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Extra Edition / Business Management

Time Is on Your Side: A Lesson in Time Management in Sales

March 4, 2013
Michael O'Grady
Michael O’Grady
As I finished up my last sales appointment of the day I looked at the time. Had it really been three hours and 45 minutes since I arrived at this house? The good news was the time put in with this customer paid off. It ended in a $25,600 closed sale.

Here’s How I Spent That Time

I work in the in-home services industry and sell heating and air conditioning services. After arriving to the customer’s home, I learned that Mrs. Balle only wanted to change her home’s air conditioning condensing unit. She greeted me with written instructions from her husband, which she read very clearly for me, “We’re probably selling the house next year, so my husband only wants to change the outdoor a/c unit for the second floor.” I found out later that Mrs. Balle had presented the same scenario to three other contractors who promptly gave her the estimate for exactly what she asked.

About an hour into my visit, Mrs. Balle let me know that the three other contractors she previously met all took about 20-30 minutes to give her an estimate on price. My first reaction was to wonder, “Why?” Then I thought, “What a shame.”

You see, to truly help a person make an educated decision, you need to ask questions, listen to the answers, and make the proper recommendations. This takes time and professionalism.

When customers do independent research prior to your sales appointment, you may need to give them answers to their questions. You have to give them facts and be the expert they need to make a proper buying decision. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t walk into your doctor’s office with a list of symptoms and demand a particular course of treatment without allowing the doctor to make a proper diagnosis, would you? If the doctor gave you the prescription you wanted without taking time to diagnose your condition, would you consider him or her a professional?

Diagnosis, in Any Industry, Takes Time, Patience, and Professionalism

I've written many articles and trained many sales professionals on the subject of structure in sales. Taking time to ask probing questions about the customer’s needs and really caring about their answers is the key to not only being professional, but also being successful.

Remember the old sales adage, “People buy from people they trust.” Trust doesn’t happen in an instant. It takes time and relationship building.

Depending on the customer’s needs, you should spend an average of an hour and a half to two hours if you sell to consumers in the residential industry. At Mrs. Balle’s home, my sales appointment took three hours and 45 minutes and ended with a closed sale of more than $25,000.

Time and patience is a salesperson’s friend. You’ll be rewarded with sales and your customers will be rewarded with the professionalism they deserve.

Michael O’Grady’s book, Selling at the Kitchen Table: A Contractor’s Guide to Closing the Deal, is available at www.SellingattheKitchenTable.com.

Publication date: 3/4/2013

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