One of my HVAC clients had learned how other businesses like his were making big profits with add on sales. So he copied another companies program and asked his service technicians to sell electronic air cleaners.

They didn’t have much success. They were convinced that the people there area had no interest in air quality. So, they gave up faith in the program.

When I suggested that they sell electronic air cleaners i was told, been there done that and it does not work in our area. I wanted to be humored so I asked how they went about the program. After listening I gave some simple advice.

Don’t tell a technician to sell anything. Instead ask them to recommend.

It was a word that made all the difference.

The likes of Herb Tarlic gave the word SALES a bad rap. Banks want their tellers to sell CD’s and loans and credit cards and restaurant managers want their wait staff to sell wine and desserts, neither industry has had global success with this approach. People who choose a service type job as a career, bank tellers, food servers, and service techs view selling as anti-service. They don’t want to be pushy, they want to please.

One of the benefits to laying my head on many different pillows each month is that I get to see as many different companies in as many different markets. The challenges they face are as different as they are the same. No matter what horse they are trying to ride, the answer is simple; if you don’t want to get bounced off, hold on. The reason I have a job is that most business owners and managers have fallen off the horse for so long that they have grown used to it. They land on their feet and jump right back on. But they never get to a full gallop. It often takes an outsider to point out that there are the stirrups.

I have become a student of human behavior. On a recent trip to the mall, I waited at the rail of a mezzanine while my wife stared at herself in a mirror in many different black strappy dresses.

I had an opportunity to observe the people on the floor below me. There were about five different kiosks offering different items or services. I studied the sales people work the kiosks.

I noticed a 3 to 1 success rate for the workers not afraid to make eye contact and offer a smile. 3 to 1.

Of all the kiosks, two had a greater buzz then the others. One had two attractive gals selling a skin care product. One of the gals would be engaged in a demo of her product in less than 3 minutes. The other gal would wonder around the kiosk offering a fake smile waiting for the customers to ask her for the product. The busy girl not only looked the client in the eye with a genuine smile, she asked passersby if she could show them something. She believed in her product and had a 30% close rate. She had three sales in 20 minutes. The other girl gave 2 demos and sold nothing in the same 20 minutes.

I also observed six masseuses. One of the masseuses barley gave a nod to the potential customers. I never saw him give a massage. The other five masseuses were able to pick up a subject in minutes by simply offering a smile and a would you allow me to…

The top producers were careful not to waste time on unqualified subjects. They knew their clients at a glance and were able to overcome obstacles like wondering husbands and chatty girlfriends. I want to say it’s the people that make the difference, but that would not be entirely true. It’s not the people, it’s what they do and say that makes the difference. I hear it now, but Geno, isn’t that the people? No.

Remember what I said earlier about the techs failing electronic air cleaner sales? After a change in instructions from Sell to Recommend they were able to go from $0 in air cleaner sales to $50,000 a month with the same people. If they believe in what they are recommending it is easy for them to do. Being genuine is not an act and that helps build rapport which leads to sales.