Social Distancing – Blessing or Curse?

Probably the best thing we’ve learned in the past several months is the basic principles of social distancing include surface cleaning, disinfection, handwashing, and other strategies of good hygiene. These are important tools for fighting the spread of COVID-19.

A simple definition of social distancing is ‘a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.’

However, many people are so frightened of the Coronavirus that they are practicing ‘extreme social distancing? ‘ they don’t want anyone to enter their home or office! Can this social distancing practice really be a blessing if you can’t get in front of customers face to face? It all depends on your mindset.

Technology to the Rescue

In the past three months, we’ve learned that existing technology can play a huge role in the HVAC sales process during the COVID-19 pandemic. When customers are practicing extreme social distancing, you can offer to perform much of the sales process from the comfort of your office via the Internet. This is called virtual sales and here is how you do it:

1. Initial Online Research. You can gain a significant amount of information about a person’s home from public records freely available on the Internet. Many communities have tax records online. Real estate services like Zillow offer lots of intel but it may not be as reliable as you’d like. Google maps are an incredible source, especially in satellite view. Do your initial “virtual sales” research online, then verify what you learned when you speak to your customer in the next step.

2. Customer Surveys Via Video. Chat. Nobody knows more about the comfort of their home than the people who live there. While you may have earned every NCI certification offered and you own a whole truck full of test instruments, there is no way you can know what the house feels like at 2:00 pm on the hottest day of the year.

Your customer’s experience is invaluable, and you can certainly perform a Home Comfort Analysis Customer Survey with them right over the Internet using something like FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Duo. This initial virtual sales survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

The information gained is the very foundation for the best high-performance sales calls ‘ virtual or in-person.

3. Technical Survey via Customer Photos and/or Video Chat. Based on what you learn in your initial customer survey, you can ask them to be your ‘eyes’ as you learn more about their home and their HVAC system. You’d be amazed how much information you can acquire by having them take pictures of the equipment and duct system, then emailing or texting them to you.

Even better, have them take you on a ‘guided video tour’ of their home using their cell phone or tablet.
Mrs. Smith, first, I’d like you to take me to your thermostat. That’s great. Can you open the front door so I can see what programming options you have?

In a virtual sales setting, tech allows customers to virtually sign agreements.

As they take you around their home, you can capture screen shots of what you see along the way.

4. Brief ‘Measure Call’ with Extreme Social Distancing. Based on what you learned in the previous three steps, you may need to make a brief visit to the home for final measurements (It will be really tough to get your customer to take static pressure measurements via video chat).

You can explain to them that this phase will only take about 15 to 20 minutes and you will call them when you arrive at their home. All they need to do is unlock the front door, then go sit on the back porch while you get your final measurements.

Assure them that you will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and that you will wipe down anything you touch while in their home.

Once you are done, tell them you will lock the front door behind you and call them from your truck as you sit in the driveway to discuss any questions you or they have.

5. Findings & Recommendations via Screen Share/Video Chat. Once you are ready to discuss your findings and recommendations, you can reconnect with them via a screen share/video chat service. In this phase, you ‘connect the dots’ you discovered in the first four steps above.

Always be sure to personalize your recommendations (? ‘ to alleviate Steven’s allergies, I’d recommend that you install this high-efficiency air filtration system?) so they know that you are addressing the concerns they shared with you during the customer survey.

6. Scope of Work, Pricing, Financing, and Scheduling via Screen Share/Video Chat. In this last phase of the virtual sales call, you can once again engage with them via video chat to finalize the scope of work, pricing, financing, and scheduling details.

When you do everything right in the first five phases, this step is a breeze! All the images, videos, and notes you’ve taken along the way are sure to make the job go smoother, assuming you share the appropriate information with your installation crew.

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