Back in my early years as an HVAC Salesman I had one of those “staring me in the face” moments!
I was on a Sales Training course on selling M&E maintenance contracts run by my employer Carrier. One of the core lessons from the training was the statement that our sales processes should be based on “How Buyers buy” these Maintenance Contracts, – not on how we wanted to sell them!
Simple. Pretty flipping obvious Eh!. Yet I hadn’t looked at it like that at all and it was starting me in the face!
Fast forward to today and that fact still applies to Sales and Marketing processes both in the offline and online world.
Taking into account that your Target customers will do their research on line first, does your website really match how M&E/HVAC/FM buyers buy? In particular: Are You Making this Crucial Mistake With Your HVAC Website?
- What processes do they go through in their decision-making process?
- What are they looking for at each stage?
- Have you made it extremely easy for them to find what they’re looking for on your website at each stage?
From a purely ruthless commercial perspective, you want the website visitors to do what you want them to do. But in reality, they’re only going to do what you want them to do if the pages on your website offer what they want and need answers to.
Many savvy Business owners look inwards at their own HVAC Business and try to create a “marketing funnel” to maximise sales, but in our experience smaller HVAC Businesses with limited Sales/Marketing knowledge will miss the fact that clients have their own needs and objectives.
Bottom line – if your website doesn’t help them achieve those objectives then they won’t hang around on your website, no matter how clever your funnels are.
So what do your clients want when they visit your website?
You need to think about their buying journey first and foremost.
I was recently sent some information provided by the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) which they kindly shared, and was all about the Business to Business buying journey and the actual tasks buyers carry out at each stage.
The buyers journey – whether at the early, middle or late stages, shows the processes they undertake at each stage are broken down into detail below with the key digital tasks highlighted:
(NB: there should also be sections on your website that you need to provide before the buying process formally begins. This is where you have a chance to help clients understand their problems and establish yourself as an authority by sharing valuable content to help shape their perceptions. – Something like your Blog or some FAQ’s.
In this article however, the Business model focuses on the formal buying process itself after the client has identified the problem(s) they need solving).
How important and useful is your website at each stage, as opposed to information your potential client might find on social media or industry general websites?
As you will find out, it’s really important, as the following graph demonstrates.
According to buyers, supplier websites are the No 1 most used resource throughout the buying process.
Therefore what specifically, are buyers looking for at each stage?
In the Early Stages of Buying, your potential Clients are in the Learning Mode
In the early stages of buying, M&E, HVAC and FM buyers are primarily trying to learn about the different solutions available for resolving their problems and then to build a shortlist of potential suppliers.
To clarify further, they initially land on your website thinking about their problems – not your solutions. So your website needs to make it easy to find information specifically about those particular problems, and then show them the potential solutions for those problems.
The more your website is able to show how you understand their problems and the more you’re able to demonstrate to them about the different solutions they might be able to use, (maybe through real life actual examples) then the more chance you’re likely to be shortlisted as a potential supplier. But before anything else you will have to know what those problems are that they encounter.
Website Checkup No 1: Does your Home Page mention the problems you help clients with, not just your products and services? And is it easy to navigate to other pages to find more information and real life examples of those problems and the different solutions for them?
In the Middle Stages of Buying, your potential Buyers are in Comparison Mode
Carrying on through the buyers journey as detailed above, In the middle stage of Buying, the buyers emphasis switches to learning more about specific supplier solutions, comparing them, checking prices, and checking references and case studies to make sure the supplier really can deliver.
Usually, our own websites are pretty good at providing the details of our own solutions. But how often do sites of service providers make it easy to compare their solutions with other providers?
In the M&E or HVAC equipment suppliers market, It’s common for equipment suppliers to feature comparison tables between their specific products and their competitors, especially if your’e a Manufacturer of Capital equipment like Boilers, Chillers, UPS’s, AHU’s Pumps etc. And you’ve probably noticed that as a buyer, those types of charts can be really helpful.
It’s Harder if You are a Service Business
Direct comparisons aren’t so easy for HVAC or FM service providers where the service is often tailored to the needs of the individual client. But what you can do is compare your different types of solution.
So, for example, if you provide HVAC or FM Maintenance Contracts to help clients maintain their M&E equipment, then the first decision a client has to make is whether to choose your Basic, Standard, or Fully Comprehensive solution or (whatever you call your contracts). The choice of which supplier they will evaluate comes second.
A direct comparison table detailing the pros and cons of each option will help them make that decision. It can also let you highlight important and favourable criteria that the client might not have thought about.
This is particularly useful if you have a unique and specific way of solving a client’s problem. The chances are it will be difficult for a client to evaluate two or three very different solutions.
For example, one of my main services is my specialist niche in offering M&E/HVAC/FM “Done For You” Marketing . But my clients don’t have “Marketing problems” – they have “I don’t have enough Sales Lead” problems or “I’m having to compete on price” problems.
My solution of providing a Done for You Marketing service isn’t the only way to get more clients or to offer affordable Sales and Marketing Services. How can a potential new client evaluate my solution of doing their marketing for them vs improving their selling skills vs hiring a general marketing agency vs PPC online advertising vs tons of other options?
Not very easily.
So I need to help them by showing clearly why my methods work better than others – and in what situations. Different solutions will work best in different situations, and you need to help your buyers by spelling out which situations your solution will work best in.
i.e. To make this easy for you – For me, demonstrating my expert knowledgeable and as a trusted authority in Sales and Marketing in the M&E/HVAC and FM sectors is the best approach to win clients, as its designed for people who are more typical Hands on Technical experts in their particular M&E field, and they would prefer to focus on that rather than on becoming world marketers or professional salespeople. And it also works best for higher-value services.
You also need to make it easy for buyers to know about your pricing too.
For many M&E/HVAC Business displaying your Prices might make you feel uncomfortable. You might feel that by doing so that you will show your competitors what you charge, however nowadays you need to give an indication of your prices on your website. The old days of expecting clients to call to find out the price so you get a chance to speak to them first are fading fast. Unless they can see immediately that your prices are what they were expecting, most clients will simply cross you off their shortlist and you won’t get that call.
HVAC Service Business especially will benefit. Potential customers will want to see what it will cost to call you out to handle a repair. Also for example if you install simple single split systems you might also want to make it easy for customers to buy these from you by offering those at a fixed price, subject to a final survey.
Finally, potential clients will want to “check you out” to confirm your really are as good as you say, so you need to make it easy for them to do that. That means you will need plenty of genuine testimonials (click here for the best way to get more testimonials), case studies – even the logos of clients you have and are working for.
Website Checkup No 2 : Have you made it easy for your potential clients to compare their different options? Can they easily find out about the work you’ve done and contact references?
In the Late Stages of Buying, Clients are “getting the missing information”
It’s wrong to assume that your M&E/HVAC/FM clients will only visit your website once before they’ve reached their initial decision.
By the time they’re in the later stages of buying, their main activities are internal systems, such as checking/setting their budget, getting buy-in from other decision makers and talking directly to their potential suppliers to finalise the terms and conditions.
But actual data shows that over 60% of buyers will still revisit your website, even at this late stage in their evaluation, and the reasons are pretty straightforward, they’re actually doing a couple of things.
Firstly, they’re filling in any gaps about any missing information they might need to help finalise their decision, and secondly their plans as to how to implement your solution.
How do you help them to do that?
Put simply your website really needs a FAQ – “Frequently Asked Questions” section or in other words provide answers to common questions that most your HVAC buyers will frequently ask near the end of the buying process: i.e. How soon can we get started? What else do we need to make this work? What inconvenience for occupiers and staff will be involved? What support can I get? How do I contact you in an emergency? etc.
The questions will be unique to your own M&E/HVAC or FM Business, but they should be obvious. They’re the questions your clients have typically asked you face to face before “closing the deal”.
Also there are some emotional factors in play. Most of us read reviews of products we’ve already bought.
Why? – Because we want reassurance we’ve made the right decision.
Step outside your Business and look in. Then think about the content (the wording) on your website. What would someone who’s 90% decided to hire want to you read? What would reassure them they’ve made the right decision?
What about having a section on “How to get the most from working with us”. Or a video with real customer interviews with one or more of your clients about their stories (not just bigging you up, but real life true and interesting stories about their business and what positively changed their Business – that also happens to get across the message they benefitted from what you did for them).
You should also show the logos of other businesses you are and have worked for too, as this will reassure them that others have made the right decision too. In other words if they have chosen your Business they can’t be wrong can they? There’s clearly a feeling of safety in numbers.
Again, this information will be unique to your M&E/HVAC or FM Business, as there are clearly differences between these and other non specialist businesses. But by thinking through what would reassure buyers they’ve made the right decision you should be able to identify and highlight the content on your web pages that will do the job for you.
Website Checkup No 3: Do you have a Frequently Asked Questions section and other content designed to help answer any final questions and reassure buyers they’ve made a great decision?
How Did You Do in Reviewing your Website?
Well I checked my own website out and being honest: I didn’t do that well.
After going through my own website in detail I realised that (despite learning 30 years ago) that sales processes should follow your client’s buying process, I haven’t fully implemented that on my website.
I have plenty of detail about my solutions but not enough in the early stages and identifying/recognising clients problems. But not very much about how the solutions I recommend compare to others.
And I do very little in the late stages to reassure clients they’ve made the right decision.
By asking myself those 3 simple questions, I’ve now got a plan now for how I’m going to make improvements to my website to be a better match for my buyers’ journey.
Have you? Why not get a free review of your Business to see if it matches your buyers needs and helps to solve their problems.
Call us on 0800 009 6349 or send us an email