Episode 17: Consultative Selling for HVAC Business

Podcast episode 17


1:09 – Goal of Consultative Selling

1:35 – People’s needs before products

2:28 – Ask questions: understand what you customer needs

2:46 – Example of Buying Criteria

5:25 – Marketing communication process

6:15 – Be the solution in your market

7:14 – Tip of the week

Hello everybody! Welcome to the hvacbusinessgrowth.com podcast. I’m your host Nick Bielawski. We’ve got another great show lined up for you today. We’re going to be talking about Consultative Selling.

I’m a really big fan of Consultative Selling because it starts to get away from the good old-fashioned, hard-selling, product-based sales methods that give sales people a bad name. Basically, I think Consultative Selling is fantastic because it’s a more ethical way of selling and a more ethical way to transact business. I think it’s great because it extends beyond face-to-face contact. It’s a way of systematically guiding and holding the hand of the person that’s interested in your market or in your products or services.

The main thing about Consultative Selling is that the goal is different. The goal is to be more of a business partner and take a more nurturing approach. So if we can take more of a nurturing approach then the selling will actually happen. It happens when you care more about the result that the other person is getting.

One of the fundamental things about Consultative Selling is people’s needs always come before the products. News flash here is that the highest margin product that you have might not actually be best for the person. It might actually mean, through the consultative selling process, that the cheapest product you have with the lowest margin could actually be what’s best for the needs of that person at that particular time.

But you need to think long-term when it comes to this. If you use that example I just gave there on selling low margin products, if you look after somebody then they’re more likely to come back in the future when they need another system for their house. They may refer family and friends to you as well because you did a great job nurturing and consulting with them through the whole sales process.

With consultative selling, the main thing is that you’re actually asking lots of questions. You need to be able to customize things to the needs of the person. The needs of the person actually need to come before the product. This is the absolute fundamental. You need to become a problem solver. People’s criteria are really important.

I’m going to share with you a recent experience that will give you an idea what a buying criteria really is. I’m from Melbourne, Australia and although it’s awesome here at the moment, we’re just going through quite a decent heat wave where we’ve had 9 days in a row that have been over 32 degrees Celsius. Normally, in this time of the year it should be really comfortable—23 to 25 degrees Celsius. The reason why this story is of importance to you is this:

I’ve got a 5 month-old son. My criteria around this story was this: basically due to the heat wave, my young son was getting really uncomfortable. His bedroom is really hot and he’s becoming quite distressed. I basically just bit the bullet, went out and bought an air-conditioner for his bedroom.

So my criteria for buying was I actually wasn’t interested in getting the best possible air-conditioning system for him—although that would’ve been nice. I had to go out and buy something straight away. So my criteria for buying the air-conditioner were: it needed to be affordable because I was paying cash for it; it needed to be picked up straight away; it needed to be installed in his room that night because of the heat wave. So these are my criteria for buying.

As it turns out, I just went in and bought the air-conditioner. There wasn’t a consultative process from a sales point-of-view because the people in the store are so busy. But if the sales person had actually walked me through some questions and asked me what my criteria were and why I was buying the air-conditioner and what I needed, then I could’ve easily came to the conclusion about which particular air-conditioner would’ve suited my needs.

I would imagine that if somebody tried to sell me the latest and greatest system that costs $10,000, I wouldn’t have bought it at that stage because it seems that he didn’t get my buying criteria.

I think that story should illustrate why people’s buying criteria is really important and why you need to become a problem solver.

This process actually extends as well into the pre-, during-, and post- marketing communication. So, we need to make sure that the customer is educated around the broader market. You need to do it with heating and cooling and some of the pitfalls that are in the industry. They also need to be educated around the products that you offer. I’m not talking about technical specifications of the product although it is important. Some people do know that sort of stuff. They need to know why these specifications are important to them. They need to understand the benefits that it offers. It might be an ability to cool the house when the temperature gets about 100 degrees. It might be that one particular system is more energy-efficient than the other. So, all these different technical specifications are really important.

So if you could educate people through your marketing communications, you’re going to be positioned as the solution in that particular market just purely by offering the best advice.

You can create some consumer awareness guides and reports that will assist you with this consultative selling. You can also put some videos up on your website and YouTube as a way of educating people that are interested in your market about the products and services that you offer and some of the pitfalls in your industry.

The big key with this is just make sure you’re giving away your best information; give away all your secrets. Don’t leave anything on the table. Like I said, this is an education process. So, tell people everything that you know; all the different points and factors that they need to avoid; what you need to look for when they’re buying. Give them a great education and you’ll find that you’ll make some sales from there.

Now it’s time for another HVAC Business Growth Tip of The Week.

This week’s tip is to let the customer do the talking. You need to ask leading questions and try and search for their criteria. You know that you’ve done a good job of Consultative Selling when the person actually sells himself into the solutions. So, you won’t be talking all that much; people will be answering your questions. By the end of the consultation, they’re going to say, this is the solution that I need.

So that’s all we’ve got time for today’s show. If you have any questions at all about today’s show just leave the question on the website. If you have any comments, just post them to iTunes. Thanks very much. I’ll see you next week.

Episode 17: Consultative Selling for HVAC Business

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