Defending Your Value
Can your prospects see the advantage of choosing you over your competitor? Are they willing to pay a premium price for your product or service? If not, you may find yourself being forced to leave your profit on the table.
You may find that a substantial number of homeowners are open to understanding the costs and benefits of a higher-quality job, but only if you are willing and able to educate them. Depending on whose research you read, as few as 10–15% of consumers use cost as their primary deciding factor. I’d like to propose that many people rely on price as the deciding factor only when they lack other information that would help them to decide which contractor to trust with their expectations. If it seems to you that the 10–15% figure is low, perhaps it’s because you are among those who don’t give them enough “other information.”
Many contractors believe that “Your price is too high” is the most common objection because this is the objection they hear most frequently. But in reality this may simply be the easiest way for prospects to dismiss our proposal for some other reason. We’re too tall, thin, old, young, loud, quiet—or they just don’t like us, believe us, or trust us. Perhaps it even provides a comfortable retreat for prospects who realize that they can’t afford the project, not because our prices are too high, relatively speaking, but just because they haven’t the means to act on our proposal.
If we could get prospects to understand what goes into a good furnace, window, or insulation installation at the time we present the proposal, they would know what to look for should they undertake the burden of collecting bids. In practice, the contractor who knows the shortcomings of the competition when presenting proposals to a client can deal with that client in a way that is more attractive, eliminating or minimizing the client’s need or desire to collect competitive bids.
One common shortcoming among contractors is that most of them simply quote the prospect a price when the prospect is hungering for information. Once properly informed, many prospects can see the fallacy of selecting a proposal based solely on price. At the very least, the contractor who provides information raises the performance bar for the next contractor who presents a proposal. Unless that contractor addresses the issues you educated the client about, he or she will not seem as credible as you do.
Selling Home Performance
Selling home performance services is different from selling traditional HVAC or remodeling services. The educational process begins with the first phone call and runs through the entire process of getting the job. It includes how you
identify the prospects most likely to buy your product at your price;
show and explain what causes high bills, discomfort, and unsafe conditions;
build trust and rapport even with prospects who are resistant;
determine a fair price for your work; and
present a proposal in such a way that the prospect will instantly associate it with every other good decision he or she has ever made.
Bringing Tools to the Table
The most powerful tools we can use to inform prospects about how their house is acting are the tools we might be leaving in our trucks while we attempt to sell the job. Bring your hygrometer, laser digital thermometer, and digital monometer to the kitchen table with you. Sit down with the prospect, take out your hygrometer, and let it adjust to local conditions. Place your digital laser thermometer on the table too. Take out your digital manometer and set it up with one tube poking out the window behind you and the other tube at your feet. Then pull out your “Big Chief” tablet and a no. 2 pencil and begin to review the information on the questionnaire that you filled out with the prospect over the phone. I find it hard to get this far before the prospect interrupts me. He or she wants to know what all these tools are for—this is magic!
The magic works two ways. First, the technician who has a hard time conversing with prospects find it much easier to explain to them what he or she is going to look for in their house. And second, a trust bond is developed between the prospect and the technician, as the prospect begins to understand that the technician really knows a lot of new and interesting stuff. (It’s interesting to note that more new cars are sold by mechanics who chat with the client as they inspect the car in the shop than are sold by the sales staff on the showroom floor.)
Too bad the contractors who sell kitchens, baths, room additions, or new homes can’t use this same method to gain the trust of the prospect while at the same time setting themselves apart from the competition. Or perhaps they could?
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