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Sales Mistakes 101

January 11, 2024
Sales Mistakes 101

Why do we shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to sales? Like most things, sales can be simple, but rarely easy. Your training covers most of the must-dos and must-never-dos. It is compiled from the wisdom of experience, from trial and error.

Just know that the sales profession is full of nightmarish stories of failed sales, business closures, and all sorts of drama – most of it preventable. Like they say, “Those who do not learn (from) history are doomed to repeat it.”

Here are some of the more common HVAC sales mistakes. These are just some on a much longer list, as your experiences will confirm.

  1. Being unprepared for customer interactions – A lack of preparation is killer because you basically need just two things to make a sale. One, you need to know what the customer wants or needs. And two, you have to know how to help them obtain it. You are the intermediary in this transaction. Without you it won’t happen, but in the end, the customer will go to bed in their home with that product installed and working for years.
    You absolutely are an important part of the formula, but if you don’t know their needs, and you’re not up to date with the products needed to fulfill their needs, then why are you really there? You’ll need to know your company’s products inside and out, along with industry terminology, technology, and trends. While an “I don’t know, but I’ll find out for you” is acceptable in some instances, it should not be your default answer after you’ve been properly trained and after you’ve sought out answers from previous experiences.
  2. Failing to listen – Taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t work in HVAC sales; each customer has different requirements, so it’s important to listen to the customer and tailor your solution accordingly. While their need may be one you’ve heard a thousand times, remember that they are expressing a need that’s new to them.
    Take the time to inspect the problem before drawing any blind conclusions. If you say, “It sounds like it could be caused by x, y, or z, but I’ll need to check for myself,” this is a good way to open the door to inspect the house for other problems. It also shows you have heard them and are familiar with their problem, but want to make sure before you install a band-aid on what could actually be a bigger issue.
  3. Aftercare – According to Inc. magazine, “it takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review.” You read that right. Keep in mind that a customer’s experience with you or your product doesn’t end when the dotted line is signed. It doesn’t end after the install. It’s ongoing for as long as they have your product.
    Aftercare should never be ignored because your reputation (and the company’s) is on the line. Make sure the customer understands what to expect after the installation, including what is covered by a warranty and what is not. Products break; that’s just a fact of life. How you handle that makes all the difference.
  4. Poor customer service skills – Remember the above where we mentioned it takes 40 positive reviews to overcome a single bad review? Is there anything worse than that? Yes. It’s when a prospect has a bad experience with you AND also doesn’t purchase. That’s the big whammy you’re trying to avoid. Customer service training is just as necessary as sales training.
    Sales is more about building trust and rapport with a prospect than making them want to purchase your product using your silver tongue. They are turned off by high-pressure, snake oil salesman tactics. You’re not selling them a timeshare; you’re solving problems with your HVAC solutions. You have a product they actually need very much. If you’re unable to make the sale on a given call, remember that you still want to leave a great impression when you exit their home. You never know, the next company they deal with may rub them the wrong way, and your phone may ring.
  5. Resting on prior succes – You may have been the salesman of the year at your company last year. Your company may have been dealer of the year. You may even own the largest market share of HVAC business in your town. It almost never means that you’ll get the next sale though. Nothing is guaranteed today because you were good last year.
    Believe me, someone is always chasing after the best, and they want to be the new king. I see it all the time in our industry. Hell, I even see it driving down the street. A gas station makes a ton of money and can charge whatever prices they want. Until… one day another gas station goes up across the street. Now they have to price their goods competitively and cannot rest on their laurels any longer. In the same way, we should always strive to improve and distance ourselves from the current and future competition.

Did you learn any of those the hard way? If so, I didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories, but I bet you grew from those lessons and kicked butt from then on. If we can’t learn from our mistakes, we’ll take the (very) long and scenic path to success, if we make it there at all. I hope your year is off to a great start so far. We’ll talk again soon.