Are you giving your customers options?

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I’m surprised by the number of contractors who only offer one recommendation. (Or no recommendations, just a report on conditions found!)

I think that’s a mistake. If you’ve done a good job listening to the customer, you’ll have a good idea of what they’re looking for and what they willing to invest right now. But unless you’re a perfect mindreader, you won’t have it exactly right all of the time.

Customer Options Slide

Don’t take this example too literally! The best choices are very dependent on the specific home along with the homeowner that lives there and what he/she/they care about.

There are a lot of reasons why presenting options makes sense.1 And there are different ways to do this. The concept of “Good. Better. Best.” draws on some important behavioral drivers. For example, Best provides an anchor, making Good and Better some more affordable in comparison. Having a Best, more people will choose Better. (Careful though, having a Crappy instead of a Best will shift choices in that direction. Do good work. Don’t offer Crappy.)2

Sometimes, people will choose Best, too! More often than you think, and often at much higher investment levels than you’ve previously discussed. But they won’t choose Best very often if you don’t offer it too them!

More importantly, presenting options let’s you continue the conversation that you’ve had through the sales process on the value of the different solutions and how deep they go in meeting all the customers’ needs. Continue the conversation, not end it. You’re not presenting a “yes or no”. You’re giving the chance to validate the importance of the solutions to problems the customer has expressed an interest in remedying. It also gives price sensitive customers a solution that makes sense for them. And you may have to make further adjustments as you learn more about how far the customer wants to go.

In some program areas with rebates that ratchet up as the project goes deeper, you also have a chance to spell out bigger value propositions made easier by the incentives on the table. Some people don’t like to miss out on that bigger rebate opportunity. Use it if you’ve got it.

Presenting clear options doesn’t replace working to understand what a customer cares about, and you shouldn’t use this as a way to shortcut the process of building that understanding. But it can be an effective tool. How do you approach it?

1 For a lot more discussion of this read some of the previous posts on behavioral economics. Feeling queasy? Read To Sell Is Human.

2 As in the example shown here, most of the time you should think about Good, Better, Best, at the package level, not at the widget level. For example, 95% of your projects in snow country might include a 96% AFUE furnace if that is part of all three of your G, B, B options. Better and Best may be whether the customer decides to retrofit their lighting and/or replace their water heater. Good doesn’t mean you have to start right off by trading down within a set of measures.

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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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