Where do theaters make most of their profit? Through showing films or at the concession stand? The answer is the popcorn, drinks and candy. Think about what you see and smell as you enter the lobby of most theaters - popcorn. Even the establishments that don't make their own popcorn still find ways to create the distinctive odor of fresh popcorn in their lobbies.

Popcorn is more profitable than just about anything else they offer and theater owners know it. When we go to the movies, we can spend more at the concession stand than we do for the movie ticket. If these concessions can sell a bag of popcorn for $5, we should be able to make a reasonable profit from the much-needed comfort products we sell.

We need to learn from theater owners, masters of selling perceptions and ideas. We need to sell our comfort products for the benefits they offer the customer instead of just the features of our products.

Here's some food for thought (and it's not popcorn). When was the last time you:

A. Used a demo about a product you were selling?

B. Used pictures to show how you install the product you're selling?

C. Used testimonials from customers to help you close?

D. Did not mention the price until the customer brought it up?

E. Let the customer do most of the talking while you listened?

F. Let the customer decide what he or she wanted?

G. Let customers decide by seeing and feeling the product? This works well with registers and grilles.

People buy emotionally, not rationally. They buy popcorn because they smell it and it creates good memories. The price is offset because they are already sold on having a god time while watching the movie. People will buy comfort systems emotionally, but we don't give them much of a chance to create an image in their minds. With few exceptions, people don't have a great vision of the comfort system they now have in their home. More than 60% of homeowners would change something about their system if given a chance. So to sell comfort we must paint word pictures of how a great comfort system should work.

During the customer interview, discover what the homeowners don't like about their present system. Once you have determined what they don't like about their present comfort system or what they would like to have in a new one, you have the basis for your presentation.

Here's a partial list of things people don't want in their new comfort system:

1. Excessive noise.

2. Coming on cold, then overheating the area.

3. Air blowing on them when they sit in a chair.

4. A system where the filter is difficult to change.

5. Ductwork that pops when it comes on and pings when it goes off.

6. A home that is too dry and full of static electricity.

7. Average fuel bills higher than their neighbors.

Every one of the problems shown above can be addressed in terms of the benefit to the customer. Keep in mind that benefits are not the same for all customers; each person has their own sense of perfect climate. It's your job to find out what their perfect climate is and why. Then design and sell a system to meet their needs.

The joy and excitement of selling is creating a solution to meet the customer's desires.

(Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone 800-447-7355; fax 717-698-6555.)