In Equipment Sales, It’s All About the Customer

Energy Kinetics’ Jay McCay discusses the sales process 

When a salesperson has an opportunity to sell any heating system, they need to put the focus on the customer and help them reach a decision based on their own wishes or needs. That is the advice of Jay McCay, National Sales Manager for Energy Kinetics.

New Jersey-based Energy Kinetics sells high-efficiency heat and hot water systems direct-to-dealer, and McCay’s team of Territory Managers works closely with contractors and salespeople, providing tools, guidance and support to optimize the sales process. Oil & Energy Editor John MacKenna recently caught up with McCay to discuss the art of sales.

In McCay’s eyes, the key to building a solution that is right for the customer and winning their business is to first build rapport. “You have to be 80/20 listening and talking, which means you spend 80 percent of the time listening. The salesperson who does that wins. That is how you get people to open up with you. It is important to find out why they invited you there. You have to know where their pain is and what is on their most-wanted list.”

One mistake that a lot of salespeople make is to embark on a presentation without first understanding the customer’s curiosities and motivations. Some trainers refer to this as “spilling your candy in the lobby.” It results in the customer feeling bombarded with selling points that might have nothing to do with their actual concerns. “If you don’t find out what is on their minds, and you just start talking about features and benefits, how do you know if you ever even answered their questions?” McCay asked. “You should never answer a question that wasn’t asked. You don’t want to dominate the dialogue.”

McCay believes salespeople should be comfortable asking direct questions about the customer’s expectations. That line of inquiry can set the stage for the essential discussion about providing the right solution, which includes lifetime value vs. upfront cost. He said a lot of customers have done research on the internet before inviting the salesperson in and may have formed unrealistic price expectations. “You have to be prepared to talk value over price,” McCay said.

Tools such as the National Oilheat Research Alliance’s Fuel Savings Analysis Calculator and Energy Kinetics’ SmartHeat™ mobile app can help visually answer questions about efficiency and uncover savings of 20 percent to 40 percent over comparably AFUE-rated boilers. “It’s not about initial, upfront costs; it’s about lifetime operating costs. If you can save them $30,000 or $40,000 over the lifetime of the heating system, that justifies spending another $1,000 upfront,” McCay said.

McCay does not believe in prompting customers to choose from an array of options. “A ‘good, better, best’ presentation does the customer a disservice and forces them to make an uneducated decision. As the contractor, you are the trusted advisor. They want you to guide them,” he said.

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