Sales Process

Sell The House, Not The Thermostat

Sell The House, Not The Thermostat

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother!

My brother Tom is a successful entrepreneur and a quintessential salesman, at that. One of the things I’ve most admired about his sales talents is his focus on keeping things simple in the minds of buyers.

His first successes were in residential real estate in our home region of the Catskill Mountains, NY.

As business expanded, he hired sales agents. One of them, let’s call him Roger, had a lot of hope. The guy was bright, personable and articulate. Perhaps “articulate” was what held him back at first. Roger just couldn’t get prospective homebuyers to the second stage of a sale.

So Tom went out with Roger and prospective buyers on a home visit, and it didn’t take long for Tom to identify Roger’s biggest flaw. As they stood in the front yard and the prospects drove away, Tom told Roger straight.


Straight Talk For Salespeople

“You know why you’re not selling, Roger? You’re too intellectual.”

Roger shrugged incredulously.

“You scare buyers with too much, complex information,” Tom said. “They may come away saying you’re a bright guy, but they don’t come away saying, ‘I wanna’ buy!’ That couple?”

Roger nodded. Tom continued.

“Well, when the wife asked how the electronic thermostat worked, you gave her a seven-minute dissertation on how it was designed, with a full appendix on how the entire heating system worked, from the thermostat, to the fuel oil, to the hot water, to the pipes, to the convection in each room.

“She thought she was buying a Lear Jet. She wasn’t engaged for the rest of the visit. You scared her, man!”


What Does The Buyer Really Want To Know?

Roger resisted. “Well, she wanted to know about the heating and air-conditioning. What would you have done, ignored the question?”

“She didn’t ask how the entire system was designed,” Tom retorted. “She asked how these new electronic thermostats worked. If you were selling a thousand electronic thermostats to a building supply chain, maybe the first part of your answer would’ve been appropriate. But not to a home buyer. Sell the house, not the thermostat. Sell the lifestyle!”

“So? How would you have answered?” Roger had taken the big step from resistance to curiosity.

“Like this: ‘I bought a similar thermostat for my house last year, and I love it. It’s really easy and it’ll save you time and money. In the winter, for example, you can set the timer like this, so that it automatically warms the house up a half-hour before the family wakes up. And then, like this, so that the heat goes down about the time you typically go to bed. I really love mine.’

“Then,” Tom continued, “they would’ve felt they were buying something easy and modern… instead of some mysterious, complicated system that will require a lifetime of electronic and hydraulic maintenance!”

Roger acknowledged the point… and it was probably his biggest learning event in sales.

Over the next few months, he brought home buyers successfully through the buying/sales cycle — not just by selling customer benefits instead of product features, but by keeping things simple.

Are you keeping things simple in your prospects’ minds?

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Post Script: Brother Tom is going in for open-heart surgery today in Albany NY. The good news is that he identified it early, before any attack, which improves the outlook dramatically. If all goes as expected, he’ll actually be back on his feet and more fit by the end of the summer. We love ya’, brother!

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