Selling is the process of effectively presenting the value of your products and services to a potential customer. It's about influencing and persuading. "Well," you ask, "exactly how is that different from marketing?"

Simply put, marketing is the core function of a business, and selling is the core function of marketing. Marketing reaches a broad audience, while selling relies on a person-to-person communication process.

Selling is essential because it presents value to the consumer. It offers a relationship. It's an opportunity to build trust. Your HVAC business team must fight for its business through strong sales skills and techniques.

Many people perceive selling as a simple task: persuading someone to buy something. Your objectives should be much broader than that. A good salesperson builds a relationship that benefits both parties in the long-term. Selling involves:

  • Helping a customer identify needs, fears, problems, voids, discomfort, loss, desire. (Commit these to memory. They haven’t changed in thousands of years.)
  • Presenting information that solves these problems.
  • Providing follow-up to maintain satisfaction, encourage future solutions and referrals. (Thus begins the cycle anew.)

In the case of HVAC sales, your customer doesn't come to you and browse through the shelves of your warehouse. You have to bring your store to them.

You must present your business' solutions through carefully designed techniques. In most cases, as you know, the customer does not know what he or she needs. This is critically important. You are there to provide the answers and the value. And it can all be done through the three essential steps of a strong presentation:

  1. Fully discuss the features, advantages, and benefits of your product. Ask "how" type questions to engage them. "How do you feel about this feature?" Never ask a "yes or no" here unless you want to set up a trial close, such as: "Can you see how this feature would be helpful?" If "yes," then that becomes part of your proposal. Get it? They’re building the system, not you, which is what you want.
  2. Demonstrate its usage — how it works, how to take care of it. This conveys psychological‘ownership, such as "Your thermostat sits right here — you just set it and forget it. We’ll do it together the first time. Then it adjusts up and down to your schedule, saving you money and improving comfort each time." See? It becomes theirs while you're speaking.
  3. Explain your value or selling proposition. What's in it for your customer? What risk are you willing to take from them? How is the value raised beyond the price? Each increment of value beyond price is a huge step toward the sale. "Mr. Homeowner, even though this is already an over-the-top system value, please remember that your energy savings alone is like getting a 10.5% return on investment. That's a better return than anything I've read about lately. Plus it improves your property value." The head nodding begins in earnest and you're one signature away from an install. Make it clear. Make it good.

The sales presentation is the time when the salesperson uncovers and satisfies the needs of a single buyer to the mutual, long-term benefit of both the consumer and you. Where marketing opens doors, an effective one-on-one presentation closes sales.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a contractor marketing firm. Hotmail 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. Visit www.hudsonink.com for more information and free reports.