A Critical HVACR Marketing Tactic
In a nutshell, a buying process map depicts the phases a prospective buyer goes through during their purchase decision. If you craft the map well, each phase will give you insight into their process and show their needs. Creating a good buying process map will help your sales and marketing boost demand creation, one of the main ways to improve your bottom line.
There are many different representations of the buyer process map. Here’s one that we’re fond of at Site-Seeker:
As per J. Michael Marks and Steve Deist’s Myths and Misperceptions, the HVACR industry is extremely mature. While there is room for innovation and change in the form of new regulations or technological innovation, 89% of a typical distributor’s customers do not change either their products or suppliers in a given 12-month period. The majority of demand creation takes the form of protection, which is composed of offering service and support. Therefore, for distributors in the industry a lot of time will be spent within the earliest phase of the buyer process – the “not in the market” phase in the image above.
In this earliest phase, you should maintain your regular sales upkeep and monitor the situation for signs of trouble or opportunity. Marks and Deist call such opportunities critical selling events (CSE). CSEs represent around 15% of demand for HVACR distributors, but capitalizing on them offers the tantalizing opportunity for a multi-decade boost to your bottom line.
When customers make a decision to try a new supplier or product, the decision is usually made quickly and is often based on an emotional feeling rather than detailed analysis. When a CSE occurs, it often creates an emergency situation. The new supplier may be selected based on cursory information. In these situations, brand strength is critical. A buyer may simply say: “Let’s try XYZ Supply House; they seem to be pretty solid.” With that, the decision is made and the CSE is over.
While it may seem like the situation is pretty bleak, the above scenario really holds a lot of opportunity for distributors looking to convert on a CSE. For one, it reinforces the importance of the buying process map. The buyers hold all the power during the buying process, but understanding what they want is the key.
Just as the “not in the market” phase can be indefinite, the “stimulated” phase in HVACR happens suddenly and is brief. A CSE moved the buyer into this phase. There are probably a limited number of HVACR distributors in your area, so you’ll be acknowledged as a possible answer to their problem. Similarly, the “problem definition” and “options” phases will be pretty easy for a buyer to navigate. In the case of most HVACR distributors, the buying process map can probably be shortened in these middle phases.
According to many studies conducted across multiple industries recently, more than 70% of business buyers conduct a good amount of research online before making an offline purchase. Undoubtedly, your reputation is built up by word-of-mouth, but it never hurts to burnish your authority online. Having an excellent web presence that effectively communicates your prominence will either reinforce what prospective buyers have already heard or offer more information to uninformed buyers.
Overall, the buying process map is a powerful tool to help you organize your sales, marketing, and communications. As the above blog post hopefully communicates, it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. The version of the buying process map that Site-Seeker uses is slightly different than the example, and the version you would use will probably be quite different. However, we strongly believe that its importance is elevated for HVACR in particular as demand creation is so rarely up for grabs. CSEs are rare, so favorably positioning yourself is even more important than in other industries. Understanding prospective buyers’ needs and pain points can pay off in increased revenue for literally decades.
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