Lucky 13: Sales Tips for Home Energy Contractors

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No Booties - mud copyI recent got a request from a contractor who didn’t have time for a sales training. Could I just give him a list of key tips? Well, yes, I can. I don’t expect the list by itself, though, is enough to have a big impact. You need the understanding behind each point, and the practice to excel. Nonetheless, perhaps a quick peek can help you identify some areas to work on! If you can get all of this down cold, you’re well on your way to having a great sales approach (and then we can take it deeper and go on to Sales 201!)

  1. Everything you do impacts sales, positively or negatively. Professionalism counts. Answer your phone. Return calls. Show up on time. Don’t make a mess. Build value by eliminating hassle and fear.
  2. Know who you are and what you offer. And believe in it. Your customers can often see your confidence—or lack of confidence—in your solutions. And practice explaining it in way that resonate with your customers. (See points 3 and 4!)
  3. “Put it in words that Mike’s Mom would understand.” You’ve probably heard me talk about avoiding jargon. Most people don’t understand “CFM50”, “airflow across the coil”, “AFUE”, or “ASHRAE 62.2”. Practice explaining concepts in a way that your customers can understand.
  4. Focus on what people care about, what they value, what they’re willing to pay for—and deliver efficiency as a happy byproduct. As Amory Lovins has said, “People don’t want heating fuel or coolant, people want cold beer and hot showers.” Or mobility, or illumination, or their daughter’s bedroom not to be freezing all winter. (And maybe for some folks, efficiency, too.) Build value around what people want.
  5. Know your customer. To focus on what people want, you first have to learn what they want. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Dig deeper and don’t assume the first problem they identify is the real the ultimate problem that needs to be solved. Corollary: the customer doesn’t always even realize there are solutions to problems that haven’t told you about.
  6. Pay attention to what your customer isn’t saying. Nonverbal cues are important. If the customer seems antsy, you might ask if now is the right time to talk.
  7. For your solutions, have a story. Often relating how you solved similar problems for similar customers is more compelling than just a list of the technical fixes.
  8. Present the right options. Whew, this is a big topic. Distilled down, understand the value (above), the financial constraints, and the behavioral economics that drive how people make decisions. And offer a couple options to help the customer make the choice that is best for them.
  9. Bring financing to the table. When financing is offered, close rates go up, and project sizes go up. Having financing options in your toolkit, and know them backwards and forwards.
  10. Ask your customer if there are any barriers keeping them from moving forward. Ask for the order! If you’ve done everything above, the close should be natural. If not, what is holding the customer back?
  11. Handle objections. Your customer’s objections are an important signal. Embrace them. Acknowledge the objection. Dig deeper to make sure you understand the real issue. Only then can your offer a solution that helps you differentiate from the competition. And bring it to a concrete action. What is the next step? Iterate as needed.
  12. Deliver what you promise…and more. Under-promise, over-deliver. The reputation you build with every project carries forward to the next.
  13. Have a plan. Set goals and map out how you can get there. How many leads do you need? What close rates do you expect? Average project size? Track, measure, and refine, so you know where you’re weak, where you’re strong, and where you need to improve. Plan for success.

Bonus Tip: Practice, practice, practice. To get good at any of the above, you need to practice. To stay good, and get better, you have to practice more. Forever.

Need more information on any of these? Let me know, and I can point you to more resources.

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About the Author:

Mike Rogers is the President of OmStout Consulting. A nationally recognized expert in residential energy-efficiency, he works with contractors and programs to scale sustainable market approaches to improving homes. More on Google+

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