How do you follow up on a sales presentation when the potential customer doesn’t purchase immediately?
That’s the question we as HVAC contractors have been debating for a number of years. It’s especially important to a company like ours because our overall sales theory is to be informative and helpful but not pushy. That is, I don’t want us to be one that has a reputation that we’ll stay on the job until we get the sale. All of this doesn’t mean we don’t sell some on our first visit. We do — especially when it is warmer than 90°F outside, and we promise a crew will be on-site the next day. Nevertheless, a large number of our presentations don’t end up with an immediate sale. Hence comes the problem of how to best follow up with that potential customer.
This was brought directly to my attention earlier this week when I was having a conversation with a sales lady who was in the office attempting to sell me some product. We got into a discussion regarding selling and various sales techniques. She related a story that she needed to replace the windows in her home earlier this year. She contacted three top-notch companies, all of whom came out and made excellent presentations to her regarding the windows they were offering, the warranties, etc. She was impressed with all three companies and, interestingly enough, their prices were quite comparable. She explained to each one that she needed to do something regarding the windows, but she was just taking proposals right now and would be making a decision after she had everyone’s information and could assemble and understand it. And, now comes the problem. Despite being given the information they were given, not one of the companies made an effort to contact her following the original presentation. She was not only surprised, but somewhat insulted that no one bothered to reconnect with her. In her words, “They spent all of that time and effort to put together an excellent presentation and proposal, but none bothered to take five minutes to call or email me to see if I had any further questions and if they had a chance to obtain the business.”
This specific incident really made me consider how many jobs we may have lost merely based on the fact that we didn’t follow up to obtain the business.
I realize that some of you are going to say that windows are not HVAC systems. You’ll say a person can wait to change out their windows; however, if a furnace and/or air conditioner fails, they’ll be more apt to make a quick decision. However, we find that even in the heat of the summer here in St. Louis, many consumers will take at least a few days before making a decision regarding replacing part or all of their HVAC system. I’m really interested in your input regarding how you deal with following up after you have given a sales presentation. My email is at the top of the page; don’t hesitate to send me a note.
As a primer, I will explain what we have decided to try.
To begin, since nearly 100 percent of our proposals are presented in some type of email form — even when the sales engineer is on the job — we decided the best way to follow up with the consumer is also via email. We’ve worked very hard to develop language that we feel will be effective, but not obnoxious. This is what we developed:
“Hello and good morning Mr., Mrs., or Ms. ______. This is Salesman X with Welsch’s. I just wanted to follow up to see if you had any questions regarding the proposal we had provided. We’re very committed to earning your business. With more 100,000 installations and a 120-year history, I’m confident we will meet or exceed your expectations.
“If you have any questions, or would like to schedule the installation, please contact me or our office and we’ll be glad to assist you.
“Thanks again for the opportunity to provide you with a proposal.
The next issue for us is to make sure the office has the email address on all of the proposals made. This will be done by having the sales engineer copy the office when the proposal is sent. Therefore, no extra work is required. The sales engineers have agreed the follow-up should be done two to four days after the original presentation. This will be accomplished by the office staff. If the sales engineers sells the job, they’re obligated to inform the office staff right away so the follow-up isn’t errantly sent, making us look sloppy.
We’re not sure if this system will work, which is why we’re interested in your input and thoughts. At least the consumer cannot say we didn’t follow up and request the business.
Publication date: 8/31/2015