Modern Selling: How to Sell to DIY Guys

Feb. 13, 2018
3 ways to deal with those pesky customers who think they can do it better than a pro

I have a friend who likes to do everything himself – partly because he is cheap, but mostly because he is proud of his skills. He is a true Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guy.

A couple of years ago, he designed the logo for his wife’s company. Although they saved some money, the logo looked like it was designed by a DIY guy – not a professional. As usual, he was proud of his work and kept saying: “I need to get into marketing.” His pride damaged his vision, as he saw his deficient work as excellent.

My friend is like most people that take on a job themselves instead of hiring a professional. They are proud and truly believe their work is as good as or better than a trained specialist’s work.

When trying to sell to this type of personality within a business-to-business setting, I have found three best practices that will increase your probability of keeping the business.

1. Navigate and build multiple relationships throughout your accounts. Today, an organization’s security system impacts multiple departments; therefore, owning the most reliable system and providing ongoing maintenance is critical to the entire business – including facilities, human resources, I.T., finance, executive management, and of course, security. If something goes wrong, many people beyond security are affected.

One of the most effective ways to overcome the DIY guy is to have relationships throughout the organization. When one of your contacts goes rogue and wants to do it themselves, you will be able to utilize your other relationships to counter their approach. Even if they cannot stop the attempt before it happens, they will be able to hold the do-it-yourselfer accountable for their potentially lackluster job. You, on the other hand, cannot do that. You can’t point out their mistakes, which brings us to the nbext piece of advice…

2. Never challenge a DIY guy. Many salespeople will say things like “you get what you pay for” or “our technicians are well-trained professionals.” When making these statements, you are actually building the appetite of the DIY guy.

Instead of challenging the DIY guy, support him with authority. Use a statement like this: “Some projects can be handled by sharp teams like yours; however, some have hidden challenges that create nightmares for the most capable teams. Walk me through the job, and I will give you my input. If we can help, I’ll let you know; if it is something you should do on your own, I’ll let you know also.”

This will not work every time, but often they will welcome your input. After understanding the complexity, they will (hopefully) realize that they should leave the job to the professionals; however, it is important they reach this conclusion on their own. Again, if you challenge them, they will be more driven than ever to prove you wrong.

3. As a last resort, let them do it – and let them feel some pain. If there is nothing you can do to save the work, then wish them luck, and let them do it. At the appropriate time, check in about the job (read best practice #2 again before doing so).

Continue to check in every couple of months. Once they run into a problem that arises because of their shabby work, let them feel a little pain. Do not just roll over and give them a ton of service for free, hoping to win back their business – charge them your regular T&M prices. If you don’t, you will be teaching them to continue this pattern. If they don’t feel some pain, they will not return to you.

A final comment: make sure you’re delivering services that are needed by your customers. It is possible that the DIY guy is right – maybe they can do the job just as well as your company can do it. If you are continuing to lose business to the do-it-yourselfer, then you probably need to move up the food chain of accounts, change your messaging, and identify more complex problems to solve.

If your services are beyond the ability of most DIY guys, or not worth their time, then try the three best practices above, and watch this threat begin to dissolve.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit