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How to Talk About MONEY When Selling a Pool… (Part 1)

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared with you a variety of sales tips and tricks to help you sell more pools. This includes some good basic sales tips to use in any conversation, plus some special dirty tricks you can use when you’re face-to-face. (I also talked about why you shouldn’t use naughty words, but that’s another conversation for another time.)

I also need to make a small but important (and embarrassing) CORRECTION to last week’s newsletter. When I talked about “The Momentum of YES,” I gave a couple of BAD EXAMPLES of questions that get the homeowner in the habit of saying “yes.”  For example, instead of saying “Do you mind if I take notes,” you should say “Is it okay if I take notes?” (Special thanks to Mike Logan / Logan Pools for catching that little glitch with my early-morning brain.)

Now onto TODAY’s tips and tricks:

Let’s talk about MONEY!

Dollar Sign (Symbol)Dollar Sign (Symbol)Dollar Sign (Symbol)

I frequently see TWO big money-related problems when I observe salespeople talking to homeowners:

  1. Salespeople are sometimes reluctant to have an honest and sincere conversation about “money and where it’s coming from.
  2. Salespeople often believe the budget is written in stone.

Admittedly, “talking about money” can be a little awkward. It can be considered rude, nosy, prying, and “none of our business.” But the truth is, TALKING ABOUT MONEY IS PART OF YOUR JOB. And FAILING to talk about money is failing at your job. So let’s discuss HOW to talk about money without it feeling awkward, and how to avoid “the budget trap.”

MONEY Tip #1:  Ask “Where is the money coming from?”

Keeping patients charts updated is keyBefore you start worrying about whether something is “rude” or not, let me ask you to imagine that you are a talented doctor. If a sick patient comes into you see you, would you refrain from asking them “Where does it hurt?”  If it’s an embarrassing or private part of their anatomy, would you avoid discussing it, because you don’t want to embarrass them?  Of course not!  Your job is to make them better.  So you need to discuss ALL the details of what’s wrong, no matter how gory or embarrassing.

In fact, as a doctor, you ALSO need to know where their money is coming from.  Because if they don’t have insurance, you may need to offer some alternatives that are within their reach. And you will need to figure that out now BEFORE you set up a $500,000 brain surgery that they can’t afford.

As a pool designer/specialist, you have the same obligation.  This “patient”/homeowner needs and wants a pool.  Your job is to help them get it.  And they are going to have to use money to get it.  So you have to help them through that process.  And it’s really not that hard, once you put yourself in the mindset of “the Doctor” who is trying to help them “solve their problem.”

Here are some easy “ice-breaker” questions that will help get the money-conversation started:

  • “If you don’t mind me asking…”
  • “Will this be a cash project, or financed?”
  • Are you thinking of a ‘Home Improvement Loan’ or a ‘Refinance’?”
  • “Do you happen to know the current equity on your home?”
  • “Do you have a lender in mind, or would you like me to suggest one?”

If you don’t talk about money upfront, you’re going to waste time creating designs for people who can’t afford you. And when that happens, you aren’t doing ANYONE any favors.

MONEY Tip #2:  TALK about Budget, but don’t FIXATE on it.

Money heap on white background. One hundred dollars. 3D illustration.

Speaking as a homeowner/pool buyer, I can tell you first-hand that obsessing over a homeowner’s budget is a mistake. Let me describe what happened to me personally about 15 years ago, when I was shopping for a new pool. (This was BEFORE I became a marketing consultant for the pool industry, by the way.)

I had SOME knowledge about buying a new pool because (1) my family bought a pool when I was a teenager (which was a disaster, by the way), and (2) several of my close friends were in the pool industry at the time.  So I think I had a “slightly better than average” understanding of the pool industry and the pool buying process.

Still, I did what everyone else does – I went to the Yellow Pages (this was 15 years ago, remember), and I called and set appointments with 3 local pool builders.  And I told all 3 of them the exact same thing:I want the deck here, a rectangular pool here, with a vanishing edge there, and a raised spa with another vanishing edge over there.”  And I showed them all EXACTLY where I wanted this in my yard.

And they all asked me the same question:
“Do you have a budget in mind?”

And I told them all the exact same thing: “If I can get this done for $60,000, I am ready to go right now.

So one by one, they all came back with their designs.  The first guy showed me exactly what I requested.  It looked beautiful.  The price was $120,000.  And my thought was “Hmmmmm…

The 2nd guy came over and showed me his design.  It too looked beautiful, and was exactly what I requested.  His price was $125,000.

And I thought to myself:
“Hmmmm… I obviously don’t know how much a pool costs!”

Then the 3rd guy came over with his design. It was a free-form pool with a raised spa and a deck. It wasn’t located quite where I wanted it to be, and it wasn’t what I had requested, but it was pretty, and it only cost $59,950.

YOU'RE FIRED Rubber StampMy budget was $60K. He came in at $59.9K.
But it wasn’t what I asked for.

So I thought to myself: “OK, this guy’s
wasting my time. You’re FIRED.”

I learned 2 lessons that day: (1) My dream pool is going to cost me a lot more than I thought.  And (2) that guy who “met my budget” with the $59,000 free-form design is an idiot, and I will never waste time talking to him or that company again.

MONEY (Woman Thinking)So here’s the moral of this story: YES, ask them if they happen to have a budget in mind.  But don’t fixate on that budget.  (Because just like me, most homeowners don’t have a clue how much a good quality swimming pool really costs.) So instead, you should:

  • Figure out what they really want.
  • Design it and price it. 
  • Show it to the homeowner.
  • And give them the option to “remove pieces of their dream (e.g., the spa, the deck, the vanishing edge, etc.) if they are still fixated on their budget.
  • And if you can do all of that BEFORE the first meeting is over, then YOU are the role model that other swimming pool salespeople should follow.

By the way – You should hope that all of your competitors DO fixate on the homeowner’s (ignorant, ill-conceived) budget. Because that way, they will all look like idiots to the homeowner, and you will appear to be the only one who (1) was listening, and (2) actually knows what you’re doing.

Well, I love sharing these pool selling sales tips with you, but these newsletters are getting long.  So I’m going to stop here, and save the rest of my “How to Talk about Money” sales tips for next week.

To your success,

2016 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin, Inc. May not be used without permission.

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