveyance of price. In reality, this is a cop-out for a weak selling system.

Objections become built-in excuses for not closing a particular piece of business. This way, the salesperson is not accountable for their sales performance or lack thereof. The prospect becomes the scapegoat, and their objections are the reasons given.

Also, never answer unasked questions or respond to or defend against a statement a prospect makes. Use a nurturing statement, followed by a softening statement, and then a reversing question to gain clarity; understand the reason for the statement, and learn the true meaning behind what was stated. This technique is also a great way to find out why the customer asks any question, especially of an obscure or "left field" nature.

The title of this section is apt because that's what glib clichés, catchy one-liners and creative closes are all about. A poor salesperson with a weak selling system makes a presentation, gets hit with a objection, and out come more punch lines than even Rodney Dangerfield could offer in an attempt to convince the prospect that the company and the product are right for the customer.

Objections are only requests of some form and issues with which you must handle, just like a car salesperson must deal with the issue of car color or options. No more. No less. Don't be afraid.

In other words, the salesperson makes an inappropriate, untimely and ill-advised presentation to a poorly qualified prospect and gets tagged by the prospect's stalls and is painted in a corner, trapped with no conceivable way out, and now needs a trick or a miracle to stay alive. Hopefully the salesperson finds a way out (since the front door is off limits), to have even a ghost of a chance (i.e. skin of his or her teeth, slimmest of margins, shot in the dark, roll of the dice, snowball's chance in hell – how ‘bout those for some clichés?).

Why is the front door off limits? When weak salespeople don't deal with objections upfront before the presentation step and hold themselves and their prospect accountable to setting the ground rules for laying all the cards on the table so that a simple "yes" or "no" decision can be reached after the presentation is given, they have decided to make the sales process a game of "cat and mouse" or tennis once the price and value proposition have been presented.

A better way is to handle all objections upfront before a presentation. To gain agreement as to how the process should flow from that point through the presentation and even agreement as to how and when a decision will be made. You can then coordinate the presentation to meet the decision timeframe.

What follows are some discussions on how to handle objections before they put a roadblock in the selling process, and some ways to deal with objections should they sneak up on you after the fact.

Remember, objections are only requests of some form and issues with which you must handle, just like a car salesperson must deal with the issue of car color or options. No more. No less. Don't be afraid.

Besides, they are not your objections to handle, deal with or overcome. The objection resides in your prospect's head. Your job is to find out what information will satisfy their concerns through questioning, listening and being appropriately responsive.

Most salespeople are reactive to objections, which is what creates conflict. Overcoming objections is like fighting with a prospect and being coercive while trying to get them to yield to duress and manipulation.

Again, the better way is to be proactive and deal with objections before they arise so that the presentation is a discovery process for you and your prospect. You discovering if it's a sale you want and prospect you can and want to help, and the prospect discovering if you, your company and your solutions are right for them. Yes, one of you may discover that the other is not the right choice, but that, my friends, is the beauty of capitalism and a story for another day.

Should objections still arise after the fact, be receptive and responsive after understanding where the objection is coming from and why.

Positivity Helps Convert Calls Into Sales

Zig Ziglar once said “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will!” When your CSRs are positive and upbeat when taking calls from potential customers, you will be able to deliver a WOW experience that will convert those potential customers into active customers each and every time! Using positive language, having a great attitude and teaching your CSRs to say “Yes!” to your customers will help convert more calls into business for your company.

Being Positive

Each day, your CSRs have a choice when it comes to answering calls. Put yourself in your customers shoes—if you call a company and are talking to someone who is humdrum, uninspired or in a bad mood, would you want to share the problem that you are having or would you feel good about doing business with them? Now, turn that around—if you call a company and the person on the phone is upbeat, engaging, listens to your problem and offers to say “Yes” when it comes to helping you, wouldn’t you want to do business with someone who seems to care about your problems?

Your CSRs have a choice regarding the attitude that they embrace. Teaching them how to be positive, how to share their positive attitude with every caller, and encouraging them to say “Yes” to customer questions can help your home service company convert calls into business every time!

Practice the Power of Positive

There is an old saying that “Into every life a little rain must fall.” While it is true that hard times come to all of us, how you react to negative occurrences is up to you. Everyone that has worked in customer service can share stories about difficult customers who didn’t respond to any attempts to fix the problem that was bothering them. Take a minute to look back at what you could have done from a CSR perspective—were you positive? Did you try to solve their problem or were you just interested in reading from a script? What could have been going on in their life at that moment that made them seem so difficult to deal with?

Practicing the power of positive comes from being trained on how to turn a negative experience into a positive outcome for your customer. Being positive doesn’t just happen overnight; CSRs need to be trained on how to be positive and our Pattern of Excellence is designed to accomplish that goal for home service CSRs. Using the customer’s name, being sincere and genuine, speaking clearly, projecting a positive attitude and learning how to WOW the customer by leaving them more than satisfied at the end of the call can help convert a frustrated caller into a happy customer for your business!

Customers for Life

When you have a high performing, positive CSR team, you have the opportunity to not only convert more callers to customers, you have an even greater asset—champions of your brand both internally and externally. We have all worked with individuals who are negative, who think the sky is always falling and who expect the worse; more often than not, those are the people that can bring down the mood of the entire team. When you have a positive team that works together and offers outstanding, WOW experiences for customers and who see the good in everything, your entire home service company feels energized and ready to take over the world! Teaching your CSRs how to have a positive attitude with customers and help them feel good about working with your business, will encourage them to share their positive experience with others and will mean more money for your home service company. Why? Because positive people book more calls.