What happens when you hear, “I need to talk to my spouse”?

Ideally, selling should take place face-to-face with all decision-makers involved each step of the way – – unfortunately in the real world, it’s not always possible.

In homes with multiple decision makers, they often have conflicting schedules. Maybe both spouses are working and one of them is burning a vacation day just to meet with you, and three other contractors.  One spouse/partner may travel for work and not be around.

If they’re parents, evenings during the week might be dedicated to multiple sports practices, concerts, school half-days, PTA meetings, fundraisers, and more.  The weekends are probably even worse with birthday parties, tournaments, religious functions, games, family time, etc.

When impossible to meet with all the decision makers, the following steps can help you close the sale.

 

Make an effort to involve ALL decision makers
A simple question when booking the appointment can be helpful.

“Besides yourself, will there be anyone else’s comfort needs we should be sure to address as we design your new system … Would it be convenient to meet with you both at 4:00p.m. today?”­

It’s important to be okay with ‘No” here.  Remember, always be polite and respectful.  Making a steadfast “one size fits all” policy like not running leads unless you can talk to all decision makers might end up costing business with today’s busy consumers long-term.

Try keeping track of your next 50-100 appointments.  How many times are you talking to just one person?  How does your close rate compare to the times you have multiple people?  If there’s a significant difference, how should you change your procedures?  After you have a feel for your specific client base, make the decision based on the data you’ve collected.

 

Be liked and trusted

If your customer doesn’t like and trust you, there is almost no way they will sell you to their spouse. Over 2,400 years ago Aristotle said there are three factors involved when persuading a person to action. “Logos” meaning logic, “Pathos” meaning emotion, and “Ethos”. Ethos can be interpreted to mean that people want to do business with people they like and trust. If you can’t comfortably sell yourself, don’t expect others to go out of their way to sell you.

When you’re talking to just one of the multiple decision makers, your best chance for success requires turning the person in front of you into your salesperson.

During the appointment, focus on things that make you different from the competition, not just better.  Everyone they’ve talked to mentioned quality, they’ve all been in business for a number of years, and they all do the job right.

Think of 2-3 benefits that make your company different.  Is the way you talk about your expertise, your installation, or your planned maintenance program concise and memorable enough for your new salesperson/client to communicate to his or her spouse 5-6 hours later?  Chances are, you’re not the lowest price.  Make sure the key points you focus on will help the person you’ve met with defend the investment to their significant other.

 

Determine hidden decision maker’s motives

Questions are the best way to get the missing decision maker involved in the discussion.  As you go through your Comfort Concerns List©, ask questions as you would normally.  Then, when appropriate, incorporate the other people involved as often as possible.

“Are there any areas in the home that get too warm or too cold at certain points during the year?”

“Would your spouse have similar issues, or would they be different?”

“What are they looking for in a comfort system?”

“What types of questions would he/she want to ask right now?”

Think about your own spouse or significant other.  Do you think they know how you would answer some, if not all, of the Comfort Concerns List© questions just based on the fact that you live in the home together?  If not, maybe you should spend more time together.

 

Address all the decision makers in your proposal

If the sale is worth your time to meet with any customer, even if it’s just one, it’s worth your time to present a detailed proposal! Your proposal is the most critical element when selling to people you can’t meet face-to-face. In order to consistently “out-proposal” your competition, have a professional template [NOTE: Jeanine, please put a link to the custom proposal and agreement product and DELETE this note from the final post]and include something for everyone.

There are different schools of thought on this one, but you might want to develop a quick reference “benefits page” to leave with your client.  List here list all the features any decision maker would want, then detail all the benefits this feature provides. To help your client sell for you most effectively, highlight those benefits you feel the hidden decision makers want and need based on the Comfort Concerns List© questions.

Customize and leave behind literature.  Make sure to help “guide” the conversation they’ll be having later by putting stars or arrows next to the features/benefits they’ll want most.

 

Give customers the necessary sales tools

You’ve got to give your customer tools if you want them to sell for you. The purpose of these tools is to relay enough information to help everyone involved make the right decision… You!

Besides an in-depth proposal, other sales tools can include copies of testimonial letters, list of referrals with phone numbers, photographs, product literature, utility company information, etc.

If you’re going to talk to others…

Detail how you achieve quality, obtain ultimate comfort, save energy (and money) and provide peace of mind. Your Wheel of Value® is a great place to start.  Chances are, the competition may also do several things on your list, but if they don’t tell the customer it doesn’t matter. You win.

 

Ask for a commitment & follow-up

Many times all you have to do to help a client make a decision is for you to ask.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the order no matter how many of the decision makers are sitting across the table from you.  There’s a good chance you’ll be surprised by the number of times you leave with the sale.

Just like every other appointment, if you don’t get the sale, agree on a time and means to follow up. If the client knows you’ll be meeting again next week, it’s likely there will be a conversation had with the other decision makers before meeting with you again.

Because so much of the competition is still offering minimum solutions with prices written on the back of business cards, there’s a good chance your customer will be surprised by the amount of information and options they receive from a professional company like yours.

In these situations, some of the best consultants in the country always offer to come back again in-person.  Offer to come back, but don’t force the issue.  You’ll find the offer for another face-to-face meeting is always appreciated, but rarely needed to close the sale.

If you’ve successfully made the client your salesperson, many times you’ll receive a follow-up call will come from their spouse simply confirming what they’ve heard is true before moving forward with you.  Be prepared by taking good notes during your face-to-face appointment, and keep them somewhere you can reference quickly.

 

Ask for referrals

The need to meet with all decision makers is reduced significantly as the strength of referrals increases. If you exceed your customers’ expectations before, during, and especially after the initial sale, they will probably continue to sell for you by providing referrals and testimonials.

Stay in touch with your customers, ask for referrals, keep them updated on your progress with their friends.  When they ultimately help you obtain a sale, make sure they are properly rewarded.

Bottom line, convenience is important to today’s time-starved consumers.  They will continue to get busier, making convenience an even higher priority.  As professional sales consultants, one of our jobs is to be as easy as possible to do business with, no matter who we have sitting across the table when we get there.

 

 

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