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Listening is the key to (sales) success

The key to making the sale is training the technician to listen.

Bob had owned his HVAC company for more than 20 years. He started it as a one-man business, doing nearly everything himself, with some help from his wife.

As the company grew, he hired more technicians and trained them on every detail of the equipment that they would be servicing, ensuring that their training was ongoing. This plan cost him a lot of money, but it paid off because he knew that they were the most competent in the business. Over the years, his technician turnover was very low.

Unfortunately, sales did not reflect this competence. The company did grow, he made a decent income, but Bob was convinced that it should be doing better. Spending very little money, but investing his time, Bob called customers and asked them to rate his technicians. All of the technicians were scored very high in competence.

But one of the past customers was a relative, and what she told him was enlightening.

Every time a technician goes to a home to provide service, there is an opportunity to make a sale.

“The technician fixed the air conditioner. But I really wanted to know what he was doing. He just went to work and didn’t hear a word I said. He wasn’t listening.”

That was a revelation for Bob. He had done a good job of teaching the technicians how to perform the work, how to take care of equipment, but he did not teach them how to take care of the customer. He needed to teach them to listen.

In fact, the air conditioner in this woman’s home was old and could have been replaced. The technician, because he didn’t listen, missed an opportunity to make a sale or at least plant the seed that would lead to a sale. Because he wasn’t listening.

The exercise of calling these customers taught Bob that by investing some time to listen, he had cultivated a whole new relationship with these people. He needed to share this with his technicians.

Every time a technician goes to a home to provide service, there is an opportunity to make a sale.

The key to making the sale is training the technician to listen. We are all aware that people do business with people they like. So how do we make a technician likeable? Teach technicians to be listeners. Studies show that people who listen are the most likeable.

Listening to customers is the first step in making a sale. Listening creates a connection between the technician and customer. The technician listens to understand the customer and their situation. Once a technician truly understands, they can offer solutions and frequently the solution is a sale.

We teach the listen principle to ensure that everyone -- technicians and CSRs, supervisors and owners -- connect by listening first, and remain present to the expression, tone and intent of others.

At a company we worked with recently, listening on the part of the CSR and the technician was key in taking care of a family that had scheduled an appointment for an air conditioning repair. The CSR shared this experience with us.

The customer mentioned to the CSR that she had a sick husband and because of her tone, it was obvious that she was very concerned about his comfort. The CSR told the customer that even though they were heavily booked that day, the CSR would do everything possible to ensure that a technician was there today. The CSR made good on that promise. The technician returned to the office just as the CSR was clearing up her desk to leave for the day.

The technician told the CSR, “I took care of Mrs. Smith. Her air conditioner is working great now. It’s an old system but I fixed it. Did you know that her husband is under hospice care?” The CSR was taken aback. She knew the customer’s husband was sick but had no idea he was dying. What if she hadn’t listened to the customer: her words and her tone?

Both the CSR and technician had been taught how to truly listen. It paid off in taking care of the customer in ways that will pay dividends for years to come.

Listening is the key to success.

To learn more about the in-home sales process, and to access a free training package of resources that includes industry research, video lessons, sample presentation materials and more, visit EGIA.org/CBS-IHS.

Brigham Dickinson is president and founder of Power Selling Pros (www.powersellingpros.com), a leading coaching and training firm dedicated to teaching businesses to WOW more customers. Brigham is also a founding faculty member of EGIA Contractor University (www.egia.org/university). 

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