“Heart String”: You’re not selling automation – Part 1 of 2

By: Chad Koebcke

I always find it interesting when an integrator is struggling with a client that tells them about some product they want used in the design of their home automation solutions. I can’t help but wonder how clients get to a point where they honestly feel like they know more than the experts they hired. Is it because they owned a previous system and liked a certain product? Is it because their friend just got a new system and keeps bragging (or in some cases complaining) about a specific feature? This phenomenon leads me to ask some deeper questions:

  1. Who is supposed to educate the consumer about different product lines?
  2. Who is supposed make sure the client knows how to choose the best firm for their automation needs?
  3. And finally, who is supposed to know their current and potential clients the best?

The answer? You.

Let’s look at prospective clients. It is your job to convince a prospective client that you have the best products, the best team, and above all else, understand their needs. If you do this well, the client will never be confused with the options they have to choose from or outside opinions on those options; and better yet, you will become their trusted advisor – for life.

This blog is part of a two-part series. First, I will tell you my secret to closing big jobs, and second, I will share with you how Pulse Group has come up with a system to help make that process even easier for you.

I have over 20 years in sales, and the success of each opportunity I landed has had one factor in common – my ability to find what makes people tick, or what I now call: The Heart String Principle. The Heart String Principle was born out of understanding and tapping into my own personal desire to be sold, as well as from some added inspiration from “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” (which I will discuss later). The Heart String Principle can be defined as linking a product or service to a consumer based on an emotional connection.

Although it can be leveraged in any industry, the Heart String Principle is particularly important in Home automation. In a world where money is usually an issue, as in our industry, it is important to remember if your phone rang, it is very likely the prospective client on the other end has the money to invest. When I make a sizeable purchase, or even a small purchase, I am obsessed with being sold on my decision. I want to know that I am buying a great product from a team of people who genuinely care about the integrity of their company as much as they do me. A company that has a process for their “sales experience” is a company that will be left behind by the competition every time.

Finding the “Heart String” is easier than you think, but keep in mind that it takes practice, and it never hurts to have killer products. This leads me to my own personal inspiration which, if you have ever found yourself talking with me in a passionate moment about sales, you most definitely have heard me give the Extreme Makeover Home Edition “Ty Room” analogy. Ty Pennington, the show’s host, focuses each episode around a “special” room that gets the most the air time and also kept a secret. While the entire house is built with ease (like the many times before the contractor has built a house), the Ty Room is completely custom to the family for whom the house is being built. For one family, the Ty Room could be a study area that feels like you’re entering the New York Public Library. For another family, it could be a grandiose home theater. How does Ty know what to build in the house? He asks.

Questions are key to finding a prospective client’s heart string. Remember, automation is custom and with that, each system has a personality – the personality of the homeowner, otherwise known as your future client. Finding the heart string allows you to be the one expert interested in integrating life into a system. Below are questions you can keep in mind when you are talking to your next prospective client:

  1. What do you use the most in your home?
  2. What areas of the home get used the most by each resident?
  3. What does your family like to do together?
  4. What is your favorite thing about your home?
  5. What has been the hardest part about this home to design?
  6. Where do you see yourself spending most of your time?
  7. What are some questions you and your team can come up with to find your client’s heart string?

You might be wondering how to tell when you’ve found the heart string, and you’ll know because you will transform from just another “sales rep” to a “partner”. If you’re someone who needs to know what the process looks like, here is an example. A customer is passionate about entertaining their friends in large outdoor settings. You see they have put extra attention on an elaborate landscape design. After some questions and intimate discussions, you realize you can go the extra mile to design and more important present superior landscape audio and automation solutions.

Remember, it’s not realistic to do this with every aspect of your design, so pick one or two and make them count. The rest of your design should be identical to the previous homes you’ve finished, which are tried and true from your past experiences. Having that rhythm allows you to make more profit since you have less testing, less learning, and predictable labor cost. Getting the basic 90% of your design mastered up-front, allows you to make some real profit on your efforts.

In conclusion, I challenge you to identify the “Ty Room” and roll up your sleeves with your new customer to breathe some life into their system.