Professional Selling in an Unprofessional Market

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2005
Author: Scott O’Neill
Page 70

Professional Selling in an Unprofessional Market

by Scott O’Neill

Thumbing through the new 2005 Yellow Pages book, I noticed some new garage door companies in our area. Some of these companies had come back after having been gone for a year or two, and some have a rather sleazy reputation.

Some of these firms are one-man operations making themselves look like established companies. Others are part of nationally run organizations that have earned a bad reputation through years of abusing customers. Any discerning garage door professional can find such culprits by performing a simple Web search for <“ripoff report” and “garage door”>. But that’s another article.

As a general rule, a garage door sales professional should avoid speaking badly about any competitor. At the same time, our desire to serve our customers with excellence may occasionally compel us to warn them of scam tactics in the area.

However, the point of this article is …How can honest and ethical companies survive and thrive, while not stooping to bad-mouthing these less-than-ethical companies?

Stick to the Basics

When a customer calls, I believe that the garage door professional should stick to his/her most important role – meet the needs of the customer. Find out that customer’s needs by asking questions that help you provide the right door solution.

Even though other companies will market their low prices for products or service, every customer deserves your most diligent efforts to meet their needs. A low price is only one customer need, and it’s a short-sighted one, even if the customer first thinks that’s the only factor.

I recently heard a radio advertisement for a garage door company; the spot talked about only one thing–price. Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from someone who was looking for a garage door. He started the conversation by saying that he wanted “a cheap garage door.” He wanted me to come to his house to measure the opening.

Asking the Right Questions

It was at that moment that I had to make a defining move in proper sales etiquette. Rather than ask him for his address and go measure to sell him that cheap door, I asked him, “Can I just ask you, how long do you intend to own that property?”

He paused, then told me, “About five, maybe ten years.” This opened the door to make sure that this customer’s real needs were met.

Of course, if that customer had told me he was selling the house within a month, I’d likely oblige his request without much further discussion. But even then, I should help him consider a door that looks right for his house and creates the best curb appeal when he goes to sell that house.

But once he mentioned the 5-10-year time span, I suggested some of the benefits of well-built insulated doors. I also encouraged him to see the doors for himself to determine if the cheaper non-insulated door would last to his expectations.

Seeing Is Believing

He then asked why insulation was important at all. I took a few extra minutes to explain the benefits of bonded insulation. That naturally carried the phone call into his desire to visit the showroom.

When he came in that afternoon, he saw the strength differences and variables, and he decided to buy the next level door.

In the end, he bought a door that will serve him well for many years, and I’d earned a new customer and his trust. Best of all, I gained the satisfaction of truthfully being able to market my company with the tag line, “A name you can trust.”


Scott O’Neill has been in the garage door business since 1986 and a sales manager since 1992 at Madden Door, Martinez, Calif.