illustration of a series of price tags

Are You Selling What Your Customers Are Buying?

After reading the headline above, did you say to yourself: “Yes, painting … duh!” Sure, that’s the obvious answer, but not every customer hires a painter for the same reasons.

By Terry Begue

If you’ve been selling your services for a while, I’m sure you’ve met clients who want the work done yesterday… and cheap! Or those who are looking for a good job at a fair price. Maybe you’ve met some who say they want the best job possible at any price. (Don’t you just love those people!) Even though all three are looking to hire a painter, each one has different needs and expectations. Each one is buying something different.

Ask yourself: Where’s the pain?

So how do you learn exactly what they want to buy from you? Easy: When meeting a potential client, the first step is discovering their pain.

In other words, what’s the problem they want you to fix? Don’t start out talking about yourself or your company, they don’t care at first. Take the time to listen – really listen – and learn what’s important to them.

“Logic makes people think, emotions make them act. Be the emotional choice.”

We live in an age where appointments are made by voice mail, conversations by texting and proposals sent by email. If the client wants more information, they’re sent to a website. Shaking hands, having conversations and listening to our client’s needs seems to have become something we no longer have time for.

Take a cue from the past

I started my business before there were smart phones, computers and internet. Even before there were cordless phones. My first phone was attached to the kitchen wall, had a rotary dial and a cord that stretched through our apartment! There was little room in the painting world for a start-up like mine, and every client mattered.

When on sales calls, I blocked out plenty of time, had a cup of coffee if they offered, and listened to what they had to say. I wrote out my bid by hand, went over each line with them and promised I would give them the best job I could possibly do. People started hiring me – lots of people!

Honestly, I don’t do that as much as I used to these days. We have a good reputation and we paint a lot of homes. Like my colleagues, I’m usually running 100 miles an hour – wearing lots of hats, putting out fires and just trying to keep up.

But here’s the thing. Whenever I find we’re running low on jobs or meet a prospect who needs more than just a painter, I remind myself of what it was like when I started, and how badly I needed work and wanted clients to know my story. It’s in those moments that I put my busy life on hold, silence my phone (and my mouth) and listen. I stop being a business owner and become a friend.

Conversations open doors

My point is: You need to stand out if you want to grow your business. What would your prospects think if you called them back right away? Made an appointment that worked for their schedule? Listened to them for as long as they needed to explain why they need your help? And then clearly explained your solution to their problem?

It might cut into your day a bit, but it will set you apart in a good way. It will connect you to your client at a different level – an emotional level.

I’m not saying be all things to all clients. But if you don’t take the time to understand their needs, how will you know if you’re the solution? More importantly, how will they know?

Conversations open doors, put people at ease and create good feelings. Good feelings lead to positive emotions, and that leads to positive buying decisions. Logic makes people think, emotions make them act. Be the emotional choice.

Bottom line: Selling = helping

Not every client is looking for the lowest price or the best job money can buy. Some are just looking for the easy, comfortable choice. For many, the comfortable choice is simply choosing the company who cares a little more than the rest.

Selling is helping. It’s listening with the intent to understand what’s important to them. It also bears mentioning that it helps them learn more about you and why you’re the best choice. Bottom line, it shows you care. Take the time to listen to your customers. It’s how you know for sure that you’re selling what your customers are buying.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of PPC magazine. Story by Terry Begue, author of The Wealthy House Painter’s Guide to Having It All and creator of the Power Six Pack selling system. Get more management and business building tips on the Sherwin-Williams contractor website.