“Nothing happens ‘till somebody sells something.” That’s a common phrase that rings through sheet metal shops across the country, but in recent years our industry has learned that sales don’t happen until we have “taught the customer something.”
Over the past 20 years, sales have taken a turn for the better. The role of our customers in the sales process has changed significantly. Before, we sold them the equipment: today they decide how they would like us to improve their system.
The primary change is that instead of just saying yes or no, they now make an informed decision based on their understanding. To fail to understand this makes selling a game of chance where you may or may not get lucky by playing the numbers.
A new breed of HVAC salespeople have added system performance testing to their sales process. Here’s what some of these successful salespeople say their customers want to know before they purchase a replacement comfort system.
1. They need to know you’re the best contractor to buy from. This sounds a little self-serving, but if they don’t buy from us, what’s the point of making a sales call?
2. That your company knows how to diagnose and solve their comfort problems. They gain great confidence in you and your company when they see you test and diagnose their systems. By the time you’re done, they know more about their systems than your competitors do.
3. A system is much more than just the equipment. Good customer education during the sales process teaches them the names and functions of all the components of the system and how they affect system performance.
4. There is much more to efficiency than the efficiency of the equipment. Remember, equipment efficiency is most contractor’s primary weapon. Teach that the duct system, as well as the equipment has control over efficiency and render your competitors defenseless as they sing the praises of high efficiency equipment only.
5. Each system is custom made, custom built, and custom installed. When you help customers understand this idea, they cease to be a low price box shopper and dig deeper to participate in the grander decision of comfort and system performance. If you’re really good, you’ll teach them enough so they can offer input into your system design.
6. The basic facts about you and your company. Years ago, we spent most of the time talking about the manufacture and the equipment. These days, great salespeople briefly provide basic information about our company in as little time as 5 minutes. Some may not even mention the equipment manufacturer in their sales presentation because they sell systems rather that equipment alone. Consumers learn who we are and what we will do for them from our diagnostic testing and the principles we teach them as we test and diagnose their system.
7. They need to know enough to make the decision for themselves. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when they ask you to take their project before you attempt to “close the sale.” This is performance based selling at its best.
You might want to examine your sales approach and check your sales process against this list of consumer wants.
Changing habits is really tough for all of us, but improving the way we offer our services is essential for our future success. Try changing your role from a salesperson to a teacher on your next sales call. Then enjoy a substantial increase in your closing rates, a higher per sales dollar volume, and the increase in income you will be receiving.
Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute a training company with technical and business level membership organizations. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician interested in learning more about using performance testing in your sales process, contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles and downloads.