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The Proven, Comprehensive Sales Process

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All of us that offer commercial/industrial or light HVACR commercial services know the “pitfalls” and even “roadblocks” that stand in the way of successful service growth. Everyone selling commercial service or any design/build solution knows how frustrating the following issues can be while procuring more business. Issues such as “price only” discussions, delays, avoidance, even deception, and budgetary concerns, because of the sluggish economy! Wow! That’s a lot to consider! How can we overcome some of these obstacles?

Let’s examine some of the hurdles, pitfalls, and obstacles that stand between us and what would be the best solution for our customers. First, is it true that all obstacles, hurdles, and pitfalls while selling service are solely the “fault” of the economy or indecision? “Au Contraire!” Many of the obstacles that sales people encounter are due to self-imposed obstacles or self-imposed hurdles! The most common mistake is the LACK of use of a comprehensive, thorough sales process, and the associated support tools and sales collateral. Simply stated; when a thorough and comprehensive sales process is not followed, we miss the opportunity to completely resolve the issues that the customer is experiencing. A sales process that includes only two or three steps; “meet and quote” or “meet, survey and quote”, leaves the sales person “isolated on an island” where objections and resistance are the only discussion of the day.

Self-imposed obstacles happen when an agreement is not reached early in the HVACR sale. Especially when that agreement does not include a schedule or plan to move forward, using tremendous amounts of questioning, listening, qualifying, confirming, and negotiating. The customer is left with little choice other than to discuss price, delays, excuses, and confusing concepts that do NOT resolve issues. In addition, if the sales person uses the wrong words or vernacular,” “an abbreviated sales approach,” and lacks “the inability to negotiate the deal,” there is no doubt these obstacles will happen.

Whereas, a thorough sales process, that uses great questioning and listening skills, coupled with the best of sales tools and support collateral, leads to a strong, long-term customer relationship.

Chris Bigalke of WB Guimarin reminded me that one of the wonderful benefits to the contractor-customer relationship when we facilitate a comprehensive sales process is the “Managed Expectations” and follow up that differentiates our business and ensures sales success. How important are managed expectations? It is the difference between a successful negotiated bundle of service and design/build solutions resulting in a profitable, long-term customer relationship OR a frustrating bid or quote that ends in indecision, excuses, and a prospect trying to guess at the real value of working with you and your company…in short, you become a price-driven “commodity”!

So what does a thorough, comprehensive, proven sales process look like?

  1. Satisfy our customers by exemplifying a servant attitude approach where “negotiating” and “collaboration” are the “words of the day.” Realize that we truly are consultant advisors to our customers.
  2. Use a Direct Marketing Approach and a Sales Process that yields profitable sales and long-term customer relationships Our direct marketing approach targets prospects and vertical markets that are more likely to be driven by a partnership and value-based collaboration instead of price driven resistance.
  3. Recognize the true value of face-to-face introductory meetings with questioning, listening, qualifying, and collaboration to create a plan to resolve the customer’s issues and help achieve specific prospect business objectives.

Probably the most important stage of the sales process is the first introductory meeting! This meeting is not only important but also should be mandatory, as it is critical to the success of the sales process plan.

Once our plan or schedule is agreed to, we should include a “Building Assessment” that would incorporate discussions leading to collecting financial information and eventually presenting financial justification. The later steps in the process also include the Confirmation or Verification stage. Probably the most overlooked step in any sales process and can be very instrumental in allowing for a negotiating deal. We will then cover the proposal. In this section, we will provide a proposal presentation hybrid that will differentiate your contracting business and help sales people present, close, and discuss terms and conditions correctly, with success! In the next several articles we will work through each of the steps in the Sales Process in detail, we invite you along for the ride to work toward higher margins and more closed sales!

James Graening

Posted In: ACCA Now

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