Salespeople in the commercial HVAC industry serve a compound function: they must articulate complex technological information, yet fuse this with a knack for sales-oriented interpersonal skills. Many consider this discipline to require finesse and aptitude; but more importantly, this requires strategy.
Commercial HVAC manufacturers strive to employ only the highest caliber, most knowledgeable sales teams to represent their products. In my experience, these industry leaders often become the most sought-after salespeople in our business. They vary from person to person—male, female, experienced or fresh-faced—but they typically have one thing in common. They know how to sell more than just the product. They know how to sell themselves.
Over the past 14 years, I’ve found the driving force behind successfully selling a complex product is accurately understanding and conveying everything it offers. This includes both the physical product and the seller- and manufacturer-provided services — the principles of an all-inclusive offering. — Mike Walker
Over the past 14 years, I’ve found the driving force behind successfully selling a complex product is accurately understanding and conveying everything it offers. This includes both the physical product and the seller and manufacturer provided services—the principles of an all-inclusive offering.
The physical product is often the easy part to understand and discuss for members of my sales team. Customers can make a decision about whether the price point or application fits their needs from the beginning. But I always challenge the team to dig deeper. The seller-provided services, backed by a manufacturer’s promise, are the true value of an HVAC product. While these are often more difficult to articulate, they are essential to cultivating a lasting customer relationship.
According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, people gather information to inform their purchase decisions from mixed sources. They will use a company website, face-to-face conversations, peer recommendations and outside references to validate a decision. Therefore, the explanation of the all-inclusive offering becomes that much more important. Customers are looking everywhere to understand the overall value of the product and need you to convince them they are making the best decision.
I know many salespeople who have struggled initially to quantify the value of their services. Those who learn this skill and develop it into a habit, stand apart from the individuals on my team that simply sell based on product and price.
The ultimate goal is to cultivate customer relationships and develop them into long-term partnerships.
If you understand why the product you are selling outperforms the competition, then you may think it is easy to sell. But the ultimate goal is to cultivate customer relationships and develop them into long-term partnerships. To do that, you cannot just sell the product; you must sell yourself and your manufacturer as industry allies for the life of a product.
At Lennox, we support the all-inclusive sale by investing considerable time and effort to ensure our sales teams have an in-depth technical understanding of new products. To help the team successfully reach annual goals, Lennox employees regularly partake in company-provided training and continuing education. We want them to provide insight and advise clients from a knowledgeable standpoint. This makes each salesperson an asset to our customers, as well as to the performance of the company.
To complement extensive education and training, the manufacturer also provides dedicated hotlines company-wide for a variety of departments or services. The goal is to afford customers a variety of options for sales and service support, depending on their need and urgency. These salespeople are trained on the details of onsite tools, emergency replacement offerings, and on-call service we provide. Thus, our products and service offerings become more valuable than the price point on paper and help seal the deal.
In short: you add value to your product, your product does not add value to you. It is the duty of the manufacturer to equip sales teams with the best tools and technology in the market. However, it is the salesperson’s responsibility to explain that the customer is receiving more value, more efficiency, and is backed by unparalleled service and reliability. Those unique individuals who can do this consistently may quickly be identified as the upper echelon of this career.
Remember, according to recent reports, the HVAC industry is projected to grow steadily over the next decade. Soon we may see an influx of candidates vying for these enviable sales positions in the workforce. My suggestion to you is to do all you can to become the best, and secure your place in one of these top-ranked industries.
Mike Walker is vice president of sales for Lennox International.