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The New School for Sales

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The New School for Sales

A memorized pitch book and seven canned closes, performed back-to-back, won’t cut it with many of today’s homeowners

By By Mike Damora July 9, 2015
old-school car salesman--how not to sell in the modern age

The phone is ringing and there’s no shortage of work. We have lots of leads and I’m actually looking to hire a salesperson. But not just any salesperson.

In the past, when I looked for new salespeople, I wrote an ad that would appeal to the Gotta Want It type. The one who’s hungry for success and would follow the system no matter what. Selling on commission isn’t an easy way to make a living, and only a certain type of person can do it.

My perfect candidate then might’ve been someone fresh out of rehab and newly divorced. Someone looking to make a point. He’d put all his energy into the rebirth.

We taught a 10-step system. Entry, warmup, creation of need. We taught all that and how to demo a window, or price a siding or roofing job, plus a few simple closing techniques.  My guy would memorize the pitch book. Then he would sit on the living room sofa, or at the kitchen table, and start at Page One. “We are XYZ Home Improvement and we’ve been in business …”

He’d go in the house and be a killer. He wanted success so badly that he tracked down all the books and tapes by the great sales gurus like Tom Hopkins, Bryan Tracy, and Zig Ziglar and could quote their material by heart. I wanted the guy who refused to take no for an answer.

Are You Authentic?

Today if Bryan Tracy himself knocked on the door I wouldn’t hire him. Instead, I want someone with construction knowledge, someone with a background in installation. Not everyone who applies will know construction, but I at least want someone willing to learn it.

I’m looking for someone who understands applications, how windows, siding, and roofing actually work. Someone who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to, say, the way proper attic ventilation extends the life of the roof or how R-value and U-factor determine the amount of energy that that window will save.

I want someone who’s a good listener. That would be the person who can pay attention to what homeowners are saying about what’s going on with the house so that he can suggest the appropriate solution.

And I want someone who's tech savvy and computer literate—for us, that's like knowing how to speak English.

Today, that’s a killer salesman. He’s the one closing business.

Someone who understands the physics of a residential building and the building envelope; who can go in the home and use software to demonstrate to homeowners different options in colors, products, accessories, and systems.

Start With Needs

Homeowners today, especially those under 40, don’t want to be sold. Maybe they never did and were just afraid to say no. I’ve learned to build my presentation around the needs analysis. I put together a straightforward and honest assessment of what’s going on in the house so that I can get the homeowners involved in the products that are right for them—as opposed to just selling them whatever it is that the company offers.

That’s a huge difference from the way home improvement selling happened in the past. But then again, maybe it’s not. Maybe we just weren’t getting it. I think it was Zig Ziglar who said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

A memorized pitch book and seven canned closes, performed back-to-back, won’t cut it with many of today’s homeowners

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