Forget the commodity. Go for broke with service.
Selling “service” instead of a product is selling a relationship based on trust. Products can be seen and tested. Service is more intangible and constantly influenced by the interactions between provider and receiver.
As a product support salesperson at Allstar Lift Trucks in Orlando, Fla., I find that selling service works. I’ve spent nearly five of my past seven years with the company working in the shop. It helps to have an extensive background with machinery parts when speaking to customers. I never approach a customer without knowing exactly what my product will provide and what I can do for the customer through the product. Everyone wants to take a prospective purchase for a test drive, not buy it over the Internet. I act as the personal representative of my product, assuring the customer that they will get a quality product and excellent service.
Don’t let “No Soliciting” signs stop you from making cold calls. Selling service is all about walking into a strange doorway and trying to get a business card in somebody’s hand who might one day become a potential customer. If they are happy with their current supplier, ask what they have planned if something happens to that relationship, and encourage them to keep your business card.
Persistence and a polite manner will get you far. Last year, I repeatedly gave my business card to the franchise owner of an eight-location flooring company in Central Florida. I had never spoken to the owner, but my determination to sell good service got my foot in the door. He instructed his managers to contact me in the event of a problem.
One day, I received a call from a manager who needed a forklift fixed “immediately.” Within two hours, Allstar had not only sent a technician, we had fixed his forklift. We were more expensive than the other guy, but the outstanding service made such a good impression that I have been taking care of this company’s repairs at all locations for five months now.
Impress your customer through the speed and quality of your response. A large part of selling service is exceeding expectations selling the same product, you need to sell superior service to the customer to make a difference in their eyes.
Gaining the trust of a customer then you have to work hard to keep it. Don’t feel confident and slack off once you’ve made the sale. Selling good service is a continual process. Keep the customer coming back for more by constantly striving for perfection.
Remember, a product pretty much sells itself. The customer has already done their research on what they want, and they usually know the product is not going to change.
Service, on the other hand, constantly adapts to fit the needs of the customer. The service aspect of the sale is unique to you and the impression you make on the customer. It doesn’t matter if you are at a roofing company or a flooring business, the product remains the same, and you have to change your mentality and personality to fit the needs of different customers. That’s why it’s better to sell an adaptable service. At the end of the day, the customer still needs equipment, whether they buy it from you or your competitor. They can, however, be impacted by your relationship with them as a salesperson.
I learned this technique of selling service from my dad, Carl Powell, who advised me to paint the picture for the customer. No matter if you get a flat tire right before a meeting, approach the customer as if you are having the best day of your life. It pays to treat people the way you like to be treated.
To that end, you should drop in on major customers when there isn’t a problem. Make sure that you are not just a business card to these guys. When you periodically stop to chat, talk about anything but the equipment you are selling. Strengthening and maintaining a good relationship with a customer does not just mean being there when equipment goes down or a part is needed.
When faced with a customer unwilling to pay the price, be friendly but firm. A good salesperson is not in the business of selling rundown pieces of junk. Tell that customer you have quality pre-owned equipment. If someone asks for your cheapest equipment or starts off the conversation by saying they don’t want to spend a lot of money, tell them that you won’t be able to help them. A quality product costs quality money. Most customers will realize this and by utilizing other aspects of selling service, you will be able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Your resolve may sometimes result in the loss of a sale, but honesty is definitely the best policy when selling service.
Putting a price on service varies from customer to customer. Strive to provide impeccable service to every client, whether a large company or residential homeowner. Your mannerisms will be unique to the situation and the relationship you have established with a particular customer. I service a nine-location company, and the rate per hour is not inexpensive.
The owner is willing to stick with me because none of his equipment ever breaks down and if he has a problem or dispute, I am in his office within a matter of hours. He pays my rates because he gets great service. Your customers will pay you what they think is fair according to the service they are getting. If you sell fantastic service, you will get paid for it.
Finally, realize that determination and a drive to succeed are essential when selling service. Constantly hone your competitive edge and be aware of current industry news. You should want to make a difference and be the best company out there. Personally, I want to rise above the major worldwide corporations by adding the personalized touch that they don’t often bother with.
Try selling service and you will see great relationships with repeat customers.
|Meet the Author
Kevin Powell is a product support salesperson at Allstar Lift Trucks in Orlando, Florida.