NOVI, Mich. - When it comes to hiring a salesperson, Mitzi Taylor believes it's important to focus in on those who are good listeners and have a positive attitude.

"When you look for a salesperson, focus on their selling traits," she said.

Unfortunately, contractors often hire salespeople with traits similar to their own, which may not always be the best qualifier, she said.

At the recent annual convention of the Michigan chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (MIACCA), Taylor offered attendees plenty of insights about sales and salespeople. Regarding the latter, she said salespeople shouldn't necessarily worry about closing the sale before assessing the customer's needs.

"The problem is that salespeople come into a customer's home expecting to make the sale. They come in at the upstairs level," she said.

Mitzi Taylor has a simple philosophy about sales, asserting that every member of the organization should be thinking about sales “inside, outside, and on the weekends.”

Providing Clarification

The owner of Not So Basic Training and Consulting, Nunica, Mich. (, clarified the "upstairs level" comment by showing a graphic of a two-story home. The basement is the "history" of the home, the main level is the "current needs" of the homeowner, and the upstairs level is "the close."

"When you think of sales, think of a customer as a house," Taylor said. "Start in the basement during the investigative stage and work up."

She said that salespeople need to "choose an angle" when formulating their presentations. Taylor listed three common angles:

1. The customer has a lot of money. How can I get it?

2. Here is what I have and this is what you should buy. "If you are selling hammers, the whole world looks like a nail," she joked.

3. I wonder what problems the customer is trying to solve? There must be a way I can be part of the solution.

"This is the approach you should be taking," Taylor suggested.

She added that salespeople must add two important ingredients to their presentation.

"First, do what you say you are going to do - and do it," she said. "People will not put up with any less. And, second, follow up. It is a critical piece to retaining a customer."

Marketing And Sales

Taylor has a simple philosophy about who HVACR salespeople are.

"Every single person in your organization is into sales - inside, outside, and on the weekends," she said.

She quizzed attendees on what they felt their customers were looking for. The basic answers included the best price, satisfying a need, and great service. In the end, Taylor discounted the first answer, saying, "Price shoppers are not loyal and you can easily recognize them."

Taylor listed seven things to think about:

1. Target your market, be it homes over 20 years old, baby boomers, custom home builders, or another niche.

2. Do your marketing efforts match? (In other words, know where to focus your dollars.)

3. What is the value of a current customer? "A car customer is worth $110,000 over a lifetime," she said.

4. Have a vision and a mission.

5. Have a system - i.e., standard operating procedures.

6. Have a trained staff.

7. Have good telephone service. "Your tone of voice can make or break a sale," said Taylor.

Taylor summed up her presentation by stating that not every sale will go perfectly, but if "you get them nodding their heads yes, you gain their agreement."

Publication date: 05/24/2004