Though you sell your HVAC products through a distribution channel, your end-users are the ones actually using your products in their homes and offices. They’re the ones whose experience with your brand can lead to the kind of high-impact customer referrals that are 50 times more likely to result in a purchase. But how do you find HVAC customers at the end of your sales channel, when they typically deal with your dealers, distributors, or contractors? You can use channel technology to gather vital information about your end-users while preserving positive relationships with your resellers. Here are three good ways to start:
Reward dealers and contractors for collecting sales & customer data.
You lack one-on-one relationships with your end-users, but you can make it worth your channel partners’ time to act on your behalf. Use incentive channel technology to reward your partners for collecting information during customer interactions. For example:
- Reward contractors for gathering supplemental purchase data such as information about the buyer’s system set-up, buying preferences, evaluations of their buying experience, air filter changing frequency, as well as usage of fireplaces, thermostats, space heaters, air purifiers, and fans.
- Provide a reward for every time a contractor submits a warranty registration—be it during the sale itself or afterward. This not only helps you gather more information about the end-user, you can also get contractors into the habit of adding warranty registrations, padding every sale with extra value and profit margin.
- Invoices and receipts can be submitted as sales claims for contractors to earn rewards. With this documentation, you can build a more thorough and verifiable purchase history for each end-user.
- Attaching supplemental products and services to a sale not only increases sale value, it can lead to a much better end-user experience. Offer contractors rewards for upselling or cross-selling additional parts and services that will enhance their system and satisfaction.
- It can be incredibly hard to chase end-users down after the fact to get aftermarket and maintenance services Reward contractors for getting these scheduled on the spot.
- Any demographic data you can gather about an end-user will help you improve R&D, sales, and marketing strategies. Reward contractors for recording end-users’ ages, marital status, occupants, gender, specific HVAC concerns, and other info that will help you fill out a complete portrait of your end-user.
Important data and documentation often take no more than a few seconds for your channel partners to collect. Incentives and rewards can provide that extra boost of motivation that makes it worth your partners’ time to learn a bit more about then end-user, helping you find HVAC customers.
Offer an open-enrollment incentive program.
An open-enrollment incentive program can contribute greatly to your B2B customer data. You can collect contact and program activity data about channel partners and end-users you previously knew nothing about. Open enrollment functionality allows anyone to register for your incentive program, without needing an invitation. This strategy not only allows you to find HVAC customers, you can determine the information you want to collect in this registration form, prompting channel partners for the data that’s crucial to your sales and marketing.
Your enrollment form might look like this, for example:
Today’s customers aren’t exactly thrilled to hand over their data to companies. Submitting data in exchange for the positive, personally valuable experience of earning rewards? That’s a little more appealing to your channel partners and end-users alike.
Integrate your channel technology.
Integration plays a big role in an effective B2B data strategy. Integrating or syncing your channel technology stack not only helps you keep better track of the customer data each application collects, it will allow you to connect the dots and draw conclusions about customer behavior and sales trends. You should be using and integrating the following channel management software:
- Customer Relation Management (CRM) system – Your CRM software should be robust enough to store a complete customer profile for each channel partner and end-user. You should be able to easily collect basic contact info, firmographic data, and notes from salespeople, dealers, distributors, and contractors. Interaction with channel partners should be tracked here, along with helpful notes about each exchange or issue. I recommend using your CRM as your “master record” for each member of your distribution—all systems should be able to funnel data into this system, if not capable of a two-way data exchange.
- Marketing automation software – Marketing automation systems like Salesforce’s Pardot and Hubspot allow you to set up automated email workflows, segment marketing audience, and track the performance of your marketing campaigns. By tracking your customer’s engagement and activity in these campaigns, you can stay abreast of their interests and needs. Syncing data like this to a CRM that your dealers and distributors access, for example, allows your channel partners to bring up products and services your end-users have indicated interest in.
- Channel sales enablement software – It’s important to provide your channel partners with assets, training, and product information so they can better represent and sell your brand’s products. By integrating sales enablement software with your CRM, you can spot knowledge gaps and selling opportunities, then plan out how to address them.
- Incentive program – Incentive programs offer a chance to collect more unique and personal data about channel partners and customers. Did they just redeem their reward points for a family vacation? A new gaming system? This can shine light on hobbies, interests, and lifestyle information that you can use to better tailor and personalize marketing campaigns.
With busy channel partners and end-users who are often in a hurry to get HVAC systems up and running without bothering with providing data, it’s not always easy to find HVAC customers or determine the most effective solutions for their needs. With channel technology that systematically incentivizes, stores, and integrates customer data, you can compile insights that lead to better marketing, purchase, and end-user experiences.