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Managing HVAC Sales Calls During COVID-19

June 29, 2020
Salespeople are having trouble gaining access to homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Charlie Greer offers suggestions on how to complete a sale during this time.

A lot of salespeople are telling me they're having trouble gaining access to the inside of homes due to paranoia about COVID-19. Another thing that's changed is that they don't get to sit with customers and talk about their system any more, and that a lot of people don't even want them to enter their home. Another issue is that everyone wears surgical masks, and that cuts down on their ability to connect on a personal level. A lot of salespeople are feeling reduced to just emailing quotes.

The confirming phone call:
Always call about ten minutes prior to your estimated time of arrival to let them know you're on the way.

When making the confirming phone call, talk about their feelings on the contagiousness of COVID-19. Ask, "What are your feelings on the COVID-19?" You will run into people who think it's all a hoax and aren't interested in masks, gloves, or hand sanitizers.

When making the confirming phone call, talk about their feelings on the contagiousness of COVID-19.
Ask them, "Would you like me to wear a mask and gloves?" They may not. 

If they ask you your feelings on the contagiousness of COVID-19, as long as it's a true statement, you can tell them, I've been going into homes since this all began. I figure I've been in over 100 homes (use an accurate number), and I haven't caught anything yet. Neither has my family."

When you're not allowed inside:
Your first sale will be to sell them on letting you inside. If they don't want to allow you indoors at first, but then they do, you'll probably close them, because it means you've gained their trust and they feel comfortable around you. But don't force the issue. Initially, you've got the go with the flow.

Carry 3-4 folding lawn chairs in your vehicle. If you've got the space for it, a small folding table may come in handy, even if it's just a TV tray. 

Carry 3-4 folding lawn chairs in your vehicle. If you've got the space for it, a small folding table may come in handy, even if it's just a TV tray. If they insist on confining the conversation to the outdoors, you can at least sit down with them and be in a more relaxed setting than standing.

If you keep your distance, a lot of people will agree to both of you removing your masks, and they may even suggest it, because not too many people actually enjoy wearing the masks.

There are salespeople who think you have to be physically close to a customer to close them. Don't put yourself in that frame of mind. I've closed people who were standing in the next room with their body sideways to me.

You might find that, after sitting outside with them for 10 minutes or so, that they'll feel comfortable enough around you to let you inside.

There are salespeople who think you have to be physically close to a customer to close them. Don't put yourself in that frame of mind. I've closed people who were standing in the next room with their body sideways to me.

Once you're inside:
I personally head immediately to the thermostat after the initial introduction and turn the fan to the "on" position. I then guide us to the kitchen table and go over my initial questions, such as:

  • How long they've live there and are there any scheduled plans to sell the home or make a room addition in the very near future
  • What rooms are the most difficult to heat or cool
  • Does anyone in the home suffer from allergies, chronic sinus trouble, or does their skin dry out in the winter when the forced air heat is running
  • Do they consider their utility bills high, and are they interested in knowing approximately what they are currently spending and how they could lower their heating and cooling costs
  • Why they are considering a new home comfort system and what improvements they'd like to see with their new one. 

The Room-by-Room Inspection:
A pattern I noticed was that if I got into every room in the house, I closed them. If, for any reason, I couldn't, I found it difficult, if not impossible, to close them, so it's important to me that I get into every room in the house. Furthermore, it's thorough and professional to at least get a feel for the airflow in each room prior to making any recommendations. 

By the time you finish with the initial questionnaire, you and the prospect should be fairly comfortable with each other, so get permission to do a room-by-room inspection by saying, " Let's lay out our time together. First, I'll check the airflow in all your rooms, then I'll look at your equipment.  I'll also draw a little picture of your home. Then, with your permission, I'll sit right here at this table for about fifteen minutes or so, consolidate this information, and come up with a list of recommendations and options for you. This entire process will take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. You're not going anywhere in the next hour or so, are you?"

The first supply vent you'll check will be in the room you're in, which is usually the kitchen. Put your hand up to it and say, "I'll just put my scientific measuring instrument up here…" and get a feel for the airflow.  If there has been no complaint about temperature variance in the kitchen and the airflow seems adequate, you can add, "Seems all right to me." If not, just mutter, "Hmmmm."

The kitchen usually has no doors separating it from the rest of the house, but pause by the doorway anyway, and ask, "Is it okay if I go in here and check your airflow?" 

It's very important that you not make a big deal of checking all the airflow in the rooms or stand there seeking permission as if you expect them to object. Take a lesson from your dentist. You go in there with a toothache, hoping for an $80 filling. Once they check the one tooth, what do they do? They start checking every tooth in your mouth, without asking permission or anything. If you're very matter of fact about things, they'll usually follow your lead.

Closing:
I'm still recommending you make my Paper Towel Close technique your first closing attempt.

You really need to make every effort to close them before they've got any kind of a formal quote. Once they've got your formal written quote, it's pretty much time for you to leave, and it's really hard to close them if they throw up any kind of a stall or objection.

Don't just volunteer to email them a quote. Emailing a quote is your last resort.  If you even bring up the possibility of emailing a quote, they'll take that option. 

I gave this advice via a video training session to a young man, who is new to business and was having trouble closing, and he immediately ran two calls, followed my suggestions to the letter, and closed both of them for a total of $22,000. 

Charlie Greer was voted "Favorite Industry Sales Trainer," has been voted the "HVAC Consultant of the Year" twice, and is a member of the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame. Charlie can do video sales training with your HVAC residential replacement salespeople over the internet. For more information , visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your feedback on this column or your questions to [email protected].