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Would You Just Listen?

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I became a home owner last year, which has so far been simultaneously horrible and awesome. I’ve loved being able to paint my walls; I’ve hated dealing with my HOA (and I’m on the HOA board!). I’ve met some really great neighbors…and some really crappy ones.

And I enjoy being able to repair things myself without getting a landlord’s approval — except when it means hiring a handyman. Handymen are expensive, they show up in “time windows” that span eras, and sometimes, worst of all, they don’t even solve your problem. That’s what happened to me last week.

I have a leaky window that no amount of caulk has been able to fix. After hours of Googling the issue, it looked like I’d just have to replace it.

I lined up appointments to get bids, and when a handyman from a big fix-it company down the street stopped by one evening to give me an estimate, I explained what I wanted. My budget wasn’t huge, I said, so I was just looking for a basic replacement, nothing fancy, maybe a step up from my current grade if I could afford it. Mostly, I just needed a window that didn’t leak.

It didn’t matter though. I could have told him anything — recounted the entire plot of an episode of “Mad Men,” read him my favorite brownie recipe, sang the “Macarena” song (using the words I know and the ones I make up) — because he didn’t hear a word I said.  

Instead, he proceeded to tell me about a great custom window he likes to use and all its attributes — energy efficiency, quadruple lifetime warranty, custom fit, blah, blah, blah. After a while, it was my turn to stop listening because it was clear this wasn’t the product I wanted.

I stopped him after a little bit and told him that didn’t sound like it was in my budget right now. Was there something cheaper in his 5-inch-thick binder of options? He stared at me for a second and then told me more about the custom window. I wondered if miming or semaphore would be a more effective method of communicating with this guy.

When we arrived at estimate time, to my non-surprise, his quote was more than double what I’d budgeted for the project. Looks like someone missed Sales 101, I thought — right before I showed him the door.

So here’s my frustrated plea: don’t be this guy. Yes, you’re the expert. Yes, the customer will need your guidance when it comes to product selection. And yes, many times the ideal product will be more expensive than they’d planned.

But none of that means you have the right to ignore your client’s wants, needs and budget. Maybe you’d rather they select, say, perm over term, but if term is all they can afford, shouldn’t you sell it to them? Because if you don’t, chances are, they’ll walk away without either. And maybe they’ll buy coverage from another agent. Or maybe they just won’t buy it at all.   

Maybe that’s basic, obvious advice, but my repair guy obviously didn’t get the memo. Have you?

For more from Corey Dahl, see:

Freebies: Are You Doing It Wrong?

The Power of Peer Pressure

Facebook’s a Fad? As If


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