I’m Stressed, My Customers are Stressed – What am I To Do?

BY Brian Newport
7/30/2020 - HVAC Sales

As we all continue to manage through this pandemic, it has everyone on edge. Whether that means personally, professionally, spiritually or financially; it creates challenges that typically haven’t been present, at least all at once!

There is major concern, and rightfully so regarding everyone’s well-being and that can wreak havoc on one’s psyche. Examples can include:

  • "Will my company make it?”
  • “Will I have a job?”
  • “How will this affect me and my family?”
  • "What will our world look like when the pandemic subsides?"

Since this article is on behalf of the HARDI Sales Council, we will focus on the professional side of the challenges we all face during these unprecedented times. Some of those concerns can look like “How can we not lose customers when we face the challenges we face?” and “We cannot take care of our customers if we can’t go visit them” and most recently, most every industry is thinking “We are losing sales because of the supply chain issues and our lack of ample inventory.”

Everything above is real, relevant and ever increasing as we manage thru the various stages of the pandemic while all the while looking forward hoping and praying for a vaccine and a cure to stop the pandemic. So how do we manage through this from a professional standpoint? Let’s take a look.

Our industry is a relationship-based industry – if you have solid relationships with your customers, the lack of face time should not negatively impact that. In fact, many of your organizations and your customers don’t want, or will not allow outside visitors into their facilities.

We polled many of the successful HARDI members and here are a few highlights of how they are best managing through these trying times.

Virtual Training and Meetings

  • While everyone is probably getting “zoomed” out, it’s still the best conduit for good communication and information sharing. Don’t overload your team with too many web-based meetings, however, it’s very important to stay in touch on a regular basis to ensure everyone stays engaged and working towards the preset goals of 2020.
  • Create video content
    • YouTube Video Clips (typically no longer than 4-5 minutes)
      • You can produce longer, more detailed content, however, you need to know your audience and the ability to keep them engaged for longer periods – consider building in breaks etc.
  • Virtual ride along
    • As a sales manager – have your TM’s set up their daily sales call schedule and plan to join each call via Zoom/WebEx/FaceTime so that you can be an integral part of the sales call – this can be conducted with the TM in the customers office or they too can be remote.
  • Provide an advertised “clean room” conference room at your facilities for you and your sales team to meet, both with the internal team but also with key customers.

Business Intelligence

  • Use your BI tools to better understand the opportunities or gaps that your TM has in their market.
  • 90-day plans – have your TM’s create 90-day plans that provide insight as to their plans and actions in order to meet their previously set sales goals; then the sale manager passes up the line with additional commentary and planning.
  • Ecommerce – most all distributors have some form of ecommerce available to their customers
    • Set engagement quotas – i.e.: get customers signed up!
    • Set purchases goals – i.e.: get them to buy something!
    • Offer incentives – it’s proven that customers purchasing online tend to purchase more than in person shopping or phone orders – take advantage of this opportunity!

Your Facilities

  • Create curbside pickup opportunities – creates a no-contact opportunity AND it keeps the technicians from hanging out at the counters (this will make your dealers happy!)
  • Take pictures of product loaded in customer vehicle for proof vs signatures – Amazon/FedEx have mastered this as well!

Opportunities

  • This current environment can possibly provide the perfect timing to share tools and technology.
  • Understand that much of this could easily dictate what the future of HVACR sales could look like! Be flexible and willing adapt – those who do will win, those who don’t will lose.
  • Be cognizant of critical selling events – these can impact your organization (and your customers organization) both positively and negatively!
  • Future planning – use this “home office time” as the time to plan for the future
    • Large strategic account(s) conversion
    • Territory mapping and planning
    • Layout the next 5 years of your personal sales growth desires and what it’s going to take to get it done! (i.e.: your “to do” list)

Daily Engagement

  • Stay in touch! This includes with your company peers and your customers. Don’t let the “out of sight out of mind” concept negatively impact your 2020 results!
    • All communications don’t have to be business related – be a friend, mentor and source of support. Diversions can be a welcome respite from daily life!
  • Don’t shake hands! Hard habit to break however you must break it!
  • Dress for success – working from home in pajamas and sweats will NOT bring out the best in all that you do.
  • Add Value – the customers are stressed enough – make sure any communication or interaction is bringing value to them in one form or another.
  • Master the Phone! It sounds simple; however, the people have relied on texting to the point that human interaction continues to be reduced. There is no emotion or ability to really stress your points via text!
  • Be honest – full transparency is the only way to communicate. Good news, bad news or no news – be upfront and discuss what is real and known and then discuss how to work with that information or how to work around that information.

In the end, we all must find a way to successfully manage thru all that the pandemic has thrown at us. Understand and acknowledge that all people, industries, economies and countries are impacted. We can choose to let it consume us, or we can choose to take advantage of this unique situation and come out of it better off than when it started.

Just remember – in business, nothing happens until somebody sells something; so, go sell something!

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay focused on your plans, your visions for 2020 and beyond!


This guest blog post was submitted by HARDI's Sales Council. If there is a topic you would like our councils to explore further, let us know here.