Plumber's lessons on deepening sale


A plumber at work. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

Let us take a break from matters disease and talk about my plumber. The man is living testimony of how professionals and technical staff can deepen a sale.

Sellers initiate the sale’s relationship; technical staff deepen it. When the seller convinces the project owner to install his solar panels estate-wide, he has initiated the sale. When the technical staff (electricians, for instance) start the installation (usually with the client overseeing it), they are delivering the heaven that the seller promised.

The installation will not be as tension filled as the sale was. Trust has already been established; the seller and buyer are in harmony. They will also interact more intimately and for longer.

Simply by observation, and while, say, panelling, the electricians are likely to see other opportunities where their products can be used. For instance, “The way the wiring has been done, is likely to create an unhealthy load when Phase Two starts. Is it OK if we sent you a solution to this for your consideration?”

Equally, professionals like auditors while going through a client’s books of accounts can see an opportunity to inform them of services they can offer that can alleviate “this recurring cash flow problem.” No pressure, no “sales pitch”, no convincing, just pointing out a problem and offering a solution for the client’s consideration. Like my plumber.

It started off with a simple job four years ago to unblock the drainage at the laundry area. He looked at, fiddled briefly with it, and then informed me that it wasn’t the inlet that was problem, it was the outlet.

“Njoo nikuonyeshe,” he said in Kiswahili. (Let me show you.) He proceeded to remove the cover of the outlet and lo and behold, dirty water and sediments had collected there making a cosy home for cockroaches. And the muck had nothing to do with the laundry but everything to do with the kitchen outlet where the two met.

He cleared the sludge and voila! problem solved. The water drained smoothly from both kitchen and laundry. Trust was established. He pointed out that the laundry inlet had a problem as the trap was broken and I would have to keep clearing the water manually. I knew, but had just dragged my feet about this. He told me what needed to be replaced, how long it would take, the cost and the magic words,”Ukiwa tayari uniambie.” (Let me know when you are ready).

I became ready this year (likely because of wife pressure) and he made another sale when he did the job. Before then, from observation and using that simple formula (problem, solution, cost, ready-when-you-are) he has repaired a perennial airlock, leaking kitchen sink, broken hanger, among others. And to keep the potential sale alive, while plastering white cement or tightening a screw he casually asks, “Ulisemaje ile airlock (sink, hanger)?” (What do you advise about the sink?)

Does he make sales? Yes. Is he a “seller”? No.