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10 min read

SBA 305: Key Information BAS Sales Reps Need to Know

By Phil Zito on Dec 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Topics: Podcasts

Behind every successful BAS company is a successful sales team. But what do BAS sales people do and what do they need to know?

In this episode we explore the common types of BAS sales roles and the key skills sales people need in order to succeed.

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Phil Zito 0:00
This is the smart buildings Academy podcast with Phil Zito episode 305. Hey folks, Phil Zito here and welcome to episode 305 of the smart buildings Academy podcast. In our previous podcast episodes, we just finished going through all the different roles that you could take in building automation. And we ended up with the sales role. And in the next series of podcast episodes, I'm going to be talking about selling, selling a building automation, what skills you need to have, how to approach it strategies, tactics, etc. Now, I realize a lot of you in my audience are operators and technicians and managers, you may be wondering to yourself, should I just tune out for the next eight or so episodes. And in my experience, that would be a big mistake, because the reality is, we're always selling, if you're an operator, and you know, your building automation system is aged, you know, those pneumatic diaphragms on the pneumatic valves are starting to crack. But you know, they're also like $2,000, a pop to replace, and you've got to go sell yourself and sell your idea to management in order to get those changed. Or maybe you're a technician, or you're a service tech, and you see a need for going and approaching a customer and addressing, maybe it's an upgrade, maybe they have a really outdated building automation system that can't get purchased anymore. Or maybe they're missing some key factors that due to cost cutting on new construction just couldn't get put in place. You need to know how to sell those customers. And if you're in sales, then yeah, this is right up your alley, you're going to get a lot of good perspectives, and a lot of good ideas about selling and how to sell building automation systems. So in this episode, Episode 305, we're going to look at the key information bas sales reps need to know in order to be successful in selling, and I will tell you that this information is going to vary depending on your organization. So I'm going to cover mechanical contractor, I'm going to cover a BAS traditional contractor. And I'm going to cover a system integrator and I'm going to talk about the skills that sales reps are going to need to have in order to succeed in those roles. So everything can be found at podcasts that smart buildings academy.com forward slash 305. Once again, that is podcasts that smart buildings academy.com Ford slash 305. So first up, we have the mechanical contractor, the mechanical contractor, if you're working for a mechanical contractor, you're typically going to be selling to owners, and or to general contractors in a construction environment or directly to owners in a retrofit environment slash service environment. So one of the things you need to realize is you're connected to a mechanical contractor. So there is going to be an expectation like it or not, that you have some mechanical aptitude. Now you aren't selling mechanical services typically, and you aren't selling mechanical systems typically, usually that's firewalled off. Usually you have a mechanical salesperson that goes after the mechanical portion of the bed, and spec, or you have and you have rather a controls salesperson who goes after the controls portion of the spec. But you do need to understand what mechanical systems you offer their integration capabilities, your abilities to put controls on them. And you do need to understand as well, what is going to be happening on the mechanical side, especially if you're going for a joint bid on a project.

Phil Zito 4:01
Besides for that, the basic skills remain that you have a fundamental understanding of building automation system architectures, and products and IO products as well input and output products, and that you understand your product line and its capabilities so that you can apply it properly. In my experience, there's really two types of salespeople. They're salespeople who will go and do estimates a little bit of system design, but they're basically selling product responses to designs specifications, as well as owner project requirements. And then you have more kind of enterprise strategy minded building automation salespeople who are selling solutions and selling services to customers. Now that's not to say one is better than the other. I've seen people on the construction side make just as much as people on the solution sales side. But as a mechanical contractor salesperson. Like I said, you're primarily going to be responding to bids and solicitations from general contractors, as well as responding to owner project requirements and owner requests. Then on the flip side of things, you do have the service sales requirements. And in that case, you need to understand your customers vertical market type. So you can appropriately estimate any plan service agreements, as well as understanding your owners markets so that you can suggest appropriate retrofit solutions. Throughout this episode, you're going to notice a theme that selling retrofits solutions, or solutions sales in general, technically, or from a technical perspective, tend to be more difficult than just simply responding to a spec. Now there are nuances when you respond to a spec that are, you know, how do you go and basically create a solution that can be potentially low bid or in alignment with the spec without pricing you out of the project, etc? How can you negotiate relationships with generals, and owners and engineers to get you maybe flat spec, things like that there's a lot of sales strategies. And we'll talk about that I believe in Episode 308, where we talk about strategies for building new construction work. But as a mechanical contractor, heavy focus on an HVAC background. Good focus on bas light focus typically on it, although I see that shifting and a lot of our mechanical contractor customers who sell controls and come to us for controls training. Now let's move to the BAS contractor. So this is the pure bas contractor, this may be a branch of an OEM original equipment manufacturer, you know, the Johnson, Siemens Schneider's of the world. Or this may be just a BAS contract or someone who reps a product from a distributor and sells into the market. Now here, it's all across the board, right? I mean, if you're part of a major projects division, or maybe you're doing a lot of solution oriented sales, then you may need to have a high level of technical acumen. Or you may need to have a high interpersonal and executive presence. Meaning that you can go in two executive leadership, we're talking VP level C level, and be able to discuss with them, what are their pain points? What are the KPIs that are measured against those pain points? And how do you solution products and solutions? How do you create solutions from products to go and solve those problems? And how do you execute, execute that, potentially across a enterprise environment? These are all things that you should be considering when you are selling at that level. On the flip side, you could be selling directly to mechanical contractors responding to bids. And at that point, it's really more knowing the architecture, knowing your product incented inside and out where that product is going to align with certain parts of the spec. And the folks I see who do this really well. They tend to have spec influence either with the owner or the engineers through relationships. And then they have relationships with mechanicals to get last look at pricing, especially when it's low bid. And yes, I know, a lot of pricing is closed envelope.

Phil Zito 8:33
But you're fooling yourself if people don't wink wink and say, hey, you know you need to be at this point, or I would suggest you be at this point. That's just the reality of how our market works. I'm not saying I agree with that. But that is the reality of what goes on behind closed doors in a lot of these bids scenarios. Now, at the end of the day, the contractor also has a service arm that can be very owner focused. And personally, I love service. You know, you all if you've listened to this for any amount of time, you've heard me just sing the praises of service and how I think it's great from a career development, I think it's the most fun thing to sell. I think it in my opinion, is easier to sell than construction. It definitely requires a greater technical aptitude, it requires an ability to problem solve to understand building dynamics, so that you can look at a building and say, Oh, this probably isn't going right. And you can make recommendations. So there's much more owner interaction. There's much more of your captain of your ship basically. Right you often besides for your retrofit project managers, you're often the point person for these projects. So just be cognizant of that a service sales role tends to require a little bit of project management and coordination skills unless you're just selling services. events in time and material. And then we have system integrators. System integrators are this new hybrid, company type that are coming out. And, you know, it's sexy to call yourself a system integrator. And there's a lot of organizations that call themselves system integrators. And really all they integrate is lighting and building automation and AV that's not system integration. That's just some basic protocol integration. I would argue anybody can do that. Now, I know that's gonna piss some people off. But that's just the reality true systems integration. In my experience, having managed the technical integration program at Johnson Controls having worked on large, large scale technology projects. system integration is where you're taking several disparate technology sets. And you are pairing those together to achieve focus to use cases that are determined based on business needs, and result in business outcomes. So you may identify safety issues, product or personnel efficiency issues, you may realize that customer experience user experience tenant experience issues, and you will put multiple pieces of technology together to solution these organizations are these projects rather. And what I tend to find is the organizations that do true system integration, it is a huge cost of sales. You know, as I look at the plan and spec sale cycle, you're typically talking three to six months, as I look at the owner sales cycle, it can be anywhere from two months to 12 months, as I look at the system integrator sales cycle, I tend to find that the system integrator sales cycle can run anywhere from nine months to 36 months or longer. The sales cycles tend to be very intense, very long, huge cost of sales from a sales development effort perspective. But on the flip side, there's greater margin and much larger sales volumes. And the competition gets significantly lowered. From a technical skill set perspective, you need to be able to matrix sell, right or team sell, as some people call it, you need to be able to have teams that some folks cover the executives, some folks cover the decision makers, executives, some folks cover the influencers, the technical buyers, some folks will go and cover different trades, etc. And you'll have a team selling approach typically. So you need to be able to work in that environment. Whereas the owner direct search service sales role tends to be independent, this role tends to be much more

Phil Zito 12:54
what's the word I'm looking for interdependent. So additionally, you also need to have a technical acumen from an integration perspective, you need to be able to understand business KPIs, and business problems of the vertical markets you serve. And you need to be able to take the information that you know from that vertical market, you need to be abreast of hey, these are the key key performance indicators that this vertical market uses. These are the key pain points because I keep up with publications and trade meetings, etc. Related to this vertical. And based on that information. These are the solutions we can provide. Mr. Customer, Mrs. Customer, do you have any of these pain points? Oh, you do? Let's get all your executive team to discuss these. Let's roundtable it, let's lay out kind of what would an ideal situation that reaches these key KPIs look like? Okay, it would require How many use cases, okay, I'm going to develop these use cases alongside my engineering team, we're going to propose them back to you. And then if you accept our proposal, we will then go to work on those that's kind of the path there. And you can be a very business minded person, you can be a very technical minded person. I've seen folks who are both but they're more rare. You tend to have someone who is very business minded, interacting or vertical market minded, interacting with the executive level. And then you have the technical minded salesperson, interacting with the technical buyers and influencers, as well as building the project project solution. That's not to say that either role is more important than the other. It's just different. So I hope this has given you a perspective of the different types of sales roles. I hope this has given you kind of a little bit of a background behind the skills required. And as we start to move through the next several episodes, I'm going to be discussing things like identifying bas sales opportunities, reviewing scoping and estimate projects, strategies for bidding new construction work. Performing site audits and retrofit work scoping and estimating retrofit work, strategies for bidding retrofit work. And a whole lot more, I'm going to stop reading it out to you because I don't know about you. But when people read stuff out to me, it's rather painful. But my hope is that this is an enjoyable cert series for you. And if you have any questions, comments or feedback, please hit us up at podcasts at smart buildings academy.com forward slash 305. Once again, that is podcasts at smart buildings academy.com Ford slash 305. Like I said, this is gonna go on for about 10 episodes. And then we're going to dive deep into workforce development. We're going to start exploring, how do we identify and develop talent. So for those of you looking to get a job in building automation, that'll be key for you. And for those of you who are looking to find talent to employ. This will be some key episodes for you as well. Thanks a ton. I look forward to talking to you. In the next episode. Take care

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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