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Contracting mindset tips: contractor interviews are sales meetings - you’re a product

Contractors are a human product offering a specific package of skills and experience, designed to be a ‘plug-in-and-play’ solution to a client’s requirements. Therefore, contractors must view their interviews with clients as product sales meetings. During such meetings, contractors must first identify the client’s needs, then ‘pitch’ their own particular ‘features’ and ‘benefits’ that will meet those needs and help them secure a ‘sale’.

Do you get frustrated when salespeople can’t sell?

When you walk into your local electrical superstore looking for your next flatscreen TV, does your salesperson just stand there listening to a stream of your questions, hoping that one of them might hit on something that gives them a chance to explain one of the TV’s unique features?

Or does your salesperson bombard you with facts about the history of flatscreen development, ‘TVs I have known and loved’ and every detailed specification about each TV in the store?

Then, when you have finally decided which TV you want and that you want to buy it from this store right now, wouldn’t you find it strange if the salesperson kept on telling you about other TVs and didn’t ask you right off, “How would you like to pay and when would you like delivery?”

Clients need to be sold to using a professional sales approach

When a client wants to hire a contractor, they have a very specific problem that needs a particular skill or set of skills to solve it. They will have to sit through numerous unfocused interviews with contractors, when what they really want is to receive a purposeful, decisive and reassuring sales pitch from a ‘product’ solutions supplier who demonstrates they can expertly deal with the issue.

Sitting back and offering a client a double-layer chocolate box of skills and experience in the hope they’ll find the flavour they like is a high risk, hit-and-miss strategy. Equally, treating the client to an hour’s interrogation will yield zero results.

And, if you don’t identify exactly what solution your client is seeking from a contractor, then how can you tailor your interview sales pitch to demonstrate that your skills and experience form the ideal solution?

Treat your interview like a professional sales pitch and your expertise like a product

Any contractor can, and should, invest in learning professional sales skills, so that they are able to offer themselves as the very best ‘product’ without their clients even knowing they are being sold to. Selling is a process: you ask questions, define the client’s needs, explain your features and benefits to the client and then, very importantly, actually ask for their business.

There is nothing underhand about sales, because there is a major difference between a salesperson and a ‘con artist’. A con artist will try and cheat the customer. A professional sales person will use their skill to establish the client’s requirements and match a product or service to their needs, before asking for a sale to close the deal.

Use the interview like a sales pitch, don’t forget to identify the benefits your skills will bring to the client and identify client reservations now, so you can deal with them – client concerns may be groundless. Then you must ask for the business.

Contractor mindset tip:

Use your interview as an opportunity to uncover your client’s needs and then pitch your skills as the perfect ‘product’ solution.

Published: 12 October 2010

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