For HVAC companies, effective sales presentations can be the key to your livelihood. Why? Because in HVAC sales, you get to talk a lot, but demonstrate little. A powerful presentation that demonstrates value systematically, advances you toward a close.

The presentation is not about showing off your vast amount of product knowledge or trying to impress them with industry lingo, even though this crime is rampant. It's also not the time to talk about what you want and like about what you're proposing. It's the time to talk about your prospects’ needs and problems, and how you and your products or services are going to take care of them.

Recently, I assembled the seven of the top HVAC sales consultants in the U.S. to formulate a system of presentation, closing, follow-up, and retention. Below is the wisdom from master presenter Drew Cameron.

Presentation DOs and DON'Ts
As you get into the meat of your presentation, this is your chance to show what you have to offer and to explain why you and your company have exactly what your prospect has been looking for. While doing so, there are several important factors you must keep in mind.

1.Time and the 60% Rule. Have you ever listened to a presentation that started off great and then went on and on for so long that your mind began wandering? Your audience’s attention span is no greater than yours. If you go on for too long, you’ll lose any interest you gained with your warm-up and catchy opener. So keep it short, and simple.

Have you ever had a key decision-maker leave in the middle of your presentation because he or she was out of time? You aren't holding the attention of a prospect that is looking at the clock! Find out in advance how much time your prospect has set aside for your meeting. Then, you should adjust your presentation to take no more than 60% of the allotted time.

Why only 60%? Because your prospect's decisions to act typically occur at the end of a meeting, so you want to allow enough time to resolve any remaining issues and reach an agreement. If your prospect says, “I’ve got one hour,” then you’d best be wrapping up the presentation in about 40 minutes.

Eliminate any material that is not directly relevant to the central theme of your presentation. Present your information clearly and concisely so that you can set up the situation of opportunity.

2.Technical Jargon. Whether your audience is made up of CEOs or a group of grandmothers, too much technical jargon will turn your audience off quicker than you can say, “heat loss load calculation.”

Don’t use industry buzzwords without qualifiers, or you risk making your audience feel stupid (or bored) and probably lose the sale. There is a place for tech-speak. A certain amount of it is required to explain your products and services. This gives your audience confidence in your knowledge and abilities. Just be careful not to speak over your prospects’ heads.

3.Speaking Style. Not speaking over your prospects’ heads also applies to your general speaking style. Listeners who have to struggle to follow along with what you are saying typically give up quickly and will just quit listening. Use vocabulary that matches your prospects’, or stick to a fifth-grade level.

Only 7% of the way your message is perceived is determined by the words you use. The other 93% is from the tone of your voice, the rate of your speech, and your body language. Match your prospects’ tempo and rhythm of speech, and go very slowly when making an important point. Speak in a nurturing and helpful tone.

Most importantly, be yourself. It's fine to use scripts and prepared presentations, but give them your own spin, and never, ever simply memorize or read. To come across as genuine and knowledgeable, you must be yourself.

4.Body language. Most people spend about 75% of their time communicating their knowledge, thoughts, and ideas to others. However, we fail to realize that much of our communication is non-verbal instead of oral or written. This includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, body posture, motions, and positioning within groups. It may also include our clothes or even our silence.

The way you hold yourself and your mannerisms can either reinforce, or contradict your presentation.

In general, hold eye contact with a single person for at least a full thought, phrase, or sentence, and for Heaven’s sake, smile. If you’re nervous, turn that energy into enthusiasm. Your audience will only become excited about what you’re selling if you are! Follow these tips:

Speak quickly about certain features. Excitement comes through with faster speech.

  • Use slower speech and even stillness to bring attention to an extremely important point.
  • Use clear, direct eye focus.
  • Make your points in a steady, even tone of voice, then, pause to “frame” your point.

5.Visual Aids. Visual aids help tell your story by appealing to the prospect’s vision with the intent of producing mental images. Visual aids have many proven benefits. Research has shown that high-quality visuals can promote powerful influence in a presentation. They increase retention, reinforce your message, create a unique, lasting impression and reduce misunderstanding.

Keep visual aids in your presentation binder and remember that your visual aids should be just that, aids, and not crutches. Don't overwhelm your audience with them.

6.Involvement. Your prospects’ participation in your presentation is essential to success. Interactive presentations keep prospects more involved and interested. Craft your presentation as an interactive experience instead of a stage show with you as the solo performer.

Invite your prospect to participate in the entire process by asking questions, demonstrating the product, and allowing them to hold and/or touch the product if possible. Get your prospect into the presentation and let them experience the product with all of their senses. This begins transference of ownership.

Throughout your presentation, you need to get reaction from your prospects in order to gauge their interest and “ready to buy” level. “Take their temperature” and make sure you are on track at about the halfway point. This is a trial close.

7.Cliches, weak phrases, overused expressions. These can wreak havoc with your presentation. When you depend on these crutches, you risk losing your prospects’ interest quickly. The use of these unexciting words and phrases will only serve to dilute the message of your presentation.

  • Clichés like “Nobody can beat our service” or “We’re the best” cause a mental challenge in the prospect. You must back statements up with facts.
  • Pet phrases that are used as filler: “You know,” “To make a long story short,” “What I’m saying is…”
  • Trick phrases like “I’ll be honest with you.” (The prospect wonders, “Were you not being honest before?”)
  • Weak words that can decrease the significance of your presentation including “Maybe,” “I guess,” “I assume.” (You’re the expert. Be confident about your expertise.)
  • Lazy language like “uh-huh,” “yeah,” and “naah.”
  • Power words like “fantastic, terrific, superb, outstanding, and spectacular” are fine if you limit them. If they’re said every few minutes, their power — and your credibility — sinks rapidly.

When making presentations, you must use a targeted approach. One size does not fit all. The purpose of a presentation is to provide solutions to the specific needs and problems uncovered during the sales call. You should always address each prospect and his needs specifically. You need to present only to those issues, nothing more and nothing less.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a contractor marketing firm. CB Hotmail readers can get a free 12-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 or visit www.hudsonink.com for additional information.