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Do What I Say, Not What I Do

I Know It’s Over Your Budget, But If You Buy Right This Second, I’ll Give You A Discount!

I Know It’s Over Your Budget, But If You Buy Right This Second, I’ll Give You A Discount!

Don’t Be Surprised In A Sales Meeting When Clients Refuse To Do Things You’d Never Consider Doing Yourself.

Written by Rich Harshaw

Note: This article is part of Monopolize Your Marketplace’s ongoing “Don’t Do This” series for contractor marketing. Sometimes it’s just as helpful to know what to avoid as it is to know what to do.

Let’s role play a scenario for a minute.

Imagine you are watching TV with your spouse and you see a commercial for a Disney cruise. You’ve got 3 kids, and you and the missus (or “mister” as the case may be!) get to talking about how you’ve been wanting to take the kids on a REAL vacation, and how they are right at that perfect age for Disney. You’ve even been saving up some money, so on the spur of the moment, you decide to take the plunge.

The next day, as you’re driving to the cruise specialty travel agent, you discuss the plan with your spouse, and try to figure out your budget. Here’s what you discuss:

  • You’re not sure how much a Disney cruise will cost, but you’re assuming it’s going to be expensive because let’s face it, everything Disney is expensive.
  • You have friends that have been on a Disney cruise before, and they swore on a stack of Bibles it was the greatest experience ever. But the cost of their Disney cruise never came up in discussion.
  • You have other friends who went on a Carnival cruise and loved it. Your friend is the kind who “finds deals” and told you their cruise was only $370 per person for a week, all inclusive. That’s $1,850 for 5 people.
  • Since you know Disney will be more, and you know your friend is a bargain hound, you’re assuming that the Disney Cruise will probably be about DOUBLE the cost of your friend’s cruise—maybe even as much as $4,000.
  • You also know there will be airfare to get to Florida where the ship launches… at $250 to $300 per person, that will add another $1,500.
  • You also budget $500 for miscellaneous things, bringing your total maximum budget to $6,000.
  • You’ve already saved up $3,000, and you think you can save another $1,500 prior to the trip, and you’ll just put the other $1,500 on a credit card that you’ll pay off as soon as you can.
  • Great—you’re all set to talk to the travel agent.

The travel agent, of course, is thrilled to see you. She asks about your travel dates and plugs all the information into her computer. The following conversation ensues:

Travel Agent: Okay. It looks like that will be… $10,343.60, including taxes. That’s a stateroom with a verandah.
You: Gulp. What’s a stateroom with a verandah?
Travel Agent: Stateroom just means room; verandah means it has a little balcony you can sit on to view the ocean. Here, take a look at this picture (turns computer monitor around).
You: Uh, okay. That might be a little out of our budget.
Travel Agent: Well that’s actually the cheapest sailing in June. There are 3 others sail dates that range from $11,500 to $12,400. It all depends on demand, you know.
You: Uh, okay. Are there any, you know, less expensive staterooms? Maybe without a verandah?
Travel Agent: They do have interior rooms without a view or balcony for cheaper; usually about $7,000 to $8,000 But they’re sold out for the entire month.
You: Uh, okay. Um, uh.
Travel Agent: Well, if you could go later in the year, like in October, then the cheaper rooms would be available. Or you could go on a different cruise line—we have a Carnival Cruise in June for only $4,400. Or you could take a shorter Disney Cruise that’s only 4 days that would be less money. But it’s sold out too.
You: Uh… uh… (exchanging hurried glances with you spouse)… yea, okay. We need to think about it.
Travel Agent: Well I’ll tell you what. I have been authorized to give you a 10% discount on any of these cruises if you decide and buy right now. Because, you know, if you do that, then I don’t have to waste time calling you back later. So which cruise do you want?
You: I… don’t know. I’d really like some time to think about it.
Travel Agent: Well you know we can finance it. Just give us $1,000 down, and we can do 0% financing for up to 18 months. Then you can afford the Disney Cruise you want. Which date would you like to book?
You: Heh, yea. Okay. I think we want to think about this. We’ll get back to you.

So let me ask you this—whose fault is it that you didn’t buy? Maybe the travel agent didn’t “sell” the benefits of the Disney Cruise enough. Maybe she didn’t ask for the sale in a firm enough fashion. I’m sure if the travel agent’s sales manager asked, the blame would be placed on YOUR shoulders: you were broke and indecisive. You couldn’t and wouldn’t make a decision, even when you were given multiple options in your price range and financing was offered.

This role play scenario is a microcosm of the ordeal many (probably MOST) remodelers force their customers to go through in every sales meeting. You ask them to pay way more money that they were anticipating; you use words and vocabulary that are foreign to them; you give them a bunch of choices that are hard to sort through; you try to make them decide something right away when they realistically need some time to process the information.

Here’s some advice: Stop doing that.

There’s an old saying in marketing: “If you want to know why John Smith buys what John Smith buys, you’ve got to see the world through John Smith’s eyes.”

Take a minute to look at the scenario from your prospects’ standpoint. Here are some tips for that:

  • Know That They Don’t Know: Remember that your prospects know very little about what you sell—including pricing and options. Everyone knows a Toyota Camry is probably $20,000 or $25,000 dollars. Nobody has any idea how much a new kitchen or replacement windows cost.
  • Facilitate Their Knowledge: Don’t make them wait for the sales meeting to find all this out—it’s overwhelming, and in reality, unfair to the prospect. On your contractor website, provide comparative information so they know you’re different (and better!) that your competitors. Give case studies, with as much detail as possible. Paint a picture for them of general price ranges for different levels of quality.
  • Take Responsibility: Don’t get frustrated with prospects just because they don’t know. Consider it your fault if they walk into a sales meeting unprepared.
  • Give Them A Break: If they really do need more time, give them more time. This isn’t ideal, but either is twisting their arm. If you do your job on the front end, you won’t find yourself in this situation.

Ultimately, this all boils down to respect. If you respect your prospects as humans, you won’t force them into uncomfortable situations. Just remember, the solution is to help them understand more before the sales meeting, not to just roll over and play dead.

© 2014 – 2016, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.

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