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Are We Speaking the Same Language?

Tips to Better Communicate with Customers and Get the Sale!

Let's say you and your family are shopping for new smart phones. How does the salesperson greet you when you arrive at the store? Does s/he ask key questions about what you, your spouse and your kids are looking for in a new phone plan? More minutes, more data, more music, faster downloads, less cost per month, etc.? Does s/he listen to your family's wants and needs and attempt to provide a solution? Or, does the salesperson fall short of your expectations? 

According to retail expert and small business consultant Bob Phibbs, "The best salespeople wonder what it would be like to be in the other person's shoes. They know they can't play the game unless they continually strive to train themselves in how we as human beings communicate."1

How does your team communicate with customers when selling home comfort systems? Sometimes, we get so caught up in the daily grind of orders, installations and equipment, we forget about the most important part of our business — the people.

Today, let's discuss some tips to better communicate with customers, including: 

Be Friendly, but Professional
As Mathilde Collin explains in her article, "How to Talk to Your Customers in 7 Easy Steps," the initial sales interaction is similar to a first date, so "Mind your manners."2

Be warm, yet professional in your conversations with customers. Use friendly nonverbal communication: a smile goes a long way! Use the customer's name in your discussions with them and note their contact information in your customer relationship management (CRM) system so you have it for the future. Stay away from jokes or other inappropriate comments (i.e., political, racial, monetary, or otherwise). Tell them "thank you" at the close of your conversation and assure them you are available to help should they need it in the future. Make your first impression a positive one in the mind of the customer.

Ask Questions and LISTEN
To get the sale, you need to be a solution-provider. That starts with better understanding the wants and needs of each customer. 

Ask a few key questions to understand the customer's needs/wants: What type of heating and cooling equipment are you interested in today? A high-efficiency AC unit? Do you happen to know the overall square footage of your home so I can determine the best size AC unit to cool the space? If you don't mind me asking, what kind of AC unit do you currently have? Have you been satisfied with it over the years? 

As you ask each question, let the customer respond and actively LISTEN. Your goal is to get to the heart of the problem and develop a unique solution for each customer. If you really listen, the customer will provide vital information that will help you develop a winning solution for them. Take notes, nod your head in understanding, and ask additional questions based on the customer's responses. Once you've developed a few potential solutions, provide them with several options so they can choose. 

Stay Positive!
It's important to use positive, rather than negative language in your sales conversations. According to an article by HelpScout® called, "How to Talk to Your Customers," "Positive language keeps the conversation moving forward and prevents accidental conflicts due to miscommunication. Words like 'can't,' 'won't,' and 'didn't' and phrases like 'you have to' or 'you need to' are usually interpreted as negative."3

Keep in mind that your sales role is one of a solution-provider. Stay positive and focus on how you can help the customer rather than what's not possible or available. If you think outside the box and create a unique solution for that person, they're likely to be a lifelong customer. If there's a will, there's a way!

Adapt Your Language to the Customer
SEER? AFUE? HSPF? AHRI® ratings? Scroll® compressor? Huh? Don't leave your customer confused and scratching his head over industry jargon. 

Adapt your language to the customer. That means explaining HVAC terms and translating those terms into benefits for the customer. 

For instance, rather than talking about the efficiency rating of the KeepRite® G97CMN furnace in terms of 98% AFUE, use an analogy that the customer will understand: 

"Furnaces are rated in terms of AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency. The KeepRite G97CMN furnace has a 98% AFUE which means it's 98 percent efficient. Think of it like miles per gallon (mpg) on your car. You could purchase a car that gets 13 mpg or a car that gets 40 mpg. The car that gets 40 mpg is more fuel-efficient and could save you money at the pump over the long term. Similarly, the G97CMN is more fuel-efficient and could save you money in utility costs over the years. Let me show you more on this high-efficiency furnace...."

Sell Solutions to Get the Sale
If you've owned your own HVAC business for some time, you've probably heard about "feature-benefit" or "solution" selling. So, this is just a reminder: in your conversations with customers, focus on developing and selling solutions to get more sales.

It's easy to get wrapped up in all the features of a product because you want to show the customer what the product is or has (i.e., 98% AFUE, Up to 17 SEER, remote access, self-configuring, etc.). But, customers actually buy a product once you've shown them what it will DO for them or how it will SOLVE a problem they're experiencing (i.e., it's a more efficient AC unit so it will help save money in utility costs over time, it's more convenient to change the temperature of your comfort system from your smart phone, etc.).

According to Dan Shewan's article, "Features vs. Benefits: Here's the Difference & Why It Matters,"  "Although it might seem counterintuitive, consumers rarely want to buy things for the sake of buying them — they want to solve their problems."4

Shewan goes on to provide several examples of successful benefit- or solution-selling. Try applying his feature-benefit matrix to specific KeepRite products, which can assist you in outlining the features, benefits, and sales solutions each product can provide your customers. Sell solutions to get the sale!

Hopefully, these tips can help you and your team better communicate with customers and increase sales. Remember to be friendly and professional. Ask questions and actively listen to narrow down the customer's problem. Keep your communication positive and adapt to the customer. Focus on solutions to get more sales!

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