Switching Gears: Going from an HVAC Tech to a Sales Team for Hire
When it comes to sales for small to medium-sized HVAC businesses, technical knowledge only gets you so far. That's where Halcyon Consulting comes in.
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After years climbing the ranks as an HVAC technician, Don Snow saw first-hand how technical skills help during the sales process and a lack of tech knowledge hinders many sales people. It took a few years and a lot of experience, but this realization led him to launch a business service that is in high demand.
Snow, owner of Calgary-based Halcyon Consulting, handles sales for small to mid-sized HVAC companies. “In today’s world, the most successful sales guys have a blue collar background,” he says. “People want to deal with someone who knows what they are talking about. They don’t want sales fluff.” This is an opinion formed through years covering both the sales and tech sides of the the industry.
Wanted: technical knowledge
Snow started his career as a journeyman gas fitter, later becoming an install manager. He was often called to help the sales team with more technical jobs. These experiences planted the seed because even in those early days he saw how important technical knowledge was during the sales process.
After working for a whole range of companies, large and small, Snow ventured out on his own and launched a full-fledged HVAC company. “When I started my own business, of course I did everything myself,” Snow remembers. But when he and his wife had children, Snow knew that 18-hour days weren’t reasonable anymore, so he gave up the business and went to work in sales as an employee. “I’ve always enjoyed talking to people and I’ve got a real thirst for sales.”
He tried small companies, but found the volume wasn’t enough to support his growing family. Larger companies, on the other hand, presented other problems. “I quickly realized that there are a lot of games being played—marketing bait and switch,” Snow recalls. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing things like that so I went to another big company, but they produced a lot of unhappy customers and there was a lot of damage control involved in the job.”
Rather than continue unsatisfying work, Snow made the move back into full-time entrepreneurship—this time as a sales team for hire.
Find a gap and fill it
“I saw a great need in my industry,” says Snow. “Most guys that start their own small businesses are really good at being technicians or installers, but they don’t know how to sell.” He also knew first-hand that business owners often get caught up in the day-to-day and put selling on the back burner.
Don Snow, Halcyon Consulting
I saw a great need in my industry. Most guys that start their own small businesses are really good at being technicians or installers, but they don’t know how to sell.
Enter Halcyon Consulting. Many small businesses want to hire a salesperson that knows what they are doing. “They can’t employ someone full-time, so a part-time sales option works perfectly.”
Not your average sales guy
“I find I’m able to connect with all kinds of people because I’m not your average sales guy,” Snow says. “I can answer any questions people may have about their property or their installation or the equipment.”
As a company, Halcyon is in its early days, but Snow has been providing sales services for small HVAC businesses for three years. As an employee, he was able to represent smaller HVAC owners and sell services his employer didn’t provide. This allowed him to hit the ground running when he officially launched his own business.
Snow remembers sales people at big companies making bad recommendations because they didn’t understand the technical issues. “And as a tech employee, you’d have to do things that weren’t necessarily best for the client,” he admits. By being the first point of contact in the process, Snow felt he could set it up right so the rest of the process would go smoothly.
Don Snow, Halcyon Consulting
I find I’m able to connect with all kinds of people because I’m not your average sales guy. I can answer any questions people may have about their property or their installation or the equipment.
Snow had a strong network after years in the industry, so many early clients were friends and former colleagues. He uses meetups and business networking groups to gather clients, and he also visited the local wholesalers and asked about their dealer network. This was a great way to find HVAC companies that might be interested in contracting out sales efforts to an industry pro. Snow sees it as a win-win-win. The company gains a salesperson, he gets to do what he loves and provide for his family and the customer receives expert advice.
“I get paid just as if they hired a full-time employee—ten per cent of the total invoice,” Snow explains. “The difference is that I don’t cost the business owner any benefits, insurance, car allowance, etc.” Plus, Snow brings a professionalism to smaller companies. Using Jobber, he brings a clearly defined system for quoting, scheduling, and invoicing, which helps them present themselves in a professional manner.
What's next for Halcyon?
With a solid system in place and obvious demand for his services, Snow plans to expand to other cities. “I’ll look for skilled technicians with a sales background and either sell them my business model or hire them and teach them my process for their city.”
Snow believes he is one of the only—maybe the only—person providing contract HVAC sales in Canada. He sees huge franchising potential.
Lightning round with Halcyon Consulting!
What is your favourite Jobber feature?
My favourite feature is the [ability to upload your custom] products and services. If you build the backend properly, it makes your life so much easier. For the price, you can’t beat Jobber.
What is your top marketing channel?
Word of mouth. If you have a good reputation, know what you’re talking, and what you’re doing, people will always refer you.
What is the most valuable tool in your work toolbox?
I would say Jobber. Especially the job forms I’m able to create. It keeps me organized.
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