Persuasion is the key to selling.

This was among the main takeaways during a Jan. 10 seminar at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, where John Palumbo of the Jacksonville, Fla-based Sterling Group laid out seven steps to help builders to close more deals and to maximize their sales.

“I would rather be better at influencing and persuading than negotiating,” said Palumbo. “High producers understand how to use all the persuasion tools.”

He then outlined seven results that drive sales:

  1. Give me what I deserve. “Don’t stop at a customer’s wants and needs. It’s what customers feel what they deserve,” said Palumbo. “When they see something they want, they say to themselves, ‘I deserve it.’ Take a stand for their dream in a powerful way. Don’t just give your support. Explain exactly how you will make it a reality.”
  2. Justify my failures. Get to know your customer and share stories from a personal perspective. “Share compassion for some of their past stories and listen, empathize and validate their experiences,” said Palumbo.
  3. Calm my fears. Customers are often worried they will pay too much or make the wrong decision. They are looking to the builder to guide them, take the initiative and validate them. “That’s why trust becomes so important,” he said. The goal is to remove risk to make closing easy by assuring the customer that “our guarantee speaks for itself,” or “our warranty is top notch.”
  4. Make me a hero. Winning, having the biggest and best is always important to the customer. They seek recognition, prestige and respect, and it’s up to the builder to underscore they are getting the best product for the money.
  5. Reinforce my suspicions. Consumers have strong preconceptions or suspicions. They worry that their house won’t be as nice as the model home or that if the house seems great they wonder, “what’s the catch?” To alleviate these fears and suspicions, Palumbo suggests builders respond by saying, “The homes we deliver are better than our model homes,” or “we put everything we say into writing.” While acting to alleviate customer concerns, convey the attitude that the customer is always right.
  6. Stand with me against my enemy. Listen patiently to the customers and wait for them to discuss their dislikes, such as traffic, sports, politics or taxes. These are simple opportunities to bond with the customers and become their allies – i.e. taxes are too high, look what they’re doing in Washington, I can’t believe our sports team lost …
  7. Help me make sense of change. Make sure the customers understand changes are ahead when they go to close. Get them to say “yes” before they say “we need to go home and sleep on it.” That phrase is the deal killer for salespeople, Palumbo said.

To close more sales, Palumbo says builders and their sales teams need to be results-driven persuaders, which he defines as “one who strives to uncover the true desires of others in order to help them achieve the results they are pursuing.”