No matter how great our products and services are, they won’t do any good if we can’t sell them. I’m sure we have all experienced the frustration of knowing that we could really help a potential customer, but still somehow couldn’t convince them to use our services.
I often hear salespeople complaining that in spite of their great sales pitch, the prospect wanted to think about it and ended up either not doing the project, or worse yet, choosing to buy from someone else.
Good communication from the beginning will handle most of the problems that appear when attempting to close the sale.
If you have ever been faced with this disappointment, it will be helpful to review the sales cycle, especially on the communication side. Were you listening to the prospect or were you too busy giving a sales pitch? The problem is if we are busy giving a sales pitch, we probably aren’t listening to the prospect. It really doesn’t matter if you know what they need, you must find out what they want in order to achieve understanding and ultimately the sale.
In his writings on communication, author L Ron Hubbard describes the components of understanding, using a concept he calls ARC. “The ARC triangle is called a triangle because it has three related points. The first of these points is affinity. The second of these points is reality. The third of these points, and the most important, is communication. These three factors are related. By affinity we mean emotional response. We mean the feeling of affections or lack of it. … Reality is fundamentally agreement. What we agree to be real is real.”
ARC is a vital part of sales. Although the establishment of ARC can start with any of these points, we will look at the sales cycle as starting with communication—that is, the listening side of communication. By really listening to your prospect or client, you will be able to establish agreements, the reality part of ARC. By continuing the communication and establishing more agreements, you will then be able to reach the final agreement, the yes to your proposal. In the process of increasing communication and reality, you will have raised the affinity. Creating high affinity is another key component in sales. It is the simple fact that people want to do business with people they like.
By asking your prospects about themselves and their dreams for their homes, you will give them the opportunity to explore their needs, wants and even various options for their project. By really listening, you will not only gain valuable insight into their needs and wants,you will also gather the information you need to close the sale. You will know what to tell them about you and your company, and what not to tell them. As your prospect shares about themselves and their project, they will recognize something special about you. They will realize that you listen and that will increase their affinity for you, your company and your services—and they will want to give you their business.
Over the years many remodelers have told me about sales that have failed for seemingly no reason. In delving into many of these, it became apparent that the reason was lack of communication. Sometimes the lack of communication came about because of assumptions on the part of the salesperson and usually the bottom line was that the salesperson didn’t really know what the prospect wanted. In one case, a client told me that their sales person never found out that the prospect had a previous bad experience with a remodeler—when it came time to go forward, the prospect just couldn’t agree to do the new project.
The best way to ensure that sales will go smoothly is to have a system to ensure communication every step of the way, starting at the beginning of the sales process. We recommend a simple sales intake and appointment form to make sure you cover all the important points. By having a systematic way of gathering information, you are far less likely to miss something.
Some of the questions you should ask include:
- who referred the prospect?
- what is their timeframe for the project?
- what is most important to them in choosing a remodeler ?
Although many people are reluctant to share their budget, it is important to have a range prior to preparing a proposal. For a sample form that has been effective for many of our clients, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to establish real communication and build affinity, it is best to discuss the prospects themselves and their goals or motivations for doing the project before getting into any details regarding the project itself. It is also very important to find out what experiences your prospect has had with previous remodelers or any service providers. Here it is critical that you really listen. If they have had bad experiences, this is not the time to tell them how you are different. At this point, you simply want to listen and encourage them to tell you more. Once your prospect is finished telling you about their experiences, you will be able to tell them about you and how you are different. Remember, you don’t want to tell them about you until they have had the chance to tell you about themselves and all their previous experiences.
By simply incorporating the above communication points, many of our clients have significantly increased their sales. Another side benefit will also be that by getting to know your prospects better, you can determine whether or not you want to pursue them. —Lorraine Hart
Lorraine Hart is the president of Ideal Consulting Services, a business consulting firm. Lorraine is a past president of the NYC/LI Chapter of NARI. Lorraine can be reached at email@example.com.