Some “Sales Tricks” for talking to
pool buyers (and other buyers)…
By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.
Last week, after I confessed about my butt-chewing from the International Pool /Spa/Patio Expo, I promised I would share with you some of my selling tips that (with the exception of the butt-chewing) made for a really awesome class. So that’s what I’ve got for you today– the first in a series of “insider tips” that will help you sell more pools. (These tips may also help you sell OTHER large ticket items, such as hot tubs, upgrades, renovations, maintenance contracts, etc.)
Sure, you may have heard some of these tricks before, but read on, because (1) it’s smart to frequently refresh your selling skills, and (2) I’ll bet I have at least a few tricks here you’ve never tried before…
To keep things simple, I’m going to focus on just ONE key area of “selling” today – “Talking to the Prospect.”
Sales trick #1: Get an “Upfront Contract”
I’m not talking about a written contract. I’m talking about a simple VERBAL habit which is very powerful, but sadly, very rarely used. (I think some salespeople hesitate because they think it might be “too pushy.” But I’m telling you it will not only make you more successful, but it will make you look more like a professional in the eyes of your prospect.)
Basically, before you get into any sort of “deep questioning” or “presentation mode,” (in other words, within the first 5 minutes of your meeting), you need to set an expectation and agreement of what your mutual goals are for this meeting that’s about to take place. For example, you might say:
“Okay, Mrs. Smith, here’s what I see as the purpose of this meeting. I want to find out from you what you have in mind for your backyard. And I’m sure you’re going to have some questions for me about my company, and what we can do for you.
“At the end of this meeting, you and I can then decide whether it makes sense for us to go to the next step, which includes me taking the time to design a pool for you.
“Does that sound right to you?”
You would do the exact same thing at your SECOND meeting, and any other meetings with the prospect. For example, at the beginning of the 2nd meeting (and also on the phone, when I am SCHEDULING that meeting), I would say “Okay, I’m going to stop by at 4:00, and show you the design I come up with. We can then discuss any changes you might want to make. And then at the end of the meeting, you can let me know whether or not you want me to build this pool for you. Does that sound right to you?”
Yes, it’s super-simple, but don’t under-estimate its power. This habit to “always agree to the purpose of the meeting BEFORE you start” will not only manage their expectations, but prepare them for the fact that you are expecting them to make a decision, and not just “string you along” while they “think about it.” Again, you look more professional, and it helps you avoid wasting your time.
Sales trick #2: Ask “What’s Most Important to You?”
I think it’s smart to give them a piece of paper with about 10 different possibilities listed, such as:
- Beautiful design.
- Top quality components.
- Builder reputation.
- Low maintenance.
- Energy efficient.
- Lowest cost.
Not only does this help guide your design, but it helps you avoid a potential “price war” against other bidders down the road. Because if someone says “Well I want the best builder and the best components at the lowest price…” then you need to stop right there and have a “Come to Jesus” conversation. Just like the old cliché “Good, Fast, Cheap…Pick Any Two…“, you’ve got to make it clear right up front that “what you’re looking for isn’t going to happen.” Sure, they want a Mercedes, and they want to pay a Kia price. But Mercedes isn’t going to sell for that price, and you shouldn’t either.
Now I’m a bit more brash (which is pretty much why I got my butt chewed last week). But if a homeowner ever told me “Lowest cost is the most important thing to me,” then I would immediately say “Well that makes things easy. We just need to get you into a decent above-ground pool. Because above-ground pools provide the lowest cost option available. Especially the inflatable ones. They install quickly and easily.”
Like I said, it’s a “Come to Jesus” moment. Do they REALLY want the lowest cost option available? Or is perhaps quality and design a little more important after all? It’s obviously much better to get this issue sorted out NOW, BEFORE you spend 8 hours designing a $100,000 pool that they will never buy.
Sales trick #3: Don’t answer questions blindly.
As salespeople, we are often overly-anxious to share our knowledge, and “hurry” the prospect to the close. So when they ask us a question, we are happy to blurt out the answer. But that’s usually not the smartest approach. For example:
HOMEOWNER: “Do you guys do faux rock?”
YOU: “Absolutely. In fact, we think is vastly superior to natural rock, because it’s impervious to chemicals, and the salt in the water.”
HOMEOWNER: “Oh, okay. Well we think it looks really fake, so we know we don’t want that. Thanks for coming by.”
HOMEOWNER: “Do you guys do faux rock?”
YOU: “No, we use flagstone and limestone from Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. It gives the pool much more natural look.”
HOMEOWNER: “Oh, well our friends had a pool with natural stone, and it was destroyed by the salt system. So we’re looking for someone who does faux rock. Thanks for coming by.”
A much BETTER way to respond to a question like that would be:
“THAT’S an interesting question… Why do you ask?”
This response allows you to (1) explore deeper into what they’re looking for, and (2) learn more about their true goals and motivations, while (3) helping you avoid shoving your foot into your mouth. (It will also give them the impression that you are really listening to them, and that you really care about them. And that’s a good thing too, right?)
Sales trick #4: “Play Back” their answers.
One of my favorite sales questions to ask (because it’s always so powerful) is this one:
“OK, now if I heard you correctly, you said you are looking for <this> and <this>, and you would also be really happy if you could get <this>. You also mentioned that <this> is pretty important to you as well. Did I get that right?”
It’s the perfect question because:
- It demonstrates that you were really listening (which might not be true of your competition).
- It makes them feel good about your ability and desire to understand their vision. (“Wow, this guy really gets me!”)
- It puts you in the lead, ahead of all your competition.
- And it gives you permission to proceed to the next phase of the sale, which is creating a proposal and quoting a price.
It also gives them another reason to say “yes,” which is something I will talk more about next week. And speaking of which, I’m running out of time and space here. So next week, I’ll share with you some clever (yet bona fide) “dirty tricks” (or more accurately “subliminal tricks“) that will once again, help you sell more pools.
To your success,
2015 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin, Inc. May not be used without permission.