Call me cynical, but I’ve always lumped salespeople into one of two groups; those who sell using knowledge, and those who sell using the double handshake.  In my opinion both sales techniques have their place; one in HVAC, the other at a used car lot.

I have to admit, I’m biased. I’ve always hated the double handshake — after it’s over I have an uncontrollable urge to check if my watch is missing. On the other hand, nothing impresses me more than a salesperson with a solid knowledge of their product.

Some salespeople couldn’t care less what impresses someone like me; what really matters to them is what turns the average Jane or Joe prospect into a buyer. After all, most laypeople have little product knowledge beyond a vague understanding of SEER ratings, so the techno mumbo-jumbo is a waste of time on them, right?

Know-how wins

I’ve got news for you: that rationale may have been true a decade or two ago, but not anymore.  Today’s consumer uses the Internet for product research before they even start the purchasing process. The Internet has also given consumers the ability to easily verify the accuracy of a salesperson’s pitch after the fact; this empowers them to make the right purchasing decision, or so they think.

Yes, the Internet has given consumers the power to educate themselves quickly and easily, turning them into pseudo experts on just about any subject, including HVAC. Notice I said “pseudo” expert. I use this term for customers who are “search engine smart” because they’re generally unable to distinguish Internet-fact from Internet-fallacy.

The double handshake won’t help when you’re confronted by an Internet educated consumer who happened across a site or blog spouting tainted personal conjecture and misinformation. Only a solid knowledge of the product and documentation supporting your knowledge will endear you with the pseudo expert.

Becoming the consumer’s trusted knowledge source will trump the double handshake every time. That being said, I guess throwing in an enthusiastic double handshake can’t hurt.

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ABOUT Patrick Peterson

Avatar photoPatrick Peterson of ZenHVAC has seen the HVAC industry from all angles, serving as a technician, manufacturer’s tech rep, salesman, technical trainer and business owner.