The Finishing Touch

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

If you’re relying on a piece of paper to do your selling for you, you’re in trouble.

A while ago, I had a tradesman come to my house to give me a quote for an air-conditioning system. He spent a lot of time measuring things and climbing around in the attic testing the depth of my insulation. He even crawled under the house and checked out the insulation down there. When he was done, we sat in my office and chatted, mostly about air-conditioning.

He was a nice guy who seemed to know his stuff and if he’d given me a price on the spot, it’s highly likely I would have said “YES!”…..but he didn’t, so I didn’t. There’s a process they have to go through. I get that, but mix the process with a little common sense and you’ll land more sales. While we were sitting in my office, the tradey noticed a copy of our Big Book workbook sitting on my desk and he asked me about it and that, of course, inevitably led to a discussion on sales, or rather a lack of them.

He told me he was the owner of the company and he and his two salespeople were doing lots of quotes, but they were converting far less than 20% of them. I was surprised at this, because he seemed competent. Research tells us that when looking for a quote, the average person people will get three. That means that if you’re giving quotes, you should expect to get on average, 33% of the business, because you’re only competing against two other companies’ quotes. What on earth could be wrong with his quote, I wondered.

It took a while, but I found out. First, it took three weeks before I set eyes on the quote and that was only because I called the company and reminded them of my existence. The quote arrived and it seemed acceptable to me, the prices weren’t outlandish, the proposed work on topping up my insulation was probably necessary, so I put the quote on top of the pile of things to do and I waited…..and I waited…… and then of course, I gave up waiting because no-one called.

I still need the air conditioning, but I’m not doing business with people who either don’t care enough about getting my business or are too stupid to pick up the phone and follow-up.

Think about it. This tradesman took an hour out of his day to crawl around the insides of my house and educate me on different types of air-conditioning. He went to the trouble of working out the numbers and putting them in writing. Someone had to take that quote, put it in an envelope, write my name and address on it, stick a stamp on it and go to the post office and send it to me. All of that took far more effort than a simple phone call would have taken. So he faltered at the finish line.

I was beginning to understand exactly why he wasn’t winning his fair share of quotes. How could it have turned out differently for him?

1.) If he’d noticed when we discussed the solutions in my office, he would have recognised that I was eager to buy. He could have worked up the numbers on the spot, given me a ballpark and gained my agreement right then and there. If he had to put it in writing, he could have followed up with a written quote to confirm our agreement.

2.) Or he could have returned to his office late on the day he saw me, worked out his quotes for the day and put them in the post that evening. Had he done this, I would have been impressed. I would have had no hesitation in saying “Yes” to his quote, because I would have felt that he was trustworthy and reliable.

3.) He could then have telephoned me, firstly, to ask me if I had received his quote (things do go astray in the mail) and secondly, to ask me for the order.

People buy from people. Not from bits of paper. Of course the number on that bit of paper was important, but it’s always negotiable as long as all the other ducks are lined up. If you’ve built rapport and trust, you have a solution that matches the client’s need and you assertively ask for the order, why wouldn’t you get the business at least 33% of the time?

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Copyright 2019 Jo-Anne Cole