Water Well Journal

June 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/515025

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 107

O ver the years I have penned what have probably been far too many columns about the numer- ous technical topics of our industry, sev- eral more about business management, and even quite a few regarding some of the details of my career and personal life. The one topic I have overlooked is sales techniques and the best way to work to close a sale. Now, it must be said I don't profess to be an expert on sales or the many different ways to gen- erate a sale. What I can say is I have been fairly successful in generating sales over the years and believe I can offer advice to the younger people in our profession as well as those just getting started. What is the best sales technique? I began in the well and pump busi- ness in 1974 as a pump installer and serviceman with Ace Pump Sales and Service in Salem, Oregon. I then transi- tioned into water system sales, coincid- ing with my start in my training and education in engineering in 1978 fol- lowing my move to Stettler Supply Co. The four years between these two events provided me with the best experi- ence I could get for selling pumps and water systems. By 1978, I believed I had experienced most of the typical events you could realize in the water systems world. Certainly, I'm not claim- ing I experienced every single good and bad type of project in those four years, but just enough to be able to speak intel- ligently to potential customers about their specific question. Only now can I look back on this valuable experience and understand just how important it ultimately was to my selling skills. All of us who work in the day-to-day world of well and pump sales know all too well how hard it can be to generate and close a sale. Think about the "un- fair" disadvantages we fight every day. Not only do we usually have to go up against competition in our area, many of them often with the same or greater experience than us, but they often sell at lower prices! So how can you fight against this seemingly unfair advantage? The best way I know of is to simply work within your abilities and use your own advan- tages. I have found in most cases the customer will not buy anything from you if they feel you can't be trusted. Whether it is to install what they expect in their well or the water system you touted will deliver the water at the pres- sure you stated, they want to trust your knowledge and ability. In other words, sell yourself. So you might ask how do we go about selling ourselves? I have thought about this for many years and have de- veloped a series of traits I think apply. Know your business. Let's face it, it doesn't matter if you sell rocket ships, shoes, or well pumps. People want to deal with someone who knows what they are doing—and more importantly, what they are selling. I worked in water systems for a full year before I was ever allowed to de- velop a quote and try to sell a home- owner on a new well pump. Although I was really just a kid in the mid-1970s, I had a man-sized ego and after only a few weeks I felt I had gained enough knowledge and experience to sell pumps to customers. Boy, was I ever wrong! As with most pump-related experi- ences, my initial exposure to pump sales were actually replacement units I was involved with during what started out as a routine service call. Although I cannot recall my first dealing with a potential client, I can still remember one that happened shortly thereafter. My partner, Don, and I were pulling a fairly deep set for our region of around 300 feet or so to eventually discover a defective 3 hp motor. Sensing my su- perb sales acumen, I asked Don to let me deal with the homeowner, price out the new motor along with the labor, and secure the reinstallation. Don said sure, and looking back I should have realized this was too easy and Don knew some- thing I didn't. I quickly figured the cost of the re- placement motor and labor and set out to find the homeowner and give him what I thought was bad news. Once I met up with the homeowner and laid out the costs and job details, he instantly started peppering me with questions. "Why did my motor fail since it was only four years old?" (I dunno I mused.) "Why did you have to drive over my nice green grass to pull the pump?" (I dunno I mused again.) "What can we do to prevent this from happening again in another four years?" (I dunno I mused once more.) I knew in an instant I was in trouble and so did he. I just stood there with no ED BUTTS, PE, CPI ENGINEERING YOUR BUSINESS SELL YOURSELF The best sales technique for talking to new or current customers is selling your skills. ENGINEERING continues on page 40 Whether it is to install what they expect in their well or the water system you touted will deliver the water at the pressure you stated, the customer wants to trust your knowledge and ability. waterwelljournal.com 38 June 2015 WWJ

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