Terry Nicholson

In the HVAC circles that I run in, the question that pops up time after time is, “How can I help my salespeople sell more?”

Who doesn’t want to sell more? As an owner, that should be your focus since sales allow you to grow your company and serve your clients. When that question is posed to me, it’s usually followed up with a second question: “What can I do to inspire my salesperson to perform at a higher level?”

If you’re wondering the same thing, my response to you would be the same. Congratulations on recognizing the importance of having a salesperson in this wonderful HVAC world. If you’re going to be in residential service and replacement, you must have a competent salesperson that you can rely upon. A superstar salesperson will keep the big revenue coming in, and that’s where your profits will come from. And profits are how you grow your company.

As for the answer to your questions, here it is, but I’ll warn you, you’re not going to like it. In order for you to have a better salesperson, you must be a better sales manager. It’s always easier to lay the blame on others and point out that it’s their fault that they’re not selling. But to quote Harry Truman for the millionth time, “The buck stops here.”

If you’re a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to hire, train, and get the desired performance out of each of your sales pros. That is your job as a sales manager, and if you’re not achieving that, then not only is your salesperson failing, but you’re failing as a sales manager.

To help you become a better sales manager, I’ll share a three-step process in my next column. But before you can work to enhance the success of your sales team, you have to do one thing that is so often overlooked by sales managers. This is step one. You must change the way your team thinks.


In a survey of high school graduates who were on their way to college, the students were asked whether or not they could see themselves in sales. From their responses, only 3 percent of the students said they could ever see themselves in sales.

The implications of the survey are that sales isn’t perceived as a glamorous job. It’s not the career where 97 percent of people wanted to go or even thought they would go. They enter college with a negative perception of sales. They exit college with grandiose ideas about how they’ll make a lot of money and rise to the top. But then is sets reality.

And the reality is that nothing happens until a sale is made. As a result, by the time those young graduates are 28, 76 percent of them will have been in sales or are currently in sales.

They don’t recognize the fact that they are in one of the greatest professions in the world.  They now have the opportunity to control their fate. They are in the second-highest paid profession in the world. They aren’t tied to a desk or a truck all day long. They are able to help people overcome their challenges every day. And those are just a few of the incredible benefits of a career in sales.

However, most people now label themselves as failures in life because they aren’t able to overcome the negative connotations they’ve held about sales. Chances are most of your salespeople will fall into that same group.

Plus, if your company is like most I’ve seen in the HVAC industry, there are other people in your company adding to that negative impression of sales. The installers think they do all the work around here. Your service technicians think they are the brains of the operation because they can diagnose and troubleshoot. Your office people do all the phones and paperwork and feel like they keep things running.

There is a perception that all salespeople really do is talk to people, play golf, and get paid big commission checks. These people who have never walked into a home as a salesperson do not know the challenge of moving a person from a “No” to signing on the dotted line. Many people in your own company, including some owners, actually talk down to salespeople because of these perceptions. If that’s the case, you’ll have to work even harder to change your sales team’s self-perception.

Therefore, the first thing you must do as a sales manager is to tell your salespeople how valuable they are to your company and to your clients. So show them how fortunate they are to be in sales and present all of the benefits that come with being a salesperson. In the end, you must sell your salespeople on selling.

When you sell your salespeople on selling, they’ll be fired up, and having a fired-up sales team is how you make money every day.

Publication date:05/19/2008