Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
When engaged with a potential client, as a home improvement pro, do you focus on the features and benefits of your service or are you dialed into solutions? I have personally been in the sales profession actively selling as well as coaching & training for over 20 years. In that time, I have sold many different products or services including within the home improvement and home services fields (roofing, replacement windows, & heating & air) as well as outside of the vertical. Additionally, I have countless hours coaching representatives to improve their sales and results, much of which is done through the playback of recorded sales calls. I share this background with you simply to give you perspective on where the information and insights I will share are derived from… experience. I have found that there are primarily 2 types of selling “styles”: Feature & Benefit Selling and Solution Selling. Both are approaches, but only one will produce consistent results.
Feature & Benefit Selling
Every product or service has a list of different features and benefits the purchaser likely will enjoy. The approach of many salespeople is to focus the bulk of the conversation on these ideas, highlighting the details of each one as they go down the list, while making their best effort to make the feature or benefit sound “sexy”. This approach will occasionally get results due to the reality of the “spray & pray” method. That is the term I use when helping others to understand what they are doing. Throwing every feature & benefit at a potential client will sometimes hit the bullseye of the target. Unfortunately, while spraying & praying, there are far too many targets missed and wasted ammunition. I often use the analogy to a soldier; a soldier going into battle and unloading their ammunition, will hit a few targets, but miss significantly more than they hit. So, did they succeed? Perhaps at first, but when the ammunition runs dry, they are a sitting duck and likely will not last long in the field. This is the same thing that happens in sales when taking the approach to unload your ammunition without clear targets in sight, a few random hits & a whole lot of misses. In sales the goal is not to get lucky and hope to hit the target, rather find the specific needs and problems that your prospect has so you can solve the things that matter. The spray & pray approach prevents you from accomplishing this goal. The prospects that become clients is rarely due to the sales skill, rather a result of your bullet luckily finding its target. In addition, when a prospective buyer is bombarded with too much information, it often becomes overwhelming. When a prospect feels overwhelmed, they are more likely to run away than run towards you.
I hear this approach failing on a regular basis when coaching sales representatives. Fortunately, we are blessed to have some amazing features and benefits of our service here at conXpros. With that being said, I do not fault the reps that are enamored with these awesome concepts, it is only natural. I listen to the recorded calls with the reps and we hear someone that expressed that they had a bad experience with lead generation in the past. The response to the concern is to list all the things we offer; exclusive leads, our credit policy, dedicated account management, phone verification on all leads, and the list goes on. We listen to the calls and then like clockwork, the prospective client begins their retreat and typically expedites the end of the call with a blow off like “send me some info & I will call you back” or similar. Why are they doing this? To me the answer is obvious. The Response can only be one of a handful of possibilities. They feel that the salesperson is not really connected to them personally due to the “general” nature of the response. Or possibly they feel that the salesperson does not understand their issue(s). Or, they are feeling overwhelmed with too much information (the blow-off will often give an indication that this is the case-they could have said anything, but hose to suggest sending info, likely to actually understand all the info thrown at them). Regardless of the reason, the result is the same… another opportunity tossed out the window.
So, what is the alternative? Getting back to our analogy, successful and consistent salespeople view themselves as a sniper, not infantry. Just like a sniper only fires when the target is between the crosshairs, a sales pro will have laser precision in addressing the issues or concerns of their prospects.
Solution selling is directly tied to your ability to ask the necessary questions to clarify and zero in on the needs of your prospect as well as your listening (to understand) skills. Every prospective client has extremely specific needs, issues, pain points and generally things that are important to them. The sales pro strives to gain clarity on the singular or multiple needs of every client. Once identified, this is the ONLY topic that is discussed. The rest just does not matter. It does matter, but not to this prospect. Who are you more likely to purchase from, the individual that throws a long list of features at you or the one that understands your issue and ties one or more of the features to your issue and clearly demonstrates how that benefits you? Rhetorical, but should help provide the “why” this is so important. If a homeowner expresses that their primary concern is affordability of your services, how would you benefit from telling them about the specific products you use, the warranty you offer, the skill of your team, etc.? However, if your conversation was geared towards understanding their situation and then offering solutions such as financing, you are more likely to find success. Of course, you cannot expect to convert every prospect into a client, but when you are selling the solutions, you will close more deals. This approach has proven successful for myself as well as many others that I have worked directly with to improve their results. I have witnessed individual reps experience an increase of over 25% in their closing rates. What would an increase of 25% to your closed deals look like? How much more revenue would you generate? How many more customers will you gain from the word of mouth this customer spreads about the guy that truly helped them solve their problems? The rewards are tough to calculate, but I know we would all benefit from that type of result.
Success in sales requires thought. Taking the spray & pray approach is thoughtless. You are influencing the potential client to be a longshot through your actions and approach. I prefer to refrain from gambling on longshots, especially when it will determine the success of my business. Solution selling is not a slam-dunk, but it is a layup compared to the half-court heave. Strive to become sniper-like, putting the issues into your crosshairs, and taking the perfect shot. You will hit more often than you miss. Happy hunting!