April 23rd, 2018
Be the Expert and Speak Up!
Sales can be a lonely business. Only other sales professionals truly understand the HUGE ups and downs of this occupation. It can be cathartic to commiserate with other sales professionals, but we can also learn from one another.
Last summer, I learned how Anthony Valiant of Valiant Home Remodelers became a VERY successful salesperson.
I first met Tony decades ago. We’ve talked about everything — life in general, relationships, politics, being part of a second-generation family business, home improvement products. … and sales. I met up with him again on the golf course last summer at the annual Valiant “Big Guy” Golf Outing.
Anthony was as happy as ever and I asked him how life was treating him. He told me the personal side, then he shared that he was truly hitting his stride in sales. His numbers were fantastic. I asked Anthony, “What’s your secret to success?”
I remember every word of his answer, but I can sum it up with three:
Anthony thought about why his sales numbers were up. His first answer was “Passion” for solving people’s problems the right way, but that wasn’t all. Tony always invested time and effort to learn all he could about remodeling solutions, and he analyzed what worked for him at the kitchen table. Even so, he still felt he lacked all the self-confidence in-home sales requires. He told me had ultimately “borrowed” confidence from his cousins, Geno and Michael Valiant. He reasoned that, if they could be successful at sales, so could he. The third reason he gave me was the big surprise to me. He told me that I was also partly responsible for his success!
I was flabbergasted and asked him, “What did I do?”
Anthony turned to his cousins and asked them, “What do we always say, guys?”
They answered in unison, “Be Mark Milanese!”
“Be Mark Milanese? What does that mean?” I said.
“Be the expert,” Geno summed up the meaning.
“The homeowner doesn’t know what they want – They don’t even know what is available!” added Michael.
I’ve been pontificating about my sales theories for years, but I wasn’t sure anyone was listening when I’d say, “Ask good questions. Listen to the client. Find the best solution. Present the best solution in a way the client understands. Make sure they appreciate the value of your solution. Be. The. Expert.”
Being the Expert
There is a time to be quiet during a sales call, but there is definitely a time to speak up, too. A prospect will tell us why they will spend money if we ask good questions and then listen to their answer. Afterwards, it’s time to use our expertise to figure out the best possible solution for this particular prospect. Then we must demonstrate and present our solution in a way they clearly understand, so they appreciate the value of our solution:
- Ask good questions;
- Listen to the prospect’s needs;
- Determine the best solution;
- Present/demonstrate our solution.
The “Expert” Finds the “Best” Solution to the Problems of Their Prospect
Successful salespeople find that their prospect is looking for the best solution for them, not necessarily the solution that’s best for everybody else. It is also significant to note that, although affordability is always an issue, their buying decision isn’t only dictated by price. The prospect wants to choose a solution that solves their problem in the best possible way. Price can become less important when we give the prospect the best solution to their problem.
The “Expert” Communicates the “Best” Solution to the Problems of Their Prospect
Experience gives us the expertise we need to provide our prospect with the best possible solution, but a true expert also has the ability to communicate how their solution addresses the concerns of the prospect in the best possible way.
I find it worthwhile to select the sales tools best suited to the potential client in front of me to demonstrate my recommended solution. Over time and by observing prospect behavior, I’ve found that all clients are not the same. Some clients want to put their hands on a display sample, others enjoy a PowerPoint presentation, some love to rifle through literature and color chips. Others find it most helpful to see photos of past projects or installation videos, while still others are converted by a parable or a long reference list. The more tools we have in our tool belt, the better our chances to use the keys the client has given us to unlock the sale.
We all bring our own experience to our occupation. There is no right or wrong way to enter the occupation of in-home sales, but there are time-tested ways to improve success. Having passion for solving people’s problems causes us to learn more about available solutions. Learning from our own experience and the experience of others can increase confidence and provide expertise. Improved communications skills can make us an expert in our field. The bottom line is that an expert has higher closure rates and average sales than an amateur.
Professional golfers may or may not have more raw talent than you or I do, but they certainly have more passion, confidence and expertise than the amateur. They practice more. They have more knowledge. They seek help to improve their game. And they are paid more to play golf than an amateur. After all, they are the experts!
Anthony Valiant has what it takes to be a winner. Passion. Confidence. Expertise.
Look for my next blog in this series: “Present a Contract & Be Quiet”