Create An Exceptional Experience
Originally published: 08.01.14 by Drew Cameron
It’s the time of year when everyone from HVACR business owners and managers to salespeople and technicians ask the same question: “How can I convince customers to upgrade or replace their heating equipment now?
The answer is quite simple: Stop trying to convince customers to replace or upgrade their equipment, and instead simply provide good information so they can make a good a decision.
We all learned Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law, The Law of Motion, at some point in our lives either through education or everyday living, even if we’re unaware as to whom to credit with the discovery. To paraphrase: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This law can also be applied to sales. When you try to convince someone of something, you’re exerting a certain amount of force to prove your point no matter how gentle your demeanor may be. The force you exert will be met with resistance and/or apprehension from your customer and yield low or no sales.
To reverse this disastrous effect, stop telling your customers to replace their equipment and start asking them a series of questions that lead them to determine for themselves
Most salespeople feel compelled to tell potential customers everything they know about their products and services, and why they should buy from their company. Customers tend to have their guard up when dealing with anyone trying to sell them anything, and doubt a fair percentage of what salespeople say.
The larger the expense, the more guarded the customer and more skeptical of the information provided. This is the reason most homeowners say they’re getting multiple bids.
To differentiate yourself, begin with trying to learn and understand who your customer is and what’s important to them.
Change your mission on a sales call to seek the truth rather than to close the sale. When you seek the truth about what the customer really wants — what’s important to them in a new system, installation and service company, what they’d feel comfortable investing to address their concerns, how they plan to pay for it, when they want the work done and when they hope to make their decision — you’ll find them to be open and honest with you.
After you have the answers, tell the customer you don’t know yet if it makes sense or not to replace their system, but they may want to at least get some information so they can make an informed and intelligent decision. You want them to be assured no matter what choice they make, they do so knowing all the facts.
Let them know you’re not there to sell them anything they don’t want, need, can’t afford or doesn’t make sense for them. Explain you don’t want to earn their business today, only to lose them as a customer tomorrow when what they buy doesn’t meet expectations. This level of honesty, trust and respect are paramount and more important than any level of rapport, technical expertise or sales skills.
The reasons why a customer may choose to replace their equipment are as many and varied as the snowflakes you may see this winter. The critical point is to strike an emotional chord with the reasons they may want to consider buying before you try to justify the purchase.
A sales process that focuses on emotion will get a customer enthusiastic and yield a sale that cancels the next day when the customer has a chance to think about it and realize there are no logical reasons to justify the investment. A sales process that focuses on logic and lacks an emotional hook for the customer rarely yields a sale.
The key to achieving a balance of emotion and logic during the sales process starts by discovering an emotional hook, then provides an adequate amount of logic to justify the investment.
Your questions yield the emotional hooks and allow your customers to tell you what they want and why they want it. It’s much easier and enjoyable to allow someone to choose to buy something for their reasons, than to sell them on your reasons as to why they should buy. Customers love to buy and own things, but they hate to be sold.
Your job is to share appropriate information with the customer as to why it makes sense to consider a system replacement, and allow them to discover for themselves the reasons to make specific choices.
Rarely does the appropriate information need to include equipment brochures and technical details. Instead, include information that addresses the concerns the customer shares freely and divulges in response to your questions. The answers need not be technical, rather they should convey your solution will put their concerns to rest once and for all and deliver the desired experience.
Consumers buy from people they trust and respect, not necessarily like. If you educate people on the buying process ALL good contractors should execute, you can easily differentiate yourself as a credible advisor. Simply let the customer know you don’t care what they decide, as long as they do it knowingly. This proves your intent to serve, and not sell and establish your position of trust.
These two criteria are critical in establishing a relationship with the customer. Customers more often buy from the person with whom they have a relationship.
After you’ve taken the time to actually get to know the customer and what’s important to them, and they determine they want what you have to offer, they’ll want to ensure it makes sense to them financially. To help the customer with this justification, share pricing information in a user-friendly manner.
Most consumers make large purchases with monthly payments, deferred payments and/or in-store financing (e.g., cars, appliances, furniture, electronics) because either they don’t have the money or it simply makes sense.
When quoting the investment for a new heating system, illustrate the monthly investment with an unsecured low fixed-rate fixed-term investment plan for up to 10 years; the monthly investment with an unsecured revolving payment plan (no-interest plans are available); the monthly investment with a secured low-interest tax deductible refinance or home improvement loan from 10 to 30 years (secure loans take longer to process); the payment and benefits of using a credit card; and the total investment at the bottom of the page if they choose to pay by check.
As needed, use cost of operation tools to show your customers how much they’re currently overpaying to heat their homes. Don’t talk in terms of savings at first, as there are no savings until the customer replaces their equipment. Instead, talk in terms of needlessly overpaying on energy when they can heat their house for less and turn the current overpayment into a tax-free savings that can work for them and pay for a new system.
Be sure to also show them a comparison between operating costs of a new system vs. their current system. Include current and potential repair costs as well as maintenance costs that must be paid for out of pocket if the customer keeps their old inefficient existing system versus the operating cost for new high-efficiency equipment that includes several years of parts and labor warranties and maintenance; a money back guarantee to remove and reverse the risk along with other guarantees to protect their investment and offer other peace of mind.
A customer who emotionally wants to improve the comfort of their home and solve other problems will see it makes sense economically to do so now versus waiting, repairing their existing system and paying more for a new system later along with the higher energy and repair costs in the interim.
Instead of being manipulative and trying to force a sale, you allow them to discover for themselves and make an informed decision.
The resistance you may experience on service and sales calls goes away when you communicate effectively with your customers and let them make choices instead of decisions. Choices usually result in the selection of one of several options, whereas decisions usually yield a buy or don’t buy outcome and paints the customer into a corner with an all or nothing proposition. Most people fearing risk or loss will decide not to purchase.
You don’t have to, and shouldn’t try to, sell or convince customers to buy a new system. When you lead from a perspective of serving, not selling, doing what’s in your customer’s best interest and sharing the appropriate information in a user-friendly manner, customers will choose to do business with you versus deciding not to.
Drew Cameron, president of HVAC Sellutions, works with contractors to implement effective lead generating marketing and build multi-million dollar profit-generating sales forces. He is founder of the Contractors Consultants of America (CCA), a founding member of the Contractor Advisory Group (CAG), a member of Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) as well as a Consult & Coach Partner with the ServiceRoundtable.com. Drew’s 37 years of experience in all facets of running a residential contracting business helps HVAC Sellutions serve contractors as “Revenue Resultants Driving Profit Performance.” To contact Drew for a free consultation call 1-888-621-7888 or visit www.hvacsellutions.com. Drew can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.