Marketing is a method by which sales opportunities are created. Marketing can bring you the leads, but if you can’t close ‘em, what’s the point? I interviewed a young man for a marketing job the other day. He contended that his sales experience translated into marketing prowess. Not so fast…
I told him, without attaching superiority to either skill, it was like comparing a tournament fisherman to a commercial fisherman. One is more event focused; the other more process focused; both generate fish, or in this young man’s case, sales.
Almost fresh out of bad analogies (just one left!), my mind ventured to another common misconception.
“Isn’t Good Selling Just Talking?”
Let’s say that one day John rolls out of bed, steps onto his front porch to fetch the paper, and while staring into the clear blue sky thinks to himself “Yep, today’s the day. The weather is perfect and I’ve got some free time – I think I’ll just go fly a plane.”
Something tells me John’s chances of success will be beyond painful. If you agree, why are you shocked when your technicians don’t wake up one morning knowing how to sell?
Selling is a different skill set and it has little in common with natural inclination. Sure, some people are considered naturals, yet “selling” and “talkative” are often ludicrously linked. Good listening is a greater selling premium than verbosity. This is where marketing and selling are alike and different.
The best sales letters or ads are really finely-crafted sales presentations, yet there’s no ability for a marketing piece to “listen” to a prospect’s reactions; no way to “see” them smirk in response to an ad.
Marketing to Sell Better; Sales Training to Market Better
I spent WAY too long interviewing and gleaning all I could from the top HVAC salespeople and trainers in the U. S. For nearly a year, we immersed ourselves in the science of selling in-home contracting, specifically HVAC.
Their skills aren’t natural. They’re trained – and train others – to sense when a buyer is in suspended disbelief (a good state, by the way) or when they’re eager for you to get to the price. They’re trained to recognize when they’ve pushed internal “buy” buttons, and need to bring out the proposal that second. The transition to the proposal should look as natural as breathing. Yet it’s ordered, intentional, and studied.
You can’t get this good by “winging it.” Training is the only way. It helps improve our marketing to homeowners and it’ll help you close more sales, at higher prices.
• Share your summer marketing promotions with the entire staff at a weekly meeting. For June it could be early season replacement lead generation, upselling from your Tune Up promotions (see previous CB articles). July can be your Summer Postcard Retention campaign. Also in July can be the Direct Response replacements in broad media and in Direct Mail. August begins your late season push. Send your “reactivation” letters to unclosed prospects. A simple plan is better than no plan.
• During the meeting, all must know where the ads are running. Make sure to “offer” details and deadlines (if you don’t use deadlines or limits, you’re losing lots of leads). Nothing is worse than a customer service representative (CSR) getting a call from an excited homeowner grasping a hot letter and responding, “I don’t have a clue what you’re referring to.” Buzz kill.
• All techs, salespeople, and CSRs must know your intended upsell for each offer. For example, from a 13-to a 16-SEER, or an IAQ inspection that’s included with any service, or the maintenance agreement package included with an equipment upgrade. The logic is that if they enter the home with no upsell (referenced in the initial marketing piece) then they’ll leave with either a standard sale or no sale. If given an upsell, they get one more level to raise average transaction size.
• Whether these sales close or not, you must follow up. Your CSRs and eager salespeople will follow up with a planned script to make sure needs are met, more information given, and referrals requested. The credibility gained by doing this – sale or no sale – guarantees your differentiation and future calls.
•Extra Sales Bump: The last sales follow-up comes back to marketing. This is where you send what I call the “unclosed prospect letter” to all fitting the description. We’ve offered this to clients for the past few seasons – though you can create your own – and their average sales rate from sending it is 4%. Don’t discount that number. Out of 100 letters mailed, that’s 4 new systems or roughly $20,000 from a $55 marketing cost.
See, it’s an intentional system. Whatever you’re offering this summer, marketing and sales must work like a team. When they’re unified, the effect compounds to maximize leads, closing ratios, transaction sizes, and referral rates.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the result of my year’s “education” with these HVAC sales masters? Part of it was a 16-page report called, “How to Double Your HVAC Sales in 90 Days” which details some masterful tips they shared.
Plus with Contracting Business’ help, I twisted a few arms to put together a package of sales generators to help you this summer. I’ve no room here to detail it all, but here’s the snapshot:
Summer 2008 HVAC sa les pac kage for cb readers
1. A 16 page report, How to Double Your HVAC Sales in 90 Days.
2. How to Hire and Train a Sales SuperStar – Drew Cameron’s report on training people to close more, at higher prices. ($59 value)
3. Sales Training DVD from “Tec Daddy” Charlie Greer - Episode 1 is free (valued at $97) It’s worth it just to be in Charlie’s aura. http://www.hvacprofitboosters.com/DVD/Videos/Episode_01_Broadband_Version.htm
4. Top 3 Sales Closes that Have Generated Over $1,000,000 in HVAC Sales for Me from Jeff Lee. Instant, fast closes virtually anyone can use. ($59 value.)
5. A Free “Double Your HVAC Sales This Summer” Teleseminar held on Tuesday July 1. Full details at www.hudsonink.com
All the gifts above are FREE just for registering for the Teleseminar (Item #5). This is a ONE TIME ONLY event to help you build your sales this summer. Register now at www.hudsonink.com. Follow the instructions. We have only reserved 255 lines and free packages — over 34,000 contractors get this magazine. Register now at www.hudsonink. com.
As you go through this summer, you’ve got some economic jitters to contend with, and those are more easily overcome with planned sales responses. Likewise, your marketing can allay those fears, and as discussed here before, your marketing – not your retreat – will be more important this summer than ever.
Let your sales and marketing combine its muscle to bring you more leads, richer sales, and happier customers. It’d be our pleasure to help
Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors, and author of the recently published Contractor Marketing Secrets. Readers can get a free marketing newsletter by faxing their letterhead with the request to 334/262-1115. Call 800-489-9099 or check out www.hudsonink.com for other free marketing articles and reports.