Survey says: Just one word can increase your sales.

I recently attended the semi-annual meeting of a new residential contractors' association, called Airtime 500. The group was formed a little over a year ago by two well-known industry veterans, John Young and Jim Abrams. They're the ones who formed - and recently sold to Lennox International Corp. - the contracting consolidator known as Service Experts.

John Young goes back to the old franchise Service America, started by Ron Smith from the Fort Meyers, Fla., contracting firm Modern Air Conditioning. He was a key player in that group's initial success because he's a marketing and sales genius who has taken the results of university studies on sales methods and put them into practice in the HVACR industry. With all of the above in mind, you can see why I was really interested in attending his sales forum last January in San Antonio.

Young's eight-hour discourse focused on every detail of one university's study on sales, and covered each of the hot buttons that lead to a successful sales closure. I wish I could remember it all, but that's beyond my rather limited aging memory. However, I do remember, and was really impressed by, his discussion of the power of the simple word because.

It's really nothing that you can say you've never heard before, it's just a further refinement of the "features and benefits" concept. As we all know, customers don't buy features, they buy because of the benefits those features bring them. In other words, they don't buy because a condensing unit has a dual-capacity compressor, they buy because the dual-capacity compressor saves on the cost of energy, and because it provides a more comfortable environment.

So there it is, the word because. And what a powerful effect it has on potential buyers. The study Young quoted showed the almost irrational effect the word because had on people in field tests. There was the result of a test that was repeated hundreds of times over, of someone trying to break into a line. If the person tried to do it without a reason, they were rebuffed most of the time. However, if the person breaking into the line simply used the word because in a sentence, such as, "I have to because I'm in a hurry," most of the time they were allowed in with no further complaint. Because I'm in a hurry? Duh, give me a break.

So what's the point? That if you can give any reason - no matter how lame - using the word because, you automatically have a much greater chance of success. And this especially applies to sales. In the case of trying to close a sale, we must recognize that most customers who allow us to get to the point of closure are in reality looking for a justification to buy. The word because gives them that justification, just as it gives a reason to let you break into a line. Of course, as Young points out, there are many other things you can say which can lead customers away from closing a sale after you give them a justification.

Now, I hate the thought of using a word just to break into a line. That's dishonest. But using a word to help close a sale by giving potential customers a justification for doing what they're already in a mind to do? That's different.

So what does all this have to do with the HVACR supply-house business? Whether you're selling your products to contractors or selling the idea of buying from your company, don't forget the power of the word because. It should be a powerful tool used by your salespeople when making calls, in your dealer meetings and on your printed advertising (business cards, calendars, fliers, catalogs, Web pages, signs, etc.). If you can give your customers a reason why, and impress them enough with the because, they will not only buy from you, but they will pass along this because to their customers, making both of you more successful.

Why should they buy from you? Because... Why should they buy your line of condensing units? Because... Because of what? Give them a real benefit, then make sure they remember it. "Because you can trust us to always make sure you're not improperly billed." "Because we'll always have what you want in stock." "Because our price will always be fair." "Because we're your business partner and we trust you." "Because you're our friend." Some strong reasons, brought to you by the power of because. Use it wisely.