Most salespeople in our industry are overly concerned about their competition. In order to keep the price as low as possible, many don't even mention their best equipment, and some even steer customers away from it. Most salespeople, when caught in multiple bid situations, bid equipment of comparable features and efficiency, then try to sell the customer on service.

Yes, you need to sell them on service, but your best bet is to avoid a direct comparison, and that means you'll need to quote them on equipment that is entirely different from what the competition has quoted. This usually means quoting them on your better equipment. Try it!

Sometimes, a customer who has had several bids and only been quoted on standard grade equipment, will actually become perturbed, if not angry, with your competitors for not recommending the better equipment. It's as if they thought the homeowner didn't have the money or wasn't interested in quality.

Regardless, you always make a favorably impression when showing them the best, and it's far easier to "downgrade" a sale to the lower-end equipment than it is to "upgrade" a sale to the higher-end equipment.

On the flip side of things, consumers can often feel confident in your abilities and the ability of your company to do the job right, but feel they need time to decide which grade equipment they want.

Unfortunately, they've also been known to use that time to acquire other bids and, in the meantime, forget how impressed they were with you and your presentation.

When you see that coming, you can handle it in advance by offering, "Tell you what - I don't want to rush you into making a decision right now. The main thing I need to know today is that you want me to install it for you, whichever furnace you decide on.

"Since you're going to want it installed as soon as possible and I can't put it in for a couple of days anyway, why don't I go ahead and write up a work order for the standard furnace? Then I can go ahead and put you on the installation schedule. I'll also note right on the word order that the extra investment will be for you to upgrade to the better furnace. This way you can take your time to decide which furnace you want. Just let me know which one you want a day or two before the installation, okay?" Now I know I've got the sale when I walk out the door and, given time, they'll more than likely make the intelligent decision.

The key to success in any field is to find out what the public wants, then supply them with it. In equipment sales, your best bet is to find your customers' needs and satisfy them, and you'll make all the sales you want.

(Charlie Greer's HVAC Profit Boosters can be contacted at 800-963-HVAC or 941-454-1131; fax 941-454-7476; 7238 Hendry Creek Drive, Fort Meyers, Fla. 33908; or website: