Many air conditioning and heating salespeople tell me, “I just can’t get appointments with some callers. They only want a price over the phone, and since we’re not the cheapest, I usually don’t hear back from them again.”

Good point. We don’t encourage you to be the cheapest, nor do we suggest any sort of “bait and switch” techniques that you hear about too often. There are a number of responses that will get you in the door of a good, qualified prospect so you can actually sell instead of just giving a “cheapie” bid to get the job. Try these out.

“Well, you probably want to see if there’s a way I can save you some money on energy bills, wouldn’t you?” If the answer is “Yes,” continue. If the caller is hesitant, say, “This system will be working most every month for the next 15 years or so, so these savings can be significant. The survey is free, and there’s no obligation.” Usually, the answer is “Yes.”

“I’d like to come out and appraise your old system so we can see how much to give you on a trade-in.” (This appraisal will usually be the amount of whatever discounts you can allow.)

Ask semi-technical questions. “What is the approximate heat loss? Is your ductwork sealed? What would be the cubic volume of your home?” Any questions bringing a response of “I don’t know,” should be followed up with, “If I gave you a quote now, it might include more than you need. I’d like to come take a look so you won’t get overcharged.”

Any response from you that puts the benefit back into the customer’s lap will likely get you in the door to present your sale.

Are You A Good Listener?

William T. Brooks has written “How To Find Your Customer In A Crowded Market” and suggests that salespeople talk themselves out of more sales than they talk themselves into. This means we should be listening more. Here are five rules for effective listening.
  • Don’t interrupt. It sends out a negative or pushy signal.
  • You can’t learn while you’re talking. Your prospect can’t talk while you’re talking.
  • Ask questions with intensity and understanding. Take notes. Ask why a customer “feels” the way they do. You’ll gain fabulous insight.
  • Focus on key points. If your prospect complains about their old system, find out why. Was it service? Installation? Follow-up? Address this complaint in a way that you and your company will solve.
  • Don’t prejudge answers. We often expect an answer, and fail to hear a different response that really matters.
  • Luquire, president of Service Thrust Organization, can be reached at 1-800-738-4808.

    Publication date:11/03/2000