Through working with dozens of HVAC distributors across the country, I have the unique opportunity to observe differences in leadership structure, styles, execution, philosophies, and implementation. Distributors, dealers, and manufactures all tend to be sales-driven organizations and share year-after-year business goals to increase sales and profit margins.

This starts by creating a culture that allows people to thrive and not just survive.

When you find the right people, it’s important to ensure they’ve been placed in the appropriate roles with the appropriate tools and resources to get the job done.


At the top of every distributor’s business plan should be, “New Dealer Acquisition.”

Territory managers (TMs) don’t always find the task of recruiting new dealers to be easy or even something they do very well. When I had TMs as direct reports, I evaluated their sales and thought process on a regular basis. An excellent question to ask your TMs is what they believe their roles are and how their performance should be evaluated. You may be very surprised how many tend to use the word “maintain” in their job descriptions.

It’s imperative that TMs understand they are in sales and not in the maintenance business.

A few questions to ask yourself:

1)         What are your TM’s abilities to be intentional on every dealer call?

2)         Do they have a true purpose when visiting the dealer?

3)         Do they have the skillset to be the dealer’s personal consultant?

4)         Do they have and understand the new dealer recruitment process?

5)         Do they have an initial engaging opening line?

6)         Do they have an effective 30-second elevator speech.

For years I utilized a 5-3-3 new dealer process, where each TM targeted five new dealer prospects, called on a minimum of three of those prospects each week, and converted a minimum of three dealers per quarter. What would it mean to your organization if, on average, each TM brought on 12 new dealers every year? Please remember that simply having a dealer sign an agreement, even if it includes a sales commitment, does not mean anything until the dealer is purchasing on a regular basis.

Many companies have a value proposition and utilize it as a point of differentiation.

Is your value prop: “We have a good equipment line, stock, and sell accessories; offer job site delivery; have multiple locations; offer online ordering; and are competitively priced?” If that’s what you’re saying so is almost everyone else.


Dealers know who you are and what you do. Now, they need to know why they should be doing business with you.

Here’s what you should be leveraging:

1)         Build a dealer proposition and benefit package that starts with lead generation.

2)         Provide a turn-key kitchen table sales process that your dealers can easily implement. Overall nothing will create a higher level of dealer loyalty than lead generation.

3)         Eliminate price objections, with dealer benefits.

4)         Help the dealer generate high-ROI internet leads. The return on investment (ROI) for money spent for internet lead generation in the HVAC is significant, yet most dealers will tell you the ROI is poor.

As a leader, you need to provide TMs with the education necessary to provide value to the dealers. That may be sales training, a better understanding of the internet, and/or technical or business training. You need to create a new dealer recruiting package/plan that will instantly catch prospective dealers’ attentions. Create a business plan for dealers that will help them grow their businesses. The dealers who truly wish to grow are those you want to do business with. As they grow, so will you.