Improving sales goes a whole lot better when you’re prepared with a plan. To make quality sales, you need a documented, systematic approach and practice to be successful.

I don’t believe in a “born salesperson.”

The reason I feel this way is because I was terrible at sales when I first started. I was painfully shy, and I went into every sales call with a haphazard approach. I found myself repeating things or leaving out key things when talking with the prospective customer.

Then, I made two key rookie salesperson mistakes:

1. I was getting so many people saying no to me, I decided I needed to go faster on sales calls and see more people; and

2. I tried to copy a successful sales person’s (my dad’s) approach.

Both were stupid on my part.

I learned to slow down.

I learned to block time for doing sales — nothing else — just being present on the call. I created a sales system that got more people saying yes rather than rushing through sales calls to be told no faster.

Most importantly, I learned to be myself. My dad would speak in a very quiet and deferential way that made people lean in when he spoke. He wasn’t doing it on purpose; he was just being him. But, I’m not like that. I’m passionate, and l don’t speak at a low volume.

Finally, I began to be systematic in my selling approach. I became so good at sales that I developed a way to teach others at my company a sales system that allowed them to be themselves and close more sales.

They weren’t born salespeople.

They got better because I shared my belief that it was in the customer’s best interest that we be better prepared and follow a systematic approach to selling. It required that we find out what the customer really needed and what they really wanted.

Selling, to me, is a term that should be replaced with serving.

Good to great sales are accomplished in the long run by teaching techs and sales people how to run a service call or a price quote opportunity in a consistent way that serves the customer best.

To do that, you are well-served to train your techs and sales people on how to demystify the sales process for your customer and to build value in all the things your company can uniquely do for them. This is what’s required to separate you from your competition.

A great place to start is by asking three good, open-ended questions that get the customer talking to you about what is going on today; what they see as a successful outcome; and what they want in the way of comfort, safety, energy savings, and more.

You also need to organize the process of what you’re going to do once you’ve arrived, all the way through the sales process, so you can help them make a good buying decision.

Here is a good overview:

1. Have three questions prepared to ask the customer about their existing comfort and efficiency to make sure you know exactly what they desire. This will help you pay special attention to what solutions you can offer;

Note: Take notes because the words the customer uses are the ones you want to repeat back as you present them with a solution.

2. If selling a replacement heating and cooling unit, get permission to do an intensive heat loss and heat gain of their home when selling;

3. If performing a service call, get permission to do a visual survey, so you don’t miss anything that could be problematic now or in the near future;

4. Let them know you’re going to spend some extra time looking at the trouble spots they mentioned;

5. Let the customer know when they can expect to see a proposal. If you cannot prepare one on-site, schedule an appointment to discuss in person at a later date; and

6. Offer a menu of options that address both immediate repairs and future upgrades that improve comfort, safety, efficiency, and more.

Ethical selling power is a skill, and, like all other skills, it requires practice. If you have a training center, you’re already ahead of the game. If you don’t, use your home or office to simulate selling opportunities. 

Check out Levi’s latest business adventure as part of Zoom Franchise Co. at It’s a living example of the power of manuals and more in action.