Residential HVAC Replacement Sales Call, Part 7: Equipment Inspection

We’ve greeted the prospect, completed our questionnaire, and checked the airflow in every room. Now we’ve got to do an equipment inspection.

We’ve greeted the prospect, completed our questionnaire, and checked the airflow in every room. Now we’ve got to do an equipment inspection.

This is the one step in the replacement sales process that I have the most difficulty getting salespeople to do. Techs and installers who have moved into sales feel like inspecting the existing equipment is a natural thing to do. People who started in HVAC as salespeople, like I did, usually don’t feel they have the technical expertise to open up the equipment and look it over aren’t necessarily very comfortable with tools.

Don’t worry about whether or not you know that much about the inner workings of furnaces and air conditioners. I can assure you that, no matter how new you are to this business, you know at 100% more about heating and cooling equipment than your prospective customers do.

By the way, when I talk about an equipment inspection, I’m not talking about using volt meters, amprobes, or gauges. You just take the access panels of the equipment and take a look inside.

The equipment inspection is one of the most important parts of the sales process. Here’s why:
1. To begin with, writing a prescription (your proposal) without first examining the patient and determining a diagnosis, is malpractice. Salespeople don’t like hearing this, but until you look inside the equipment, and verify that it needs replacing with your own two eyes, you really are just someone who is there to sell them something, whether they need it or not.
2. As soon as I started taking the access panels off their existing equipment, and seeing its horrendous condition, I was convinced that the replacement was justified. I’ve often said that, if I’m sold on my recommendations, I consider the job 80% sold, and the equipment inspection does just that.
3. Seeing the condition of their existing equipment may uncover conditions, such as health hazards, to help to land me on a “sense of urgency,” that is, a reason to take action right now.
4. The inspection converts me in their eyes to a service tech. I discovered this by accident. Where I worked, they were adamant on the belief that, not only did a salesperson not need technical knowledge to sell, they incorrectly believed that technical knowledge would somehow damage their sales ability. So they were so totally opposed to salespeople possessing technical knowledge that we were even forbidden from learning about it on our own.
So I just started carrying a few light tools with me and opening up the equipment just to see what was in there. The very first time I did this was in front of a couple, and you could feel the change when I converted in their eyes from a salesman who was just there trying to sell them something to a service technician, which they seemed to hold in as high a regard as an emergency medical technician.
5. It helps when you go for the close. When I perform an equipment inspection, I always tell the customer that I’ll put everything back together, but that I’ll leave the panels off the for time being in the event that we want to refer back to something inside during our conversation.

It’s very common for people to tell you they need to talk it over or think it over after your initial close. When they say that, I say, “Of course you do. And I need to go put your equipment back together.” Often, those 10-15 minutes alone is all they need to decide to go with me. One way or another, they’ll have had time to collect their thoughts when I return.

The Finer Points
Always look over both the air conditioner and the furnace. This is how you sell add-on heat pumps, air conditioners in the middle of the winter and furnaces in the middle of the summer!


On a heating call, look at the heating equipment first. On an air conditioning call, begin with the air conditioner.

Whether or not the homeowner accompanies you on the initial equipment inspection, eventually you’ll both go over your findings on both pieces of equipment, even if you have nothing to say about one of them. You never know what will happen. Not taking them to both pieces of equipment on every call will always come back to haunt you at closing.

Do everything in your power to get at the evaporator coil. The more difficult it is to get to, the more likely it is that it looks absolutely terrible. You’ll be the only HVAC professional they’ve ever had out to the home that’s noticed it.

When you find something interesting, take a picture of it. Customers love it when you take pictures of their equipment, and it will make it easier to explain the job to installers.

Charlie Greer is the creator of the audio book “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales,” and “Charlie Greer’s 4-Day Sales Survival Schools,” which are held in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your questions or feedback to [email protected]

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