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Be Consultative, Like This Sales Rep from a Heating Company


Sales ConsultantHow fast summer goes by.  Now we’re back to autumn-scented Yankee Candles and Halloween costumes. I wonder how many Miley Cyrus bear costumes and Robin Thicke “Beetlejuice” outfits will be out trick-or-treating?  

The summer can be odd for inside sales teams in the technology industry.  It’s a period of time where prospects tend to use a majority of their vacation hours and quite often it’s a season where you’ll hear prospects worry about timeframe.  These prospects will likely ask for a call back between 2-5 months when we arrive to the popular “budget” allocation time of year for many organizations.

Well, that time is now, so this is a good thing for us.  But with a plethora of IT projects being discussed internally at organizations, how are you creating the best chance for your service or solution to be realistically factored into their strategic planning?

This morning, I met with a sales rep for a residential heating and cooling company.  September is a very active month for heating companies to gain new business.  My house uses oil and we have gas pipes and meters in the basement. I want to convert our heating system to efficient natural gas.  Oil is way too expensive, plus our oil furnace is 20+ years old, so we’d be due for a system upgrade anyhow.  However, my budget is pretty strict.

During my conversation with this particular sales rep, I recognized the intent of each question he asked, but thought he was a good speaker.  He asked me questions that in turn garnered conviction, even for myself, that this is indeed a project I want done sooner rather than later.  Cold weather is looming, and this is a very busy season for heating companies, so I felt the pressure of getting a deal done.  He asked why the first company fell short, what were the things I needed to have, as well as what I would need to see from a company in order to feel comfortable.  He then repeated back my answers, which gave me comfort in the fact that we knew exactly what kind of project I was looking for.  He took some time, then gave me several options that fit my budget and expectations.  I still have one more estimate to get from a company but I would not be surprised if I call him back in two days and sign a contract with his company.  He was more consultative than anything, which I believe caters well to any prospect in general.

He made known the fact that his company is helping out a ton of households this season to convert oil to gas, and that’s on top of the usual maintenance and heating services they provide.  That alone put the notion in my mind that I need to commit to this project soon.  “So many other people are doing this too; I don’t want to get left behind!”  People in sales can be sold too.

There’s always a challenge to open the eyes of decision-makers and get them to realize you have the solution or service for a project they should be budgeting for.  But people inherently put things off with the intent of handling them later.  

On the flip side, nobody likes to be late or miss the boat completely, so it always helps when you can adequately articulate past projects you’ve done for similar companies or verticals. If someone knocks on my door and explains that almost my entire neighborhood had their exterior walls insulated and are now saving an average of $1,200 a year on heating, then I’d certainly listen and give that person a shot to create a case. September is a great time to demonstrate your understanding of the importance of strategic budgeting as well as to assert yourself as a consultative partner who can help prospects accomplish their top goals.  


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