According to the book The New Solution Selling, solution selling is, “The most widely used sales process focused on executable selling in the world today.” Although the sales process is most often applied, and originated in, what is known as B2B (business to business) sales, it is 100% applicable when selling home performance. In fact, I would go as far to say that it is 100% necessary when selling home performance. So what exactly is a solution? The answer is not as simple as it seems.
Keith M. Eades, author of The New Solution Selling, defines a solution in his book by stating, “So what is the definition of the word solution? The typical response is, ‘An answer to a problem.’ I agree with this response, but feel it's important to expand the definition. Not only does the problem need to be acknowledged by the buyer, but both the buyer and salesperson must also agree on the answer. So, a solution is a mutually agreed-upon answer to a recognized problem. In addition, a solution must also provide some measurable improvement. By measurable improvement, I mean there is a before and might be after. Now we have a more complete definition of a solution. It's a mutually shared answer to a recognized problem, and the answer provides measurable improvement.”
Lets take a look at his complete definition, “It's a mutually shared answer to a recognized problem, and the answer provides measurable improvement.” This definition directly applies to home performance and can be considered in two parts.
“It's a mutually shared answer to a recognized problem.” This implies that we must be able to recognize the problem as the client (homeowner) recognizes it. Put another way, we must be able to form an emotional connection with the homeowner. Why are we really here? As HVAC professionals with fancy tools, it's easy to get caught up in measuring and analyzing everything possible without actually listening to the homeowner tell us why we are really there. All too many times I see a laundry list of upgrades presented to the homeowner, but no explanation of how any of the solutions specifically relate to the pain that moved them to call a professional to begin with. How can the client agree that an upgrade is right for them if it does not specifically address and relate to their concerns? According to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, “Only 15% of financial success is due to technical knowledge. The other 85% is due to the ability to communicate.”
Time and time again homeowners are left wondering, or trying to figure out just how this list of upgrades helps them with their specific issue. There is no real connection made to the specific pain of the homeowner. There may be many great benefits listed with each upgrade, and each one may be very beneficial to the homeowner, such as saving them money or even making the home more comfortable or safer. But unless we are able to communicate in specific terms which upgrade directly addresses the concerns of the homeowner, and precisely how it will do that, there is no way for them to “mutually agree” that it is the answer to their problem. They have to be able to clearly identify the recommendation as THE answer, and that the answer provides measurable improvement. This is the part of the solution that most of us in the world of home performance should be able to readily embrace. As we take steps to improve someone's home and solve their pain, we have to be able to measure it. We want to measure it. Most of us can’t wait to measure it and see the before and after. More importantly, the homeowner has to be able to measure it. These two things are totally different. We, as building performance practitioners, use our fancy tools to measure things, CFM50 test in, test out, ACH50, KWH saved, Negawatts, BTU saved, or any number of things that are really important, but completely meaningless to the homeowner as a standalone metric. They are important because they allow us to make sure that we did our job, and achieved a clear and measured result. But homeowners measure their before and after differently. They measure the same way they buy, with emotion. They look at a room that wasn't usable and now is. The look at a furnace or AC that couldn't keep up on the coldest or hottest days, and now can. They look at a child that had bad allergies and couldn't be in the house without an inhaler, and now can. They look at suddenly being able to walk around barefooted after always needing warm socks in the middle of the winter in a home they have lived in for 20 years. These are the metrics by which homeowners measure improvement. The fact that we achieved a 40% air infiltration reduction by taking a home from ____CFM50 to ____CFM50 is meaningless to someone unless they have first been able to measure by the emotion of enjoying a suddenly comfortable home. As a part of our sales process we have to be able to convey that emotion as part of the offered solution. So use the scientific tools of the trade to diagnose, measure, and forecast. Allow the homeowner to see the process that gets you to the correct solution to their pain. The show is an important part of the sales process. Create a clear definition of the problem with the homeowner. Get to the ah-ha moment, where the proposed upgrade will clearly solve the defined problem, then outline what your client can expect to notice in everyday life as a result of the solution. Following this process will result in a mutually shared answer to a recognized problem, which provides measurable improvement in a way that homeowners will feel confident and motivated to move forward with your solution.
Be sure to read the next in the series Building an Emotional Connection through your Home Performance Sales Process at www.hvac2homeperformance.com
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