If the average HVAC comfort consultant were a real estate agent, he would starve.  The reason is most comfort consultants don’t know how to generate business.

The biggest difference between selling in the HVAC industry and most other industries is company supplied leads.  HVAC salespeople rely on the company to provide most or all of their leads.  In other industries, salespeople are expected to prospect.  That’s why a good portion of almost any book on selling is devoted to prospecting.

So what if an air conditioning comfort consultant prospected like a real estate agent?  What if he took charge of generating his own business, with company supplied leads as a bonus?  He would be the top performer in his company.  He would be a superstar.  His income might even top what the boss earns.  

This is not only doable.  It’s been done.  Over and over.  Here’s how you can become a superstar:

•    Build a neighborhood referral network.

Identify the independently owned businesses surrounding your target neighborhood, such as dry cleaners, convenience stores, donut shops, and so on.  Offer them a referral fee whenever they send someone to you who buys a new system from you.  Pay the fee out of your commission if necessary.  Create a small tabletop sign for each business that says, “Ask me how to get the best deal on a new air conditioning system.”

•    Network within the community.

Join a leads club, like BNI or LeTip.  Join a service club, like Rotary, Lion’s, Kiwanis, or Optimist’s.  Ask the boss if you can represent the company at the chamber of commerce meetings and mixers.   Join the PTA.  Join an alumni group.  Try to find a networking opportunity for every lunch and breakfast during the week.  If each group averages 20 people and each person has a personal network of 200 people, that’s an influence network of 4,000 people for each group you join.  So, join all you can.

•    Send reminders to your personal network.

Make a list of family, friends, church acquaintances, and others you personally know.  Build it into a database.  Periodically, mail or email each a reminder that you sell air conditioners and would appreciate any referrals.  Include your personal brochure.

•    Improve networking efficiency with social media.

Get involved with Facebook, Linked In, and Pinterest.  Learn about each site and how to use it effectively to network (i.e., engage people in conversations – do not shill, non-stop).   Be social.  Be human.  Be real.  Don’t be offensive.  Avoid politics.

•    Make your own yard signs.

Your company probably provides yard signs.  See if the boss will let you provide your own.  Buy the steel real estate type signs with brochure boxes attached.  Stuff them with your personal brochure and flyers describing the steps in an air conditioning replacement and why someone should consider one now.  Get permission from the homeowner to put a yard sign out when you make a sale, stating that you will come and retrieve it a few days after the sale.

•    Canvas.

If all else fails, knock on doors in your target neighborhood or another neighborhood.  Introduce yourself.  Hand the homeowner a business card, brochure, and magnet.  Announce that you are the neighborhood air conditioning guy and want the homeowner to have the contact information for you if there’s a need for service or a desire to cut utility expense.  Knock on enough doors and odds are you will encounter homeowners who know it’s time to replace their air conditioners, but lack a relationship with a contractor.

•    Calculate the value of rejection.

After you canvas for a while, you should have a good idea of how many doors you need to knock on before you get a sale.  Divide your commission from a sale by the number of doors.  Then, each time you knock on a door, think, “I just made $X.”  You have.  You just haven’t collected it yet, but if you keep knocking, you will.

Is there more than you can do?  Absolutely.  Talk with any real estate agent about the things he or she does for marketing and networking.  Talk with other sales professionals.  Read books on sales and marketing.  Read sales and marketing blogs and subscribe to sales and marketing magazines. 

In HVAC sales, the difference between the average salesperson and the superstar is not salesmanship, technique, closing tactics, or personality.  It’s the willingness to prospect.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, which serves thousands of contractors and contractor salespeople by providing them with downloadable sales, marketing, and business management tools, an online support network of leading contractors and consultants, and cash rebates from the company’s Roundtable Rewards buying group.  Call 877.262.3341 with your biggest problem and ask one of the success consultants to show you a solution (or two, or three, or more).  Or, visit the website at www.ServiceRoundtable.com.