Catching the prospect that got away

Oct. 4, 2023
Your selling style might be a turn-off for some of your customers; learn how to switch up your style to convert your non-customers to loyal customers.

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Here’s something new for you to think about that may just make a significant positive difference to your sales results — your selling style. 

What is your selling style?

  • Hard-charging closer: You live by the ABC motto — always be closing. You never miss an opportunity to go for the sale. “Let’s get this deal done right now, OK?”
  • The counselor: You guide the prospect into your product by slowly getting them thinking and talking themselves into the product. “I like how you’re thinking about the storage system and the options which are best for you. I think this is a good fit for you, don’t you?”
  • The storyteller: This style of selling includes actually telling some kind of a story that emphasizes the features, advantages, and benefits of the product that have helped a previous user. Better yet the story includes an application problem that the product solved making a previous user happy with the product. “I’m sure that you and every technician you know has cut or scratched their hand on the sharp edges of a zip-tie stub while working under a dashboard. With these full flush cutting miniature pliers, you will be able to get in and cut those zip-ties leaving a smooth cut so you and future technicians will be protected from injury. I think this tool is a good one for you, don’t you?”
  • The technician: You always go with the technical aspects or details of a product first and try to use logic to close the sale. “This 18V 4.5A hammer drill will produce 1,200 peak in-lbs of torque which is 60 percent more than most competitive products. It has a max speed of 2000 rpm and only weighs 4.5 lbs. Don’t those specs fit exactly what you are looking for?"
  • The mailman: The mailman is the mobile jobber who is convinced that if they distribute this month’s promotional brochure to each tradesperson on each call the prospects will read the brochure, get excited about one of the products promoted, and ask to buy it. “Here’s our latest brochure that has some of our best products and great prices. Take a look at it and let me know which products you want, OK.”

I’m happy to say that any of the first four selling styles will produce excellent results, and I’m sorry to say that if your go-to tactic is "the mailman" you have two directions from here  work hard to develop one of the first four selling styles or choose to go work for the USPS since there is a real shortage and demand for employees there.

Who aren't you selling to? 

So, your style is one of the first four styles listed above and your sales results are good or even great, but you want to do even better, don’t you?

I want you to think about your non-customers’ individual personalities. Think about the technicians you’re not selling to or maybe just selling a little. More than likely these individuals' comfort zones just don’t fit well with your go-to selling style.

Not everybody likes a hard-charging closer who thinks fast, talks fast, demos fast, and closes hard. I remember a sales call in West Texas during my time as a regional sales manager at Klein Tools. About halfway through my song and dance the prospect leaned back in his chair and said “Son, you’re talking way faster than I think. Why don’t you start over a lot slower and maybe I’ll buy something.” Lesson learned. This prospect was a successful business owner who was very laid back and talked slowly with a long Texas drawl. My rapid-fire presentation didn’t fit that situation at all and fortunately, he gave me a second chance. I always wonder how many other sales I sped right past because I didn’t pay attention to how to sell to different personalities.

How about you?

I suggest you make yourself a list of the non-customers at each of your stops. Think about each for a bit and try to figure out what they don’t buy from you.

Certainly, a few will be ex-customers who for some reason or another are aggravated at you or your primary brand. This is not the topic of this month’s article but for some ideas go to the Professional Distributor magazine archives and find the June 2020 Go Sell Something article  Whaddaya mean the warranty has expired?! 

Selling to different personalities 

Now that we have eliminated the ex-customers think about each of the remaining non-customers. Give some logical titles to each like Shy Guy, Big Mouth, Cheapskate, Know-it-all, etc. You may not really know each person enough to figure them out right away but with observation and some little conversations, you will start to get an idea of what makes them tick.

If for instance, your usual selling style is the hard-charging, always-be-closing style I guarantee that Mr. Shy Guy is simply overwhelmed by your aggressive approach. Just like oil and water….they don’t mix.

I would recommend approaching this technician with a soft storytelling approach the next time you have a cool new tool that fits their job activities. Speak slowly, softly, and close gently. I know this isn’t your usual style but you’re not selling Shy Guy now so what’s the worst that can happen? Shy Guy says no again but nothing ventured nothing gained.

On the other hand, if you’re normally using the counselor selling approach and the shop loud-mouth is your target you’d better step it up a notch and approach them with an aggressive, take no prisoners always be closing approach. People tend (but not always) to like buying from people similar to themselves.

The point of this month’s Go Sell Something is pretty simple.

Say you’ve got an active book of 250 active customers. If this simple exercise gets you just 25 more technicians on your books it will make a significant improvement in your revenue and earnings.

Now go sell something!

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