TORONTO, ON, Canada — Steve Howard takes a no-pressure approach to successful selling. But his ISH seminar was anything but low-key. The popular consultant to the HVACR trade told seminar attendees that there are big demands for HVACR products and services, but that our industry is witnessing a decline in the number of personnel to sell and service these products. “And still our prices continue to go down,” he lamented.

He cited three considerations when selling HVAC systems:

1. Value must exceed price. “Our job is to increase the value by adding benefits,” he said.

2. Customers must want your solution to their problem. “The single most important brand you can offer is yourself — your company,” said Howard.

3. The customer must be able to afford the system. “Point out how an upgrade can improve the quality of life and the value of the customer’s home,” he said.

“Integrity is more important today than it was 10 months ago, two years ago, etc.”

“Consumers are by nature skeptical,” he noted. “They say ‘prove it’ or ‘show me the evidence.’ That’s why we need to prove that what we will do will be a benefit to them.”

Howard added that being available after the sale and the installation is also important.


Howard listed three ways to “discover opportunities” during the selling process:

1. Ask questions. “Basing your actions on what the customers say makes it appear that you are using their words — their ideas — to choose the system,” he said.

2. Listen and take notes. “We have to do an excellent job of writing down what people are saying,” Howard maintained.

3. Observe. “We are so focused on what type of equipment they have that we don’t see how they live and what their needs are,” he said.

According to Howard, “No pressure selling is just asking the questions and listening.”

Review the selling process — at all possible intervals. “Go back and review everything you have talked about,” he stressed. He noted that many times what HVACR contractors are proposing to customers is an unplanned purchase; therefore, customers need to know the benefits of everything that is recommended to them.

He advised attendees on how to handle second or third opinions. “Suggest this line to the customer,” he said. “If you need to talk to another contractor, let me tell you the things you should ask them.” This way, if the first contractor is offering better services and a few extras, the pressure is on the next contractor to offer the same thing, making the first contractor look very thorough in the eyes of the customer.

Howard said to offer the best package possible because “it is always easier to take away from than to upgrade.”

For more information, Howard can be reached at The ACT Group Inc., (website).

Publication date: 11/25/2002