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How can we better sell jobs to customers?

Order Reprints

Customers sometimes recognize our estimators’ sales tactics and get turned off from our facility. How can we sell jobs in a way that appeals to customers?

Jim McBrayer, president of Program on Persuasion

Intent is more important than technique when sales people interact with customers. Your intent needs to shift from trying to sell something to the customer to understanding what is going on with the customer. Something magical happens when customers feel understood, and it develops a sense of trust.

Start by asking the customer about their accident in a genuine and sincere manner. Find out what happened and ask if everybody is OK. That allows you to start connecting with the customer. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Then you need to align the rest of the conversation with your intent to understand the customer. To do that, identify all of the concerns the customer is dealing with, including vehicle damage, repair scheduling and insurance issues. Position yourself as the customer’s “think partner.” In other words, make the customer feel that you’re not interested in selling them anything. You’re simply trying to figure out their situation. Ask several questions to keep the customer talking and guide the conversation.

Don’t attempt to present solutions to the customer’s problems too quickly. That’s the biggest mistake sales people tend to make. Customers don’t feel like you’re fully listening to them because you’re already telling them what they need to do.

As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. The job of the sales person is not to make the customer drink, rather to make them thirsty. When you get your intent right, by listening and asking questions, the customer will eventually ask you to offer a solution and be more receptive to it.

Selling is about moving people emotionally. They will accept advice and do business with you if you accomplish that. 

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