Countertops Magazine Archive

Tipping the Scale of the Sale

If you stack each side of a scale with 50 coins and simply add one coin to the right side, the scale leans to the right. Correct?  So it is in sales. If you can add weight to the customer’s perception of you and your offering, so you are a slightly better choice than that of your competition, you win the sale.

Your aim is to create value in the mind of the buyer so that it tips the scale towards you. You can tip the scale by many different factors. It may be trust, perceived higher value, likability, on-time delivery or any number of things. One tipping point is all it takes.

Your job as a salesperson or sales manager is to tip the scales toward you in every sales conversation, every time. It’s all about communication and influence. The better you get at these two key selling skills, the higher your sales will be. So how do you do that?

To be a smart sales person, look at the sales process as a scale in the mind of the customer. The customer as making a judgement as to who to go with and when the evidence is weighed, they give a verdict. Whoever wins gets all the marbles. The loser gets nothing. You always want to place upon the scale reasons why they should choose you.

In sales, you are always making a case for you, your company and your offering as to why potential customers should choose you over the other guys. I’m surprised how seldom people in our industry make it clear to prospects why they are the better choice. They simply talk and hope it all goes in their favor.

Two Paths
If you’re responsible for making sales for your company, you need to constantly look for ways to tip the scale of the sale towards you. There are really only two main paths you can go down in which to do this; one is price, the other is greater perceived value. 

It is important to understand that only one company can win by going down the path of low price. Walmart is a perfect example of this. So if that’s you and you’re the Walmart of the industry, then great. But, if you are any other company, price is a losing path. You must decide who you are. Are you the low-priced player or are you the better option? 

The Better Path
Greater perceived value comes in many forms: higher quality products, better craftsmanship, superior on-time performance, more trustworthy - just to name a few. Each of these perceived values requires building blocks to support your claims.

Whatever value you choose to create in the customer’s mind must be supported by demonstrable proof, not subjective speech. Everyone knows your going to speak well of your company. You need proof, and lots of it.

You need to show them in undeniable ways that what you say is fact, not opinion.

So which factors will tip the scales? There are several physical, emotional and what I call “invisible” factors that are effective. There are five that tip the scales in your sales: attitude, belief, communication, being demonstrable and experience.

Your attitude and the attitude of others in your company have a dramatic effect upon sales. Attitudes are infectious, whether positive or negative. Here are just a few of the attitudes that can affect your sale: confidence, arrogance, friendliness, professionalism, optimism, hopefulness and helpfulness.

We could come up with dozens if not hundreds of different attitudes that will play a role in the sales process. Sales are the lifeblood of your company and attitude is vital to healthy sales. Emulating positive attitudes should be central to your sales efforts. However, attitude alone is not enough. 

I’ve watched belief build companies and crush it in sales. I’ve also watched when even the best sales people have lost faith in what they’re selling and their sales volumes plummet.

Smart sales managers and leaders pay attention to the belief level of their sales staff. You can see it in their stride and in their countenance. You hold the power to be able to en-courage or discourage. The operative word here is courage. You can’t build a great company without it. But with it you can build an empire.

Sales people need belief; belief in their company, their products and themselves. If any of these three are missing, it’s costing you financially. Fix it fast! Belief has a direct cause and effect result on sales. It can dictate how much comes in to your bank. Invest in keeping belief high. It not only makes dollars, it makes sense.

Communication is the single most important key in making sales. And it goes further than you might think. Everything communicates. Think about the fact that people are constantly taking in millions of bits of information every second subconsciously as they shop. They pick up on things they see, attitudes, perceptions and feelings. 

Communication actually starts from their first discovery of your company. It may start at your website, an ad or maybe at a home show. It goes right on through to every sales conversation, phone call and email to the final finish of the project.

In sales, your communication is bigger than you think. Don’t leave it to chance. The better you and your staff communicate, the higher your sales volume will be. It’s as simple as that.

So here’s the rub. Most of us are mediocre at communication. Some are good. Very few are great. So let me ask you, if communication affects your income, why don’t we work at becoming better communicators? 

I’ve been studying communication for the past five years and here’s my conclusion. Basically all of us vastly overrate our communication skills. Every single one of us can improve. Yes, it does take effort. It will take a little time and might actually cost some money. But if you improve your communication you will see it pay off big when it comes to your sales numbers.

If you are in charge of sales for your company, STOP and write down on your calendar when you will create your plan to improve the communication skills of every person in your company that interacts with the customer.

This is one of the best investments you will ever make. Good communication creates the right emotions. It compels and creates clarity. It can create a buying preference. It can focus a prospective client on your greater perceived value. Smart sales Communication speaks to the issues, concerns and needs of the customer, not the company. It speaks of benefits to the listener not to the goals of speaker. Great communication is part art, part science and part math.

Good communication is as simple as this. Have something good to say, saying it well and saying it often.

Something Good - Start with having something good to say. What is your greater perceived value and why should it matter?

One of my favorite quotes is, “A wise man speaks because he has something to say. A fool, because he has to say something.”

Don’t just speak. Have something Good to say.

Saying It Well - Craft your words like a skilled painter. Don’t just splatter the paint on the canvas, paint! Before meeting with clients spend the time to create compelling content. Come up with things to say that matter and make sense. Then plan how you will say it well. 

Say It Often - As the age-old saying goes, sales is a numbers game. That may be true, but it’s not addition, it’s multiplication. It’s not the volume of so-so sales conversations that make money. It’s the quality of your communication times the quantity of conversations.

The more you improve your sales communication the higher your sales grow. Next time you listen to a sales conversation, try to see how much of what’s being said really matters to the customer and how many statements ring their bell. 

Remember, people buy based on emotions. That’s why the best communication uses visual and emotional word pictures. We think in pictures, not words. When we speak in ways that convey, compel and communicate well, people listen.

Being Demonstrable
If you can’t prove it, it’s not real. Customers question the things we say and the claims we make. They expect that sales people will say their company is the best. That’s why you must support your claims with proof. It can be as simple as a physical display, a good seam, a photo book of past jobs or the testimonials of happy clients. All of these are proof that give credibility to your claims.

The stronger the demonstration of proof, the greater the influence on the potential buyer. As you create demonstrable proof of higher value, remember that it must be on things that matter to the buyer. Even if it’s a new concept you just made them aware of. It cannot be on an issue about which they say, “So what?” or “Doesn’t everyone do that?”

So here’s the order. Determine first what matters most to clients. Then create demonstrable proofs that seal it as fact in the prospect’s mind. Set up places you take them to demonstrate your value. They can be physical or virtual.

We’re living in the “experience economy.” Today, making a big purchase must go beyond the everyday and become a real experience for the customer. Customer experience matters more now than at any time in history. It is where you can create value, endear a client and pull away from the competition. 

The best place to create an experience is in the showroom. Whether it’s your showroom or that of your allies, you need to create experience for the customer. Showrooms are the single most powerful tool you have to create an experience that causes them to go out and tell the world about you.

Is your showroom pretty much the same as all of your competition? If so, the customer won’t see a greater value. They’ll see sameness, not difference. And they are looking for differences.

Don’t be a “me too” company at the moment of truth, where buyers decide. How do you help the customer to see and select the right product? How do you display? Is it like everyone else in the industry, using chips and chunks? Do you help them visualize? It’s their greatest challenge.

The showroom is by far the easiest place to differentiate your company because, quite frankly, when it comes to our industry most people look the same. Create an experience that customers want to talk about. Make it memorable. Make it easy for them to make their selections. 

Try to see through the lense of the customer. What do customers think when shopping for your products? What frustrates them? Solve these issues and you will win customers. Creating wow experiences is the point of departure from the herd. Want to stand out? Create raving fans? Create great customer experience. 

Only about 1 percent of companies will actually invest the time and effort to create a better customer experience. Companies like Starbucks and Disney win because they provide the best experience in their coffee shops and theme parks. Join the 1 percent. If you blaze a trail down this path of customer experience, it’s like the early explorers who through risk and determination found riches in the new world.

Think different. Think about customer experience from the client’s viewpoint. What would you like to see? Experience? Discover? Why not give them a great experience? Give them an experience so powerful that they can’t help but go out and tell everyone about it. Word of mouth is and always has been the single most powerful form of advertising. It creates referrals. Did you know a referral has a 90 percent chance of closing the sale?

Creating experience isn’t free. Few things that create significant change are. It will cost you in time, effort and dollars. It means focusing on the people who actually write you checks. It shouldn’t be a foreign concept, but it probably is. 

The truth is, it’s an investment. Just like the tools you use to do your work. However, these tools are used by your customers. Before plowing more dollars into your shop, make sure you are getting the most out of your customer interactions by investing in helping your customer in their greatest challenges: visualization and selection. Help them to find that “Eureka!” moment, where they found the right countertop and can give a sigh of relief and relax because their job is done.

Experience is the future of our industry. It is where good companies will become great and pull ahead of the competition. It’s not going to be about faster, cheaper, better. It’s going to be about providing a greater customer experience.

Bill Clinton won the Presidential election with the slogan, “It’s the economy stupid.” Whether you liked him or not, he trounced his competitor because he knew what mattered most to the people who voted. Sales is an election held every day, and customers vote with their wallet. It is about the customer. And their buying experience will be the leading factor of making millionaires in our industry. Why not become one of them?

About the Author
Kirk Heiner is an author, speaker and sales trainer with more than 25 years in sales. He has conducted sales and training seminars for numerous companies including Lowe’s, DuPont, the NKBA, KBIS, Stock Building Supply, the SBA and more. He can be contacted at [email protected].