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shutterstock_2368953-smMy house is over 90 years old, so electrical outlets are never where we need them. Several years ago I hired an electrician to install additional outlets in several rooms. As I was thinking about how difficult it would be to run the wires inside of existing walls and having them come out at just the right place; knowing that the attic and basement have decades of “accumulation” that would need to be maneuvered around. It seemed like it would be an overwhelming job. So when I spoke with the electrician I started going into the details of the age of the house, how the walls have internal fire blocks (pieces of wood that run parallel to the frame to prevent a draft in case of a fire) and all of the other obstacles that he would probably run into. After letting me talk a while, he simply asked: Show me the attic and the basement, and where you want the outlets! I showed him, and all he said was: “That’s no problem. We’ll have them installed on a separate circuit to avoid overloading the existing circuits, it’ll be done in one day and the cost will be $xxx.

I said, “That’s it? But what about the obstacles and what if you miss the spot and the drill comes through a wall by mistake, or….” His response was simply: That’ll be my problem and if it was to happen, my guys and I would fix it and it wouldn’t cost you anything extra. When the job is done, all you’ll see are new outlets. Any more questions?”

Although I interviewed several other electricians, I chose him even though he wasn’t the cheapest.

Why would I share that story in a business-related blog? Because it’s a great lesson about sales the 21st century!

What did he do to make the sale?

1) He listened to my rambling without (obvious) judgment. (That doesn’t mean he wasn’t laughing on the inside, but at least I didn’t see it). This is called “Attentive Listening.” He listened to my concerns and then responded appropriately

2) He quickly and efficiently addressed my concerns without going into all the details of how he would do it.

3) He left me with an assurance that the job would be done well and I felt I could trust him.

The quick take-aways:

– The most important thing to keep in mind during the sales presentation is that the customer really only cares about what’s in it for him/her. They may raise questions out of curiosity (i.e.: “How will you get past the internal fireblocks”) but what they really want is an assurance that you know what you’re doing, and that you’ll do it well.

– Keep the conversation focused on outcome and expectations

– Don’t over-promise, but also don’t hesitate to portray competence. (It was obvious to me that he had done this type of work before and gave a sense of confidence in his answers). This gave me the necessary assurance to take the risk and hire him.

We’ll discuss more about sales strategies in our next installment.