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Finding the Right HVAC Sales Pro

June 27, 2023
It's primarily a process of putting forth presentational challenges to the applicant. The job interview is the applicant's first proving ground, and certain qualities are to be expected.

Have you lost sales that you should have gotten, simply to the lack of time to do the proper follow‑up? Then why not hire a full‑time sales professional who is dedicated exclusively to bringing high dollar, high profit sales into your company?

If you've got at least six service technicians working full-time on residential service, two installation crews, and 1,000
residential service agreements, your company can support a full-time residential replacement salesperson.

Your odds of finding and hiring someone who is already selling $1,000,000+ per year in residential replacements are slim. That limits your choices to people who already know HVAC but don't know sales, or someone who already knows in‑home sales, but doesn't know HVAC. Which are you more qualified to teach, sales or HVAC? If you're like most people, you answered “HVAC.”

Here is a way to find someone who knows enough about sales that you only have to teach the basics of HVAC. Have these support materials ready to use during the interview:

Sample service agreements
Service agreement customer list
Product brochures
Training materials and outline of training program
Sales log
Proposals from recently sold jobs
Commission breakdowns from those jobs
Lead log
Advertising samples
Online subscription to Preston's Guide."

Run a newspaper classified ad in this precise format:

 OUTSIDE SALES

Company provided leads

90% of our prospects buy!

100% financing

100% customer guarantee

$200 average commission

Training provided

No industry experience required, but in‑home residential sales experience a must! 

For details over the phone, call (your name) , at:

Your company name Your company phone Your company address

Note the following clarifications on the ad copy:

  • “90% of our prospects buy”  means that 90% of the people we provide estimates to make a decision to purchase that season—not necessarily from us, though. This is a significant benefit the job of residential replacement salesperson has over many other sales jobs in other industries. Where most salespeople are in the unenviable position of trying to “create a need and an interest” for a product the customer will get along just fine without, everyone needs our product and few people are “just looking!”
  • "100% financing”  means that the product can be financed with no down payment—not that there are no “credit rejects.”“$200 average commission”  is used here as an example.  Even if you don't currently have commissioned salespeople, determine what the average commission would have been on all your residential replacement jobs sold over the last 30‑90 days and use that figure. Tell your receptionist you are running an ad for sales people and how you would like the calls taken. Screen applicants over the phone. 

    Minimum requirements for an in‑person interview are:

    • Direct sales background, preferably in‑home, on straight commission, selling a high‑ticket item involving financing and prospecting.
    • Has won sales awards
    • Good telephone personality
    • Assertiveness—Should gently push for an in‑person interview.

    Applicants with HVAC experience must be at least twice as impressive as those without. Keep your side of the conversation brief.  Let the applicants talk all they want.  At this time, your purpose is to gain  information, not give  information  If they ask, which they should, tell them your company's history.

    Don't give them directions on how to find your shop. Residential salespeople need to figure things out for themselves

    Don't give them directions on how to find your shop. Residential salespeople need to figure things out for themselves and to read a map Don't go into much more detail about the job than what appears in the ad, especially when it comes down to money.  Not to withhold information.  Salespeople need to be willing to go out make a presentation without pre‑judging an appointment's financial potential. Be yourself, be friendly, but don't appear too anxious or impressed.

    Have job applicants fill out a job application, even when they have a resumé.

    .  Review the application before meeting the applicant.  Look for:

    • A timely arrival.  What can you expect from applicants who arrive even one minute late for a job interview?  Shouldn't they be early?
    • Attractive handwriting.  My unscientific study has shown a direct correlation between really ugly handwriting and sales.  I think it's because, once the sales person leaves the home, the only thing the customer has is a handwritten proposal, and if it's unattractive. Everything presented to the customer must be pleasing to the eye
    • Completely filled‑out application. Shouldn't prospective employees be demonstrating their cooperativeness right now?  What kind of response can you expect from someone who wrote “see resume”  in the “job history” section of an application, when that person, now an employee,  is asked to begin doing a new paperwork procedure that person feels is redundant?

When you meet the applicant, be aware of your first impression. Note their attire and cleanliness. Watch for good eye contact. Are they prepared with note paper, and pen? Do they have an air of professionalism? 

Attempt to conduct a role play exercise, in which they demonstrate one or more of their best closing techniques.

Attempt to conduct a role play exercise, in which they demonstrate one or more of their best closing techniques.

Do they have a high closing ratio at their current job?

Ideally, the candidate with ask about your payment/commission structure. Give them a "homework" assignment, in which they draw a diagram of their own home, drawn to scale, with equipment model and serial numbers from the applicant's home. 

Take note of any mistakes, uncooperativeness or annoying mannerisms. They will be there from now on. This is your one chance in life to be completely judgmental. This is the best you will ever see them. 

Check their references. Did they send a "thank you" letter or make a follow-up phone call? 

Check their references. Did they send a "thank you" letter or make a follow-up phone call? 

At the second interview, ask the applicant their feelings about the job. Tell them your concerns, check their homework, and then, check their mechanical aptitude by having them remove some equipment panels and change a filter. 

Don't hire anyone who: you don't like; is "weird;" is a "typical salesman;" you feel intimidated by; you won't feel proud to introduce to your service technicians.

Your goal is to hire someone who wants to be a salesperson, not a manager.

Charlie Greer was top salesman, then sales manager in one of America's largest HVAC companies.  He now works exclusively with HVAC contractors, recruiting and training their sales people and service technicians.

About the Author

Charlie Greer | Owner

Charlie Greer was voted “Favorite Industry Sales Trainer” in 2019 and is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video training course that provides you with a year’s worth of weekly sales meetings. For more information on Charlie’s products and services, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your comments or sales questions to [email protected].