It’s relatively easy to sell something that your buyer needs right now. Somebody’s overheated at a summer baseball game? That cold lemonade that costs a few bucks is a no-brainer. A frazzled traveler realizes they left their phone charger at the hotel? They’re not going to think twice before purchasing a charging brick. But how do you sell something that your buyer doesn’t know they need right now and that will set them back an average of over $30,000?
That’s the predicament our HVAC client found themselves in when they approached us in late 2020. In the midst of a pandemic, few companies were jumping at the chance to sign a 12-month service contract for their HVAC units. Our client was getting a few projects here and there when an HVAC unit unexpectedly broke down, but those small projects just weren’t cutting it. They needed a way to get back in the game and increase their market share, and we promised to deliver.
Like most of our HVAC B2B appointment setting programs, we didn’t achieve instant success. It took months of calls, emails, and crafty lead nurturing campaigns for our pipeline to deliver. When it did, however, our client secured their single biggest deal in nearly 20 years of business. Here’s how we paid off our client’s lead generation program for nearly five years—after seven months.
How Our Partnership Started
When we first connected with our future HVAC client in late 2020, they weren’t sure if hiring an outsourced B2B appointment setting company was the right move. After all, they had been thriving on their own since 2002, when they first started serving clients around Washington, D.C. Plus, they already had a four-person team of full-time account executives (AEs) who were devoted to closing deals.
Our client asked us why they should hire a team of sales development representatives (SDRs) to prospect for their business. This is what we told them:
- Hiring SDRs allows your AEs to focus on what they do best. When your AEs have to do the job of two people, they can’t devote as much time to closing deals. However, with a team of SDRs focusing hours each day on calling, nurturing, and setting appointments with leads, your AEs can pull out all the stops to turn those leads into deals.
- Our process is backed by years of experience in HVAC lead generation. We know how to find qualified leads in your market and approach them in a way that conveys value.
- We know how to keep leads in your pipeline for an extended period, which is invaluable in industries with lengthy buying cycles. Our SDRs take the time to follow up with hesitant leads and turn them into deals, even if it takes years.
After a few conversations, our lead was sold. On Dec. 1, 2020, we jumped into the first step of our B2B appointment setting process: implementation.
December 2020: Preparing for a Successful Pipeline
Implementation is a defining process for new clients and sets up the success of their B2B appointment setting program. Without proper implementation, your business risks poor results and a lack of ROI.
Defining Target Audience
Like any effective marketing and sales strategy, it all starts with defining a target audience. Defining a target audience helps you increase your opportunity to generate high-quality leads and close the deals you want.
Our HVAC client chose to target commercial and industrial businesses that have at least 10,000 square feet of air-conditioned space or over 60 full-time employees. The client chose this target audience because it increases the likelihood of scoring more profitable projects. By accepting opportunities with air-conditioned space less than 10,000 square feet, the client runs the risk of landing appointments that have little to no value to the long-term revenue of their business. While it may benefit the prospect’s facility itself, it most likely won’t significantly impact the HVAC company’s profits.
Another component of identifying a target audience is determining the ideal key decision maker (KDM). In the case of the HVAC client, a key decision maker is an individual who has the authority or buying power of a business’s HVAC systems. Setting an appointment with this individual is vital because it lets the client know there is a chance to close business since they are responsible for making financial decisions.
Our HVAC client identified the following titles as key decision-makers they’d like to set appointments with:
- Facility Manager
- Facility Director
- Building Manager
- Building Maintenance Manager
- Operations Manager
- Purchasing Manager
- Director of Operations
These job titles are typically key decision-makers for the HVAC industry because they understand their building’s systems better than any other employee and most likely have buying power.
Lastly, the client identified property management companies, churches, healthcare facilities, gyms, and government contractors as the primary industries they work with. These industries are important to keep in mind when building a prospecting list because they provide the most success for the client.
Identifying a target audience is crucial because it sets the company up for success with its B2B appointment setting program. Now, it’s time to get into creating a prospect list.
Creating a Prospect List
After pinpointing a target audience, it’s time to start developing a prospect list. It’s important to remember that a prospect list isn’t a list of businesses ready to sign a contract right then and there. It’s simply a list of companies that meet the client’s criteria.
Many prospects in this list don’t have an immediate need, and they more than likely already have something in place. However, they’re on this list because it’s an opportunity to open up the conversation and build a relationship for when the time comes to reevaluate HVAC contracts. It’s a great opportunity to talk with prospective businesses about their current pain points and discuss how the HVAC company can mitigate them.
Abstrakt Marketing Group collaborates with businesses across the nation to help them identify a target audience and develop a list of prospects that meet their criteria. Contact us today to learn how we can be your partner in B2B lead generation!
January 2021: Go Live
Once the client’s implementation process is complete, it’s time for SDRs to hit the phones. The first month live for any new client is focused on getting as many leads in the pipeline as possible. This is a good time for SDRs to cleanse prospective businesses and better understand the market.
How We Qualified Our Leads
Each company is different in how it qualifies leads. It’s important to remember that not every lead is worth chasing because some opportunities provide a more significant business impact than others. Here are some questions that the HVAC client’s SDRs ask KDMs to learn more about the prospective business:
- How do you define “success” when it comes to an HVAC contractor relationship? Success means something different to everybody. SDRs ask this question to better understand what the prospect would be looking for in a B2B partnership.
- What type of HVAC equipment do you have (i.e., rooftops, split systems, variable air volume, building automation system, etc.)? Knowing what HVAC equipment a company has allows SDRs to provide the most relevant information to the prospect.
- Do you currently have a maintenance contractor? If a company has a maintenance contractor, the SDR can assume a contract is in place. This question allows SDRs to get a timeline of when contracts end, so they can meet them when the timing is right. On the other hand, if the prospect says they have an in-house maintenance team and have never outsourced, an SDR can assume that they are not looking to outsource anytime soon. When this happens, it might be a good idea for SDRs to suspend the prospect so they can focus on calling better opportunities.
February–June: 26 Appointments Set
From February to June, our SDRs set 26 appointments for the HVAC client. These appointments varied from a variety of industries, including healthcare, places of worship, educational entities, nonprofits, and more. These opportunities set by SDRs were put into the hands of the client’s AEs, and they connected with the prospects to discuss the next steps for a potential partnership. This includes attending the appointment set for them, pitching their products and services, and routinely following up to close business with the prospect.
Many of these opportunities are still in the pitching stage, so the client is in the process of gaining business with the prospects. This could be because the timing isn’t exactly right for them to make financial decisions, or they’re still in contract with their current provider. Other opportunities are in the business development or proposal stage, so the client is talking with the prospects to develop a plan of action to do business together.
How We Nurtured Our Leads
The prospects our SDRs haven’t set appointments with yet are in the nurturing phase of our sales pipeline. There are various ways SDRs nurture leads, including:
- Using different communication channels: Connecting with the KDM through various platforms is crucial because if they’re not easily reachable over the phone, they may be more accessible through other channels, like email and social media. Sending an email or connecting with them on LinkedIn is a great way to remind the prospect that the client hasn’t forgotten about them and the potential for a B2B partnership.
- Developing the relevant content: Why pitch products or services that have little to no relevance to the prospect? Creating the right content is essential because it shows the prospect that we hear their wants and needs. Active listening allows SDRs to provide more value for the client and shows the prospect that they genuinely care about the comfort and well-being of the facility.
- Following up in a reasonable timeframe: With B2B appointment setting, timing is everything. Calling a KDM once a week when they told you their HVAC contract doesn’t end for another three months is ineffective and will more than likely turn them away. SDRs should ask timeline-focused questions so they can reach out again when timing makes the most sense for the business.
June: Planting the Seed for a Major Deal
After months of setting appointments that never materialized into a deal, we were a little frustrated by the lack of progress. Our client was already skeptical of our services and had nothing to show for our partnership after six months. Luckily, in mid-June, we connected with a lead that desperately needed an HVAC maintenance contract.
6/15/21: Introductory Call, Appointment Set
On June 15, one of our SDRs called the executive vice president at a commercial real estate company. They explained that one of their commercial properties had two 50-ton rooftop units that needed to be replaced as soon as possible.
The prospect said they were getting a quote from another local HVAC company as well. They said they typically went with the lowest dollar amount, but they wanted to see their options. This opportunity was too good to pass up for our HVAC client, so an SDR set up the appointment; a few days later, the client met with the prospective business.
Two days after setting the appointment, the HVAC client met with the prospect to talk details about the scope of the project. In this meeting, the client successfully pitched their services and sent a proposal to the prospect, putting them in the driver’s seat.
July: Setting a Personal Record
On July 26, the prospective business signed on the dotted line, and the client closed a $223,927 project deal. In addition to the two rooftop replacements, the commercial real estate company had another project lined up for the client to replace a 15-ton water source heat pump for $30,000 to $35,000.
Scoring the appointment with this prospect was not only successful because they got a major deal out of it, but there are also other future business development opportunities. In only a little over a month, our SDRs turned a cold lead into a long-term customer.
Ready To Be Our Next Big Success?
This HVAC client testimonial wasn’t our first—and definitely won’t be our last—success with B2B appointment setting. At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we partner with successful HVAC companies to help them maximize revenue and increase brand awareness.
B2B appointment setting is not a quick ROI because it takes time and patience to find the right prospect at the right time. Our SDRs work day in and day out to promote a sustainable sales pipeline that catches prospects when they’re ready to make moves.
Contact us today to be our next B2B appointment setting success story!
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