Selling Propane Burner Tips — A Team Effort - Warm Thoughts Communications
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Selling Propane Burner Tips — A Team Effort

Posted on July 16, 2015

Winning Team

In this age of smartphones, online shopping carts, and big box stores, a propane retailer needs to field a team of winners to compete successfully in the sales of heating equipment, appliances, and other burner tips.

The equipment manufacturer, your first baseman, needs to be a solid performer.

Each product brand and model your company chooses to sell, install, and service needs to be quality-built, defect free, and appealing in design. Ease of product installation and service are also important considerations. Check out competitors who may stock and sell the same brands and models you are considering. You don’t have to be the exclusive retailer handling the product to be successful but you also don’t want to compete with a huge online product presence or other retailers who are big discounters of the same models. Remember, you can’t field a winning team without a good first baseman.

The propane equipment distributor is the second baseman on your team.

The distributor is your important link to the propane burner tip manufacturers that will make your team a winner. The distributors on your team should be stocking a backup inventory of popular and not so popular models, so you can turn your inventory often and access their inventory when needed. Distributors can coordinate with manufacturers to provide sales and service training, point of sale marketing materials, display allowances, and other team training. This seems like a lot of ground to cover but that’s what a good second baseman does.

Your burner tip installer handles the hot corner, third base.

Selling, installing, and servicing heating equipment, appliances, and other burner tip products is only possible with a qualified service technician on your team. If a third baseman makes too many errors, it hurts the team’s chances of winning, so your installer needs to be a well-trained performer. Look to your manufacturers, distributors, State or regional propane gas associations, the NPGA CETP Certification Program (or equivalent), PERC, NATE (North American Technician Excellence) and others to continually update the skills and knowledge of your service technician. Ideally your service installer is an everyday player at third base, but periods of lower burner tip sales volumes may mean that you platoon your service technician into installing tanks or delivering gas. Using the skills of your third baseman at other positions is important for team productivity; just remember that a good third baseman needs quick reflexes and a strong arm to make that accurate throw to first base. Those skills aren’t honed in the cab of a bobtail.

Selling burner tips is the pitcher position on your team.

The propane owner or manager chooses who gets the ball to pitch. In some cases the manager or owner also is on the mound selling, although a good pitcher will be kept too busy to also manage the team. Using a full time salesman (starting pitcher) is best, but don’t overlook the customer service representatives or service technician for middle relief or closing. Having a dedicated full time salesperson on staff is important for the detailed on site assessment work that is often involved with selling a burner tip installation. Your pitcher should not be limited to burner tip sales, but should have a variety of pitches available to use for propane tank installations, autogas, and other products that will make the propane team a winner. Do you have a starting pitcher?

Your customers (and prospects) are the catchers on your team.

The catcher is positioned behind home plate and ready to be in direct communication with your pitcher. Just like the catcher on a baseball team, today’s propane customer knows the game well. He or she is a smart and informed shopper. Many customers looking for burner tip solutions have researched the brand, model, and retailer options through internet searches, referrals, advertising, and visits to your competitors. In most cases the customer will be aware of electric and propane options. Your salesperson should be able to deliver the right pitches that keep your customers satisfied with propane and your company. The reason the customer comes to you is because he or she is looking for a one pitch solution that includes sales, installation and service afterward. Customers want to deal with someone they can trust, and they have a hard time finding all that online or at a big box store You need a starting pitcher that can deliver the pitch right where the catcher, your customer, calls for it.

Spring training is over. Your team should be on the field. You may have to tweak the roster with a new player or two and move some players around, but you can have a winning propane business by shaping your team around the sales, installation and servicing of heating and water heating equipment, appliances, and other burner tips. You will add new customers, improve your gallons per customer sales, and improve your summer/winter propane sales ratio, and that is a good thing for your business and our industry. Remember, you can’t win if you don’t play the game.


Tom Jaenicke is Vice-President of Propane Marketing Services for Warm Thoughts Communications, a company providing Breakthrough Marketing Solutions for the energy services industry. He can be reached at tjaenicke@warmthoughts.com or call him at 810 252-7855.

Tom Jaenicke
You can reach Tom Jaenicke online or call our office at 201-330-9276

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