Joe Talmon of Dave Yoho Associates will present at Fenestration Day on March 19. In today’s guest blog, Dave Yoho, president of Dave Yoho Associates, provides some insights into sales and marketing. To learn more of these marketing tactics from Talmon, be sure to register for Fenestration Day.

Why do many prospects/customers see salespeople as a threat to their well-being? Why do those whose job descriptions require them to give estimates or make proposals or do design avoid and resent their own title? Here are the pros and cons that have come out of 17 years of research.

Yes, people resent shoddy sales tactics and pushy salespeople who drone on and on without ever examining the customer’s values or uncovering their true needs. Yes, customers resent those providing services who stretch the truth, make erroneous statements submitted as fact – and – yes, they resent “time wasters.” On the other hand, when people are satisfied with the way the goods or services were sold and installed and when proper sales tactics are used, their comment usually is “I bought it from XYZ Company” – or – “XYZ Company did my work.” They don’t stress that someone “sold them” on something.

So what of the contractors, designers or remodelers who don’t like to be called sales representatives? All too often, those who are new to the selling profession, or those who have to use interactive communication skills to acquire business, frequently misunderstand that there are certain core values involved in becoming more effective in what they do. Like it or not, improved communication techniques, which are embodied in well-trained salespeople, may be a key. Some years ago, while training engineers who presented complicated solutions to major commercial and industrial property owners, I employed this explanation:

“Whenever an interaction between two or more parties takes place for the purpose of establishing new ideas, exchanging goods or services or the development of a relationship, some form of selling will occur, and the skills of the communicator will determine the outcome.”

The late Dr. Marvin Jolson, former senior vice president of Encyclopedia Britannica,  stated: “Historically, the goal of the sales call could be described as an encounter that hopefully resulted in a conquest or victory called a ‘sale.’ In this new era, the concept is described as a problem-solving discussion between salesperson and prospect that leads toward a meeting of minds that deepens the dependence of each on the other. The salesperson’s primary aim should be to collaborate effectively and establish mutual trust.”

Certain skills applicable to selling are apparent in many professions people wouldn’t consider sales jobs, including lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers and even clergymen. In fact, anyone who has to convey an idea to another is regulated, knowingly or otherwise, by major components of selling. To use one example—rapport. This word plays a powerful role in the success of selling and to those other professions just mentioned.

Now, here’s the catch. Rapport is a feeling. It is based on, among other things, trust, confidence, credibility, comprehension, feelings of well-being, empathy and believability.

In Dr. Jolson’s statement, he refers to “a problem-solving discussion between salesperson (contractor, if you like) and prospect that leads toward a meeting of minds.” We believe this can only be accomplished by understanding some of the core processes that go into structured selling. If you have dealt with someone who may want to acquire your services, I will guarantee at some time you have heard expressions such as these from prospects.

  • There are two or three other companies that we’re looking at.
  • We’re not ready to buy now; we’re looking to get ideas.
  • We know who you are and we’re familiar with your work. We just want you to know that price is very important.

And when you’ve completed a review of the project, done your homework, made a presentation and presented your price, maybe these statements were made:

  • Leave us your card and we’ll get back to you.
  • We are getting other prices and we will contact you again.
  • This is more costly than we had anticipated; we may have to “back burner” this project.
  • We want to talk it over with _____.

These are not necessarily true. So why do people say them? Why is it that others who do exactly what you do will get this contract and you will never be re-contacted? Here is our response:

“There is seldom a cold, rational, dispassionate buyer who buys solely on merit. It requires trust to be established, needs uncovered, and a cooperative feeling between buyer and seller based on rapport.”

In addition, according to our research, when you’re making presentations in the home, the prospect/customer is the key ingredient in a sound sales methodology. How the prospect thinks and feels has to be the major consideration in the development of a sales system—or that system will eventually fail.

When the issue of customer feelings or values is raised, many people get uncomfortable, assuming that we’re moving into areas often called touchy-feely—yet these same people want to build trust and create rapport in their customer relationships.

Rapport is a state of mind that begins with feelings. To some salespeople, building rapport seems a snap, while others try and never seem to get it. Rapport is most easily developed in the early stages of contact. It is usually based on understanding how prospects think and feel and can be explained this way.

To understand the basics of this phenomenon, here are three simple guidelines:

(1)  Stop telling: Are your presentations longer, void of a strong needs assessment? Are you utilizing excuses, defensive statements or price drops to compensate for objections/negotiations?

(2)  Listen and process information: This needs to happen particularly in the early stages of a presentation, as this will be perceived by the customer as a helping and caring attitude. Learning to do it properly requires a new mind-set and new training.

(3)  Customer perception: You are selling efficiently when the buyer is convinced it is his/her decision to buy. Notice that the satisfied customer often says, “I bought it from…” and seldom, “What’s-his-name sold it to me.” Remember: closing is the natural conclusion to the satisfactory completion of each step in a sound sales methodology.

There is a science to selling and it’s a lot more than glib, talkative presentations that are often too long and provide little, if any, feelings of well-being for the prospect. Like any science, you have to work at it and understand that you have certain cultural, emotional and perceptional blocks that may prevent you from doing/saying what is in your best interest and that of your customers. Remember, scientific selling is best described as “a problem-solving discussion between a salesperson and a prospect that leads toward a meeting of the minds that deepens the dependence on each other (a collaborative effect).”

However, don’t be misled. In order to sell more efficiently you will still need to utilize modern, proven sales techniques. Then our power statement will be:

Sell is a four-letter word (like care).

Dave Yoho is the president of the oldest (since 1962), largest, and the most successful small business consulting company specializing in the home improvement industry. His company employs a staff of consulting experts who specialize in advising companies on how to become more profitable in their business. His company sponsors a series of ongoing educational programs in the form of webinars and seminars at http://hipsummit.com/. His recorded materials are sold throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries. For more information visit http://www.daveyoho.com/.

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