Lentz believes one of the keys to selling to commercial customers is to be the aggressor. “You don’t have the time to sit back and wait for something to happen,” she said. “You must use the proactive approach to selling, not the reactive.
“This industry is so pulled by the weather. Contractors have workers sitting around during slow times. In a pulled situation, the customer controls your business. Proactive selling eliminates the pulling and makes good use of typical downtime.”
She cited three important parts of the proactive approach to selling:
“In database management, you need to ask as many questions about your customer as possible,” Lentz said. That way, she added, you can relate your products and services to what each customer wants.
“You can use database management to learn more about your customers in order to break the ice during a presentation, i.e., commenting on how well a customer’s son is doing in a baseball league.
“Know your product from your customer’s point of view. Your existing customers are your best bet for future upgrades. For example, a 10% increase in add-ons often results in a 30% increase in the bottom line — overhead costs haven’t changed.”
She said it is best to seek out the decision-makers in each company. She said that many decision-makers are buyers, some who have authority over their equipment but not over the money spent on it.
Here is a typical question to ask a buyer, she said. “I’d like to make a proposal on this equipment and get your input. Who else do you think I should be talking to?”
Lentz believes that a proposal that includes equipment leasing rather than equipment purchasing has definite advantages.
“What is leasing?” she asked. “It is endless money to acquire your equipment. That is the only definition of leasing you’ll ever need.”
She cited the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying:
“Leasing works best for businesses,” she said. “It makes good business sense to use other people’s money for depreciable goods.”
Lentz added one final comment. “If you keep talking you’re not selling. Let your customer talk.”
Publication date: 03/19/2001