While the dealer concept is a good one in terms of scaling your business and keeping cost of sales under control, the independent and inconsistent nature of dealers can be challenging. Dealers often favor certain manufacturers or products, leaving others (maybe yours!) out of the mix. Because dealers typically get just one chance to sell a product to an in-home customer, any deviation from the sales process, any miscommunication of the features, benefits or value of a product, or any poor customer experience, can kill close rates and limit revenue growth.
So how do you create loyal dealers? How do you keep your products in the mix? How do you ensure dealers follow the right sales process? How can you equip them to consistently and effectively communicate with each and every customer? How can you improve business-driving metrics like product mix, close rates and revenue?
Ingersoll Rand’s Trane brand of HVACs is a fantastic example of a company that has industry-leading products, great brand recognition, but a vastly sub-optimized dealer network. To see how we transformed the in-home sale, let’s first understand the sales process from the point of view of the homeowner:
It’s the coldest day of Winter and suddenly your house feels extra cold and drafty, so you turn your thermostat up. Fifteen minutes later, you notice the temperature in your house is continuing to drop. Your family is complaining and you don’t know the first thing about heating systems. You call your local HVAC dealer that a friend recommended and schedule an emergency appointment. A few hours later, you’re sitting around your kitchen table with the HVAC expert and several three ring binders chock-full of product specs and technical details. The dealer gives you a diagnosis of your problem and after a 45 minute crash course on HVACs, brands (sometimes not even including Trane) and models, you have to make what will probably be one of the most expensive home purchase a homeowner will have to make in their lifetime–a new HVAC system. You make a fairly uneducated choice, relying heavily on the recommendation of the dealer. You’re not sure if you selected the right manufacturer, the right model, or if you even paid the right price. The HVAC dealer draws up a ballpark quote before he leaves and promises a formal contract with all the correct parts, carefully prepared load calculation that ensures the system will adequately heat and cool your home, and a formal price the next day.
This is a classic example of a dealer network in need of an overhaul. Our dealers weren’t particularly loyal to the Trane brand, not terribly consistent with messaging and not as effective as they could be at closing business. We knew this dealer sales process needed more than an incremental improvement; it needed a dramatic and fundamental change in how we enabled dealers and engaged customers. We were also hoping this change would give us a clear competitive advantage in the HVAC space. To help us envision, design, build, and deliver a potential solution, we turned to Cynergy, an expert in the field of solving complex business problems with digital solutions. Early project work consisted of understanding our industry, business, products, and most importantly, our dealer network. One of the keys to Cynergy’s success was working side by side with our dealers to really “get underneath the hood” of how the in home sale worked and how it fell short. Following this strategy and research phase Cynergy recommended, and subsequently, designed and built TraneMAP, the new iPad app for Trane’s HVAC dealer network.
During its first six months in use, dealers who adopted TraneMAP increased product mix by over 8%, revenue by 22% and doubled their close rates. It replaced more technically written brochures in three-ring binders with interactive pictures and videos of our actual products that clearly and consistently articulate product features and benefits. It kept customers engaged through on-screen questionnaires pertaining to the customer’s own house. Most dramatic was that TraneMAP allowed dealers to prepare an accurate digital proposal on the spot so homeowners could sign the deal immediately and avoid the typical one to two day gap between sales presentation and proposal delivery. With TraneMAP, we ultimately “digitized the kitchen table experience” and allowed dealers to sell themselves and sell Trane more effectively to a fully engaged customer who finally felt good about their purchase decision.