Control, commit, close, cooperation, communication and more tips to help you suceed.

Control. One of the worst things you can do on a sales call or a service call is allow the customer to take control. This is not to be confused with being controlling, manipulative or aggressive. Control doesn't mean you are in control of the customer; you are in control of yourself and your actions.

Commitment. Obviously, if the customer is unwilling to make a commitment, there is no sale. One of the biggest problems people have in a sales situation is that they tell the customer everything there is to say about the product and the only commitment they ask for is the final commitment to buy. Actually, a sale is a series of small commitments made one at a time. Try talking about a feature and benefit of the commitment, then ask the customer for some feedback. Then talk about another and ask for more feedback. Often, when you obtain small commitments (that is, agreements regarding the benefits of a product) as you go along, you never will have to ask them to buy. They'll ask you.

Close. The close of the sale is when the final commitment to accept your recommendation is made. No close, no sale. Many people have difficulty in making both commitments and decisions. Learning how to close a sale is not about learning fancy sales tactics to trick people into buying. It's about learning how to, in a studied, organized, almost scientific manner, help people to make the right decision.

Cooperation. Ever been on a call where they treat you like dirt and aren't talking to you when you need to talk to them? No cooperation, no sale. One method of gaining cooperation from uncooperative people is to ask for a simple courtesy or favor. For instance, say it's a very hot day, you're working hard and almost feel you're going to get heat exhaustion and when you try to talk to the lady of the house about what's wrong and what it will take to fix things, she ignores you or won't give you her attention. What do you do? Try asking for a glass of water. Say, "I beg your pardon, ma'am, could I trouble you for a glass of water? They've got me running so hard I don't even have time to stop for a drink of water."

Customer. Naturally, you can't make a sale without a customer. What about the customers you don't like; the ones who are rude or difficult to communicate with? Who wants them? The smart thinker, that's who! Why? Because no one else does. Ever had a customer say to you, "You're the third person I've called out here. Everyone keeps saying they'll get back with me and none of them have!" (and you know why).

Remember that the next time a customer is short with you or hard to get in touch with. The next time you just want to walk away from a customer because they're too aggravating, remind yourself that this same customer is being just as difficult with your competitors and they're also considering abandoning them. Most of your competitors will remove themselves from the competition just because they don't want to deal with this person. That's where you step in and make the sale (and the profits.)

Cost. Actually, this means "price," but since price doesn't start with a "c," it has to be called cost. You're always better off quoting the price before starting any work. Any time that you don't, you're leaving yourself open to someone trying to negotiate price after the work is done.

Communication. It's been said that all of the problems of the world could be solved with better communication skills. Learn how to talk to people. Listen to cassette tapes on sales and communications skills. You'll feel more confident and be more successful at whatever you try if you're an excellent communicator.

Cash, check or charge card. It doesn't do you much good to make a sale and not get paid for what you've done. In service in particular, I have found that people will agree to just about anything to get their equipment running if they can count on you to bill them later. This is another case where you're opening yourself to someone trying to negotiate with you after the work has been done. People take their decisions more seriously when they know they'll have to pay as soon as the work is done.

(Charlie Greer's HVAC Profit Boosters can be contacted at 800-963-HVAC or 941-454-1131; fax 941-454-7476; 7238 Hendry Creek Drive, Fort Meyers, Fla. 33908; or website: