What are you really selling? Before you answer, let’s talk about what you’re not selling. You’re not selling air conditioning and heating. Nope, sorry to disappoint you there. You’re not selling what it is; you’re selling what it does. Understand this distinction to the core of your being and you’ll sell far more than the techno-laden geek who’d rather tell you how a watch works than what time it is.

Can you imagine coming across a customer in a Southern state who asks, “Why would I need air conditioning?” Can you imagine any customer in a Northern state asking, “Why would I need a heating unit in my home?”

See, this isn’t about needs as much as it is wants and desires. Needs are commodities with the associated price barriers; wants are almost limitless due to their emotional tie-in.

Do you think that because you’re selling a “necessity” your job should be easy? Do you think that since air conditioning and heating needs are here to stay, your business is too? The simple answer is: only if you know what you’re selling.

Since HVAC units have become a requirement for nearly every building, the consumer does not just demand a unit. They demand and buy based on:
1. Trustworthy service from a reliable dealer (46% cite this as their primary purchasing reason).
2. Features that translate into benefits to them (23%).
3. Excellent quality, brand-name products (15%).
4. Price (11%).
5. Other (5%).

You should be encouraged reading that list — especially notice that price was number four on the list. Yes, that’s the little number that all weak salespeople claim is the reason that “all my customers are buying from so-and-so . . .” The point is, maybe “so-and-so” explains his products better, sounds more credible, gives better guarantees, and has a price that translates into higher value.

Worse than this is that “so-and-so” is seeing the same prospects you are, and unless some things change, he’ll beat you every time with any customer who has even half a brain.

If you don’t believe me, then I’d be willing to bet that your company is in for some rocky times. If you do believe this, then you must do one or more of the following:
• Change your marketing to target more customers who are less price-resistant (Hint: Your current customer base is where you start. Radiate work from there).
• Increase your product benefits to increase your competitive advantage. That includes warranties, comfort guarantees, energy savings, air balance guarantees, maintenance, and more. The list is endless.
• Learn how to clearly communicate your superiority in value-oriented terms to the customer. Your ads and your sales presentation binder should have supporting documents and money quotes to verbalize the benefits.

Do all three and you win — big. No competition can withstand this triple threat except for the cave-in response to lower prices. Believe me, customers do want to save money, but they don’t want cheap. They want value — not cheapness — and they’ll buy. You’re not selling heating and air conditioning, you’re selling comfort.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. CB readers can get a free 16-page booklet, “How to Double Your HVAC Sales in 90 Days,” by calling 800/489-9099 or faxing the request on letterhead to 334/262-1115. Ever feel like you’re a professional presenter? Visit www.hudsonink.com for other free marketing articles and reports.