Successful sales people are effective at adapting to ever-changing circumstances during their sales calls. No two customers are alike, and the best at selling actually enjoy the challenges such diversity brings. It follows that these pros are not inclined to be constrained with a step-by-step, follow-the-numbers in-home sales process.
However, following a proven process will produce better results. Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry with an assembly-line process. Service technicians are taught how to follow an established sequence of troubleshooting steps to root out sources of problems. Installers are trained to follow an efficient process for removing and replacing old equipment so that every installation is done correctly.
Successful companies invest the time to document the right way to do things, so each team member has the information necessary to do their job well.
Every company benefits from creating and managing a proven sales process. Team members appreciate knowing what their part in the sales process is, and the sales person, consistently following established best-practices, benefits by selling more jobs for more money.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for having a company sales process and managing your team members to support it.
When an existing, or potential, customer calls to schedule a sales call, they expect to work with a qualified representative. After all, a new HVAC system is something they will live with for 15 years or more and will impact their entire family in many ways. Most people only go through the replacement process once in a lifetime. They are a bit apprehensive about investing thousands in something they know little about, from a company they may not have a lot of experience with. They expect a professional approach from a professional person. Winging it on the call won’t deliver that impression, or a great result.
I’ve been on ride-along sales coaching calls that lasted 20 minutes while others took more than three hours. You can imagine what the 20-minute call was like: a quick visit to the basement, attic, or crawl space; a look at the condenser; a note with a few numbers on it; a quick photo or two; and then a thank you and promise to the customer that a bid, quote, or estimate would be emailed. Surely there was more to look at, more to inspect, more to measure, and more questions to ask.
Start with a Philosophy
Have you ever considered the lifetime value of each customer? If you add up the replacement sale, annual maintenance, service repairs, accessory sales, a second replacement, this can total $30,000 or more. It’s a nice to think that every time the phone rings there is someone calling who represents that kind of revenue potential. I encourage you to think of these repeat customers as clients.
How many clients would you like? Thousands, right? Well how about having a philosophy that says every sales call is an opportunity to create a $30,000 client-for-life? With that as your mindset, being prepared and having a professional sales process makes a lot of sense.
Next, Your Principles
When owners are growing their business and doing the selling, they are usually very effective at convincing customers that they will take excellent care of them. This means doing whatever it takes to insure customer satisfaction. As the company grows and others take over the selling, it’s important to make sure they understand how to communicate the same commitment to excellence. There are fundamental principles that drive philosophy and behavior, and you should think about them, discuss them, and get buy-in from your team.
Four of my favorite principles are:
- We will not judge what customers may or may not want
- We will not judge what customers can or can’t afford.
Sales Professionalism and Accountability
The HVAC industry spoils sales people by giving them hundreds of leads. This is often too many to handle well. I ask sales people to keep these four best practices in mind:
- Every lead you get is to be valued and respected as an important company asset
- Every call must get your best effort. You understand the decision your customers make will impact them and their family in many important ways for up to 20 years
- Always follow up with the customer until they make a buying decision
- When they choose you, you will continue to serve them after the sale with intention to create a personal connection that produces repeat business and referrals.
Nothing Happens Without a Sale
Old sayings like this one stand the test of time because they represent the truth. Everything and everyone in your business depends on the success of the sales person. I’m not certain that many sales persons understand this. It’s important to discuss with them and with all team members. In many ways, all team members are doing something that contributes to the sale or that fulfills promises the sales person made. In this context, everyone is in sales.
I encourage sales people to reach out to everyone connected to the sale in any way. This includes the receptionist, CSR or sales coordinator, all of the installers, office support staff, and service technicians.
Company’s Revenue per Lead
HVAC marketing firms often say the cost for a marketed lead is $300 or more. Given a close rate of 40%, then the marketing cost per sale is $750. No one would deliberately flush that much money down a toilet, but that’s exactly what happens when a sales person doesn’t have or follow a professional sales process. Sure, everyone has an off day, or a bad call, but to consciously cut corners or otherwise short change the customer, also short-changes the company and all of its team members.
A Proven Sales Process
This article has, I trust, made the case for having a sales process and the value it represents. In the next articles we’ll look at what each of the steps in the in-home sales process can be and what you can do to create them for yourself.
Tom Piscitelli has over 40 years’ experience in HVAC sales, sales management, marketing and consulting. His articles have been published in trade magazines, he often speaks at industry events, he has produced three HVAC sales training DVD’s and he particularly enjoys bringing cutting edge training approaches to our industry. www.sellingtrust.com. His most recent project has been co-authoring and publishing the book, Proposition Selling: How to Create Extraordinary Success in Business-to-Business Sales. www.propositionselling.com