LEAD GENERATION FOR THE BORED COMFORT CONSULTANT, PART 2

Two Tips: Knock on Doors, Build Referrals

When times are slow, go knock on doors. This isn’t easy, but it does become fun when it results in a sale.

When you knock on doors, three things can happen.

1) No one may answer.
2) The homeowner will refuse.
3)The homeowner will buy.

Are you worried about the second of the three? If so, figure out how many doors you have to knock on before you make a sale. It might be 100. It might be 500. Divide your commission for each sale by the average number of doors you rap before making a sale. That’s the money you earn every time you knock on a door. You won’t collect it until you’ve knocked on enough doors, but it’s what you’ve earned. Knowing that makes it easier to handle customers who say, “Go away and never bother me again.”

When you start canvassing, don’t just pick a neighborhood at random. Drive a few. Look for tract neighborhoods with a lot of old condensing units visible, and one or two new ones. Those are the neighborhoods you want.

Replacements are starting to happen. People are facing more frequent breakdowns. Homeowners are aware that their neighbors have begun replacing their air conditioners.

If no one answers when you knock, leave a door hanger or attach a flyer to the door handle with a rubber band. Invest in your own door hangers with your phone number. After all, you’re the one knocking on doors.
Most salespeople refuse to canvass. Yet, the superstars in the world of HVAC sales all report doing it. Successful people do what unsuccessful people do not. After all, it sure beats sitting around the office complaining about the lack of leads.

Look at it this way: Several hundred million dollars worth of Kirby vacuum cleaners are sold this way every year. While the Kirby is undoubtedly a good vacuum cleaner, it is arguably the most overpriced appliance on the market. You not only offer a great piece of equipment, installed correctly, that will make the home more comfortable, and improve air quality, you also can cut monthly bills for the homeowner. At no time do you need to resort to pushy sales tactics. Merely educate the customer about their options and let them decide.

Create a Referral Network

Joe Girard was named “the greatest salesman in the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Ford Motor Company says, “Joe Girard is to the automobile business what Ty Cobb is to baseball.” Girard sold more cars by himself than many dealerships.

One of Girard’s techniques was to create a referral network. He talked with barbers, figuring they were centers of influence in the community since everyone gets their hair cut sooner or later. He put up a placard that invited customers to ask the barber about buying a new car. When a customer asked, the barber talked. He then gave the customers one of Girard’s business cards, and told him to use his name and Girard would give him a good deal. The barber then called Girard and told him he was sending so and so over, and to take care of him.

The last little part is significant. Making the call in front of the customer implicitly obligates him to follow up. The barbers made the call to ensure that, business card or not, Girard knew who was sending him a prospect. If Girard sold a car, he paid the barber $25 (this was some time ago).

Girard called the barbers and others, his “bird dogs.” Who can you get to be your bird dogs? Think of the places of business that surround those neighborhoods with lots of old condensing units and a few new ones.

Approach the neighborhood donut shop, dry cleaners, and other retail service businesses (don’t forget the barbers). If the boss won’t cover the referral fee, you pay it. Think like a real estate agent. Pay it out of your own pocket. The cost is small for the value of having a referral network.

Ask Past Customers For Referrals

Why not include your past customers in your referral network? Call everyone you’ve sold in the past. Ask them how they like their new system. Are they still happy with it? Is there anything you need to pass along to the service department?

Position yourself on the customer’s side. Help them see you as their advocate (note: if you position yourself as their advocate, you’d better be one). If there’s a problem, inform the service manager and get it taken care of.
Ask the customer if he or she will do you a favor and pass your name along to any of their neighbors who might be thinking about a new air conditioner. Tell them about your referral bonus. They may pretend they don’t want it. Don’t believe them. Money motivates everyone.

Follow up with a short letter thanking them for their time, telling them to call you if you can provide any help, and reminding them to refer your to any friends or neighbors as a favor. Enclose three or four business cards.

A referral network is a powerful tool to help you generate sales in slow times. Start yours today and watch how it grows and works for you.

Matt Michel spoke at HVAC Comfortech 2004 on marketing. This rant was solely the opinion of Matt Michel, CEO of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.