by Steve Howard

Can your customers get the same heating and cooling system for less money somewhere else? Absolutely not. When selling HVAC products and services, it’s impossible to get the same thing anywhere at any price.

Here's why. There are four things only you can provide. When your customers’ desire for these exclusive items reaches a certain level, competition is eliminated. These elements are:

  • Your company
  • Your installation
  • Your comfort system
  • You.

Your Company

Purchasing comfort is an infrequent, somewhat intangible, highly technical investment. Customers don't just buy the best comfort equipment available, they buy your technical expertise. They don't have the time or desire to become experts on buying comfort. They want to find an expert they can trust.

That’s where your people come into play. People trust people more than products. Trust is the most powerful short cut in the entire sales process. To build trust in your people, show how they’re "more than safe to hire.” For example, tell customers the following:

  • "For your peace of mind, we do drug testing and criminal background checks."
  • "Everyone entering your facility will wear uniforms and identification badges."
  • "For your protection, everyone is covered by our liability insurance and worker's compensation."

Furthermore, the expertise that your company brings to the customer differentiates you from the competition.

Until customers know differently, your expertise is assumed. Document your expertise and show how it makes a huge difference to the customer. Statements such as the following can be used to highlight your expertise:

  • "We pride ourselves on Old World craftsmanship and modern know-how."
  • "Our people are constantly training to be the best of the best — they have the tools, equipment and training to ensure the best job possible."

A final company differentiator is your integrity. Socrates said, "You'll never know a line is crooked unless you place a straight line next to it." Set the standards by discussing your straight-line, non-negotiable policies.

  • "Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed."
  • "Our word is our bond, there will not be any extras or hidden costs."
  • "After the installation, we’ll ask you to rate our work and your experience. Our goal is your complete satisfaction."

Your Installation

The more your expertise is prized by customers, the more likely you are to get the sale. However, without your help, customers don't know how to evaluate your expertise.

Best job possible. Here are a few things to say to persuade your customers:

  • "According to a study conducted by the North Carolina Alternative Energy Corp., as few as one job in 10 is installed correctly. We not only guarantee you'll be in the top 10% — you'll get the best job possible.”
  • "When your installation is completed, we'll do an in-depth quality control inspection to ensure the best job possible.”

Customized design. Sony President Norio Ohga explains the importance of design. Quote this to your customers: "We assume our competitors' products have basically the same technology, price, performance and features — design is the only thing that differentiates our products from theirs."

  • "Based on your concerns and desires, we will customize a design to meet your needs for years to come."

Top-quality materials. Use this Sherlock Holmes quote to explain the types of materials you use: "The little things are infinitely the most important." Then add the following:

  • “Besides the equipment, there are hundreds of parts and pieces that go into your comfort system. Each item has at least three levels of quality — good, better, and best. To ensure the best job possible, we only use the best!”

Unique packages. Problems aren’t solved by equipment alone. Packaging services and systems in unique ways differentiates your company from competitors. If you do this, you can tell customers something like this:

  • "Because even temperature is a top priority, you'll receive our exclusive "Even Air-flow Package."

Meet or exceed all standards. Shortcuts and “corner-cutting” usually result in inferior quality and customer dissatisfaction. Tell them:

  • "Codes, rules and laws are only our minimum standard, we answer to a higher authority, you!"
  • "We will protect your facility, furnishing and occupants and will clean to your satisfaction before leaving."

Your Comfort System

Most contractors in the HVAC industry sell heating and cooling equipment for buildings. From the start, you've eliminated a significant percentage of your competition by offering comfort for people. Here’s howto promote your comfort services:

VAF experts — Variable air flow is the key to comfort.

  • "Longer, slower fan operation provides even temperature, precise moisture control and enhanced air filtration —you'll receive a new level of comfort most people never dreamed possible."

Accessories. Value is determined by benefits.

  • "The right accessories provide added benefits you need — unfortunately most contractors don't have access to all the same accessories we offer."

Your exclusive warranty. The strongest buying motive in the world today is peace-of-mind.

  • "Our warranty may be the most important part of your new comfort system."
  • "I don't know of anyone who offers the level of protection that we do,"

Peak performance agreement. We are there for you night or day, long into the future.

  • "Not only will we be there to maintain your comfort, in the unlikely event there is ever a problem you'll receive ‘front-of-the-line’ service."

Affordable ownership with financing. A bargain isn't what you pay, it’s what you receive.

  • "When you consider the potential energy savings, you can own your complete comfort system for less than a cup of gourmet coffee per day — and if energy costs go up, your investment gets better."

You

Customers shop for salespeople they can trust more than anything else. While salespeople try to sell equipment, customers are buying relationships. People buy because they feel understood and appreciated by the salesperson, not because the client was made to understand the salesperson's product or service. Make people comfortable with you with these ideas:

Easy to reach. Time equals commitment: the more time you invest, the more sales you'll make.

  • "Please feel free to call my cell phone night or day."

Follow-up. “I've always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying. I never felt that I didn't have a chance to win.” ¯ Arnold Palmer

  • “After the job is completed, I'll return to make sure we've met or exceeded every one of your expectations.”

Your personal commitment. You guarantee it with your name.

  • "My job is to take the worries off your shoulders and put them on mine. With your okay, I'll take care of everything."

J. Paul Getty said, "If you want to make money, really big money, do what nobody else is doing."

No one else can offer your company, your installation, your comfort system and you.


What is Total Comfort?

According to Contracting Business research, What Consumers Want From Their Comfort System, nearly two-thirds of all homeowners can identify specific improvements needed in their home comfort systems. Many improvements can be addressed through common HVAC accessories and contractor services. But, before consumers can buy, they must know what’s available. Many contractors leave money on the table simply by not asking lifestyle questions.

In our August 2002 issue, we presented a special pull-out poster, Guide to Total Comfort, which was developed to help you sell quality comfort systems. You’ll also find a list of qualifying lifestyle questions entitled, "Things to Think About." Go to the following web address and learn how you can order customized reprints of this guide to use with your customers: www.contractingbusiness.com/totalcmftform.html.

Following is a list of 12 actions to take when calling on customers. Cut them out and practice them before making your next sales call.

  1. During my presentation of "The Guide to Total Comfort," I shall record customer responses to the "Things to Think About" lifestyle qualifying questions.
  2. I shall conduct Manual J and D calculations, then show them to my customer and explain their importance.
  3. I shall present the benefits of properly designed, sealed, and balanced duct systems combined with two-stage, variable speed high-efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps for maintaining the ultimate in comfort, quietness, and low utility bills.
  4. I shall match the indoor evaporator coil with the right outdoor unit to provide optimum comfort, efficiency, and performance.
  5. I shall recommend comfort controls and zoning. Zoning allows customers to save up to 20% on utility bills while meeting the room-to-room temperature and humidity requirements of each family member.
  6. I shall propose fresh air and positive pressure options when needed: HRV/ERV and whole house HEPA filtration and dehumidification systems.
  7. I shall offer humidification to replenish the moisture lost in homes of colder climates, reducing dry throats and skin, cracking woodwork, and even static electricity.
  8. I shall commission the system by measuring and balancing airflow and testing the refrigerant charge. Measure for customer pleasure.
  9. I shall provide customers with a maintenance agreement to maintain the peak performance of their system and comfort of their homes. Explaining the benefits of maintaining their comfort system is just as important as changing the oil and replacing the dirty air filter in their car.
  10. I shall impress upon customers our reputation and professionalism because our company is backed by NATE-certified installers and technicians.
  11. I shall visualize my close with the Total Comfort House.
  12. I shall have anything I want if I help my customer to get what they want first.