Ask the Experts | How to Ensure Team Offers Financing

Question: "How can I ensure that my team is actually offering our financing options to the customer?"

Drew Cameron; President, HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc.:

Oh, I love the conversation on financing, one of my favorite topics. And companies that embrace this, like this individual is asking about, are the ones that can kind of take their game to the next level. You can just show customers a way that they can get what they want today and not have to pay for it all today and, in fact, what you save in energy and repairs costs can more than offset, usually, that monthly investment.

So, we’ve got to educate our salespeople on the various resources that we have available to us as far as the various lenders that we deal with, and then the various plans that we can offer within those lenders, if you will. We have to show our people how to offer it, and show the benefits to the customer, the company and themselves, like we talked a little bit about earlier. So we talked about service agreements earlier and spiffing technicians couldn’t get by in.

Again, you can keep telling your salespeople they have to get better with offering financing, but if you don’t teach them how to do it, and why it’s important, and that today’s consumer is a payment customer . . . these systems – good systems – are now $10,000+, and again, if you’re putting in a variable speed, or staged or modulating equipment, now you’ve gotta have duct modifications just to get the thing to work right, because the average duct system in the United States is 57% efficient. So you want me to do duct work plus a new system, I’m gonna be probably between $10,000 and $12,000 easily for a new system.

So today’s customer tends to buy these – nobody pays cash for these, very few do. Most of my clients are financing – and credit cards are a form of financing – most of our clients out there across the United States are financing 60% to 75% of the business that they do.

So get everybody on board, show your people the benefit to the customer, the benefit to the company and the benefit to themselves for doing so. And then teach them how to educate the consumer with information that you may have on your website, you can mail some of this information to your customers, it should be included in your marketing promotions and your newsletters as well. And then there are some things that you can do specifically to ensure your people are communicating the options.

Debrief your salespeople. When they said that they gave a quote, ask them if they did give finance options.

Survey your customers to find out if they did in fact offer the customer the payment options. When you do happy calls, you can even ask your customers, “Were you given a quote with monthly payment options that fit your budget?”

You should also, as sales managers and owners, go ahead and do your coaching ride-alongs with your people and see how they’re doing it and see if they’re doing it well.

Get them to roleplay it in your business, and see – if they can do it well in a classroom setting, then you’ll know that they can do it in the home. But if they can’t do it in front of you and the team, they’re probably not doing it in the home.

And then to kind of make it foolproof, what we do with our clients is we put the prices in smaller print, and not bold, in the price book, or in your pricing software. And let the customer see the payment options first, and in bold numbers, so that they kind of jump off the page. And then the total investment is there for them to see. But, I don’t care who you are, you could have more money than anyone on the planet, if you can see that you can get this solution for $100 to $200-some a month, and that’s before energy and repair cost savings, you’re going to see that, OK, if I’m buying a $10,000 system, and I’m using Enerbank, and I’m using 6.99 for 10 years, with a payment factor of 1.16, that’s a $116/month payment.

At $116/month, I’m gonna save you $80 on energy and repair costs, you’re looking at just over a dollar a day to have this brand new system in your house that’s going to take care of you and your family.

So, again, teaching your people how to have those prices right there in front of them, and multiple options on financing. We offer all customers at least four ways to pay: cash and check would be 1; credit card would be 2; 0% for a period of time would be 3; and then we take a low APR, long-term approach that gets you the lowest payment possible. And we show every customer on every quote all four payment options.

Also what you could do, if you’re using pricing software and quote forms, and you want to make sure that your people are quoting a financing option on every job, even the ones that they leave the price behind on, then have them turn a copy of that document in, or email a copy of that document in, showing the quote and showing all the ways the customer can pay. And then that way you know the customer saw the document, in fact you could get the customer to sign off just acknowledging that they did receive a copy of the quotation form.

That doesn’t’ necessarily mean they’re going to wind up moving forward with you per se, if it was a leave-behind quote, but you could have a customer sign-off just saying “yes, we did receive a copy of this,” along with a notice of cancellation. And then that way you know that they’ve got it, you know that it’s been reviewed with them, and hopefully you know that they understand it.

Lastly, if you wanted to, you could incentivize the behavior. So, if you had a salesperson who gets over 65% of his or her business financed, then maybe you give them an extra percent on their commission, or something like that. Because we all know that people spend more, and buy more readily, when financing is available to them, so they’re probably getting bigger ticket items anyway.

So if you have somebody who has financed, the key performance indicator of let’s say 65% of what they sell, that I may pay them an extra percent commission because I know they’re selling bigger jobs, and there’s more money in the jobs to give them an extra percent of commission in everything they’ve sold that particular month.

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