By Kelly R. Thompson, CWS-VI

Going to Home Depot for some people may not be a bad option. I can almost feel the collective gasp as many of you reread that last sentence to see if WCP actually published a crazy person’s article. But let’s be real. Most of us have bought something from the big- box stores that could have been purchased from an in-home sale person. Why might you buy that hot water tank from a box store instead of your plumber? Why might you purchase your washer and dryer from a box store instead of a store that specializes in appliances? More importantly, what would have enticed you to invest with your plumber or local appliance store? Generally, these investments are more expensive, but is it price alone that determines the decision to shop at a box store versus a specialized company? Not in my opinion.

Let’s take a look at a common scenario. There are very few new homes being built but there are a few. As a professional, you have been diligent about making sure that you did not let them slip through the cracks. You have driven by the houses and left literature, and even gathered information about the homeowners. There is a homeowner because a new home being built today is very likely not a spec home. Finally, after months of detective work and tenacity, you drive by the house and see what you think is the homeowner’s car in the driveway. This is exciting because the house is within a week or so of being occupied. You know that the likelihood of your company helping them with their water has just increased. From your prior information gathering, you know Ethel and Harold are the homeowners, and fortune is shining upon you because they are both there, doing some touch-up painting. Managing to hide your shock at the fact that they are a very young couple in their 30s, you introduce yourself:

You: Hi. Are you Ethel and Harold?

Them: Yes. And you are?

You: My name is…(we’ll pretend I am you for now). I am with ABC Water Conditioning. Most people in this area end up doing something to treat their water, either for the hardness and iron, or for their drinking water. Have you given any consideration about what you were going to do for your water?

Them: We are probably just going to get what we need from Home Depot and put it in ourselves.

Of course you can’t say what you are really thinking here, but many people do come close by beginning an equipment-and-box-store-bashing rampage that essentially lets the homeowner know that their decision-making ability is very poor. This does not typically result in a sale or a positive feeling from the prospects. In fact, it will probably reinforce their aversion to dealing with an in-home salesperson.

Here is why I think we need the box stores. Simply put, they force us to sell more than equipment. They help hold us accountable for our service. One can go to Lowes and buy a softener and RO system for under $1,000. Sometimes they can even have it installed for around that price. Many of the dealers reading this don’t offer an RO for under $1,000, much less a softener. So why doesn’t everybody go to Lowes? Quality is the obvious answer; but in the case of a $3,000+ system versus a $1,000 system, quality alone does not make up for the $2,000 price difference. What does make a difference is the professionalism, knowledge and service that go with the system. Service is not what you give when something goes wrong, although of course, that is important. Service has to be what you give when everything is right.

In order to demonstrate that a prospect would be wise to invest in your organization, you have to strive to be far superior than the box stores. Not only should the product be of better quality, so should the installation, your knowledge and the service you provide.

Let the box stores work for you. Make their lack of these things highlight your provision of them. Of course, that means getting in front of your prospects to demonstrate these attributes. To do that, you have to help them to understand that you have something of value to offer. In other words, before you can ever have a chance to sell your product, you need to sell your knowledge and professionalism. If you are successful, they will agree to pay for this knowledge and professionalism with their time. Once you get them to spend their time with you, getting them to spend their money becomes much easier.

About the author Kelly R. Thompson, CWS-VI, is a water treatment specialist, author and motivational speaker. In his recently released book, Flowing to Success ~ An Excellent Book With a Cheesy Title for the Water Treatment Sales Professional, he offers a host of tips for successful sales training. To see the rest of the conversation with Ethel and Harold, visit Thompson can also be reached there, or at (810) 560-2799.



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