Last week we discussed how to connect with your customer by mirroring their communication style. Doing this gives your customers the clarity they need to buy from you and improve their experience with your HVAC shop.
Remember: your job isn’t to sell on an HVAC sales call: it’s to connect and diagnose, with “connecting” being job #1.
However, communicating like your customer is only half of the battle in HVAC sales. Your second job is to diagnose. So now that you know how to connect with any homeowner on an HVAC sales call, I want to talk to you about how to accurately diagnose the problem on a sales call and, most importantly, help you understand why this is so important.
Let’s get to it.
Imagine you’re a 41-year-old man who decides to play a game of basketball one fine Saturday morning. You’re feeling excited and energized because you had an extra slice of bacon that morning (p.s. I’m not speaking from experience or anything). And let’s say you get on the basketball court, go up for a layup and come down awkwardly on your ankle.
“Is it sprained?”
“Is it broken?”
“How much will it cost me to go to the doctor?”
All valid questions that you ask yourself.
So you look up a doctor’s office, find one with great reviews, drive through thirty minutes of traffic, and wait another thirty minutes in the waiting room. You fill out tons of paperwork as your mind continues to race with more questions.
Finally, your name is called! You get weighed, and your blood pressure is read. You wait another twenty minutes to see the doctor.
Mr. Doctor finally walks in twenty minutes later. You can’t wait to be seen and heard by an expert that will listen to you and help you figure out what happened to your ankle. You’re eager to share all the details to get some pain relief. After all, your ankle has been throbbing since you landed on it during the basketball game.
The doctor asks you a few surface-level questions: where you’re from, how the weather is, and then, strangely, starts talking about how good they are at fixing arm sprains.
You’re instantly baffled. Not only is your ankle hurting, but the doctor is completely ignoring your pain and only seems to be concerned with prescribing the answer to a different problem.
A problem you don’t have.
You try to get the doctor back on track:
“Doc, it’s great that you’re so good at arm sprain surgeries here, but my ankle is killing me!”
The doctor replies, “yeah, I know, but -“
You’ve not only wasted your time but your energy and money.
This may be a silly analogy, but the sad reality is that too many HVAC salespeople are exactly like this doctor: they are focusing on prescribing a solution too early in sales calls in hopes of closing instead of doing what they should be doing:
Diagnosing the problem, digging into how the problem affects the homeowner, and discussing the best way to solve the problem.
Prescribing a solution to your prospect should be earned, not given. You should spend most of your HVAC sales call diagnosing.
If our doctor spent a solid 10 minutes understanding my – I mean – our friend’s ankle pain by asking simple questions like:
“Where does it hurt?”
“What concerns do you have?”
“How will this injury impact your day-to-day?”
Then do you think our friend would be open to hearing the doctor’s prescription plan?
Think about your sales calls today. Do you think your prospect will be more open to reviewing an HVAC sales proposal if you spend more time diagnosing? or less? Do you think your customer will feel more seen and heard by you than your competitor if you slow down and sit with your customer in their pain? Or rush to prescribe a solution your customer may not feel you understand?
Now that we know why we must spend more time diagnosing than prescribing, you may be left wondering how to diagnose your customer’s problem on an HVAC sales call.
Old school sales books and training may encourage you to “focus on the pain.” While that is good sales advice, it’s extremely simplistic. Focusing on the pain isn’t enough of a diagnostic exercise to make an impact. Remember: you’re going up against at least two other competitors on an HVAC sales call. I assure you that everyone will “focus on the pain.”
I want you to remove yourself and your competitors from your mind for a second. After all, your customer is like our friend that sprained their ankle. They have issues and pain and are ready to diagnose their situation to better understand their comfort issues in their home.
Here are four questions they are going to ask themselves to get closer to a buying decision – regardless of who they buy from:
Moving closer to a yes starts by helping your customers answer these four questions in their minds. Make your own versions of these questions, but don’t leave them up to chance during your diagnosis.
One final trick for you HVAC comfort advisors. And it comes from movies and TV shows. It can also be summarized in this book, “Building a StoryBrand,” by Donald Miller. StoryBrand is a messaging framework (one that we are certified in, by the way) that helps any HVAC business clarify their go-to-market message. You can use a Storybrand “brandscript” to write website copy, email campaigns, and radio spots.
You can also use it to draw a customer journey map for your sales call!
Here’s what I mean:
StoryBrand teaches that there are seven ideas every message must contain for it to help your customer thrive. They are:
Think about the movie Rocky. Let me walk you through the Storybrand framework for Rocky:
The point? He transforms from a “bum who can’t fight” into the boxing champion of the world.
Alright, where am I going with this, and how does it relate to your HVAC sales call?
The point? You are helping your customer transform from an uncomfortable homeowner into a comfortable homeowner simply by your ability to connect and diagnose!
Now: here is where everything ties together: the diagnosis that you spend time digging into on a new HVAC sales call is essentially steps 1-3 of the Storybrand process. So if you wanted to take this picture:
for your HVAC sales call and use it to guide you as you diagnose your customer’s problem, you can!
For the “a character” section above, you can ask yourself, “what’s the one thing my customer wants?”
For the “with a problem” section above, you can ask the four diagnostic questions discussed in the previous section.
And for the “meets a guide” section, you can showcase your authority with customer testimonials and make your customers feel seen and heard by helping them know that you understand what they are going through.
Diagnosing your customer’s problem(s) is the most important part of your HVAC sales call. By spending more time diagnosing, you’ll be seen as more credible and professional in your customer’s eyes and close more HVAC sales. Happy selling!
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