December 18, 2014

Why your techs are your best lead generators

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So it’s the end of the year, and you’re looking at your numbers and asking yourself, “How could I have made more sales this year?”  The answer is simple—train your technicians to become the best non-sales salespeople in the industry.

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. Your tech is in the home of a customer whose older system has started to present some hot and cold spots throughout the home. The tech makes the repair, schedules a follow-up call to ensure the customer is seeing positive results, and the call is finished.
  2. Your tech is in the home of a customer whose older system has started to present some hot and cold spots throughout the home. The tech talks with the customer about the Lennox Ultimate Comfort System and the possibility of transitioning the older unit to a newer, more technologically advanced unit combination with better efficiency and energy savings. The homeowner considers the offer while the technician makes the repair. The tech then schedules a follow-up to introduce the homeowner to a Comfort Advisor, who will set up an appointment to review potential product upgrades.

How much did your company make in scenario one? How much potential revenue does your company have in scenario two?

In the HVAC Learning Solutions course Service Sales Excellence™, technicians learn how to harness the confidence and communication skills needed to begin a sale on location with a homeowner, allowing a Comfort Advisor to return to make the full presentation. Service Sales Excellence™ will reinforce the following lessons for selling for non-salespeople:

  1. How to identify a potential sale in any service call.
  2. Communication 101 for starting the “sales” conversation with the homeowner.
  3. How to effectively set up the sale for a Comfort Advisor, including dialogue scripts for confident sales.
  4. How to transition a sale from technician to Comfort Advisor.

When it comes to making your numbers soar in 2015, consider the valuable training HVAC Learning Solutions has to offer technicians and Comfort Advisors alike at all experience levels.

For more information on HVAC Learning Solutions training courses, visit www.hvacls.com.

 

December 16, 2014

How do you know you lost a customer?

How do you know you lost a customer

If there’s one thing we know about the modern customer, it’s that they make their primary buying decisions based on word-of-mouth referrals. So when it comes to good and bad customer experiences alike, your chances of the story spreading throughout the customer’s community, PTA group, or social media networks is pretty high — which means if you’ve lost one customer, you’ve probably just lost a lot more.

So how do you know you’ve lost a customer? And how do you prevent it from happening? Cover your bases with these four tips:

  1. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Calling your customer post-service call does three things. First, it shows you view them as a customer and not just another unit or wallet. Secondly, it shows them your outstanding work ethic. And lastly, it helps you gain insight into whether they’re still a customer. If they didn’t answer, had negative feedback, or worse, it’s time to kick it up to high gear and try to recover from a negative experience. 
  2. Don’t just maintain customers, retain customers. Sure, showing up on time, being friendly, and getting the job done are part of customer maintenance. But going above and beyond for the sake of retaining the customer is key. Something as small as a handwritten note to thank them for their continued loyalty, or even to recognize their birthday, will prove exponentially rewarding.
  3. Perform monthly checks of your customer database. The more familiar you are with your customers, the more familiar they will be with you. If you perform a monthly check of your customer database, you can keep a pulse on the status of their system and follow-ups, as well as reminders for maintenance and service of their units.
  4. Remember—the customer may not always be correct, but the customer is always right. It’s an unfortunate truth that some customers will just never be happy. Just remember that you are both an expert in the field and a guest in their home, so be kind, courteous, and treat them with respect, regardless of the situation at hand.

From going the extra mile to being kind and courteous and performing your work with a smile, customer retention is a key factor to the success of your growing business. If you perform these four simple steps, you will be on your way to improving your customer experience and your word-of-mouth reputation in no time.

From tips for technicians to advice for dealers, I offer daily insights on Facebook and Twitter — join the conversation today!

December 11, 2014

The importance of tracking leads

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What does one lost lead cost you? How many leads fell through the cracks in the last fiscal year? What was the average return on a sales lead last month? Which comfort advisor handled the most leads last quarter? How many of these questions do you have an answer for?

The answers to these questions are the lifeline of your business and boil down to one important practice — tracking leads.

But why is it important to track your leads, and what does that information mean to your business? Tracking leads helps you…

  • Analyze your goalsWhat gets measured gets results. When you track your leads you have a tangible idea of the amount of business you acquire and execute, which you can then base goals off of to help motivate your company for the following sales period.
  • Improve customer retention — Did Miss Jones buy her unit back in 2012, or 2013? Is it time for her one-year check up, or two? When you have a database of leads, you can use that information to proactively contact the customer for future maintenance and service instead of potentially losing them to a blind online search when their unit needs service.
  • Improve new customer acquisition — When a new sales lead comes through the pipeline, it’s vital to your success to make sure the lead doesn’t fall through the cracks. Tracking leads helps with initial customer contact, follow up, future maintenance, and service touch points.
  • Track employee performance — Knowing how many leads each team member has tackled comes in handy when it comes down to crunching numbers at the end of the year, or identifying if you need to hire more comfort advisors for the next season.
  • Gauge marketing effectiveness — Did that radio jingle you just run provide any leads? How about the social media advertising you just bought? Tracking leads helps you track the correlation between leads and the effectiveness of your marketing.

Tracking leads is more than just tracking money in and money out; it’s about bettering customer acquisition and retention, measuring and setting goals, and staying in the know about your marketing efforts and employees’ performance after each and every call.

HVAC Learning Solutions offers an instant download Sales Lead Tracking Tool™ for dealers with up to $5 million in revenue. For more information, visit http://shop.hvacls.com/salesandleadtrackingtool.aspx.

 

December 11, 2014

Selling to women: what you need to know

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By Matt Plughoff

When it comes to sales, it’s imperative to know how to address each and every customer in any situation that may be on the other side of the door. For example, selling to a 30-something bachelor is very different than selling to a stay-at-home mom.

As an instructor of HVAC sales courses, I often get asked for tips on selling to women, since they are the primary decision-makers of the household. So I’ve outlined a few basic sales etiquette techniques that can be used in many field situations, from sales to service.

1.  Assume nothing.  Always avoid gender stereotypes.  You’ll never go wrong treating people with sincerity, gratitude, and respect.

2.  Communicate clearly.  Communicate in a clear, direct manner with context for understanding in order to build a case for your sale. Trying to skew a message to “fit” an audience is more likely to backfire and potentially offend the customer.

3.  Treat every customer as a potential buyer. The U.S. workforce has shifted in recent years.  Forty percent of U.S. homes have a female breadwinner.  Certain cultural stereotypes regarding women and “the head of the household” may no longer apply.

4.  Listen to what is important to the customer. Did the customer mention the kids are asthmatic? What about their passion for energy efficiency? Really listen and engage with your customer and your attention to detail will pay off ten fold.

Remember that respect, sincerity, and gratitude are universal. With my four tips, plus a little extra attention to social cues and a sincere helpful attitude, you can ensure a pleasant experience for both you and the customer each and every time.

Guest blogger Matt Plughoff is a trainer for the Master Selling course series by HVAC Learning Solutions.

 

December 9, 2014

Keep an open mind to hire the right team

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Old habits die hard. So when it comes to hiring, it’s normal to have specific set of criteria that you generally look for. You might think that this will allow you to hire the best technicians and the most well-rounded team, but beware personal biases that could cause you to pass up the best candidates.

Here are three common misconceptions about hiring:

Hiring only leaders: Leaders in your company should take initiative and be proactive, but those are not the only people you should consider for open positions. Every company needs a good balance, but it’s important to avoid the old adage of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” A healthy balance of people will not only help your company stay on track, but it will also make for a unified, cohesive team.

Personality types: There are usually two types of personalities employers look for when hiring: extroverts and introverts. For service-based businesses, there is a need for both types in order to cater to a wide range of customers. Extroverts will be more comfortable dealing with customers directly, but the introverts might yield better results with problem solving and managing the smaller details extroverts tend to overlook. Keep in mind that customers may respond to either personality type, depending on the situation, so it’s important to hire both.

Company culture: Culture within a company is important to keep in mind when hiring, but don’t discount those who don’t fit the culture right away. Focus on their resume — if they fit the job and have the skills required to do the job well, they are worth a chance. Don’t judge a book by its cover; sometimes those who don’t seem to fit at first can become your best employees.

Take a look at your hiring habits and ask yourself, “Am I hiring with an open mind?” Build a more diversified team to help balance out personality types, leaders, and organizers, as well as people who will shape or adapt to your company culture.

What criteria do you use to hire? Tell us your techniques on Twitter at @HVACLearning using #HVACHiring.

  • Meet Mike Moore

    Mike Moore isn't just an HVAC expert;
    he also knows a thing or two about
    HVAC employee training. As one of
    HVAC Learning Solutions founders
    and Director of Training, his biggest
    goal is to help HVAC leaders and
    technicians grow their business
    and build lasting skills. This
    University of Kansas grad has
    a contagious personality, a lot
    of knowledge, and a knack for
    providing HVAC training
    and development.