How To Sell The Full System VS Furnace Only Or AC Only?

How To Sell The Full System VS Furnace Only Or AC Only?

Every single one of us here in the HVAC industry has probably encountered people buying only a portion of equipment. Some would only buy the cooling portion during the summer and the furnace during the winter. In this episode, host Sam Wakefield guides us into getting people off the fence and over the hump of buying the full system. He walks us through a role-play scenario of how to have the conversation to sell the full system with the homeowner. Grab a pen and paper and take notes so you can see to it that you make that full sale next time.

We are covering a very specific topic that I know affects every single one of us. It is how in the world do we get people off of the fence and over the hump when at the peak of the summer, they want to buy air conditioning equipment, only the cooling portion? In the middle of the winter, they only want to buy the furnace. At least they think they do. We’re going to talk about how to have that conversation to get people over the fence so they buy a complete system. How do we have that conversation with the homeowner? How do we have it with the client?

Setting Up The Grand Slam: The Context

This is going to be a lob, one that you could absolutely hit a grand slam with or you could just sell a furnace. We’re going to talk about that. Let me set some context for you. We’re going to go something super basic and no curve balls here. This is the practice space. Here’s a great lesson for you as well. Anytime you role play with your team or with people, when you’re learning new conversations, new skills, new words to use, don’t throw curveballs. Make it a safe space. Make it a place where people can practice getting the reps in.

You go to the batting cage not to practice hitting the craziest and hardest pitches on the planet. You go to the batting cage to practice hitting a home run every single time so you can get used to that. That’s how you become a better batter and how you win games. It’s the same thing when you practice your role-playing. That’s what we’re going to do here. This is going to be a very safe space. We’re going to set up the context of what would typically be a grand slam. The context is we’re going to imagine that we work in a company and relive a past experience that I had.

Imagine you work in a company where there are separate service technicians from comfort consultants or project managers. If you are a selling tech or a small organization and you do the sales, the service, and the installation, you can put yourself in the place of all of these hats. I’m going to separate them intentionally for a couple of reasons. The context, it’s a 1,800-square-foot, single-story ranch-style house, nice and basic, a three-ton gas furnace with an air conditioning system. It’s as simple as you can get. There’s nothing wrong with the ductwork that we could tell initially. We’re talking about a straight change out. We get there, a nice and simple call.

The process is the technician was out. They had diagnosed a bad control board in this furnace. The system is we’ll call it 15, 16 years old. The repair cost is we’ll say $850, $900 plus their diagnostic fee and all that. All in all, done with a tax title license out the door, the customer is going to be in it for $1,000 to repair this sixteen-year-old furnace. The homeowner says, “What are my options?” A well-trained service technician would say, “We could repair most things. Would you be open to the idea of seeing if it was in your best interest? Would you like to hear some options?”

The customer says yes because people like to hear options. They’ll say, “Here’s what the repair costs would be.” All manufacturers tell us for our area of the part of the country that the average lifespan for heating and air systems is around fifteen years. That is a true fact. I’m not making this up. I’m not trying to tell them something that’s not true. That’s the statistics for our part of the country for heating and cooling systems. That’s a pop-out just so you know I’m not making something up. That is the statistics in the part of the world I live in.

We zoom back into the service technician talking to the homeowner, “That’s about the average lifespan. We can’t guarantee when we fix this that other things may or may not fail in the near future. It’s like working on an old car. You can start to expose weaknesses as you start to replace things. It makes sense. With your permission, we can get a comfort consultant or a project manager out here. They could go over all your different options. They’ll sit down with you and do a repair versus replace and show you what’s available. Great, okay.” That’s how the call is set up.

It’s a tech turnover because the system had a bad control board there without heat because the control board is bad. We show up hopefully pretty quickly after that and do the knock on the door. We get there. You’d do your introduction, which is introducing and setting the credibility pieces in place for the company and yourself before you get to anything else. You asked them, “Let’s go over what’s going on here. I hear that you’ve got a bad control board, but you’re wanting to also see some options so you can make a well-educated decision.”

The homeowner says, “We’re thinking about just replacing the furnace.” If you’re like me in the past and a lot of people, that all of a sudden feels like a punch in the gut because you thought you were set up for this big grand slam system. You are, they just don’t know it yet. If you follow this pattern here, very seldom do I end up walking out of a house with just a furnace sale. The reason they think that is they talk to their uncles, neighbors, brothers, sisters, Billy, and Bob, and they said, “I worked in heating and air 20 or 40 years ago and that’s what you should do.”

Asking Questions

We all know that’s not the best option for them but they’re not educated yet. That’s your job as a professional to educate them on all of their options. What that means is you start with questions. You start with asking for permission. That’s when you ask them, “We can absolutely do anything you want us to do. We can repair it. We can look at the furnace.” You ask them and say, “Would you mind if I showed you everything that’s available? That way you’ll have a good idea of everything that’s out there when the time comes and you’ll get a good idea of what you’re actually saying no to when you just do the furnace. We can talk about the price differences and all of that.” I’ve never had anyone say, “No, I don’t want to see those options.”

You go, “Before we get started with that, would you mind if I asked you a few questions about the house and you get to tell me what you’re experiencing? What’s it like living here? That way, I can serve you best.” You sit down with the questionnaire and you go through the questionnaire. That’s when you’re deep diving. You’re starting the process of, “Let’s talk about the rooms.” When some rooms are cooler, there are others that are warmer, and vice versa. When some rooms are warmer, there are others that are cooler. It depends on the season you’re in. When you follow the questionnaire, you’re asking indoor air quality questions. You’re asking questions about their bill.

You’re asking all the different things and sometimes they’ll comment and look in their eye and be sensitive to the energy. Sometimes they’re like, “What does this have to do with the furnace or what does this have to do with the heat?” We’re going to do an entire episode on how to use the questionnaire. Remember, the questionnaire is a tool. You don’t use every tool in your toolbox in every single project that you have. If people are resistant to using the questionnaire, tuck it away, play with it, be silly with it if you need to. I don’t tell them that I’m the one who developed it, but I’ll tell them, “This is something that we use a lot of times that makes sense for some people.” Sometimes I’ll throw it. Sometimes I’ll tuck it back in my folder if they’re resistant to it.

Selling The Full System: Professional sales is being concerned about people’s issues.

A lot of people love that you are prepared enough to ask them questions about the other things in the house. What you’re doing is differentiating yourself from other companies to come in and say, “New furnace, that’s going to be $2,500, $3,500 or $4,000,” whatever the pricing is. They write their number on the back of the business card and say, “Call me when you’re ready.” That is not professional sales. Professional sales are being concerned about their issues. Back to the appointment, you’ve asked them questions. You’re getting used to their vibe. Part of the reason for all the questions and stuff is anytime anything new is introduced in somebody’s world, they’re instantly resistant to it, even subconsciously, if they mean to or not. It can be totally unintentional.

Explaining The Systems

It’s a new something in their space and that something is you. The longer you’re there at that initial part, that’s also the reason for the introductions and stuff. A lot of it is letting them get used to you, get comfortable with you, and start to open up a little bit before you get to the meat of the conversation. There’s a lot of psychology here. You’re like, “Would you mind if I show you the different systems that are available? That way, you can have a well-educated decision.” You start explaining the systems. When you do this, there’s a very specific method of explaining the systems as well. You start at the bottom.

With all of the coaching clients, there’s a very exclusive content that I have of breaking this down with diagrams, some key verbiage, and scripting. That’s super powerful. The basics and nutshell of this is you start with the very basic single-stage equipment. Even label it that and say, “This is the builder-grade stuff. Here are two stages. Here’s what this does. Here’s the modulating equipment. Here’s variable speed equipment.” You build on each level as the technology advances. More importantly, it’s way less about technology. Remember, they don’t care how they get to a destination. They care what it feels like to get to the destination. They want to know what their bill is going to be like. They want to know what it’s going to feel like when it’s cooling, what it’s going to feel like when it’s heating. Is it going to be cheap to do it? That’s it.

As you’re going through these systems, explain it in those terms. Don’t use numbers and engineering to speak. You go all the way to the top. You turn the corner and say, “Does all that make sense?” You’ve got to check in along the way. Once you’ve gone through and explained all the different systems, that’s when you’re way back up. You’ve checked in and made sure they understand all of the different levels. What you’re going to do is say, “Here are the different options. If we do just the furnace, you need to drop all the way back to the bottom. Here’s where we’re going to be. Is that something that you want? You’re not going to get any of this other stuff.”

What we’re doing is setting up the whole thing as they didn’t know what was available when you walked in and they said they just wanted the furnace. Most of the time, people disqualify themselves from basic single-stage equipment because when you’ve told them, “This was invented in 1902. It’s the same operation as it was then. They’re so much better now.” Many people will say, “I don’t want anything that’s old technology. Let’s go with the newer stuff.” People will disqualify themselves from basic single-stage equipment. It’s the way people think.

I hope you offer financing. When you show them what a low monthly payment would be, they start to compare their savings and that stuff or overall comfort. Most people say, “I don’t want what it’s been like. I want something better. Let’s go ahead and step up into something else.” If they’re not like that and they’re saying, “I’ve been fine with where I’m at. In fact, I’ve been checking with you. Does that make sense so far? I hope so.” Turning that corner again, if the homeowner is not that into all of the fancy bells and whistles of the equipment. They don’t care about the comfort.

They’re still to the point of, “I still want to do the furnace,” or “I’m going to stick down with this basic equipment. It’s going to be fine for me. We’ve been happy so far. The bills aren’t high.” You have those clients. Their bills aren’t high. They’d been perfectly comfortable. They would rather spend their money in their boat that’s in the backyard. They would rather spend their money somewhere else and that’s fine because our goal is to get them comfortable. Our goal is to make the sale because we know we can serve people better that way.

Right here is a great way to enter into the specifics of the conversation to get people off of the fence of one system versus the other. You’ve already shown them everything that’s available so they know what they’re saying no to. If they try to stop you during that, a lot of times I’ll say, “I don’t want you calling me a year or two down the road and saying, ‘I didn’t know that this was available. I’m mad at you. Why didn’t you tell me about it?’” At that point, if you say that, they’ll let you go through all the different systems. Even if you know that they’re going to say no, say, “I’ll go through them.” You’re back down at the bottom. They’re still trying to decide if they’ll do just the furnace or if they do the complete system.

Selling The Full System: We are educators in the process – we educate, people decide, and we support what their decision is.

Start Having The Practical Conversation

That’s when you start to have a practical conversation. In sales, especially in home HVAC sales, they’re paying us to be the experts to come in and give them a truthful and honest opinion. It’s not just an opinion but an actual one based on our education and knowledge, diagnosis, and recommendation. That’s why we’re there and that’s why they called us. There are times in this appointment or in any appointment when we dial it down and we use the finesse card. We play with finesse when we’re talking to the homeowner about certain situations and circumstances.

Sometimes when you’re the expert in the room, now is that time when it’s time to grab that dial and crank it up. Crank it to eleven because, in this moment, that’s when the brutal honesty is what people need to hear. That’s what they want to hear. People want to be led. They want you to grab them by the hand and lead them to the decision that they know they need to make. Here’s where the brutal honesty comes in and you crank it up and lay it out for them. Show them practical numbers. When you’re doing a furnace only, there are many steps that have to be repeated when you go back, especially imagine like an up-flow, but anything, it doesn’t matter.

Many steps have to be repeated when you go back to do the cooling portion to make however many years later the cooling portion matches up with that furnace. You tell them that and say, “I’m happy to do just the furnace for you, but there are some things that I want to make sure that you understand and understand that globally if you split this up, it’s going to be way more expensive for you. The reason is because I’m going to have to send a crew. I’ve got two guys out here or however many you have.

I’ll tell them, “I’m going to have to send a crew and I’ll block them for the entire day to do a furnace change out. In a year or two years or however long it is, the whole crew will be back for another complete day to do the cooling part. There will be some steps that they’re repeating to make that cooling match up with this furnace. Some of it will have to be uninstalled and re-installed so we can make it work right. Do you think that two complete days of a crew being out here is going to be more expensive or the same price as doing it all in one day?” You ask them that question and they’ll be like, “I didn’t think about that. It’s going to be more expensive.” Absolutely, and then repeating those steps also makes it more expensive.

That’s why my à la carte pricing for equipment is so much higher than if we do it together. Does that make sense? Anytime you do a single piece of equipment, financing doesn’t qualify hardly or near as much. You can always finance it, but you don’t have nearly the options. You start to compare what you have available versus the system. It’s going to be $1,500, $2,000 higher if you globally split this up across time than if you do it all together and knock it out. It’s the bundle discount for doing it together. You can finance it this way.

The most important part that homeowners especially think about is saying, “Now you’re going to have peace of mind. You know that this brand-new system, you’ve got a ten-year parts warranty. You’ve got however long a labor warranty your company does. You’ve got peace of mind for a decade. Maybe you have a little maintenance issue here and there, but it’s not on the verge of failure like your system is now. Why don’t we go ahead and do the entire thing? Knock it out, get rid of that burden off your mind, and know that your experience is going to be so much better.”

I will tell you that very seldom, I can think of one time in the last few years that I’ve done furnace only when I’ve had this conversation, when I’ve been like this and be like, “It’s going to cost you more because of the logistics of it.” Most people right there say, “That makes sense.” You have this conversation and you’re super brutally honest with them at that point and once you’ve taken them through the entire line of everything that’s available and what the difference is going to be like in their house. I literally have a project going that was the exact same thing.

It was a six-year-old system that we had nothing but repair issues because it was one of those brands that everybody hates. That’s what it was, unfortunately, but had some repair issues with this guy and moved into the house a few years ago. The system is six years old. It’s got a problem with the electric system, a problem with the air handler. I went through the process. Sure enough, he’s going with my very highest-end system because he liked my financing options. We do five years 0% on that top system and we’re fixing some other things for him. We’re doing some indoor air quality stuff for him. He said, “I bought this house, but I didn’t buy that air conditioner.” I was like, “You’re not out any money if you replace it, even though it’s only six years old. Get what you want. Don’t get what somebody else handed to you and forced you to have.”

He’s going with the very top-of-the-line system, which is fantastic. That shows you that the system works. I am in the middle of experiencing it. I’m glad that you brought that topic up because it’s powerful to have a conversation like this. Once you do, people realize, “I don’t want a furnace only. I didn’t know what else was available.” That’s what happens most of the time. We are educators in the process. We educate and they decide. We support what their decision is.

I tell people that all the time. They don’t know how we’ve structured the conversation, but it’s to serve them. One of the things that’s always powerful, when people are trying to decide between levels of equipment, I’ll say, “Mr. Homeowner, Ms. Homeowner, I’ve done these thousands of times over the years. What I’ve never had is someone say, ‘I wish I would have bought the cheaper system.’” I have had people say over the years, “This one is good, but I wish I would have spent a little bit more and stepped up that one more time because I can imagine how much better that would be. The next time I do this, that’s what I’m doing.”

Especially when the prices are close anyway and they’re like, “That’s true. Let’s go ahead and do that better one.” I’ll say, “You’re going to love it. Welcome to the family.” At that point, I shake their hand and congratulate them. The next step is let’s get that paperwork done. That’s our topic on how to get people over the hump of buying a single piece of equipment versus buying the complete system. I hope that was helpful to you. Shoot me a message and let me know. Email me at and let me know if this is helpful.

I’m doing a huge promo right now. In fact, we’ve got some open enrollment, but we’re doing a big push for our group coaching. Also, message me if you want to check that out. Go to You can read up about group coaching. There’s private coaching, but group coaching is the big promotion right now. Message me to find out what the promo is and I bet I’ll hook you up in the future, we’ll see. I know you’re out there crushing it. Crush all the goals. It’s up to you to save the world one heatstroke at a time.

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