How You Can Give That Little Extra to Your Customer and Win the Contract

Oftentimes it’s those little extra things you do during a sales presentation that can make all the difference to the end customer.

Oftentimes it’s those little extra things you do during a sales presentation that can make all the difference to the end customer.

When we think of “sales” in the security and life-safety business, most of us think in terms of devices, services, RFP’s (request for proposal) and RFI’s (request for information), depending on the kind of projects we’re accustomed to working with.

Assuming you work for a small to midsize business (SMB), it’s easy to think this is the extent of what we offer our potential clients when discussing new alarm systems and upgrades. We sell motion detection, door sensors, keypad and/or key fob control, monitoring service, and sometimes environmental control by smartphones and other mobile devices. But that’s not all.

Truth be told, it’s more than just devices and a quote that enables us to sell them on what we have to offer. It’s often the little extra things we do during our sales presentations that win us a contract. The little things also keep the client coming back time after time for more stuff. It also encourages our most loyal, believing customers to call us the moment they have a need. It compels them to tell their friends, relatives and business associates about us.

What might these “little things” be?

Before I answer that, let me ask you a question. Why is it that some salespeople do well and others do poorly? Why do some salespeople experience closing rates of 20% and higher while others do not? Here’s what separates the good from the not-so-good when it comes to sales, especially in residential security: 1) personality & empathy, as well as 2) the art of listening & articulation. There’s your answer.

Personality & Empathy

How personable are you when you’re having a bad day? A good salesperson exhibits the ability to hide his or her emotional and/or physical pain. In fact, they continue to show concern and demonstrate a positive attitude even when things are stressful and unholy in their own life. On the other hand, those who are unable to hide the effects of today’s stress are the least likely to make a sale. How do you measure up?

Empathy is another attribute that many salespeople have while some may not. Exactly what is empathy and what does it have to do with becoming a good salesperson? To define it, according to Angela Stephenson, author of The Most Important Sales Skill — Empathy, ”Empathy is the ability to experience another person’s perspective or emotions.

Empathy reinforces social cooperation and throughout the years has ensured our survival in groups. High empathy friendships are rewarding and help us improve our quality of life.”

Why is empathy necessary at all? Because when you’re talking to someone who might have been recently victimized at the hand of a burglar, robber, rapist or fraudster, you simply must be able to put yourself into their shoes to experience their personal pain. A prospective buyer knows if you understand what they’re going through or not and it’s the one who routinely walks away with the sale.

According to Stephenson, while some believe you’re either born with empathy or not, it’s her contention that anyone can learn it if they really want to. Here is the basis of her 5-step plan to become empathetic:

  1. Seek to establish common ground
  2. Listen intently
  3. Push your comfort zone
  4. Talk to strangers
  5. Pay attention to things outside of yourself

For a more in-depth read on all five steps, read Stephenson’s article here.

Art of Listening & Articulation

Most of us as consumers can sense when a salesperson is distracted, as when they’re unhappy with their job. It’s not easy going to work each and every day when you dislike what you do. To the prospect that unhappiness all too often bleeds through loud and clear.

Frankly, no one wants to endure the agonizing attitude of someone who dislikes what they’re doing and they’re so distracted that they’re not listening. Perhaps it’s an issue with their employer, a co-worker or maybe it’s a personal issue. This scenario often ends in frustration for one or both parties because the salesperson ends up selling the client the wrong thing, if a sale is made at all. How can you as a salesperson sell the client what they require when you’ve got your mind on something else? The answer is easy — you can’t!

Articulation also is extremely important. When you do speak, be sure to accurately explain what you intend to do to solve their problem. Be sure you fully understand what that problem is because no one can solve a problem if they do not understand what it is. Be sure to spell it out in your contract so there are no misunderstandings.

One way to somewhat determine if you’re having a problem is to compare your sales closing rate with that of others in this profession. The accepted norm, according to the closing rate comparison calculator, is 22%. Find out how well you’re doing by entering your current closing ratio and pick your profession.

For example, my closing ratio at the last sales position I held was 25% to 30%, according to the company office manager. The closest profession to security listed in the calculator is “Construction.” Give it a try, and remember to be personable, empathetic and listen to what the client has to say so you can make the sale.

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About the Author


Al Colombo is a long-time trade journalist and professional in the security and life-safety markets. His work includes more than 40 years in security and life-safety as an installer, salesman, service tech, trade journalist, project manager,and an operations manager. You can contact Colombo through TpromoCom, a consultancy agency based in Canton, Ohio, by emailing allan@Tpromo.Com, call 330-956-9003, visit www.Tpromo.Com.

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