In this article you will learn how to improve your sales closing rate using automated anti-followup method. This article is a part of HVAC sales optimization series for residential HVAC contractors.
Closing the sale
You spend some money and effort to reach your potential customer and meet with them for a consultation and free estimate session. In heating and air conditioning sales world that means that sales guy went to the prospect’s house and spent about an hour chatting with home owners about equipment and options, ending conversation with a written estimate. Your job is done and you done your best to understand what motivates that specific individual to look for a new equipment and pushed all the buttons to assure them you understand their needs and that your company is the best for the job. What’s next?
Choosing the contractor — the customer’s perspective
Most people won’t make such an important investment as new furnace or air conditioning unit without getting at least two estimates. When I was replacing my furnace I talked to three companies and actually was tempted to call another one to get one more opinion. Do you wonder why? Answer is simple really, as a buyer, I want to be sure I am making a right call and won’t end up with an overpriced lemon instead of worry-free high-efficient and cost saving unit.
Making this choice is not easy because customers don’t have a lot of knowledge and experience in the area – likely it’s their first or second purchase of such an equipment in their lifetime! Now, with contractors writing an estimates for different brands and models it’s getting really confusing. At this point all the sales pitches are fading and getting mixed, customers are trying to compare the pros and cons and at the end of the day have to chose which company they are going to trust with their heating needs.
The dreaded follow-up calls
Every HVAC sales person was taught at some point that you have to follow-up with your opportunities. I bet this is not the best part of your job. You have to start chasing people with phone calls or emails and play the game where both parties know exactly what this email or call is about, but try to smooth things out and things sound really awkward, like
– Hi, this is Jim, just wanted to touch base with you about our estimate and see if you have any questions?[and we now that the real question is: are you going to buy from me?]
– Hi, yeah, thanks, you know, we are still thinking and need some more time to decide[and the real answer is: we are talking to another contractors to see if they sound more convincing or offer better deal]
– Great, let me know if you have any questions or need some more information![please buy from me]
– You bet — I’ll let you know if I have any questions[but chances are you won’t ever hear from me]
Sounds familiar? And then how many people just won’t pick up when they see your number?
Probably you still have a chance to push some undecided customer a bit and speed things up, but being on receiving end I really hate this kind of conversations.
Some companies actually realize this and don’t do any follow up. When I was shopping for furnace, a couple of contractors even brought this as their advantage saying something like: we don’t want to pressure you, take your time, we won’t bug you. While I appreciate this, I don’t think this is the best tactic and this is not really giving your company any advantages. Well, may be this promise will make lead feel better and safer when they are just setting up an initial appointment, but definitely won’t help you in closing sales. So, what will?
Using Anti-followup to win HVAC sales
Remember the customer’s perspective? They are likely confused and struggle to figure out the best brand, model and contractor. You can make this easier for them by using anti-followup. What’s anti-followup? It’s pretty simple technique which can be applied to all HVAC sales and works really well with residential heading and air conditioning.
The idea is to send some information to the customer which will educate them and help them to choose, so they are less anxious about making the call. They will really appreciate you doing this, and if you do it in non-sales-y way, you score more points then your competitors with no follow-up or awkward “just checking in” kind of follow-up.
It’s really simple — customer wants information, so give it to them. Listen for the hints of what are the objections and what are most burning questions or concerns customer has and send them information in a small and easy to consume quantities (information overload is as bad as no information).
For example, the main concern of that family you just talked to today was reliability — when buying furnace people are naturally concerned if they will have to fix it frequently or not. Even with all the warranties offered (which helps), customers still don’t want to discover that their new furnace doesn’t start. Your move: send them link to some third party resource with furnace brands reliability ratings.
Obviously there will be more questions and struggles, so don’t get stuck with that one primary concern. Just another example, customer will definitely wonder what is the difference between different models of the same brand? Your move: send a link to an article which offers review and explanation of the differences.
You got the idea, right? Try to come up with a collection of useful resources and links, then during the sales meeting ask customer if they want to get a bit more information about the brand, and if it’s ok to email it to them (email is less scary than phone call, so most people won’t mind getting some extra info which will help them to make a choice). After that all you have to do is sending them bit of extra knowledge and resources every 2-3 days. After 3 or 4 such emails, feel free to send an actual sales email asking them if they are ready to purchase and if they have any more questions or what holds them. Now, this email won’t sound awkward and customers are used to getting some value from you, so they are more receptive to your communications.
This simple tactic will help you to stand out from your competition and will build trust with your customer, because now you are not just a sales guy, but you are an authority.
Your actionable takeaway on closing more HVAC sales
Try this technique after you next sales call. Ask for permission to send some info about furnace or air conditioning equipment and then send those anti-followup messages:
- Next day: send a simple message with a link to 3rd party article addressing the primary concern of your prospect (efficiency, reliability, features — pick one).
- 2 days later: send another message with a link to another 3rd party article, this time addressing the secondary concern of your prospect. If not sure, find some material which explains what people should look for when shopping for furnace or AC unit.
- 2-3 days later: time for next message — may be send some materials on cost savings when running a new equipment. Start message saying that you stumbled on a great article which you thin will interest your prospect.
- 2-3 days after that: time for a push — you got their attention now, they got some value, so it’s ok to ask if they now made their mind or not.
Bonus tip: don’t end every message with “let me know if you have any questions”. Use something like “Hope you find it useful”. This will underline that you are sending them some bonus value without really pushing, but just because you want to be helpful. Everybody appreciates that!