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Commercial Service Sales: Discovering The Needs, Hurts, & Objectives

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Every successful sales person knows the power of great questions! When a thorough and comprehensive sales process and direct marketing approach are utilized we have the opportunity to cover prospect’s needs, completely resolve the “hurt,” and help achieve business objectives. If we fail to differentiate and shorten the sales process to “meet,” “survey,” and “quote” we are trapped in “price only” discussions and never have the opportunity to negotiate. Questioning early in the sales process to understand the specific mechanical needs, the hurt, or pain experienced with HVACR problems, and the overall business objectives that prospects desire help us move toward a negotiation.

Let’s describe what we mean by the “needs”, “hurts,” and “objectives.” First, every building has the need for our equipment in order to operate or meet code compliance. The building needs HVACR, the systems, equipment, controls, all components, and parts to satisfy the load requirements. The needs are related directly to the type of mechanical and electrical systems, as well as controls and we should be aware of what certain buildings need and the type of systems that are typical. We determine these systems and components and list them out in the initial survey or review of scope of work for selling maintenance or projects. Pictures, plans, sketches, and simple drawings may help the sales person describe in detail what currently exists in the building.

The second area of questioning is related to the building “need” or systems, but now focus on the problems that exist, or the “hurt.” The pain or hurt that exists for the building owner, manager, or occupants related to the HVACR will be the primary and emotional foundation for the sale. Pain comes in many forms; poor design, poor installation, neglected HVACR equipment, dirty, filthy systems and components, old or aged systems, and the fact that rooms or zones have been changed over time. The pain is the discomfort, increased energy costs, escalating repair costs, the hassle, the constant emergency situations, or breakdowns. Illustrating pain and producing documents that provide related benefit statements, as well as solutions that resolve pain give us the opportunity to negotiate our recommendations and close the sale.

However, there is one more area that needs to be considered for sales people that use great questions and know how to draw out the prospect in any First Structured Meeting or interview. That third area is the area of business objectives and the financial considerations of the solution. Our proposals for maintenance and projects should have financial justification provided and/or “simple benchmarking” to illustrate how our solutions and recommendations satisfy not only the needs and the pain, but cover the business objectives, financial considerations, and budget for the prospect. Understanding business objectives also means that the sales person thoroughly understands how a recommendation would be approved and who may be involved from the prospect’s organization. The process the business uses to approve recommendations and how those decisions are made are critical to negotiating with the right person to close sales.

One of the benefits for the sales person as we ask questions about the way our recommendations would be approved, or the process the prospect uses, means that we may be asked to meet with those higher levels of management. Also, as we ask questions about the business objectives and budget, we will be directed to the financial decision makers many times. Start asking questions that are related to fiduciary responsibilities and you may just be directed or introduced to the financial decision makers and higher levels of executives or managers in that organization.

We had talked about levels of questioning in a previous article, as we moved through the sales process, and invite you to learn about these levels of questioning. Essentially, if you combine great questioning about the needs, pain and business objectives with the four levels of questioning, you have a fantastic format for interviewing prospects in that First Structured Meeting and throughout the sales process! The four levels of questioning are as follows:

Level 1: Questions related to the prospect’s business, responsibilities, locations, ownership, amount of time with the organization, background and any “ice breakers” related to building the relationship.

Level 2: Questions that relate to the building HVACR and the impact that the HVACR have on his or her daily responsibilities. The impact the HVACR have on the business and operations.

Level 3: We now introduce questions about the budget and the financial impact that the HVACR have on the business including utilities, repairs, major component replacement, labor, and how they budget for HVACR expenses.

Level 4: Now the sales person has ‘earned the right’ to ask closing questions! The questions near the end of the first structured meeting or end of the sale process would include questions about how the recommendations would be approved and how a proposal gets approved and signed to move forward.

When we combine the elements of a thorough sales process with target direct marketing, great questions and understanding the needs, hurts and objectives of the prospect, we increase our probability of close substantially! Just ask those successful sales people you know in any industry and those consistent closers in the HVACR industry!

James Graening

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management, Sales & Marketing

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