Aren’t sales and marketing the same? No.

Marketing is a method by which sales opportunities are created. Marketing can bring you the leads, but if you can’t close them, what’s the point? 

I interviewed a young man for a marketing job the other day. He contended that his sales experience translated into marketing prowess. I told him, without attaching superiority to either skill, it was like comparing a tournament fisherman to a commercial angler. One is more event-focused; the other more process-focused; both catch fish — or in this young man’s case, sales. 

Almost fresh out of bad analogies, my mind ventured to another common misconception. 

Isn’t good selling just talking? Why are you shocked when your technicians don’t wake up one morning knowing how to sell?

Selling is a different skill set, and it has little in common with natural inclination. Sure, some people are considered naturals, yet “selling” and “talkative” are often ludicrously linked. Good listening is a greater selling premium than verbosity. This is where marketing and selling are alike and different.

The best sales letters or ads are really finely crafted sales presentations, yet there’s no ability for a marketing piece to “listen” to a prospect’s reactions; no way to “see” them smirk in response to an ad. 

The top HVAC sales performers’ skills are not natural. They’re trained — and many train others — to sense when a buyer is in suspended disbelief or when they’re eager for you to get to the price. 

They’re trained to recognize when they’ve pushed internal “buy” buttons, and need to bring out the proposal that second. The transition to the proposal should look as natural as breathing. Yet it’s ordered, intentional and studied.

No wings

You can’t get this good by “winging it.” Training is the only way. It helps improve your marketing to homeowners, and it’ll help you close more sales, at higher prices.
Share your summer marketing promotions with the entire staff at a weekly meeting. For June, it could be early season replacement lead generation, upselling from your tuneup promotions. July can be your summer postcard retention campaign. Also in July can be the direct-response replacements in broad media and in direct mail. August begins your late-season push. Send your “reactivation” letters to unclosed prospects. A simple plan is better than no plan. 

During the meeting, all must know where the ads are running. All technicians, salespeople and representatives must know your intended up-sell for each offer. Whether these sales close or not, you must follow up. Your eager salespeople will follow up with a planned script to make sure needs are met, more information given and referrals requested. The credibility gained by doing this — sale or no sale — guarantees your differentiation and future calls. 

This comes back to marketing. This is where you send what I call the “unclosed prospect letter” to all fitting the description. We’ve offered this to clients for the past few seasons — though you can create your own — and their average sales rate from sending it is 4 percent. Don’t discount that number. Out of 100 letters mailed, that’s four new systems, or roughly $20,000 from a $55 marketing cost. 

See, it’s an intentional system. Whatever you’re offering this summer, marketing and sales must work like a team. When they’re unified, the effect compounds to maximize leads, closing ratios, transaction sizes and referral rates. 

Let your sales and marketing combine its muscle to bring you more leads, richer sales and happier customers. 

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a national marketing firm for contractors. Snips readers can get a free report, “Five Things That Drive Your Customers Crazy,” by emailing to You can also call Hudson, Ink at (800) 489-9099 for help or visit for other free marketing articles and reports.