Sales Strategies For HVAC Field Techs To Sell Customers On-Site
June 23, 2023
HVAC field techs primary responsibility is maintaining, repairing, and installing HVAC units. One aspect of being a field tech that's often overlooked is the need to perform in-person customer transactions. Whether a customer requires a new HVAC unit or needs to spend money on a costly repair, you're tasked with convincing them that they need the service or product you're selling.
Getting more HVAC leads is one thing, but selling to customers in person poses its own set of challenges. If you don't make a concerted effort to implement sales techniques into your everyday routine, getting a customer to agree to a repair or upgrade may be more difficult than you anticipate. While every customer is different, there are some highly effective sales strategies you can use when you're with customers on-site.
Actionable Sales Tips to Consider
While recent data shows HVAC companies are managing fairly well in this challenging economic environment, field pros know that whether you're dealing with residential or commercial customers, there are some actionable sales tips that should always be at the forefront of your mind.
Communicate Clearly and Succinctly
First, make sure you communicate clearly and succinctly about how you and your services will resolve the problem the customer is going through. Practice your main sales pitch before you get to the customer's home or business. When speaking with your customer, spend more time talking about how they personally benefit from your services and less time on the physical result of the work you do. Let's say that a retail store has asked you to inspect their HVAC system. While you could mention that your work will give them a properly functioning unit, it's better to talk about how the repairs you provide will keep the store's customers happy and comfortable while they shop.
Add Value Whenever Possible
If a customer is hesitant about buying a new HVAC system or upgrading their thermostat, the last thing you want to do is pressure them into making a purchase decision that they won't be satisfied with. This is a good way to lose their business forever.
View an on-site conversation as a new opportunity to speak to customers about services or benefits they might not be aware of. For instance, homeowners may not realize that HVAC zoning systems allow different areas of the home to be set to different temperatures.
Modern customers love bundles that allow them to obtain several services in a single package. For instance, an HVAC bundle can provide residential and commercial customers with air filter replacements and air quality testing alongside the standard maintenance services.
Meet Customer Needs
Let's say that you're visiting a customer's home because they want to have their existing HVAC system maintained. When providing maintenance, you may discover that the thermostat is an older model that doesn't efficiently heat and cool the home. In this scenario, you have the opportunity to upsell the customer by recommending a smart thermostat that runs the system more efficiently. More efficient HVAC units have less wear and tear and last longer, which means the customer saves money in the long run.
Be Transparent About Pricing
HVAC field techs often get lost in the weeds of explaining how their services and equipment add value. While the customer needs to know how they benefit from the service you're providing, don't forget to be transparent about pricing.
If you believe that a repair requires special equipment or will take more time than usual, you'll need to communicate this information upfront. During your initial conversation with the customer, tell them about any extra costs that could arise during a larger project. Being transparent with them shows that you're reliable and trustworthy.
Provide Something for Free
It's altogether common to deal with homeowners and business owners who are more reluctant to obtain the services they need. Don't make the mistake of being too pushy during this conversation. Instead, offer something for free that the customer otherwise wouldn't have access to. You could offer a customer six months of free maintenance if they purchase an extended warranty or sign up for your maintenance plan. When a customer feels like they're getting a great deal, they're more liable to continue doing business with you.
Selling HVAC Maintenance Contracts
Whether you're out conducting repairs or performing maintenance, a big part of your job involves selling HVAC maintenance contracts to new and existing customers. Your customers need to know how they benefit from signing up for a maintenance contract. From seasonal maintenance to priority service, the advantages are clear. However, the customer doesn't know the same things you do.
To more effectively sell HVAC maintenance contracts, give customers important information before you even provide service. When you give quotes for repairs or maintenance to customers who don't have a contract, include pricing details on what the costs would be for the same service if they had a maintenance plan.
You should also incorporate figures whenever possible. Tell your customer how long their furnace will last if they have it maintained. Every customer understands that repairs are costly. What they don't always know is how much they'll save on repair work with their current air conditioner. Even though you'll be conversing with customers on-site, you should be ready with real numbers.
Understand How to Sell Warranties
Selling warranties is commonplace among HVAC field techs and is an effective way to build your revenues. Regardless of the type of warranty you provide, selling them before performing a job isn't always easy. Customers don't want to spend more if they don't have to. Below are some suggestions on how to express the benefits of buying a warranty.
Know Exactly What's Included
The biggest mistake HVAC field techs make when selling customers warranties is not knowing the specific details about what the warranty includes. It's not enough to tell the customer that the warranty gives them added protection. They need to know how long the warranty lasts and when it will be valid. Be prepared to inform the customer about the warranty's:
Possible circumstances that could void warranty
Length of coverage
Initial start date
Which parts and components are covered
Steps on warranty registration
How to file warranty claim
If labor costs are covered
The warranties you offer are invariably helpful, which is why it should never feel like it's impossible for you to properly communicate the benefits.
Emphasize Ease of Use
If the customer you're speaking with is showing interest in an extended warranty, they'll likely want to be reassured that the claims process will go well for them if ever an issue occurs. Before you start selling warranties, make sure you're using a warranty program that has clear details about what's covered and provides customers with an easy-to-use claim management system.
If the customer you sell an extended warranty to makes a claim but ends up waiting months to receive reimbursement, they could focus their ire on you. Tell them that they can call you directly if they ever have problems with their warranty. Anything you can do to ease their concerns will be greatly appreciated.
Talk About Warranty at the Right Time
To make sure the customer you're speaking with is confident and comfortable about buying an HVAC warranty, you need to convince them that they're making a great decision. Doing so is nearly impossible when their old HVAC unit has yet to be removed. The best time to offer a warranty is after you've provided excellent service. If a customer is satisfied with the work you've done, they're more liable to purchase a warranty.
Most homeowners and business owners don't have much experience with replacing an HVAC system. These appliances can last for well over a decade when properly maintained. If it's clear that this is a new experience for your customer, your goal should be to compare the value that a warranty provides to other major purchases that come with extended warranties. For instance, auto dealers tend to offer extended warranties that go further than the manufacturer's warranty. Explain to the customer how your warranty is like other extended warranties that they might have had experience with.
It will be easier for you to get your point across if you know exactly how much the warranty costs by month and by year. Compare these costs with the expense for one major repair. You can also divide the annual costs into a weekly expense. Customers find the cost of a warranty appealing if you say that it costs less per week than a gallon of gas.
Utilizing Upselling and Cross-selling Techniques
Two of the most important tools in an HVAC field tech's arsenal are upselling and cross-selling. If your existing customers have already obtained repairs and maintenance in the past, you have an opportunity to boost your revenues and profits by recommending an upsell or cross-sell.
Talk to the customer about the different services and products they can select during the repair or installation process. Let's say that a commercial client has requested that you provide a major repair to their existing unit. Take this chance to tell them about the benefits of replacing their unit and the types of equipment that can make their business more efficient.
Another option involves cross-selling by offering various types of maintenance and repair services aside from HVAC ones. If you also offer air quality services, you shouldn't find it too difficult to cross-sell these services and help solve a broader problem that your customer has. Even if you don't offer other services, consider getting in touch with a subcontractor you know who can provide this work and help you obtain good commissions.
Practice with Scripts and Conversation Scenarios
You can't be certain how effective your on-site sales techniques will be until you use them in the field. There are some basic scripts and conversation scenarios that can help you navigate on-site customer conversations until you notice improvement.
Life as an HVAC field tech is often busy, which is something that can subtly hurt your sales technique. When you're trying to efficiently get from one job to another, you can easily make the mistake of making a new customer feel rushed. In this scenario, you likely won't be able to build trust with them. To start building trust, you need to slow down and ask HVAC-related questions. Some of the questions that can get you started include:
How long has this been going on?
Has anyone else looked at your HVAC system before?
Do you know how much energy you're losing?
Any idea of why your HVAC system is causing you trouble?
Listen to all the answers you receive before providing in-depth responses. By building trust, it's more likely that you'll gain a long-term customer who will enter into a service agreement and only work with you.
Homeowners tend to find sales representatives to be untrustworthy. In fact, only around 32% of buyers believe that sales reps are trustworthy. This can be made even worse if your customer doesn't receive an explanation about the type of work you're doing. Homeowners and business owners alike complain that HVAC field techs get in and out without saying much of anything. To avoid this issue, use the following sales script:
"Mr. Johnson, these repairs will take around two to three hours to complete. Are you okay with this?
You are? That's good. The first thing I'm going to do is look at the issue you've identified and see what I discover.
I'll then inspect all the HVAC components, which include the outdoor unit, indoor unit, thermostat, and vents.
You can either come along to get a better idea of what I'm looking at or wait until I've performed the initial inspection. What would be best for you?
Focus on the Customer's Pain
As a field tech, you're going to be traveling to different homes and businesses every day, which eventually makes your work feel routine. When you arrive at a customer's home or business, their experience is much different than your own. If the customer's HVAC unit is malfunctioning or their air isn't being properly filtered, they will likely be frustrated. Put yourself in their shoes to understand their pain and the scope of their problems.
Your goal during the initial visit is to identify the customer's pain points when it comes to their HVAC system. Ask some of the following questions:
Can you give me some more information about what you're going through?
Have you attempted to fix the problem yourself?
How long has this issue been going on?
Does everyone in your home or business have the same complaint?
Have you noticed any other signs that your HVAC system needs to be repaired?
Do you have anything else you'd like me to take a look at?
Asking the right questions should help you build customer loyalty.
Unique Sales Techniques
There are a couple unique sales techniques that you should investigate when you're trying to earn more customers as an HVAC field tech.
Introduce Customer Needs
One of the easiest mistakes to make when in the field is to only focus on solving the customer's specific problem. Let's say that a potential customer calls you and mentions that their HVAC system isn't emitting cool air. While you'll want to immediately respond to this problem by delivering the necessary repairs, there are other opportunities available to you.
Instead of just providing the fix and leaving, speak with the customer about why they might want to replace their existing system and the benefits they'll receive by doing so. For instance, if you inform your customer that they'll likely be spending thousands of dollars in repairing their old HVAC system over the next five years, you're introducing a problem that you have the solution to.
Keep the Hammock Effect in Mind
The hammock effect is an all-too-common issue when selling to customers in the field. Buyers only pay attention to around 60-70% of the information they receive when a sales rep is speaking with them. Their attention to what you're saying will be the highest at the end of the conversation. However, attention often drifts during the middle, which can result in your customer forgetting most of what you told them.
To fight against the hammock effect and keep your customers tuned in to what you're saying, you need to spike their attention in a manner that allows them to become reengaged in the conversation. Take this time to speak with them about how much money they'll lose every month by continuing to use an inefficient HVAC system. Use real numbers that will keep them interested. Even when a unit has a 16 SEER rating, customers can save up to $2,500 over the course of 10 years, which amounts to just under $21 per month.
Growth Potential of Better Sales Efforts
Adopting better sales techniques might not seem worth it if you don't have tangible evidence that your efforts are making a difference, which is why it's highly recommended that you use tools that allow you to track your performance.
Developing strong sales methods can pay dividends. For instance, providing customers with a great experience during an on-site visit increases the likelihood that they will continue doing business with you. If you improve your customer retention rates by as little as 5%, you can increase your profits by anywhere from 25-95%.
As an HVAC field tech, one of the biggest concerns is losing potential customers to "no decision". Upwards of 50-60% of customers don't come to a decision when they're thinking of upgrading to a new unit or obtaining maintenance for their existing one. While they might call you back in the future, it's much more likely that they won't choose to follow through. Any steps you take to reduce the number of customers who don't come to a decision can make a difference when it comes to your profits and revenues.
HVAC Sales Courses
Knowing all the technical aspects of being an effective HVAC field tech is only half of the job. You also need to know how to market your skills and sell the services you offer. There are several reputable HVAC sales courses that will give you the training you require to be a great salesperson. These courses include:
As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect". Taking continual steps to improve your on-site sales strategies will help you grow and gain long-term success as an HVAC field tech. The questions, motivations, and behaviors that your customers have will differ with each visit. As such, when you first start out, mistakes are inevitable. By addressing these missteps and adopting new techniques, you'll eventually cultivate a broad sales strategy that allows you to deftly navigate customer opportunities to win more business.
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