Getting to the Financial Decision Makers in Commercial Service Sales - IE3: Business Tools for HVAC & Plumbing Contractors  

Getting to the Financial Decision Makers in Commercial Service Sales

Yes, it is a fact; the most successful service sales negotiators in the HVACR industry have a core competency of being able to access financial decision makers along with facility managers.  Every sales person in HVACR commercial service or design/build MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) contracting knows how frustrating selling can become when “price only” discussions, delays, avoidance, even deception seem to take control of the process.  One of the ways great sales people overcome some of these obstacles is to also access FINANCIAL DECISION MAKERS early in the sales process, early in the relationship.

Let’s examine some of the hurdles, pitfalls and obstacles that can stand between sales people and the negotiated service solution that we know will work best for our prospect or customer.  Many obstacles, hurdles and pitfalls while selling service are the “fault” of the economy, indecision or the fact that the prospect is struggling through a tough economy OR that the contractor has not differentiated themselves or provided the correct solutions.   As well, many of the obstacles that sales people encounter are due to self-imposed obstacles or self-imposed hurdles such as NOT getting access to financial decision makers and presenting financial justification.  Simply stated; when a thorough and comprehensive sales process is not adhered to and when we do not meet with financial or fiduciary decision makers then we may miss the opportunity to completely resolve the “pain” and issues that the prospect or customer are experiencing.  A sales process that is facilitated with a middle manager in a business, that also includes only two or three steps in that process, (“meet and quote” or “meet, survey and quote”) leaves the sales person “isolated” to the point where objections and resistance are the only discussion of the day.  Maybe even worse, leads to price only discussions.

When a sales person or service leader in commercial HVACR does not meet and interview financial decisions makers such as the CFO, Controller, VP Finance, Accounting Manager or Business Manager to gain agreement in the early stages of the sale the prospective customer is not fully qualified.  Something else is missing too, what happens when we need access to the financial person in that business so that we may present financial justification with building ownership costs or simply benchmarking?  The only option left is for the middle manager to discuss price, delays, excuses, and talk about confusing concepts that do NOT resolve issues, solve problems and eliminate “pain”.   Whereas, a thorough sales process, gaining access to financial levels of management, utilized with great questioning and listening skills, lead to a strong, long-term customer relationship that delivers the exact solution that meets the expectations of the customer.  The opportunity at the Confirmation/Verification stage to present financial justification in the form of a financial analysis or simple benchmarking is possible!

Clearly the ability to reach financial levels of a business and facilitate a comprehensive sales process is the “Managed Expectations” and follow through that differentiates our business and ensures sales success.  How important is it to meet and interview financial decision makers and utilize this thorough sales approach?  Well, it can be the difference between a completely negotiated bundle of service and design/build solutions at high margin launching a long-term, loyal customer relationship OR a frustrating bid or quote that ends in indecision, excuses and a prospect trying to guess at the real value of working with you and your company…in short, you become a price-driven “commodity”!

We begin the sales process by accessing financial managers and executives and exemplify a servant attitude approach where “negotiating” and “collaboration” are the “words of the day”.  We can avoid resistance from the financial or executive level of a business by using the correct words and reasons for them to be involved.  “We typically meet with executives or leaders in an organization to understand your concerns and gain critical feedback.”  “You know your business and budget the best and you know the impact the HVACR can have on your operations, we would like to learn more from you.”  Additional language would include; “We help with capital expense planning (equipment replacement plans) and can recommend energy saving options that we would like to discuss with you.”  Even financing and leasing are reasons to give to a financial person in order to meeting with them.  The meeting may be brief or we only access the financial decision maker by email or phone, HOWEVER, we now have access to them later in the sales process if we need help in obtaining financial information and negotiating with financial justification.  Make sense?

Next, we recognize the real value of face-to-face introductory meetings with financial leaders in the business where questioning, listening, qualifying and collaboration help us understand and achieve specific prospect business objectives.  Properly setting up first structured meetings and facilitating those meetings with financial people as well as facility managers is critical to launching our thorough sales process.  Knowing that self-generated leads and self-initiated “plans of action” with multiple decision making levels of our prospects’ businesses are not only important but mandatory, and can be so very critical.

Our plan or schedule is agreed to by financial persons and facility people and should include not only a survey but also a “Building Assessment” that would incorporate discussions that lead to collecting financial information and eventually presenting financial justification.  The later steps in the process also include the Confirmation or Verification stage (the most overlooked step in any sales process in any industry) and can be very instrumental in allowing for a negotiating deal while presenting a financial analysis or benchmarking.  Providing a proposal that is a proposal-presentation hybrid will also differentiate your contracting business and help sales people present, close and discuss terms and conditions correctly with success!  A thorough sales process begins with a great interview and should not only include the facilities manager but the financial manager!

James Graening

James Graening

Training Consultant at www.JamesGraening.com
James Graening is a well-known trainer with JamesGraening.com and has worked with dozens of contractors in the U.S. and Canada.
James Graening
James Graening

James Graening

Training Consultant at www.JamesGraening.com
James Graening is a well-known trainer with JamesGraening.com and has worked with dozens of contractors in the U.S. and Canada.
James Graening

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