Going the Extra Mile- Is it Worth the Gas Money?

Obviously I mean this figuratively, but at $4.19/gallon here in OC, I couldn’t resist the metaphor.

You have a potential client.  They want to buy a new AV system, and you schedule a time to look at their space.  After the meeting you give a quote.  What do you do next?

Obviously following up is key, but calling to say “I’m just checking in is largely a waste of time.”  In fact, any follow up call that you position as “checking in”, is most likely weaker than this blog’s title.  Checking in is for teenagers running late after curfew, not for sales calls.

Every time you call a customer you should have a legitimate business reason for doing so.  You should articulate that reason very clearly, and be direct in the purpose of your call.  Otherwise, you start to sound like Chip from The Cable Guy looking for someone to go to Medieval Times with, get a Pepsi from Janeane Garofalo, and then have a mock duel to the death while making obscure Star Trek references (who makes odd movie references anyway?)

My first follow up call is always directly after I send out a proposal.  I always call to let the customer know it was sent, confirm they received it, and to set up a time to come walk them through it in person.  This eliminates the chance that the proposal is lost in Cyberspace, stuck in a Spam filter, or is not noticed for several days. 

It also does one other thing.  Let’s face it, to most folks our proposals are as clear as mud.  They are loaded with part numbers and industry specific terminology that could put the most over stimulated ADHD case to sleep.  Setting up a time to go over the proposal assures that the potential customer understands everything in the package and how it relates to the job.  It gives you more time to develop rapport, and separates you further from the “give a number and hope for a phone call” crowd.

After the proposal presentation, I always ask if there is anything that they would like to touch, feel, see in person that would make it easier to pull the trigger on a purchase.  If there is, I work to get my hands on demo hardware, and then do a potential mock up, to eliminate uneasiness.  This really makes a difference, as they have now seen the product and it is a known quantity.  My proposal has just become “comfort food”.  They look at the other proposals and they sound great on paper, but they are hungry and know what my meal will taste like, so they don’t pursue the unknown entree.

After this, I typically call the client to make sure we are competitive with the other proposals.  I don’t care about being less, I just need to be somewhat close.  Finally after getting that information, I always request that all other things being equal, if the decision comes solely down to price, to give me the final chance to take the job at that price, or to concede and walk away.

If I have done my work in the previous follow up, I am almost never denied that opportunity, as the client understands my level of attention, detail, and concern.  They see the value in the extra steps I took, and see the contrast between that, and the other guy who just gave a number.

In the end, it is the difference between selling on price, and adding value to the client.  So is it worth it?

Absolutely, and I received 2 POs this week for jobs I was not the low bidder on that are proof positive I am right.

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2 thoughts on “Going the Extra Mile- Is it Worth the Gas Money?

  1. Mark Nagle says:

    Mark, I slipped away for awhile and am now catching up. Am I really one of only 3? Or am I now #4?. Anyway, I think much of what you say is common sense (to me) all my clients get thank you cards after the job. Complete installs (instead of labor only) usually get a gift basket as well, I say please and thank you, I ask before I park in their driveway (if at all) I confirm it is ok to go upstairs before I do so etc. Now I DON’T call to check in, but I am guilty of calling to “touch base” which I think is the same thing, I do say I wanted to touch base and see if they had any questions. I don’t know if there is a better way to put it. I typically email the quote, and as you know I do alot of smaller jobs so being there in person to explain every bid isn’t always practical. I feel like I have alot of rep ore with my clients, but I honestly think MOST of the time it only comes down to price. I have had potential customers that have been revered to me from 3seperate friends or associates to me and I still am forced to lessee the scope to meet price. I did get that job but only after shaving about 40% off between a smaller scope, discountsand lesser quality product, now they have added a lot more stuff which means it was never about the money, but why couldn’t I convince them they needed this stuff all along, now I am sure if I had better sales skills this wouldnt be as much of an issue (which is why I am here.

    P.s. I am about 60% done with paradox of choice

    1. avcuracy says:

      Mark,

      I think you are one of a little over 200, based on the stats 🙂 Only 4 have thought enough to comment I guess! A couple folks retweet this blog to their followers, so I do get some traffic.

      Glad to hear you are reading the book. I really think it has some valuable insights as to how to help people get what they want while simplifying choices.

      I think sales is a developed skill, and the more you read and practice the better you get. Just know that sell is not a “4 letter word”, (well it is, but you know what I mean). We all sell, whether ourselves to a pretty woman, a compromise to our fighting children, etc. There is no shame in promoting a business that has value and provides and exceptional service. Don’t be ashamed to tell someone that YOU are worth the difference in price.

      Best,

      Mark C

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