Hey folks! Phil Zito here and welcome back! Over the next several weeks, we are going to be going through sales related posts, talking through sales strategies. These are going to apply to you whether you are in sales, or if you're on more of the technical side or managerial side.
I remember back when I was a service tech, oftentimes I would have to sell and help the salespeople sell because we had newer sales team and they really struggled to estimate work. So as a technician, you still need to understand sales, because sales is going to help you keep from sitting on the bench with no work. You have to go and find your work, right?
In this post, we're going to go through five unique ways to identify BAS sales opportunities. If I'm being fully transparent with you, I relied on my team to assist me with this post. It’s not that I’m not prepared, but I figured, we have a very experienced sales team with almost 100 years of sales experience combined, so why not take their feedback and pass it along to you? So, let’s dive in!
One of the really cool things that I started to notice when I was reading through this info is that one of our newer sales hires, Tony, was talking about looking at existing commercial real estate and looking at real estate listings that are switching hands. Honestly, I never really thought about this because I've been kind of bearish on the real estate market. I've felt that people aren't going back to buildings. People are just working out of their house. I mean, I'm working out of the house.
So, I thought to myself, “Real estate's not really going to take off again,” but what he brought up was a really good point: As these real estate assets are changing hands, oftentimes you have a new management team coming in. You have a new team that maybe is adding this asset to their existing portfolio, and in which case, you can present to whomever purchased that asset. You can find that info through public records.
You can be proactive and work with the people who are basically changing hands of ownership of this building. You might suggest to them that because they have this new building, you need to monitor it. You want to add it to your portfolio, you want to put in maybe a site walk to make sure everything's good to go. These are all opportunities for you to step in.
Whenever an asset changes hands, from a management perspective or an ownership perspective, it is a good opportunity for you to step in from a sales perspective. Basically, when it's changing state, that building originally owned by someone with a BAS preference is now owned by someone else with a different BAS preference and they may have a portfolio of assets they want to manage, or they may not be tied to the current mechanical service company. So, there are opportunities for you to take advantage of when a building changes hands or any business in general changes management.
So, another thing is the kind of questions you ask when you start to deal with owners. You're going to notice a lot of these strategies here are going to be owner-focused, looking at the owner. If I'm looking at sales, and I'm thinking about where I can get quick hits, it's typically with owners. Yeah, there's plan and spec in the construction world, there's design bid build, but those are typically 12-to-18-month engagements, unless you catch it at the right time.
Let's be honest, in plan and spec work, you're often at the mercy of whoever is being the mechanical or the GC, depending on where you are in the tiers of contracting. When you're dealing directly with owners, you have a little bit more influence, especially if, as I mentioned during the state changes, management changes, etc, you're able to go in.
So, another area you can focus in on and look at is one, utilities, but also IAQ. My father is a lawyer who is focused on insurance litigation. So, when a large airline or an oil company has an issue and they get sued, and they want to solve it in mediation, they bring him in as a specialist. Essentially, he mediates to make sure that the payout is not as high as it could have been.
Well, he sent me a really interesting article from The Wall Street Journal on IAQ, litigation, and fiduciary duty, and essentially, as a building owner, from a financial perspective, you have a fiduciary duty to the company. So, what happens is, you have a company, and you have to do the right things financially or there are legal ramifications, especially when it's a traded company, because you have a duty to the shareholders. Well, what he's starting to see, and what this Wall Street Journal article addresses, is fiduciary duty around the concept of indoor air quality and building health. I don't know exactly how you're going to prove that someone got sick, but I know how you can use analytics and building data to disprove. So, this is more of instead of proving that you took the duty, this is proving that you took the duty through disproving that environmental conditions, at least according ASHRAE/CDC, were in a state in which that would potentially cause issues.
So, you can go to customers, you can talk about IAQ monitoring, analytics, airflow monitoring, and you can tie all these things to CDC and ASHRAE recommendations. You could talk about building health and building health can be used both from an anti-litigation perspective, but also as a value add to your asset. Now, I’m not a lawyer, so consult with a lawyer prior.
If a corporation has to choose two co-working spaces to work in, which one are they going to choose: the one that is showing strategies for environmental conditioning and proper airflow, etc, or the one that just doesn't seem to care. The nice thing about these kinds of changes is they are often programmatic and IO changes. So, input, outputs, and programmatic, they don't usually require rip and replace of large-scale control systems. So, from that perspective, you're able to implement some strategies right
there. That’s number 2 from Julian and Emily.
So, number three, we're going to talk about retro commissioning and energy audits. This comes from Jonathan on our sales team. He came from the Pacific Northwest and now he lives in Texas and covers our south region. So, what he's talking about is getting tied into companies that perform retro commissioning or energy audits.
This is always one that was really interesting to me, but I was never really able to execute it due to the culture of the areas I worked in. I worked in Dallas at the time, I did work in the Pacific Northwest, but I wasn't experienced enough back then to actually implement this. When I finally got that level of experience, I was working in Texas, and Texas has such cheap energy. People would just run their air conditioning all the time.
I will tell you that in a lot of metropolitan areas, especially New York and California, there are clear initiatives for energy efficiency of buildings that are typically tied or coupled to the utilities. So, you can work with the utilities, as well as working with these retro commissioning and energy auditing companies, and here’s what happens:
- You become aware of people who are actually doing retro commissioning and audits. So that gives you some conversational points.
- What is really cool is, there's funding. We really live in a time where there is a ton of funding and the reality is, there is funding out there for so many things around IAQ, around efficiency, and there's tons of school districts that still have funding. So, being able to take advantage of this funding properly, so that you can utilize it as an offset to reduce your total cost of your project, is a really cool strategy. To do that, you need to make friends with folks at the school, city, local boards, councils, etc., so you start to understand when things are coming up for vote, and then you can go and influence.
Now this is a longer-term sell, but it is something that is definitely different than just going into dodge leads or wherever and shopping for new construction bids. So that's number three.
As we continue looking around, if you are selling projects on new construction, and this is just boggles my mind that folks don't do this, which is if you're the mechanical or even if you're the controls company, going in and doing a sales-to-service handoff after operations is done. This is really important, and this comes from Tony. Tony talks about a couple different angles here. One is doing proper documentation, putting together a documentation package. I believe, rightly done, you could actually sell this as a service to existing customers who you just built their control, as well as going to your competitors’ sites and sell the service, because I've seen it done.
I remember in Texas that every time we were at a large OEM to do a job, this other company would come behind us and would quote, retrofit the job or commission the job, they would actually get paid crazy bucks, and when I looked at what they did, all they did was take pictures and run spreadsheets. It was insane that they would actually get money for this. So, it made me wonder, “Why are we not offering this?” So, add that on.
There's this concept called share of wallet, and this is where our customer has the wallet, and in the wallet, they have 100 bucks. Let's say they're spending 10 bucks on controls. Well, if you can get to 15, 20, 30 bucks, then you've just increased your ability to bring revenue in within pretty equal sales effort, because you're already in the conversation. So, the sales effort, the level of increase, is not substantially more, but you're getting a much greater return on revenue.
Now, this may seem obvious, number four, and this comes from Julian. Looking at your field, and this is one that actually I embodied back when I was working for a service organization. I'm a bigger guy. As you can tell, I like to eat food, and this was back in my Mongolian, stir fry barbecue days. So, there was this Mongolian stir fry barbecue place in Seattle, and it was amazing. Every time I would write up a service retrofit, where I would create a deal, the salespeople would take me to get Mongolian barbecue for lunch. It was a great opportunity for me, because I got service rewards, which you got a certain percentage based on everything you brought in, and the salespeople got all these leads. It was like having a salesperson out there with me. We played off one another, I was the technical expert, they were the relationship person and that would get us some really high margin work.
Number five comes from me, and it is linking systems. So, you want to go into a hospital, a university, or even a school district, and understand what they are trying to achieve. I remember there was this car manufacturing company that had a building, and apparently for three years, that building was running, but it wasn't occupied. No one knew it was running, maintenance would do maintenance on it, but there was such a lack of communication in that organization that they didn't know this building was running. If they simply had access, control, and BAS, integrated together, they could have realized no one accessed the building and put the HVAC systems in standby until someone accesses the building. That would have saved them a substantial amount.
That's a simple integration. So, there is a slew of simple integrations, access control to BAS, lighting to BAS, parking management to BAS, etc. that you can implement, that from a cost perspective is pretty low, but you can make high margin on it because it is a mid-tier expertise. So, things like commissioning, optimization of plants, that's more high tier expertise, but integration is kind of a mid-tier expertise topic.
Alright, so I actually have 1 more for you, which would make six. I would be remiss as the leader of one of the largest training organizations in the smart buildings industry, if I didn't mention training. This is something that, while we would love everyone to use our training, you can train your customers. We do have customers of ours who will take their owner customers and put them through our training, because a more educated customer buys more. There's actually some statistics on that.
There are statistics on the fact that the more educated a buyer is, the more that buyer tends to consume, implement, and utilize the technology they're educated on. So, definitely thinking through how you can educate your buyers, post installation. Maybe this looks like putting on some training for them, or reselling our training, which a lot of our contractor customers like to do. Or this looks like finding an existing customer and putting on a training seminar, which is also something we offer to our contracting customers. We, on a case-by-case basis, will do online live trainings for their customers. Once you've implemented a training once, you tend to be able to continue to implement that training.
So, I'd like to hear from you in the comments. Let us know some unique ways that you identify BAS sales opportunities.
Thanks so much for being here. Thanks a ton and take care!