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HVAC Dealer Selling Strength

Posted on: Feb 16, 2023 by Scott MacMurdo
 HVAC Dealer Selling Strength

Let’s face it, the act of selling is a competitive sport with winners and losers putting points on the board, and your best players needing to be in the field. The recent past has created a not so competitive environment; demand is at an all-time high and supply is constrained, forcing your dealers (and those of your competitors) to go where there is supply. HVAC Dealer loyalty is a slippery fish right now.

After years of Teams and Zoom calls with limited ability to conduct face-to-face sales calls, HVAC dealer events, and personal value-added selling, we should be asking ourselves as leaders, has our organization’s sales strength wasted away? In sports, this is called atrophy, where muscles see a gradual decline in effectiveness due to underuse or neglect. In selling, the team’s hunting skills may have lost their energy and sharpness.

The past few years have forced us all to take our collective foot off the new business gas pedal to protect the largest most trusted customers. It was the responsible business approach. However, your sales team behavior probably looks very different today than pre-pandemic after the long time away from prospecting. Being a hunter requires a mindset that if not used will wither away. Sales teams lose these skills faster than you probably imagine and it’s going unnoticed because demand is so strong right now. Is your sales team positioned to hunt again when supply returns?

Every week that’s past by without prospecting leaves sales teams a little bit more off their game and a little less effective with your selling story. Once the skills have withered, their confidence begins to decline. Just like a muscle, it shrinks after non-use. Asses your sales team. Some of your salespeople may no longer be recognizable as a salesperson. After years of crisis management, some salespeople have become fire fighters and expediters. This leads to mere order-taking with a focus on meeting demand, not generating new business.

We know from HARDI studies that HVAC dealer churn in the industry is 15-20% annually, and therefore new dealers are the fuel that keeps your company vibrant and growing. Now that supply is beginning to stabilize, it is time to re-sharpen your team’s new dealer acquisition fitness.

The last few years has been a critical selling event (CSE) for every OEM, every distributor, and every dealer in business today. We know from HARDI study that CSEs are what drives dealers to convert, just look at the foot traffic you’re getting now because demand is higher than supply. Are you prepared to not only convert dealers officially to you, but keep your dealers from going back to your competition?

As leaders of your company, you must be intimately involved in the new dealer prospecting. Only you can emphasize the importance of hunting skills and the acquisition process. Commit to both retaining those dealers you picked up during the pandemic and acquiring new ones in the future by exercising and re-growing your sales team’s prospecting muscle.