When it comes to IAQ sales, the traditional mindset is that HVAC contractors have not been able to successfully tap into this lucrative market. A recent report from Navigant Research states that worldwide revenue from IAQ systems will grow substantially over the next six years — specifically, from $3.3 billion in 2014 to nearly $5.6 billion in 2020.
“Unfortunately, it’s estimated that HVAC contractors only contribute about 10 percent of this total dollar amount,” said HVAC trainer Eric Andrews, cofounder of Success4Others LLC.
While many might whine about the 90 percent of the market going through retail channels, there are HVAC contractors across the country — the 10-percenters, if you will — who have a successful revenue stream from IAQ sales. While these contractors don’t claim to have a silver bullet, they say implementing good sales techniques and providing customers with options are key to closing IAQ sales.
Good Sales Techniques Are Universal
If HVAC contractors start by viewing IAQ sales as different from other sales, they just might be setting themselves up for failure. Good sales techniques are universal, say the 10-percenters, so the same tactics used to close any other type of equipment sale also apply to closing IAQ sales.
“All good salespeople and technicians should always be finding the pain their clients have and then taking it away with options,” said Tim Paetz, general manager of Bud Anderson Heating and Cooling, Lowell, Arkansas.
According to Paetz, when the customers’ pain is IAQ-related, they will be willing to purchase IAQ products.
“We have found that our clients, when educated properly, do not mind investing in IAQ products,” Paetz said.
Matthew Kuntz, vice president, Jupiter-Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric Inc., Jupiter, Florida, said the key to closing sales lies in solving customer’s problems.
“We install whatever product solves the client’s issues,” he said. “Closing the sale comes to giving the client a solution to the problem, educating the client on the correct product to fix or eliminate the issue, and giving him or her options for investing in the product.”
Often, he said, IAQ products are the solution for customers with allergies. “The main problems we run across are allergies or problems when a client comes home and gets a runny nose or stuffed up,” he said. “Most consumers don’t know their homes are often dirtier than the outside, and in some cases, 100 times dirtier.”
Andrews confirmed that closing IAQ sales should be no different than closing any other type of sale.
“First of all, the art of sales is nothing more than the successful transfer of belief. If you buy into everything you see and hear in the news and around your office about how poor the economy is doing, you’re going to have a very difficult time selling anything, not just IAQ products,” Andrews said.
“Oftentimes, we let our own personal objections get in the way of offering our products and services to clients. If you don’t have the money to be able to afford these products, don’t automatically assume that our customers don’t, either. Or, if you don’t suffer from bad allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, don’t assume that our customers don’t, either.”
Options, Options, and More Options
Another goal of IAQ sales is to provide customers with options. In Andrews’ opinion, the majority of customers are not even aware their contractors can offer them IAQ options.
“Our customers simply do not know that we offer them. Instead, homeowners buy them online and in the big-box stores because that’s where they see them.”
A simple sales technique to counteract this is to let customers know what IAQ products you offer.
“It’s really simple. Offer them to every customer, every call, and you’d be surprised what you will sell,” Andrews said.
Bob Zahm, president of Huntington Heating & Cooling, Huntington, Indiana, is one contractor who uses this approach, and his company has won awards for IAQ sales over the last few years.
“We developed an accessory sheet with 24 items ranging in price from $35-$1,964 that the technicians give to the homeowner during the service or maintenance call,” Zahm explained.
Using the sheet, he said the technician then follows a script similar to: “I noticed on my initial review of your system that you do not have a _______ and thought you might be interested in knowing some of the products available to provide cleaner, safer air in your home and protect your investment with a surge protector. I will leave this with you while I continue with your service today. If there are any questions or an item is of interest, let me know.”
Zahm said the accessory sheet includes four air cleaner options, UV lights, odor killers, humidifiers, ventilation items, dehumidifiers, carbon monoxide/gas detectors, and more.
He added that his techs are trained every week on “offering solutions, not selling.”
“They constantly tell us they are not salesmen. However, we remind them that they do sales daily in their personal lives, such as convincing their spouses they need a new truck, boat, gun, etc.,” Zahm said.
Another way to change the technician mindset is to train them that providing customers with options is a way of showing respect, Andrews said.
“Check your personal objections or buying habits at the door, and treat every customer with respect by offering them options,” he said. “Think about this — it is my job to educate our customers on what all of their options are, and let them decide whether or not they are interested in them. … Now, more than ever, people want options.”
Getting in on IAQ Action
As the IAQ market continues to expand, there should be ample opportunities for HVAC contractors to sell these products to their customers. “More and more consumers are seeing the benefit to having these products installed to eliminate problems in the future,” Kuntz said.
But HVAC contractors must also buy in to succeed at IAQ sales.
“If your people believe in the products, that’s what makes the difference,” Paetz said.
Andrews added one last tip for how contractors can learn about IAQ products and improve sales. “The best way to sell any product is to be a consumer yourself. That’s right — put these products in your home,” he said.
“We’ve talked about how sales is nothing more than the successful transfer of belief, and experiencing what these products truly do for you is the best way to become a believer yourself.”
Publication date: 7/14/2014