ACHRNEWS

Smart HVAC: Residential Smart HVAC Requires Lifestyle Selling

October 8, 2007

Smart HVAC is a concept that, simply put, deals with technical products and how they improve consumer comfort. Lifestyle selling, simply put, is a process proven to maximize smart HVAC sales in the residential sector. What’s lifestyle selling? Let me explain.

STEPS TO SELLING SMART HVAC

There are three steps to this marketing process, all aimed to help residential contractors take advantage of the smart HVAC trend.

Step 1: Turn technical features into lifestyle benefits.

Remember, people don’t buy smart HVAC products. Rather, they buy benefits that improve their lives.

To sell smart HVAC, the first step residential contractors must do is translate technical features into the physical, emotional, and financial benefits consumers want to own today. For an example of how this works, let’s use one of the original smart HVAC products - the programmable thermostat.

• Physical benefits: When the nighttime temperature is automatically lowered, the exterior temperature of the human brain is also lowered. Research shows the temperature that produces brain activity most conducive to a good night’s sleep is about 64° to 68°. A huge, yet often overlooked, physical benefit of a programmable thermostat is a better night’s sleep.

Convenience is another physical benefit that can have a huge affect on the homeowner’s lifestyle. A growing number of people won’t have to put their glasses on to read the temperature or physically change the setting before going to bed. Many other buyers will no longer get mad at themselves for wasting energy by forgetting to reset the temperature before leaving home, which brings us to the strongest human motivator, emotions.

• Emotional benefits: Residential buyers feel first and rationalize later. Feelings, not facts, sell more residential smart products and accessories than all other benefits put together. Every physical fact has an emotional benefit concealed in it somewhere. The emotional benefit hiding under a better night’s sleep could easily be the homeowner’s proud feeling of knowing their children are sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed and ready to meet the challenges of every new day.

Peace of mind is the strongest emotional benefit for the vast majority of buyers. If the smart HVAC products you sell have anything to do with family health, safety, or security, the emotional benefits you offer outweigh the selling price for about 80 percent of all buyers.

Reliability is another potentially off-the-scale emotional benefit. A small feature like a light on the programmable thermostat telling the homeowners it’s time to maintain the air purifier could be the tipping point of the entire sale, especially if a clogged filter caused serious problems in the past.

Don’t underestimate the emotional power of prestige, either. About 10 percent of buyers are “early adoptors.” In other words, if it’s new and their friends don’t have it, they want it. An even larger group will buy smart HVAC products if they are noticeably different than the ones the neighbors own.

Envy also drives a growing number of smart HVAC sales every year. A consumer could walk past a friend’s programmable thermostat without consciously noticing it. Suddenly their subconscious mind captures this bit of information and starts sending the message, “I need one too.”

• Financial benefits: Financial benefits provide logical reasons humans need to justify their emotional decision to buy. Virtually nothing consumers can buy provides more financial benefits than smart HVAC equipment, components, and accessories.

When you consider how much an unassuming product like a programmable thermostat saves in energy bills over its life, it’s a wonder not every home has one installed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Americans spend about 46 cents of every dollar they pay in utility bills for “space conditioning.” The exciting news is homeowners can save around 10 percent a year on their heating and cooling bills by simply turning their thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours a day. Homeowners who pay $1,000 per year in utility bills would save about $920 over 20 years. When buyers discover the financial benefits your smart HVAC products provide, watch your sales soar.

To sell smart HVAC, residential contractors must translate technical features of smart HVAC into the physical, emotional, and financial benefits consumers want to own today. The three are needed to complete the triangle - and the sale. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

TWO MORE STEPS TO SUCCESS

Now that you have tugged at the emotional angle with your residential customer, it’s on to the other needed steps to help sell smart HVAC products.

Step 2: Turn lifestyle benefits into smart questions.

Did you know the most powerful method of persuasion is asking intelligent questions? The most important hurdle to cross when selling smart HVAC is overcoming consumers’ natural resistance to buy technical products they didn’t know existed and don’t know if they want. Fly past this hurdle by asking smart questions.

The right questions are what allow buyers to discover new ways to improve their lives with your smart HVAC solutions. If you don’t learn their problems, thoughts, ideas, and feelings, you won’t know which smart benefits to present. The smart questions you ask determine which smart HVAC products you’ll sell.

Step 3: Give them an opportunity to buy.

Homeowners can get every physical and emotional benefit they want and not buy. They may even be able to fund the entire project with energy savings and still not buy. Amazing, you say? Not really. It happens thousands of time every day because the contractor didn’t give the potential customers an opportunity to buy.

Henry Ford bought one of the largest life insurance policies in history. It was so large it became the subject of a front page story in a Detroit newspaper. A friend of Ford’s who sold life insurance read the story and made a hurried call.

“Henry, why didn’t you buy that policy from me?” Without hesitation, Ford said, “You never asked.”

Put it all together and this is lifestyle selling. It’s the best way to sell and market smart HVAC to the residential sector.

Publication date: 10/08/2007