Go Ahead, Judge A Book By Its Cover!

Go Ahead, Judge A Book By Its Cover!

Judging a book by its cover is something our subconscious does to everybody we meet on a daily basis. It works both ways because people are going to do that to you, too. It’s the same with a business enterprise. Your customer starts judging you from the very second you make your introduction phone call up to the time you let them know you’re on the way. First impressions are huge in the homeowner’s mind. There is nothing wrong with dressing the part for the role you play in this career. When you show up looking completely unexpected, people are going to remember you. Sam Wakefield shares some tips on how to make the good first impression so you don’t get turned away coming into a homeowner’s property.

We will be talking about, go ahead, judge a book by its cover. It is okay because our subconscious does that to everybody we meet, which also means they are going to do that to you. That starts from the very second you make your introduction phone call to let them know you’re on the way. That starts with the very first impression that they get when they pick up the phone and call your company or what kind of response they get when they put in a text or email inquiry on your website, on Yelp, through Angie’s list, through your PPC or however, you get leads that starts from the very second that someone raises their hand and says, “I need some help. Are you the company that can help me?”

Your first impression is huge in the homeowner’s mind. That’s what we are talking about because as much as we’ve been taught since we were kids, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” that’s exactly what we do anyway. In person, you have about four to six seconds, not 46, between four and six seconds to make an impression that is going to be favorable. An impression could have stick in their mind and there are a lot of elements to that. A lot of it is the way you dress, a lot of it are little things. There’s an expression I heard a while back, if there is one tiny thing that would keep any client from not doing business with me, that I can change in my appearance or something like that, I’m going to do it.

You put 100 people in a room and have everybody who may be turned off by long hair and a ponytail, just the opinion that they might be a little bit less trustworthy. Or if a handful of people in that room raise their hand but then the difference between that and maybe a clean-cut haircut or something a little more conservative and less people raise their hand, there’s nothing wrong with long hair and a ponytail. I wore that for ten years. I was a rock star and I have my hair down halfway down my back. When I got into sales, I realized that if at the end of the day, it made a difference to me of thousands of dollars, at the end of the year with a difference in my income, I’m okay with cutting my hair.

Dressing The Part

It’s not that there is something wrong with it. However, if subconsciously someone has had a bad experience or something else that you can’t necessarily change their impression but don’t detract from their impression of you, then absolutely do it. There is nothing wrong with dressing the part for the role you play in this career. Along with that, that doesn’t mean you wear a blazer and a three–piece suit to a sales appointment when you’re an HVAC contractor.

I’ve seen that for a long time. There’s the whole movement in the ’90s and early 2000s and I totally tried this. I went out and bought a couple of sports coats. I tried the tie. I tried the sports coat and the tie first with slacks and then the nice shoes. I would try the sports coat without the tie. I would try the tie without the sports coat and then I tried neither one, no tie or sports coat but just with the nice shirt and slacks and nice shoes. My sales have always landed the best because that dress is completely unexpected by people. They are going to remember you.

However, do you know what the perception in their mind is when I started following it up with all my people? When you dress like that to go for an air conditioning sale, the impression in their mind is, “These guys are going to be way more expensive.” That’s the way people judge the book by its cover. Were we necessarily more expensive than the nearest competition? No, we weren’t. We were almost the same, pretty close as far as price goes, which also tells me, we should have raised our prices. At the end of the day, their perception of us was that we were so much more expensive they mainly shut me down and shut down the whole process before it even started. In their minds, they subconsciously knew that they weren’t going to be able to afford us.

This is with our company and of course, we are in Austin, Texas, so we are a little bit on the relaxing side. I’ve worked and I trained all over the country. I’ve worked in cities, I’ve trained in cities, I’ve trained in small towns and Rural America. Consistently, the outfit that gets the best response is something along the lines of jeans and a polo shirt, never tiny shoes but some regular shoes, duck shoes or some normal shoes, even boots. It depends on the part of the country, cowboy boots. I’ve worn my Dr. Martens before and it works out just fine, but something a little more relaxed. Some guys like to wear Dickies or some khakis and slacks. That’s fine, even a button-up shirt maybe with a company logo. That’s about the middle of the road where you want to be.

Tone Down The Scent

More dressed up than that, the perception is, “You’re way too expensive for me.” In the middle of the summer, a couple of our people actually have nice shorts that they wear. They get a pretty good reception from the homeowners. It depends on your market, but first impressions are so important. Another thing to think about, and I know this from experience to the context here. My mom is very sensitive to smells, odors, and chemicals. She has a horrible allergic reaction to colognes, to hair products, to aftershave, to anything like that. Years ago, my parents had some satellite TV coming to be installed one time. The guy that showed up at the door, the installer, had a pretty good amount of cologne on. She told him as soon as he got into, ‘‘Leave, you can’t be in my house.” She completely turned him away. They had to send someone else who promised not to wear any type of cologne or anything, or they were literally going to change company and go with somebody else who would comply with their request.

Was it because they were being mean or being rude? We all have those customers who are jerks or being rude. No, it had to do with the fact that if he had come into the house and spent any amount of time that night, she would have ended up in the emergency room with lung issues because that’s how sensitive she is to smells, odors, and chemicals. I decided years ago to always train my people. If I show up to that 1 in 10,000 houses where somebody is that sensitive, I don’t want to be the guy that gets turned away because “I decided to wear cologne today.” That’s ridiculous. I’ll not wear it for that fact that I can be the most important thing to most people. Anything that you can think of that would be a detractor for first impressions is humongous in our industry.

Getting To The Door

Another tip along these lines since this is the first impression podcast is the way you greet the door, the way you get to the door. When you can, you park on the street, never in the driveway always, unless it’s a long, winding driveway up to the house or something. There are a lot of bigger houses, nicer houses that have a big driveway up to the houses. That’s a good way. You’re not going to park on the street there. For most normal neighborhoods, park on the streets. Never park in the driveway and always park the right direction on the road. Never park illegally. It’s simple stuff but here’s the thing, if you park the wrong way on the street, in their mind they might mention it or not. They might even not notice but some people will. They will 100% think, “If they are going to break the law there, what other things are they short–cutting? What else are they skipping when it comes to my project? If they are willing to break the law, what else are they not doing?” Everything is perception.

Good First Impression: There is nothing wrong with dressing the part for the role you play in this career.

A lot of what we do is the show. If you don’t actually tell the homeowner you’re going to do something, it might as well not have happened, so that’s another episode that we’re going to talk about. For first impressions, when you get up to the door, knock, don’t ring the bell. Salespeople ring the bell, and neighbors knock. It’s one of those old-school slogans but it’s 100% the truth. Knock on the door, don’t ring the bell, and then back up. Funny story, years ago, I took one of my foremen with me to look at this house, to evaluate this project I needed to help get in there ahead of time, to get some measurements for some of the installations we were going to do and some of the other things and the ductwork and all that.

Before I could do anything, he goes up to the door, rang the bell , and leaned against the door frame right by the door with his arm leaning against the door waiting for the homeowner to open the door. She opens the door and just about falls over backward because he is leaning right in her face as he’s leaning up against the door. I couldn’t reach him fast enough to yank him back away from the door before she opened it. It blew my mind that it wasn’t something that is common sense that people know. That’s why I’m bringing it up right now because it’s very important. It’s crucial. Knock on the door and take three steps back. If it’s a porch, step down off the first step on the porch. Step onto the first step and lower yourself when they open the door so you can back up.

They can clearly see you from the door. They can clearly see your vehicle. It’s a safety issue, big smile and they open the door, “Hi. My name is.” The very first thing you say is, “Hi. My name is.” Don’t even forget to say, “Hi.” Say, “Hi, my name is,” and whatever your name is. Something like, “Hi, my name is Sam Wakefield with Precision Heating and Air,” or with the company that you’re with. That’s the company that I’m with in Austin. Greet them with your name and the company you’re with before they have a chance to say anything, so they know who you are. One, you are leading the conversation there. Two, it’s the safety thing for them and it puts their minds at ease.

Even if you called ahead and they know you’re coming, still do that. It’s super important in taking a step back and doing that. I know these are probably very simple things for a lot of you, but you would be amazed that there are a lot of people in the world who don’t know these common courtesy skills, especially if you’re new in home sales. These are things that will completely set you apart from other companies when it comes to how you’re perceived in the house, how you’re perceived with the homeowner. These handful of things will completely set you apart when it comes to what your clothes are. Men, tuck your shirt in, wear a belt, simple stuff. Shave, don’t look like you haven’t taken a bath in a week, and take a shower, the easy stuff. Do it. It’s worth it. Nobody wants to hang out with somebody who smells like they haven’t bathed in a week and been working in an attic. These are common sense things that you can be in service tech. It doesn’t matter who you are. All of these apply to every single one of you.

A huge shout out to women who are doing sales in this industry because you have the ability to make everyone else’s numbers look ridiculous because of the amount of reports that you can instantly get in a house. It’s amazing and I’m so thankful for you. It’s time that you step up into your greatness because I know you’ve got greatness inside of you. Let’s see some amazing women HVAC salespeople, comfort consultants, and project managers put up some mind–blowing members. It’s time. It’s time for women to step into this industry but that’s just a soapbox of mine. First impressions are so widely important. It starts with a phone call and then goes right into that first few seconds, “Hi, my name is. I’m with this company.” Extend your hand, good firm handshake. All of that is crucial, so make sure that those first eight seconds are powerful. Make it impactful. People want to know that you are there for the business, that you are sharp as a tack, and that you know what you are doing.

Be Upfront, Transparent, And Neutral

Accomplish that and the sale is halfway made. I promise you, it changes everything. I’ve had so many people over the years say, literally I’ve heard these words come out of people’s mouths say, “I don’t normally trust salespeople who come to the house. For some reason, I don’t even know why I trust you, so I totally believe what you are saying and I feel like you’re being transparent and honest with me where a lot of other people didn’t.” I’ve heard these things over and over again, so clearly these are techniques. It’s not that you are trying to manipulate anybody, but you are just being upfront and transparent and truthful and honest with people and being as neutral as you possibly can. Have a flag flying over your head when you’re in a home.

You’ve got to be as neutral as possible when it comes to anything. Anything that has to do with money, with religion, with literally anything that could potentially be controversial. There is so much going on in the world when it comes to all the different things: the left, the right, sexual equality, racial equality, gender neutrality, all of these things. You can go down the list of all the political hot buttons and at the end of the day, you have to be neutral. I guarantee you, if you followed me around an entire day and into ten different houses, you wouldn’t have a clue how I felt politically, how I felt religiously, how I felt about any of those issues in a house. If you followed along and asked any of my clients, then any single one of them would think that I believe the way they did. Why? Is it because I did? No. It has nothing to do with that.

Listen And Communicate Back

If you go to a house and someone have over–the–top yard signs, over–the–top things on the wall, anything that points to something very specific, you don’t have to be for or against it. Just ask them about it. Get them talking about what they’re obviously passionate about. Ask them about it, “You’ve got so many of these signs in the yard. What has inspired you to be so passionate about this? I love to talk to people about their passions and what they are really concerned about. Is there something specific that has gotten you so involved?” Ask those kinds of questions and let them talk to you for a while. They will happily tell you what their passions are, what their burning desire is, what their hot buttons are. They will tell you so much about how you communicate back to them when it comes to the system that you’re working on when it comes to if they’re auditory, if they’re visual, and have learned to speak their language. You do that by letting them talk to you. God gave us two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk.

When we start listening, ask a few very specific key questions and listen to what their passions are and the way they communicate. Then we would be able to communicate back to them in a way that they understand using the level of words they understand, using the types of communication. A good example is, you go into someone’s house and maybe the person is clearly an artist. They’ve got their paintings up. They’ve got art supplies. I’m going to use terms like, “Does this look good to you?” Whereas somebody who goes in somebody’s house that may be a musician, I’m going to use terms like, “How does that sound?” because you know that’s the way that they communicate. That’s the life they live, so learning to communicate with that type of power of those words will change the way they will respond to you as well. First impressions into learning, to listen and communicate with neutrality, all of these have to do with the home experience, the experience you’re giving the customer, the experience you’re giving the homeowner in their own home of dealing with someone who understands them. It makes them feel understood because at the end of the day, don’t we all want to be heard? That’s why I win jobs over the competitors at thousands of dollars more expensive because I’ll hear all the time they say, “We had you and two other companies, three other companies, five other companies, or eight other companies.” I’ve heard all of those.

When the numbers come out, you’re the only one that actually we thought listened to the problems we have and came up with the solutions that were going to solve those problems. It had to do with letting them tell me and listening to the point that I understood what listening between the lines and understood what they’re trying to communicate. They don’t always know the right words to use and they don’t always know how to describe the problems they are having. All they know are the words that are in their vocabulary.

Good First Impression: When you listen to your customers and what they are concerned about, and communicate back to them in a way that they understand, it resonates with them.

By listening and then maybe restating a little bit differently, describe it a little bit more thoroughly the way we know to describe things and then you can tell instantly that light bulb goes off because their face lights up and they’re like, “That’s it. That’s exactly what I was trying to describe.” Their face lights up and they’re like, “That’s exactly what happens in the middle of the night or that’s what happens in the middle of the summer. That’s what happens in the winter.” You know at that moment you’ve heard them, understood them when you communicated back to them the way that they understand and it resonates with them that, “You’re the person that actually heard and understood what I was trying to describe to you. I just didn’t know how to describe it.” When you can do that, that’s the moment that your sales start to take on a new adventure and is going to start to climb.

That’s a powerful episode. I hope you got some value from this. If you did, share it with someone. Share it with your service tech. Share it with your salespeople. You’re the owner of the company. If you do it all, let me know. If you are compartmentalized like my company, we have got different departments, sales departments, service departments, we’ve got install departments. I know a lot of companies will sell, install, and service all at the same time, maybe have a handful of people. Every single person can benefit from this message. If you’ve got some value, share this podcast. I love it when we have new people who go to CloseItNow.com. That is going to be your way to communicate with us, the way to stay connected. Join the Close It Now Facebook community. It’s growing every single day and there is some amazing content in there. I’m doing lots of video training. There is a coaching program that I am fixing to kick off. If you’re interested in it, I’m going to do some affordable group coaching, which is my way to give back to every single one of you to hold us accountable.

There’s a good chance I may or may not be focused on the results. Where you focus, your energy flows. If you’re focused on results, you’re focused on seeing success, you’ve got to be accountable to that. It’s a big part of what my group coaching program is going to be involved with. Go to CloseItNow.com, that’s going to get you in touch with everything and keep you connected. Thanks for reading. Share this podcast. Sharing is caring and I am super excited about upcoming events, the upcoming podcast.

I’ve got some live events coming that are going to be killer three-day boot camps that will completely transform the way that you sell, and transform your results. Who wants to work less and sell more? I hear that a lot like, “I want to earn more but at the same time, I don’t want to completely disappear from my family throughout the summer. I don’t want to be the guy that works six, seven days a week, twelve, fourteen hours a day and never sees anybody throughout the year.” There is a way to do that. There is a way to earn more, work less, and not have to kill yourself in this industry, so you can actually have the best of both worlds. You can have a family life and a mind–blowing income. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s the focus of this group. My training is not like the others. Just because you work harder does not always mean that you work better or your work is better or more productive. You don’t have to work harder just to earn more. That’s totally what we are talking about. Thanks for reading. I will talk to you again soon.

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