In the past two weeks, I’ve flown out to Houston twice to talk with the sales reps for Daikin Comfort Technologies North America—formerly known as Goodman Air Conditioning and Heating. Daiken recently purchased the Goodman company and brand; and, as a result, provided its upscale line as another opportunity for additional sales and new customers through the previous Goodman territorial sales reps and their dealers.
As I thought about my presentation, I was inspired to start it with these words, “You have what it takes,” because this was a huge change requiring new skills for these previous Goodman-only sales reps. They needed to know they could successfully make the transition—especially with the recent lowering of optimism in the United States. Please see my previous article, “How to Increase Optimism in the Salespeople on Your Team.”
I was really there to speak with them about the implications of their individual results from taking the CTS Sales Profile assessment—how certain genetically-based personality traits impacted their sales. But because of the massive change in front of them, I widened my topic to what they could do to successfully increase their skills and income for themselves and their dealers.
It was crucial for them to deepen their ability and understanding of consultative sales skills—not just to develop and keep relationships with dealers, but also to learn the importance of a sales process. A great sales process:
- Contains an analysis or listening step prior to presentation.
- Works better with a more discerning customer.
- Is value-focused and not price or product-focused.
The reason this was important is because of the upscale Daikin line—a product line that their dealers will sell to people who make a value-focused purchasing decision. This decision is about value over price. In other words, communicating value to a customer that is more concerned about the total procurement costs over the lifetime of a unit.
Previously, the Goodman line was a lower cost, good, better, best decision that they sold to consumers more concerned about price and a good product. And, even though with these customers, a consultative sales process was a better approach, often, just an honest and authentic presentation with a technical product understanding, a lower price, and a sufficient delivery schedule won the sale.
Now, the Goodman sales reps were faced with selling the Daikin brand, a higher priced product to a different kind of customer—one concerned with buying the best premium product with higher value features. For their dealers, to make this sale would require a higher level understanding of the sales process, the psychology of influence, customer rapport building, asking questions, listening, and presenting solutions customized to a decision maker’s wants, needs and problems.
Before I started my presentation, I asked them 3 questions:
- What are the changes in the last 2 years affecting their income and the incomes of their dealers?
- What challenges do they face today to increase sales and incomes?
- What are the traits of highly effective territorial sales managers in light of these challenges and changes?
Before speaking and teaching, I was following a consultative sales process with them. I was asking questions and listening to their wants, needs, and problems prior to my presentation.
Answers to the questions came flying from different parts of the room. They came so fast that I told them I was older than them and to slow down. They laughed and kept responding with their thoughts regarding the questions. This made my presentation and training easy, because, as we continued to talk about the need for certain skills in the sales process, I could refer back to their answers to these questions.
We thought about the difference between selling Chevrolets and Porsche, or Lexus and other lower cost vehicles. People who bought Mercedes were more educated. They were going to spend a lot of money, and they wanted to make a good decision regarding accessories. They wanted to be listened to, because they were going to spend a lot of money.
I told them about the Porsche dealer in Knoxville, TN who had psychologists talk to the sales reps to help them understand how people make big decisions involving lots of money. They were taught how to listen to them at every part of the sales process from initial introductions, completing the sale, and opening up a long-term relationship with a customer.
For the rest of our time together, we discussed:
- The 4 personalities thought of by Hippocrates in the 5th century BC.
- How different personalities viewed product purchases.
- How salespeople tended to sell in the style comfortable to them and not the buyer.
- How our children and grandchildren are different and need different approaches to be comfortable when communicating with their parents or grandparents.
We also talked about certain personality traits, like assertiveness, social confidence, deadline motivation, the need to control, self-promotion, compassion, and their effects on the pursuit of sales results and the consultative sales process.
But do you know what was really important to get the best buy-in from reps? It was for them to know that long-term relationships are created by great communication skills. They needed to know that the number one skill was listening and the corollary underlying best skill was asking great questions—ones that focused on the wants, needs, and problems of the most important people in their lives like their family, friends, and business contacts.
Listening in the consultative sales process is a universal and tremendously important #1 skill.
Depending upon what your reps sell, the pitch or the presentation may be the most stressed skill in your sales culture. It’s effective for closing sales, but it’s not for establishing long-term relationships, repeat business or referrals. It’s also not effective for decreasing customer complaints, returns, or for developing a strong brand reputation.
In the longer view, it’s actually better and more profitable for a sales rep and a company to transition to consultative sales skills, but it’s harder to establish in a pitch-oriented or product-focused culture. That’s because the new habits actually require a different character in the rep and in leadership. They require a customer-focused and value-focused approach—one that centers itself in the person being served and not just in the quick sale or price only approach.
You can lead this transition. It starts with how you sell and see selling. Is it something you do to someone or something you do with and for someone?
Is being a father or mother something you do to someone or something you do with and for someone? It’s the same for being a wife, husband, or a friend.
What do you believe and what do you stand for? That’s what makes all the difference in the best salespeople and sales leaders in the world and the sales process they choose.