However, this always has been a people business, and with the right people you can grow your dealer-base sales.
Of course, “the right people” are the key words here, and many of the larger manufacturer-owned distributorships and supply houses seem to overlook this. All you have to do is look at their help-wanted ads. There you’ll see the first requirement isn’t experience or personality, but degrees, as though a sheepskin will make them better salespeople. Ask your dealers, and you’ll find that the wrong person drives more customers away, regardless of how smart he or she is.
Do field HVACR salespeople need engineering degrees? Well, it helps when contractor-customers need assistance in bidding jobs and doing estimating. But this also depends on which business you’re in. If, for example, your business is mostly parts-and-pieces sales, give me some very likeable, knowledgeable and popular counter person who you’ve promoted to the job.
As I said, it’s a people business and outside salespeople can grow your sales if they are well-liked and viewed as helpful. You want people who customers are anxious to see and can help, not those who are an interruption or a bother.
It looks like this year is going to be a good one for our business, so perhaps it’s also a good time to put someone out in the field selling and promoting your company — assuming you don’t already have such people. And even if you do, perhaps it’s a good time to work on improving your outside sales.
Also, if hiring someone fulltime isn’t an option, don’t forget to consider old service techs or counter people who are retired or about to retire that might be interested in a part-time job to supplement their Social Security. Such experience also will be helpful when you need someone to go out and look at problem jobs, which your dealers also will appreciate.
The thing that a good outside salesperson has to offer HVACR contractors is help in getting them the right parts and equipment as quickly and easily as possible. These people need a lot of inside support to do the job well and too many limitations do more harm than good.
I’ve seen great salespeople defeated by unhelpful and even jealous inside staff or hamstrung by needless management rules. These salespeople should look to promote a good parts-stocking program. Service contractors, in particular, always are running out of parts, and the key to getting in with them is to promise to keep them from running out.
This may even require daily calls to larger customers. But paying salespeople based on sales alone often results in pushing too many parts, which drives customers away. This never should be done!
Of course, customer fidelity is hard to find, but don’t let that bother you. Yes, dealers will shop your prices. But don’t expect all the business, just your fair share.
And you’ll be surprised to find the benefits and growth the right outside salesperson will bring.