Customers aren't impressed by the latest new tool. They simply want to know how you can solve their problem.

Many times, customers want to sell lateral lining by advertising and showing that they have the best widget to get the liner in the ground. They figure when people see how neat lateral sewer lining equipment is, they will hire them to install a liner simply because of that — it’s so neat. But when you try selling the product instead of the problem it solves, your sales attempts tend to fall short — and may not succeed at all.

Sell the problem you solve, not the product you are using to solve it.

Whether drain cleaning, plumbing, lining or any other aspect of business or life, this simple approach makes sense. So often we get caught up in selling a process or a brand or our company that we forget our audience doesn’t care about that. People are looking for solutions to problems they have and don’t care that the brand you sell was mentioned in ads on TV, or that your company has been in business for over 20 years, or the method you are using is the latest whiz-bang product on the market. If the product were the selling feature, then a $150,000 excavator is much more impressive than a lateral lining tool and people would jump at the chance to have an excavator in their yard.

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I spent time in Europe developing new technologies to apply to our market. I watched processes being applied that were expensive, using tools that no one had ever heard of. Yet customers didn’t care about any of that. They did care that these methods solved a problem they were having and they were willing to pay a premium price if it meant avoiding tearing off lath and plaster from 100-year-old homes that conventional solutions would’ve required.

Customers also value convenience. Remember years ago when the oil companies marketed their brand of gasoline? You would drive to your particular brand’s station to keep your engine clean with whatever additive they touted. It soon became apparent that other gasolines offered the same benefits as your brand and today the marketing has moved to providing you a convenient location to get gas, not the gas itself. When we pull off the freeway and there are four service stations, we look to the one that offers gas, obviously, but we also start looking at the size of the store and the convenience items they offer as well as food choices. The oil industry learned that if it could solve the problem of finding gasoline and a snack or meal at the same time, it could attract customers.

Most homeowners have busy lives and face many problems. While a backed up drain takes them to the phone to solve an immediate problem, your odds of making them a customer increases if you spend a little time learning about any additional plumbing problems they’ve been having. When you offer a solution to not only fix their backup problem, but also a leading faucet or a toilet that runs water all the time, you will outshine your competition and most likely get the job. They get to cross off two problems with one call. Just like getting gas and a soda at the service station.

Related: Tech Perspective: Seven Powerful Tools for Inspection Perfection

About the Author
John Heisler is the owner of Pipe Lining Supply and Quik-Lining Systems Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the CIPP lining industry and over 40 years in the underground construction industry.

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