Giving Choices Will Close The Sale

Originally published: 10.01.08 by Tom Piscitelli


How putting your customers in control of the buying decision will increase your sales, margins, and close rate.

Wait a minute. I just said that you should put your customers in control of the buying process. But you’ve been taught that you should have control during the sales call, not the customers. Furthermore, you say, as an hvacr expert, you know what’s best for the customers. Well, you heard me right. You are far better off acting in a consultative role than being the “know-it-all salesman.” Consultants are more likely to be seen as knowledgeable and helpful. Consultants ask questions, listen and take notes. And consultants advise clients on their choices and support them in making the decision that is right for them. Consultants don’t try to control their clients, and neither should you. 

There’s no better way to show your true intention to serve your customers than to present a proposal with choices. And there’s no more effective closing technique. 

Several years ago a landmark study determined a consumer’s inclination to purchase one product over another when all the information they were given was the price of the product. The findings, when three choices are given: 

• 21% generally will buy the most expensive. 

• 57% generally will buy the middle of three. 

• 23% generally will buy the least expensive. 

They also studied the product’s value perception based on the order shown, i.e., show the least-expensive first or show the most expensive first? The finding: 

• The greatest perceived value is established by showing the most expensive first. 

With these results in mind, we’ve repeatedly surveyed our System Selling sales seminar attendees and have not been surprised to find that those who had instinctively gone to three choice proposals were consistently outselling those who were just showing one system, and the average job selling price was significantly higher. I emphasize significantly. So what I recommend today isn’t theory, it’s what the most effective salespeople use to get the best results for their customers, for their companies and for themselves. 

You don’t have to change your current proposal form. 

I know, I know… you can’t change your current proposal form, right? It has all the information you need to get the job order started, and it includes all the legal mumbo-jumbo that you paid a lawyer to create. I’ve given up asking contractors to reprint their proposals, so here’s another way to get this done: Create a proposal worksheet. 

A proposal worksheet is simply a document that you create, using any common word processing software that includes the essential information that will help you show your customers three system choices that are appropriate to their needs. It also includes a healthy dose of company information so you can, at the right time, emphasize how your company is as big a part of the decision as the products. For a sample of an effective system proposal worksheet go to the DownloadCenter (located under October 2008). 

It turns out this is actually a better idea. A proposal worksheet can be anything you want. You can easily create several variations. And with a worksheet, you can leave out all the technical information, take-off data, legal information and all the rest of the form that isn’t helping you sell the job. That’s the point, isn’t it, to sell the job? 

Give them system CHOICES®, not options. 

Anyone who sells anything will tell you that customers are suspicious of options, upgrades, accessories and so on. Wheredoes the car dealer make his money? On the options. You can eliminate this prejudice by showing them choices and referring to them as “their choices.” What I love about the term “choice” is that it’s implied that they will take one. The System Selling CHOI CES ® Proposal How putting your customers in control of the buying decision will increase your sales, margins, and close rate. 

Start your proposal presentation by asking if their name and address is correct. 

Let’s face it. When you pull out the proposal, the first thing that people look for is the price. No matter what amount you have at the bottom of the page, the customer will be shocked. That’s just the way it is. It makes little difference from a “shock value” perspective if the number is $5,000 or $10,000 or even $20,000 … they are all a lot of money. 

So, to give them and you some breathing room, draw their attention away from the bottom of the page by pointing to the name and address at the top and asking if it is correct. You should get a “yes” answer, and “yes” answers are always good. 

Why ask for their permission to present the Best System Choice first? 

Remember that most people will see you as the “typical salesperson” who is there to sell them what you want. You’ve worked hard up to this point to neutralize that preconception, and you don’t want to ruin what you’ve earned by coming across too aggressively right now. Take the pressure off by asking them if you can show them the Best System Choice first and then state that you’ll be happy to answer questions about the other choices. You’ll get another “yes,” and you will be telling them that you honor their right to be in control of their own buying choice. 

Why spend so much time again explaining how the products address their specific problems? 

This is the prime selling time. You are building value around your recommendations. Reminding them how they will benefit from the products and your company is how value is established. In the end, value must exceed price in order for the customer to buy. 

Why not present detailed product information or even show a product brochure? 

More consumers are interested in the product benefits than the features. For those who want to discuss product details, then by all means pull out the brochure and have at it. But wait until they ask. Don’t risk boring those who don’t care. 

Why point out the “bottom of the iceberg” boxes that are checked off?

You’ll see an example of these on the sample proposal worksheet saying things such as “Save Money” and “Piece of Mind.” These little boxes tell a big story. They are all about what your company and your co-workersdo to contribute to the customer getting a great system that will be trouble free and last a long time. 

Make a general comment about how important these details are. Use the “iceberg” concept if you are comfortable with that. I like it a lot because a picture tells 1,000 words. If one or a few of those items mean a lot to a specific customer, such as your having to pull all new lowvoltage wire in the house, or the noise reduction that comes from canvas connectors and vibration isolators, then please point them out. 

Do this prior to asking for the sale. 

Why give two alternatives when asking for a decision? 

Always give your customers a choice no matter what the question is. A great closing choice is, “So, if the Best System Choice looks right to you, then the monthly investment is $187, the total investment is $9,257. We also have 12 months same-as- cash, and of course we take Visa/MasterCard. Which of those choices might be best for you?” The beauty and wonder of “choice selling” is that all of the customers’ answers are a yes. 

Give up the desire to control the sale. Be the consultant who gives your valued clients appropriate choices, and watch your sales soar. Here’s to choices. 


Articles by Tom Piscitelli

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