Contractingbusiness 1689 Greer

Tec Daddy: I'm a Salesperson, Not a Technician!

Dec. 1, 2008
I received an email from a replacement salesperson with a few questions regarding equipment I’d recommend for testing air distribution systems. Then suddenly he emailed me the single statement, “I am a salesperson, not a technician!”

I received an email from a replacement salesperson with a few questions regarding equipment I’d recommend for testing air distribution systems. Then suddenly he emailed me the single statement, “I am a salesperson, not a technician!”

That sent me on a rant.

Is Technical Expertise Needed?
Your job is to uncover customer needs, then offer solutions. How are you going to uncover those needs if you don’t know what they are or how to find them?

In order to make a sale, you must first establish the need. You establish the need for $10,000 in replacement equipment and $5,000 worth of duct renovations and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), by testing the system and proving the need with your testing equipment.

Most of the people I’ve asked say that service technicians have more credibility than salespeople. When you pull out tools, or diagnostic equipment, you immediately convert from salesman to service technician in the customer’s eyes.

I started in this industry on a Monday, as a residential replacement salesman, with no previous HVAC experience. By Thursday morning that same week I ran my first solo lead and closed it. A lot of technical expertise is not required to make a living in HVAC sales. I’m certain that, had I not taken an active interest in this field and didn’t increase my technical knowledge, I could still be working as an HVAC salesman and making a comfortable living.

Supposedly, good salesmanship will overcome any and all deficiencies and inadequacies in product or technical knowledge. Not true. You’re selling a technical product. Making the right recommendations requires special equipment and training.

My first boss in the business was adamantly opposed to salespeople being exposed to anything of a technical nature. His contention was that it would cause us to speak too technically and blow sales. He didn’t even want us to know model numbers, much less what a contactor or capacitor was. This put me in an awkward position when I’d run a lead with a prospect who was more familiar with our jargon than I was.

Apparently, he disagreed with the age-old adage, “Know your product.”

I had to get my education on my own and in secret. Within a short period of time, I began to see an increase in my closing ratio and average sale. The more I knew about what I was selling, the easier it was to sell. I was making more money with less effort and I felt more confident.

Too Much Trouble
If you choose something in which you are interested in as your profession, educating yourself about it is not “work,” or “effort,” because you enjoy learning about it. Choose something which you enjoy, and you’ll live a happier life.

It takes more effort to guess on every call than it does to learn how to do the job right.

With the professional training available, an education on air distribution is quick, easy, and interesting.

The “Right” Thing to Do
Most problems with HVAC equipment can be traced back to a lack of maintenance and air distribution issues.

Your customers are paying for air distribution problems whether they fix them or not. The majority of air distribution systems are improperly installed and designed in the first place. By the time replacement equipment is required, the ductwork is filled with unhealthy contaminants and is leaking. We’ve had enough experience with variable speed blowers to abandon the belief that variable speed will resolve a multitude of small duct problems. Variable speed blowers (and all new systems) absolutely require a properly designed air distribution system.

How would you like it if you weren’t in the HVAC business and you put all your faith into a contractor to install the proper system for you, and later learned that it failed to deliver the comfort you desired? It broke down unnecessarily and prematurely, and caused you to overpay on your utilities because of inadequacies in the duct system.

It would be bad enough if the salesperson’s ignorance on the topic was the only reason you weren’t told about it and given the option of fixing it. You’d really get mad if you knew that the salesperson turned a blind eye to obvious problems and didn’t call them to your attention because he was certain you wouldn’t be willing to spend money to fix them and/or he didn’t want to be seen as a salesman.

Will They Buy It?
I’m trained on the blower door, and I’ve never taken my blower door in on a call and not made a sale.

As an HVAC replacement sales professional, your responsibility begins and ends with making a list of everything that needs to be done to bring the system up to a certain standard. Put everything that should be done on that list, whether or not the prospect seems interested, and whether or not it seems like they’ve got the money or the credit rating to get it all done.

Present your recommendations with no personal emotional attachment, fear, self-consciousness or apology, and let your prospect make the decision of how far to go with it. Don’t ever decide for your prospects whether or not they’re going to buy.

Don’t let the fears of the economy cause you to lower your standards, either. The fact that money is tight may be exactly why your prospects decide that the cheapest way to go is to get it done right.

Say you’re a professional salesman who’s pretty good at salesmanship. You run a call and do your usual thing to the best of your ability. They don’t buy yet because they’re getting bids.

The next guy in is exactly equal to you in salesmanship. He’s conversant in the differences in all the makes and models, the terminology techs use on their service invoices, airflow distribution, and IAQ. He’s got the testing equipment and the expertise, and he’s the only HVAC salesman they’ve met who’s diagnosed their long-term comfort and service problems and explained to them how to avoid them in the future. His quote is higher, but they can only get those solutions from him.

Would you say he’s got one up on you? Well, that’s just one call. One problem -- he’s in your market area, so it’s not just the one call, is it? It’s happening again and again. He’s sure glad he’s the one who, in addition to studying salesmanship, decided to learn what he’s doing. It’s made his job a lot easier.

How would you like to be that guy? The choice is yours.

Charlie Greer is the HVAC Consultant of the Year and the creator of “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD” and “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD.” For a free catalog call 800/963-HVAC (4822) or go to . Email Charlie at [email protected]

Learn More
To learn more about diagnostic equipment and training for salespeople check out:
National Comfort Institute, 800/633-7058
The Comfort Institute, 360/671-7773 www