When it comes to owning and operating a contracting firm, there are five basic business concepts you must not forget. Those Fabulous Five Sales Pointers are:

1. They intend to buy. It never ceases to amaze me how most salespeople and service techs expect not to make the sale. Why do you think they called you? They wanted you to resolve their indoor comfort problem, right? So, why do so many service techs and salespeople expect not to succeed?

Is it because they feel the company is overpriced? Is it because they're broke themselves? In the final analysis, you need to believe that, for what you do, your company is the most economical in town.

At the same time, get some sales training. The cool thing about sales training is that your techs and salespeople make more sales. That's a no-brainer. But more sales also means more money in their own pockets. When your employees make more money themselves, they often feel more comfortable with higher repair costs.

2. Your customers are more afraid of you than you are of them. Service techs often see the customer as holding all the cards because they also hold the money. The truth is, we hold all the cards, and our techs need to realize this. At this time, our customers need us more than we need them.

Everyone says to make sure you thank the customer for his or her business. I have no problem with that, but really, they ought to be thanking us, shouldn't they?

Stop begging for the privilege of fixing your customers' problems. It doesn't look right and it's not appropriate anyway.

Sometimes it helps to view customers the same way you do spiders. Sure, they're ugly and scary, but very few of them are dangerous, and they're just as afraid of you as you are of them.

3. The biggest impediment to closing sales is your customers' lack of decision-making skills. Your life, and the lives of your customers, is really nothing more than a result of the decisions you and they have made to date. Good decision-making is the most important skill you can have. Yet, most of us have never taken a course in decision-making.

Most people fear commitment. Most people fear making the wrong decision. Therefore, one of the best things you can do in a selling situation is to help your customers feel confident in their own decision-making skills. That's why I say that a good closer is not someone who is good at hammering at people or talking them into the sale. A good closer helps people make decisions, because most people really do need help in that area!

4. It's harder for customers to say no than it is for them to say yes. Remember, they called you out there to remedy their problems. They have the indoor comfort problem and you have the needed solution. Therefore, they should buy.

What do you think all of these assertiveness training courses are all about? Who attends them? The answer: People who have trouble saying no, that's who. Have you noticed that there are no courses taught on how to say yes? What does that tell you?

5. They have the money. Again, why do you think they called you out there? They knew it was going to cost money. Case closed.

What about that sweet old lady with the 50-year-old furniture? Does she have the money? Well, if it looks like your customer hasn't spent a dime in 50 years, the money has to be someplace.

Think about it. How much money do you think she inherited when her husband passed away? Is it $250,000? More? And, think about this: Her house could have been paid off 20 years ago.

Believe me, if they've called a first-class company like yours, which probably has a reputation for both quality and high prices, they already know your price will be higher than that of a handyman. So, chances are, they have the money.

Despite this, we all hear, "I don't have the money" - if not often, at least occasionally. That usually means you're doing too much (in their opinion) or that you're overcharging them. That's when you have to know how to overcome the dreaded "price objection."

Guest columnist Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD" and can be reached at 800-963-4822 or charlie@hvacprofitboosters.com.

Publication date: 06/14/2004