Knowing how to talk comfort with your customers early on is one of the keys to winning the comfort conversation. Since homeowners have a strong desire to be comfortable, they make comfort and livability in their homes a top priority. Although customers want to be comfortable, they don’t always know what that means or how to achieve that. Being a comfort expert is one of the first steps to winning the comfort conversation with your customers. You want to have this conversation early and often.
In our recent webinar, we talked about the 8 tips on how to start the comfort conversation. Becky Hoelscher of Emerson and Nick Lamb of Butler Heating and Air Conditioning provided great tips and insight on the concept of comfort. They also answered some common questions about the topic, with their knowledge and experience in the industry.
Is comfort more important than efficiency? Don’t homeowners care about efficiency?
Homeowners do care about efficiency, but a lot of customers know that base efficiency equipment available now is typically more efficient than what they are replacing. It’s not often that a customer’s primary purchase driver is efficiency; it’s typically comfort. Remember, we frame our conversations based on comfort and we point out that efficiency comes along for the ride – typically the more comfort features included, the higher the equipment SEER rating.
Are you concerned with setting the owners’ comfort expectations too high? Stressing that defining what comfort is from the beginning is a must. Would you agree?
Defining comfort from the beginning is critical, but make sure you’re letting the customer define comfort. When you try to define comfort for them it becomes a sales presentation and not a comfort conversation. Because your customer is defining comfort, I would not worry about the expectations being too high. You can typically make a way to solve their comfort issues. There are certain obstacles, like ductwork issues in finished areas, that are extremely difficult or impossible to remedy, but if you communicate that to the customer, they should understand.
How important is product knowledge compared to comfort and efficiency knowledge? What are some good steps to explain during the sales process?
Product knowledge is important. You must know what the equipment is capable of when offering your comfort solution. Don’t explain equipment like the OEM explains it to you. Customers don’t care about features; they care about how those features benefit them. Practice explaining benefits to someone in your family or a neighbor that knows nothing about HVAC. Again, make sure you know the customer’s comfort concerns before discussing specific benefits with them. Listening is key.
Does the comfort conversation apply to facility managers too?
Absolutely. Facility managers want their comfort issue solved quickly because the entire building is complaining to them about being too hot or too cold! You can be a hero to a facility manager if you can quickly solve their facility’s comfort issue.
When during the conversation do you bring up comfort?
Early and often. Discuss comfort early and hold your solutions until closer to the end, at least after you’ve had the chance to look at the projects to make sure your comfort solutions are physically feasible.
When you explain to the customer the difference between single-stage, two-stage and variable speed, does the order matter?
No, the order doesn’t necessarily matter; however, it is important to explain how the different technologies will address the comfort issues the homeowner may have. Modulating air conditioning systems lower energy consumption, improved humidity control, better air quality and a more comfortable environment throughout the whole home, during all seasons. However, all modulating systems are not the same. Two-stage systems can offer significant improvements in comfort and energy savings over fixed systems. Variable speed units take this a step further by providing the best overall level of comfort and bring significant energy savings for the owner.
When is the best time to talk about IAQ solutions?
Same. Early and often. IAQ is not an add-on product. It’s part of the comfort solution, just like the equipment.
What other options do you offer for IAQ besides air filters?
UV lights, air cleaners/purifiers, humidifiers. We like to offer a UVC on the evaporator coil to keep the coil clean and to prevent mold growth in addition to UVA on the return side to kill germs and bacteria. These lights paired up with a 5” high MERV filter is a great combination that offers a lot of benefit to the homeowner.
Noise only comes up if the outdoor unit is by the back porch or deck which only happens occasionally. Is noise really that important to discuss?
Definitely. A quieter outdoor unit provides a better outdoor experience. But, if you take the time to listen to your customer, you might find that the indoor unit is too loud. You might hear that they must turn the TV up when the furnace kicks on. Listening is the key to presenting a good solution, whether the solution is comfort or sound or a combination.
Will customers pay to have a service tech out to show them how to take advantage of their thermostat?
Maybe, but only if they understand the benefits of the programmable and/or WiFi thermostat. You should consider sending the salesperson back out after install or training your installer to show the customer how to take advantage of their thermostat features.
Do you find that customers often go with the middle or entry level option due to price?
From personal experience, about 10-15% of customers will always decide on a price. A lot of times it depends on the conversation. If comfort is the key to the conversation with your customer, your customers will typically buy based on comfort. If your conversation is based on price, they’ll buy on price. Perfect the comfort conversation and you’ll sell a lot of top-tier equipment and you’ll have a lot of happy customers that will refer you to their friends, family, and neighbors.
Do you recommend any training materials or sources for the sales process?
Some good industry resources to use and pull training materials from for the sales process are Business Development Resources (BDR) and Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA). There are also some great free industry resources like AC & Heating Connect and Energy Star.
To learn more about the 8 tips to start the comfort conversation, view the webinar here: