Episode 5: Sales Training for HVAC Businesses

Podcast episode 5

0:12 – Sales Techniques

0:26 – Positioning vs. prospecting

2:27 – Pull vs. Push

3:48 – Permission marketing vs. interruption marketing

4:58 – Qualifying and disqualifying prospects

6:50 – Authority

7:52 – Can they say yes

8:48 – Step 1: Permission-based sales process

9:58 – Step 2: The offer

10:45 – Step 3: The presentation

12:38 – Step 4: Emotional desire

14:11 – Step 5: Closing the sale

15:49 – Bonus Tip

17:52 – Tip of the week

Hello everyone! I’m Nick Bielawski and welcome to another HVAC Business Growth podcast.

The topic for today’s podcast is “Sales Success for HVAC Businesses”. It’s going to be an exciting show, so let’s get stuck into it

Today, we’re going to cover some sales techniques; how to qualify and disqualify customers and then we’re going to go to a 5-step sales process. Then of course we’re going to finish off with the typical week like we always do.

So we’re going to start with positioning vs. prospecting. I think this is a big key philosophy that we need to cover here. The whole idea of being an effective sales person or an effective sales team is how you position yourself and how you position your company and its products and services.

If we put this up against prospecting…

Prospecting is basically when people don’t really have the system and they just go out and try to find anybody or any man and his dog who’ll try to buy his products and services. It’s a very inefficient way of doing things. What sales teams find when they’re doing prospecting is they spend a hell lot of time out on the road making appointments, making phone calls and those sorts of things and it never really amounts to much because the systems that they’re using aren’t very effective.

If put that up against positioning or how you position your products and services or how you position your business, there’s quite a massive difference. Positioning, more often than not, involves having a USP or unique selling proposition— where you position your products and services and you position your business in a particular segment in the market in such a way that it becomes evident that you are the only choice in the market if you’re looking for a particular product or service. Marketing has a really big impact on how you position your company.

When we’re talking about marketing, in this case, we’re really talking about the message. And what is the message that you are putting out into the industry and the market in general. Are you positioning yourself on price, product, dependability, service or a combination of all of the above? Do you position yourself exactly the same as all of your competitors? Are you taking a “me too” type of approach? Are you developing yourself into a proprietary business that’s really unique in the eyes of the market?

From the discussion of positioning vs. prospecting comes 2 other techniques. The first one I’m going to discuss is pull vs. push. This is in regards to marketing. In nearly all situations you want to be executing pull marketing where your marketing that’s actually out in the industry is actually pulling and directing prospects to come to your business. Whereas push marketing is a little bit more old school; it’s a little bit more aggressive.

You can get results with push marketing but what you’ll find is your sales team is working similar to the prospecting mindset and that they’re not getting a lot of high quality appointments to go to. They’ll be working hard but they won’t necessarily be getting effective results for your business.

When you’re doing push marketing your customers are typically more difficult to sell to; they’re a lot harder to sell to and they won’t become lifetime customers. Pull marketing takes a little bit more of a passive approach by letting a prospect or a customer come to you or your business. You’re being a lot more consultative with the sales process and you’re taking more of a long-term approach. The way you position or market your business has a great impact on the type of person or the type of client that you attract into the business.

We have permission marketing vs. interruption marketing. Interruption marketing is almost like doing billboard advertising or radio advertising where you are just trying to interrupt a prospect with your message and basically just praying that whatever you’re saying or whatever the message is that somebody is actually listening. This can be a little ineffective.

So where you can, you want to try and use permission-based marketing where prospects are actually identifying themselves that they want help or they want to speak with somebody at your business or they want more information. Then, you can market to them from there.

Obviously, you’re going to have a narrow focus with permission-based marketing but the conversions are going to be a lot higher. You’re not going to have as many people coming into the top of the funnel but you’re going to get people filtering through into sales. And the sales team that you’ve got or the sales person that you’ve got will enjoy working permission-based marketing or working on the permission-based process as it’s a lot better than the interruption-based process. That’s going to be great for your sales team.

Next, we’re going to talk about qualifying and disqualifying prospects. There are 4 points here that we need to raise.
Firstly, to be able to qualify prospects, they need to have an interest in your products; obviously, the stronger the better. Somebody that has actually no interest at all would be just like somebody in the shopping centre. So you see, a lot of HVAC businesses are actually setting up stools in shopping centres, just in the middle of the walkway and then from there, they’re basically just try and talk to anybody that comes in. A lot of people that walk in there have no interest in buying any of the products or services. It makes it really hard to actually qualify prospects from there.

This can get back to positioning and the pull and position type of marketing that we discussed just a little bit earlier. If the prospects are putting up their hand that want more information on a particular product or service that your business offers, that shows that they’re actually interested. That goes 1 step into qualifying them to do business with you.

Secondly, they need to have the ability to spend money with your business. Ideally, they employed people, they have stable employment, they have jobs, and there are multiple income earners in the household although that’s not a necessity. You might have a direct mail system or you might be able to rent a list where it actually shows people from a certain area who have credit cards or are qualified to have credit cards. Credit card companies don’t just go and give out credit cards like they used to do. They qualify people a lot more now so people need to have an income and demonstrate their ability to be able to pay back. We can use the systems, that finance companies have set up, to your advantage. They need to have the ability to be able to spend money on your business.

The third thing is they need to have some authority. In either a residential or commercial business to business sense, they need to be the owner of the property. There’s no use prospecting heavily in rental areas; none of these rental property people have the ability to actually go and install a $10,000 heating and cooling system in the house. They need to go and get permission for that sort of thing. But if they’re owner of the property or they’re the owner of the company that you’re dealing with, then they have the authority to make decisions on the spot.

As a side note, I know that a lot of telemarketing people won’t actually book appointments unless they can get the mother or the father or the 2 head parents of the house or 2 people in the authority position to be present in the meeting. They want all the stakeholders at that meeting or at the consultation if they’re going to book that consultation. They don’t want to waste time of the sales people.

The fourth thing is they need to have the predisposition to actually saying “yes”. Ideally, they have displayed whether they’ve bought a similar system in the past or something is up for renewal, so they might have had a system installed X amount of years ago and they’re due for a new one or they might just be a service client for your business. You might servicing their air conditioner once every 12 months or you might just be checking up on it and they have shown an interest in getting products and services from your business in the past. So, they are showing that they’re at least predisposed to saying “yes”.

I feel that those 4 points are really important and they go a long way in qualifying and/or disqualifying prospects that are coming into your business. So now what I want to do is go through a 5-step sales process that is really going to help any heating and cooling business.

The first one is you need to ask for permission or you need to have permission to go to the sales process. What I mean by this is, you need to get your client or your prospect in the habit of actually saying yes to you.

You need permission to be able to go through the sales process. You need them making little decisions and saying yes, yes, yes. Get them answering yes as often as you can.

I’ll give you an example of how to get a permission-based sales process started. A great thing that your telesales staff could use, or even at a consultation with your sales staff, it could actually say, “If I could show you how to heat your home twice as effectively at half the cost, would you be interested?”

That sounds pretty appealing doesn’t it? Most people are going to say yes to that. If they say yes, you’ve given them or they’ve given you, I should say, permission to continue with the rest of the conversation. You’ve actually perked their interest a little bit there. So, you can continue with the rest of the sales process. So again, firstly you need permission.

The second step of the sales process the offer. You need to have a really good and solid offer that you could put to them and you should know the offers that you’ve got inside out. Ideally, you’re only giving them 2 to 3 options. Usually, this is going to be based on price or you might have some particular package bundles that you could put in there—either with bonuses or extra services or something like that. And you need to make the offer a yes or a yes proposition for them.

This is a little cheesy but to borrow a line from The Godfather: “I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse.” As the line suggests, having a really good solid offer does go a long way into making the sales process really smooth.

The third thing is presentation. I’ll just give you a formula that’s fantastic to stick to and the formula is: problem, agitate, solve.

It’s basically a 3-step formula and this involves asking a lot of questions particularly in the first 2 phases. If your sales person or your sales team gets into the homes of the people who are interested, hopefully the owner, they need to act like a doctor at the start and find out what the problem is. What people are actually looking for and what do they need. When they find the problem that the person has— whether it’s with the heating or cooling system, if it’s not working or whether they want the system to be able to heat their homes and keep their family warm—they need to find the problem and then zero in on it from there.

The second step is to agitate. Whatever they give you as the problem, you need to make the problem seem just a bit bigger than what it actually is. You need to get some emotion into the process from here. Normally, what people do is they go straight from problem to solving. They try and solve people’s problems too quickly. People say, “Oh my heating system is broken” and then you go, “Oh we’ve got a fantastic offer on that system today” That’s just a little bit too hardcore, it’s a little bit too fast. What you need to do is, identify the problem, ask a few more questions, be consultative and then agitate the problem.

“What does it mean for you if we can’t get the air conditioning into your little girl’s bedroom?” Add some things that will agitate the situation; get them a little bit more emotional, slightly worked up and then you put your offer forward.  The offer is going to look a lot more enticing to them.

The next step of the 5-step sales process is emotional desire.

I was at a seminar recently and a person in the audience actually said something that I thought was really good and he said, “Facts open the mind and emotions open wallets.” It’s great to have all the facts and features about all the products and services that you’re selling but at the end of the day, people buy with emotions. They buy with emotions and they use facts to try and reason the situation. What this means is that you need to merge people’s needs with what they want. Obviously, a need is something that’s really strong………somebody that actually needs it. A want is just like something like “I’d like to have the someday” or “That would be pretty cool to have”. So you need to merge the needs with the wants.

An example of this is providing for your family or keeping your family warm vs. this system is better than that system. Obviously, the first example that I gave there is going to be a lot stronger than the “X system is better than Y system” example.

For those people out there who really think that sales is quite a cold and unemotional type of process, I think they really need to have a look at this and realize that it really is emotional. People don’t part with a few thousand dollars or 5-figures of money just blindly. It’s quite an emotional process. They get vested in the process. So, you need to ask the right questions so they can go on that emotional journey.

The fifth step in the sales process is closing the sale. From the previous 4-steps, this should actually be quite a natural process. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the sale. You know that you’ve nailed it when they say, “How do we get started from here?”

Right throughout this whole sales process, what you need to do is to watch for the signals; watch for the buying signals. They can come up at various stages of the sales process if you’ve actually done it correctly. So, if they’re asking questions about the installation process, the timing of things or when you’re available, these are some really good signs in terms of knowing if you’ve got a good chance of actually closing the sale.

I’m not a big believer in all of the different ways that you can answer objections. I remember hearing a story about somebody starting a sales job and they’re actually given a manual that had 357 different objections and ways to answer them. And as it turns out, that sales person said he only used maybe 3 of those answers to those objections. So, you don’t need any of the Jedi mind tricks or anything like that to try and close a sale. It’s a very natural process. If you’ve done a good job of positioning your products and services from a marketing perspective, and then you go into a process like this and you’ve been consultative throughout the whole time (always having the best interest of the prospect at heart and taking a long-term type of approach to business), then the sales process will be very natural. Your closing will be a lot better and your conversions will be up.

So these are the 5 steps of the sales process.

I actually have a bonus tip for this which pretty much nobody does but it’s super super important. The bonus tip is to follow up. I’m sure you’ve heard of buyers’ remorse before. Buyers’ remorse happens when people buy something and the next day they think, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I did that!”

A way to combat this is to get your sales team to follow up. After they sell something or after a system is installed, get the sales person to make a phone call and just make sure that everything is actually working okay and that they’re happy with it. You might even do this with a letter or some sort of package; you just send a nice Thank You letter just to let them know that you haven’t dissolved them from your system and left them in the dust and move on to the next person. So if you get really good at this, I think you’ll find that your referrals will increase quite a bit because you’ve actually nurtured somebody through the whole process. They’ve looked through a system, you’ve spoken to them, you’ve gone through a consultation process, you’ve installed the system and hopefully you’ve done a good job and they’re really happy with it and now you’ve followed up and actually made sure that they’re happy with how it’s going. You’ve also given yourself a chance, if you’ve made a blunder along the way, to rectify the situation.

If you follow this whole process, you’re going to get a lot more referrals and maybe even some repeat business from these people later on down the track. So, I really think you should use that bonus tip that I’ve given there. It’s going to make a world of difference; it will drop the refund rate that you get by quite a bit and you’re going to get a lot less angry people out there in the market.

One of the difficult things right now, I feel, with social media in particular is that when people have bad experience they’re the very first to get on Facebook or Twitter and tell everybody how bad you are. Whereas a good follow up process or a nice phone call from the sales person or a letter could’ve actually stopped this before it happened. So, it’s very very important to do this.

So now it’s time for our HVAC Business Growth tip of the week.

So this week’s tip of the week is to invest in the training for your staff. And when I say invest in training for your staff, I mean your whole staff including the people who are in your warehouse who are putting the products and services together and are helping with shipping and dispatch. Get everybody invested into sales training in your business.

So anybody who has anything to do with clients needs to know the sales process that you go through. The great thing about this is that it’s easily leveraged. In fact, most sales teams are so inept at what they do; it’s quite easy to get 50% uplift in conversions.

Can you imagine, for maybe a small investment of say, $2,000 per person—that’s for a quite expensive sales course. What a 50% uplift in conversions do mean? So, obviously, if you’re doing $10 million in sales now, how would you like to go to $15 million in sales? How would your rate of conversion like to go from 5% all the way up to 7.5%? There are some pretty big moves there for such a small investment in training.

You might put on some sales days where you get a particular sales training coming. You might buy some really good books for your sales staff to read to try and give them some new techniques to get them motivated. You might start a sales mastermind type of thing with your sales team just try and get them invested in their own development. Obviously their skills are going to go up and they’re going to be better sales people. So, in turn, if you’re paying them a commission, they’re going to get better financial compensation for themselves and you’ll, obviously, going to get the benefit of them selling more as well.
In short, I think you’re crazy if you don’t invest in sales training for your team.

So that’s all we’ve got time for today, I’m Nick Bielawski for HVACbusinessgrowth.com. I’ll see you next time!

Episode 5: Sales Training for HVAC Businesses

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