Thousands of conversations with salespeople have led me to the conclusion that the vast majority of them have a warped idea as to what sales and selling are all about. Comfortech Idol 2004, Michael Youngs, is the shining exception to that rule.

A few days after the competition, I was fortunate enough to spend an hour with him to discuss his personal history and the steps he takes when running sales calls. The following is a summary of that conversation, told in his words:

The “Youngs” Way

You must be comfortable with what you’re saying, which is why I follow my own standardized, systematic approach when running calls. I use rehearsed content consisting of specific questions to ask, responses to the most commonly asked questions, plus ( consider all common sales objections.

My average sales call runs an hour to an hour-and-a-half. I arrive 15 to 20 minutes early to take a look at the neighborhood. I’m paying attention to:

  • The age of the homes
  • How many homes have window air conditioners?
  • The landscaping. Is it well kept?
  • Any competitor’s trucks working in the neighborhood.

I arrive for my appointments five minutes early and park strategically. Optimally, when they answer the door, they’ll see me in my company uniform and my truck (which is clean and well-lettered) with the company logo on it over my shoulder.

I step back when they answer the door so as not to intimidate them or intrude on their personal space. I’ll often hold my company badge out so that it’s clearly visible and they can see that I’m with Mark E. Meacham.

Once they invite me in, I’ll slip on my booties, even when they tell me I don’t need to.

People love hearing their own name, so it’s important for me to get on a first-name basis with them. A little game I play with myself is to see how many times I can use the customer’s name on one call. I think my record was 47 times.

I then ask, “Would you mind if I ask you a few questions? If we can talk a little bit, I can get a better understanding of what you need, if anything.”

My feelings are, I don’t know if I can help this person yet. I don’t know if he or she need anything. I don’t know anything about him or her yet. The system may be fine. We might just want to talk about proper maintenance. If I don’t ask questions, I don’t know.

I use a structured “needs analysis” that is a list of questions on a pre-printed form. At one point, I tried skipping the form and my closing ratio dropped by 40%.

Upon completion of the needs analysis, I quickly summarize what they’ve told me. I then draw the home, room-by-room, with the customer assisting me with the measurements. If they have children who seem interested in what we’re doing, I include them in the fun, as well.

If the children are disruptive, I’ll give them a large line drawing of my truck (which has the company logo on it) and a small box of crayons (with my company sticker attached to it) and ask if they’d like to do a little coloring.

As I draw the home, I also look at every room to get a feel for their buying habits. You can learn more about a customer by walking through their home than by asking questions.

I then look over their exposed ductwork and equipment. By opening the panels on their equipment, I find myself transitioning in their eyes from a salesman who is there to sell them something, to a technician who is there to help them. I say very little during this step.

I leave the panels off the furnace so that, in the event they tell me they need to think it over, I can say, “Why don’t you two go ahead and talk about this while I put your furnace back together?”

Next, I’ll run a load calculation, determine what I’m going to recommend, and price it out. It’s best to make your presentation in the area in which they tend to conduct their business, so I try to get situated at or near a table where I see their bills and other paperwork laying around.

Making the Presentation the “Youngs” Way

The actual presentation is just a summary of how I plan to resolve their heating, cooling, comfort, energy, and IAQ problems. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

I don’t offer a lot of detail on every type of equipment available. They’ve already told me what their needs are. The right piece of equipment for their specific needs is what I should be suggesting. Aren’t they coming to me looking for recommendations? If they could choose it themselves, why wouldn’t they just go online and pick whatever products they want?

I don’t “close” them – they just buy. Why shouldn’t they?

As soon as I’ve left the call, whether they’ve bought or not, I send a thank you-card with a little handwritten personal note in a hand-addressed, stamped (not metered) envelope.

You Can Do This Too

It’s this process that helps Michael Youngs achieve a $7,324 average sale. He says, “If you truly have it in your heart and mind to be the best at what you do, you will find a way. The process I described above is how I make it work for me.

“If you truly want to sell more than a million dollars per year with high margins, then use this process and start selling high efficiency, variable speed, two-stage equipment with IAQ products. You’ll be amazed how that will differentiate you from competitors and how many closes you’ll achieve.”

WHAT IS COMFORTECH IDOL?

Comfortech Idol is the search for the best HVAC salesperson at HVAC Comfortech, the industry’s only residential HVAC Exhibit and Seminar. It’s based on the hit T.V. show, “American Idol.”

Contestants survive elimination rounds, then compete head-to-head in role-playing scenarios where they must respond to objections and the most difficult situations salespeople can face. This all happens in front of a live audience, which then chooses the winner.

The grand prize is bragging rights, publicity, a trophy, and an all-expense-paid trip to Charlie Greer’s 4-Day Sales Survival School in Ft. Myers, FL.

WE’RE DOIN’ IT AGAIN!

If you think you exemplify excellence in HVAC equipment sales, and have the guts to show us your stuff, you could be the next Comfortech Idol. Entry is free with your admission to HVAC Comfortech 2005, to be held September 14-17, 2005 in Nashville, TN.1For more information on the Idol program, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com.

Meet Comfortech idol 2004

Name: Michael Youngs
Age: 38
Family life: Married, two children
Interests: Coaching Little League, reading
Employer: Mark E. Meacham, Inc.
Location: Boston area
Years in HVAC: 2
Total sales in 2004:
$1,137,000 residential replacements; $172, 000 light commercial
Closing Ratio: 58%
Avg. Residential Replacement Sale:
$7,324
Certifications
: Certified Indoor Environmentalist
Work history
: Raised in the car industry until the age of 30. Licensed mortgage broker for six years.

Watch the Complete Interview WITH Michael Youngs on DVD

While supplies last, you can watch the full 60-minute interview with Michael Youngs and Charlie Greer PLUS a 30-minute interview with Comfortech Idol 2003 winner, Jamie Gerdsen, on “Comfortech Idol Superstars on DVD” FREE! ($6.95 shipping & handling).

To order, call 800/963-HVAC or go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com.

Charlie Greer is the creator of Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD and the sole instructor of Charlie Greer's 4-Day Sales Survival School, held every spring and fall in Ft. Myers, FL. This year he's conducting a sales seminar tour for Aprilaire. For more information, or to order a free catalog, call 800/963-HVAC or visit him on the web at www.hvacprofitboosters.com. You can also e-mail Charlie at charlie@hvacprofitboosters.com.