Why You've Got to Ask Your Customers, "Why"

One of my sales specialists, John, recently scheduled a visit with a new client who was referred to our company to fix his inadequate home heating situation. John is a very young, aggressive sales person who is still in the learning stage of his sales career. (By the way, I think we should always keep a foot in that "learning" stage no matter what level we are in any career. When you're learning, you're also growing. When you're not growing, you're doing the opposite, which is dying.)

The client wanted to do something extreme that involved abandoning the current "forced air-style" heating system and installing a hot water baseboard system. In the heating industry this type of a project can come with a hefty price tag. Prior to sending John off to meet with this client, I coached him a bit.

"John", I said, "You want to ask many questions in the beginning. The most important question to ask is, "why?" I explained that the power of this question can drastically affect the outcome of his visit. If John just quotes what they've asked for with out asking why they want it, no matter how professional and spectacular his presentation, many scenarios can play out that can work against his sale.

When John Doesn't Ask Why...

If John quotes a hot water boiler with hydronic baseboard as the client requested, priced around $25,000, without asking the reasons why, the client may love his professionalism but just can't afford the job done the way it's proposed. In this case, the client may do one of the following...

1) Thank him, commend him on his professionalism, but choose to do nothing 2) Never return his calls and use a cheaper contractor that may do an inferior job 3) Live with his current situation and save the money to do the job with him (not a likely scenario).

When John Asks Why...

If John asks the client questions like, "Why do you want to abandon your current forced-air system?", and "Are you aware of the budget you'll need to have for a project like this?" he will have greater opportunities to close a sale that fits the client's needs and budget.

In this particular case, if John were to ask the reasons, he would find out that the client's issue is lack of comfort. The house has too many cold spots with his current forced-air heating system. The air is also very dry so he and his family sneeze a lot when the heat is on. Knowing his client's reasons will help John recommend a solution that will work to fit his comfort needs and his budget.

The outcome of asking why will result in the following recommendation by John: Keep the existing forced-air heat, install a modern furnace with the capability of producing more "even" heat distribution, add a zoning system, humidifier and air cleaner. With this solution, John will achieve the comfort level the client wants and will cost the customer about $9,000, which will turn out to be $2,000 below his budget.

What Really Happened?

What happened in this - in reality, John didn't ask his customer the reasons for "why" he wanted to abandon his forced-air system. As a result, the 1st scenario I listed above played out. His client chose to do nothing. The good news however, is that this became a learning experience for John. Plus, he can follow up with this client and present the different options available to him, available, once he asks "why".

"Why?" is a powerful question, isn't it?

Well known in the residential services industry for his high-volume tickets, record-breaking, tenacious, self-disciplined, and self-motivated selling and sales training style, Michael O'Grady is an accomplished Sales Manager, Sales Trainer, Business Owner, aspiring Sales Coach and Entrepreneur. During his 20-year sales career, he has set and achieved many industry and personal records. He is inspired to teach others to do the same.

Michael owns and publishes the sales training resources, Sales-Psychology.com and ResidentialSalesCoach.com. He recently launched a series of free sales training workshops, tele-seminars, webinars. He also conducts in-person sales training seminars for sales professionals, managers and business owners. Join the mailing list to get access to these free sales trainings for in-home service contractors today. Click Here.

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