Guest Post – Where’s the value – selling HVAC

After my last post, I received what I thought was a great email from a friend and associate who has spent a lot of time in the HVAC field.  He relays the story of how selling in that industry, like all others, has changed and not “it is all about value”.  I thought I would share that email with you as another example of changing the sales process…

…In the HVAC Industry the presentations from Salespeople to the end user, whether that may be a Homeowner, the CEO of a company, or a Property Manager, have changed dramatically over the past 3-4 years with the rise of energy cost savings on everyone’s mind. We recently put together some new material for our outside Sales rep which includes some software that takes the square footage, usage, footprint, etc. of a building and takes the equipment and Planned Maintenance schedule we provide incorperating it with the functionality of the building and it’s tenants and ultimately it produces a series of graphs, pie charts and calculations that show what the monthly and yearly cost savings will be.  This eliminates the need for the client to “translate”, as you call it, like they had to a few years ago when they would be presented with a piece of equipment that claimed to be 94% efficient or 14 SEER. Most of the Facitlities Managers, and just about ALL of the Financial Officers in a company are looking for hard numbers in order to justify their decisions.

Even the residential HVAC companies are going into homes and doing an energy survey. Lighting and insulation contractors are doing the same. There is no way to calculate the savings exactly because of the obvious variables; ie. usage, weather, etc. but a customer understands “you are looking at a savings of $1000.00 to $1600.00 per year on your energy costs” much better than “this unit is 94% efficient and will save you money each year”.

To your point Stephen , you have to clearly define the value and spell it out in order to get the message through.

It would be great to get more stories like this.  If I do, I will be sure to share.  Do you have any stories about selling value?

Where’s the value – an example selling cars!

In having conversations with people about the need to sell value over features, I have been using different analogies to get my point across.  Of all of the analogies - the one that has been easiest to explain and clearest in its explanation is selling cars.

How often have you heard – “this car gets great gas mileage”?  Just today I heard Ford claim “this is the most fuel efficient mid-size car”.  But I ask thhe question – aside from the people who are conscious of the environment – how many people care?  I postulate that the average consumer ignores this claim.  Why?  Because they are left to translate.  They are left to determine the value that this “feature” would provide for them.

Sell the value / not the feature!

Imagine, instead, if Ford claimed – “this car will save you 20 – 40% of your annual gas costs!”  or better yet “if you buy this car over car X, you will save $800 per year or $4,000 over a five year period”.  Now you tell me – does that change the game with the average consumer?  Does it make you stop and say – wait a minute – that is real money!

That is what I am talking about.  Think about it – with the next couple of marketing messages you see.  Are you left to translate the value?  Do you actually do the translation?  Or – like most people – do you just ignore and move on…

Play your game and be a standout! – my blog’s first sports reference…

Having run a business for over 10 years, I have been an observer of a lot of different types of employees and types of “work personalities”.  Often I say to people, it is not bad if you “do not want to work hard” or “feel like you give it your all and that is good enough”, but that may not be good with us.  For sure, different people have different perspectives on their work life – how hard they want to work, how much they are willing to sacrifice for work, and what the balance is that they are willing to have in their life.

This brings me to this weekend.  I was fortunate this weekend to watch both the Celtics and Patriots games live.  While I am a fairly avid sports fan, I watched these games and was surprised by something I noticed.  In both games, there was one player – an unassuming player – who turned out to be a standout and a game changer.

In the case of the Celtics – I went to the game wondering why the Celtics had jus given a $55 Million contract to Rajon Rondo.  I knew about him but nothing really stood out.  But then I saw him play and was thoroughly impressed.  He was not a flashy player, but his control of the game, the way he settled the rest of the players, the way he improved the play of the rest of the team was unquestionable and impressive.

In the case of the Patriots – the story is fairly similar.  Here is this guy – Wes Welker.  In football terms a little guy.  Many would look at him and wonder why he is on the field to begin with.  But watching him play – he is always there, workingg hard, making himself available – someome the rest of the team can look at and count on and feel secure he will perform.

So – with that in mind – I am changing my advice to employees everywhere to simplify my message.  Know your game.  Play your game.  Be a standout.  Know one things for sure – employers are smart enough - like these coaches – to see the qualities of a stand out player and employee.  You will get noticed.  You will be rewarded.

Stay focused.  Be a standout!

Think about your marketing messages – Where is the value???

I have been spending a lot of time recently with our internal teams reworking our web sites and marketing materials and with clients helping them rework their materials. Over and over again, I keep finding marketing people fall into the same trap – they talk about features and functions instead of value. I learned a long time ago from friend and mentor Jason Chudnofsky about the idea of selling benefits. He wrote an incredibly simple but unbelievable effective handbook about selling benefits. He points out that all the time people are marketing and selling the functions of a product and / or solution and assuming the customer can interpret the benefits instead of selling the benefits. Look at your website… Look at your materials… are they focusing on the features and functions or the benefits?

The mission with any marketing message needs to clearly answer the questions – What does it really say? It is really compelling to me versus the cost? What will I gain?  Do these gains outweigh the costs?

Good messages need to it focus on the clear and definable benefits, put measurable gains out there, and gives a clear baseline to determine if it is worth the commitment / cost versus the value I will receive.

I wonder if I am blowing this out of proportion?  I wonder if it is my frustration or if it is truly the issue I think it is across most organizations?   Only time will tell as I watch companies who transform their messaging to a
benefits story and measure the effectiveness.

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