The Unified Group recognizes the value of closing an HVAC sale.

The organization of independent mechanical contractors recently welcomed 52 professional HVAC representatives to a sales forum in Alexandria, Virginia. The event — which was the organization’s largest sales forum to date — focused on the sales role within an HVAC company by setting realistic sales goals based on individual goals and strengths, differentiation, and niche markets.

David Dickens, service sales, facilities service group division, Interstate Mechanical Corp. (IMCOR) in Phoenix, said, The Unified Group is unique in the way it creates fantastic curriculum that can be immediately applied to your sales/strategy repertoire.

“Every person at The Unified Group cares,” he continued. “The people who attended the conference are truly working on forging beneficial relationships to help themselves achieve personal and company goals and, ultimately, take better care of their customers.”


Before the event, The Unified Group had each attendee complete a profile that included a question regarding sales close ratios. The five members with the highest close ratios were asked to participate in a “Best in Class” panel at the event, moderated by Marty Rosica, owner of Deptford, New Jersey-based Hawks and Co.

“We have some new hires in our company who have direct contact with our customers, and we thought it’d be good for everyone to get on the same page,” Rosica said. “The session taught us to increase our return on investment as salespeople and gave us new tools to help us achieve it.”

Attendees also heard from members and clients representing several vertical markets, including health care, manufacturing/industrial, commercial office/property management, and data centers. Panelists shared best-practice approaches for each niche, focusing on specific strengths and challenges.

Sam Richter, an internationally recognized expert on sales intelligence and online reputation management, gave a dynamic presentation on sales intelligence and how individuals can better utilize Internet-based search techniques to better prepare for a sales meeting.

“He discussed how to turn cold calls into warm calls, which really opened my eyes to ways to find more information on current and prospective companies and customers,” Dickens said. “I pride myself in spending time understanding my customers’ business models upfront, and, now, I’m spending more time trying to understand my customers, which is leading to more expedited sales and stronger relationships.”

After Richter’s presentation, attendees split into eight breakout groups and were given a sales scenario of a potential client they had a meeting with the next day. Each scenario used real people and companies. Utilizing the information gathered from the vertical market panel discussions, the search techniques from Richter, and feedback from their facilitators, each group was tasked with researching the client, company, and any other information they could find to help prepare for the first call. The next day, each facilitator assigned one group member to roleplay as the client, and each group pitched the sale. Then, two groups were asked to execute the demonstration before all in attendance.

“I played the salesman and one of my peers played the customer,” said Tom Rutkowski, service manager, Climate Engineers Inc., Hiawatha, Iowa. “They didn’t mention the curveballs they threw out on the fly. In my case, the customer pulled out a cellphone and started texting, gave short answers to open-ended questions, and really made it a challenging experience. In the end, I was able to achieve the goal, but it was, without a doubt, the hardest sales pitch I’ve ever had to give — especially in front of a large group of peers. After going through this, even the most challenging customer or situation will not compare.”

Rutkowski praised the event’s ability to develop his skills in a hands-on environment with his peers — an experience that trumps learning from a book or lecture. “The group information presented is always great, but conversing with several peers on what is or isn’t working for them is priceless,” Rutkowski said. “Knowing this information can help you avoid potential obstacles others have seen, which is helpful when you’re implementing a business plan.”

Publication date: 11/16/2015

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