Hear "Yes" More and Sell More With Options


Dave Thiemecke
VP of Learning & Development
April 19, 2018
minutes to read

Get to the Point

  1. Decide on the Choices - If you’ve never given tiered solutions for the same problem, you need to decide how to give options. You can ask your customers what they would like their options to include.
  2. Give the Customer Options - Knowing how to present these options to the customer is important. Make sure he or she feels like they have all the information they need about each choice.
  3. Track It - Keep a note of all the Accepted and Declined work for each customer. If somebody chose for a quick repair instead of a replacement, you can follow up to see if they want a replacement six months later.

Yes = Sales

In order to feel good about a purchase, customers need to be in control of the decision. Hard pressure tactics leave customers feeling buyer's remorse almost immediately because they feel like they've been put in a weakened position. So how do you effectively make a sale without pushing the customer AND produce long-term advocates for your business?

This post originally appeared in modified form on HVAC.com.

Selling with Choice

Customers hate to be sold but love to buy, so you need to let the customer buy. One effective way to do this is to expand the choices available to the customer. If the customer only has two choices and one of them is not buying, the odds aren't in your favor. Maybe the customer wants to buy but has an objection to price, or the brand of equipment your using, or the warranty on the equipment. Any one of these can turn what could be a sale into a "No."

While you're troubleshooting, ask the homeowner about their chief concerns. They'll give you hints about what to vary across your options (quality, price, efficiency, timeframe, technology), and what to keep fixed (like no exterior changes). Your presentation will show you listened, raising the odds in your favor.

Provide Options Based on What Matters To The Customer

The most basic level of providing a customer buying options is the Good / Better / Best approach. This means differentiating your offering on the value to the customer and letting them decide what is important to them, without judgement or pressure.

If you're doing a hot water heater install, that might look like this:

  • Good - Repair the existing unit
  • Better - Replace the existing unit with a standard tank
  • Best - Replace the existing unit with a tankless product.

As you go up the scale, price increases along with value. The repair will only be good for so long, the standard unit will get the customer back to where they were before the problem (with the prospect of a long life and new warranty), and the tankless unit provides the additional comfort of always having hot water.

The customer now has a choice that is based on what he or she finds valuable. Compare this to the message you send when you only offer to fix or replace the unit.

"If I don't fix this you won't have hot water."

Giving a customer options makes them think about how they want to address the issue:

  • Do they just want it working again?
  • Do they want peace of mind?
  • Do they want premium comfort?

When the customer is thinking about how they want to address it, it means they aren't thinking about if they want to use you to do the work. A potential "No" or "Let me think about it" is now a "Which option should I choose?" You've shifted the conversation from "Yes" or "No" to "Which one do you want?"

What is key is that the customer needs to be making the choice and you, as the sales person, aren't suggesting any one choice is better than any other. You should always be driving home that the best choice is the one the customer feels right, because all the options you presented are good options! It's not about the customer choosing "the right" option. It's about them choosing the best option for them.

Customers who feel that they have been given good options and have made a choice feel better about the results and are more likely to recommend you to others. Of course, you are welcome to talk about how great it is at Christmas at your house when family is visiting and everyone has hot water because of your tankless unit... so long as you don't hard sell. Keep your message on that what's right for you (or anyone else) isn't necessarily right for this customer.

Don't Offer "Fake" Options

Maybe you are starting down a furnace that needs to be replaced. You can tell the customer that you can fix it but to do so is probably going to be more expensive than a replacement. That isn't really a choice. In many ways, this is worse than only offering one option and it calls your integrity into question. An option is only an option if the customer believes it’s a viable choice. So how do you provide options when you are limited by what what is practical or safe?

Use Options in Place of Discounts

Anytime you give a discount to make a sale, you're subtly telling the customer that you could have done a job for less, but were trying to get more out of them. That's never a good way to build a long-term relationship. However, buy offering variations of the same service, you can keep your prices fixed and give the customer flexibility. In addition to (or in place of) the Good / Better / Best approach, you can turn a single option into multiples with add-ons. How do you do this?

Start by setting your base price on a quality unit. Then offer a lower cost alternative. Maybe the unit in this option doesn't have the quality track record of the one from a premium manufacturer, or is less energy efficient, or isn't manufactured in America. Then, add a premium option that includes the same product at the standard option but includes an annual maintenance agreement or an add-on (like a humidifier or UV Filter).

What remains important is that the customer is making a choice from a list of good options and you haven't had to offer a straight-up discount. Of course, you can always use a discount to close a sale, just make sure you know what the discount is going to cost you.

Finally, make sure that you keep track of all the proposals you've offered a customer. In non-emergency situations, the customer may hold of on making a decision. If you don't know what you offered, you won't be able to follow up later. Good record-keeping of proposed options and leave-behind quotes are a great way to find opportunities. Turn "calling on open proposals" into a routine activity and you can earn business from your existing customers during the slow season.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

Pass Along these Points

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