New Devices Bring Invisible Energy Performance to Life

Demonstrating the intangibles makes it easier to sell and upsell
By Mark Imbrock, EDTM Inc.
May 1, 2009
FEATURE ARTICLE | Sales & Marketing

Consumers have new buying criteria, new performance expectations, and a savvy new attitude from the window research they perform on the Internet before the salesman come into the home. Many features that used to be the primary reason for selecting a window or door are being overridden by a product’s energy performance or green footprint. The recent passage of the stimulus bill has put an even greater emphasis on energy performance as it puts dollars back into a homeowner’s pocket for making an energy conscious decision.

Electronic devices that show the performance values of different types of glass coatings
enhance credibility and help transform salespeople into sales technicians.

This presents a golden opportunity for selling the energy efficiency of a window or door. It also creates a great opportunity for selling customers up to the highest performing window, typically the product with the most margin, in the company line. The sales techniques of years past will no longer be effective for this new market, but the dealer equipped with the right tools for bringing the invisible energy performance to life will thrive.

Selling the Unseen
Just like in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, window and door salespeople are faced with the challenge of selling the unseen–energy performance. There’s just one problem. You can’t see good energy performance like you can see a window frame or a locking mechanism. You can’t pick it up and hold it in your hands, let alone touch it.

So how do you bring this invisible energy performance to life? Advancements in demonstration tools are the key to educating the customer about the inner workings of glass and low E coatings. These new technologies analyze the energy performance of windows in a tangible and credible way right before the homeowner’s eyes. Available tools can help customers learn about the variation in performance attributes such as solar heat gain, ultraviolet resistance, visible light transmission, and infrared energy. These tools educate consumers about what they want in their home, what they would prefer to stay outside, and how well a particular window meets these needs.

Tin-Men to Technicians
Let’s face it, many people out there have had or at least know someone who has had an unpleasant experience with an in-home salesperson. While it might not be so prevalent in the window industry, there have been in-home sales personnel who take an underhanded approach as depicted in the Hollywood movie Tin-Men. Most salespeople want to distance themselves from that approach as much as possible.

Sales tools are an integral part of creating that distinction by enhancing the seller’s professional image and the level of trust they can establish. A salesperson who can use tools to educate customers about the energy performance of their window and the benefits it will provide in their home as opposed to rattling off some performance data with a “trust me” approach certainly has a leg up on the competition. This is the transition from a sales person to a sales technician.

Devices for measuring glass performance properties first emerged with the development of soft-coat or sputtered low E coatings. For the first time, dealers could demonstrate a measurable difference in the performance values of two pieces of relatively similar looking pieces of glass. A basic heat lamp was added into many sales demonstration kits because customers could now feel an actual difference in energy performance between clear windows and soft coat low E windows.

Shortly thereafter, a small analog BTU meter that was imported from China began being used by many dealers to educate customers about the difference in solar gain in various windows. Although explaining window performance by discussing BTU values was not a preferred method for dealers due to its complexity, it was the only instrument available at the time.

In more recent years, newer digital technology has been introduced that has allowed a paradigm shift to occur. Rather than get stuck in technical discussions about BTU's with customers, these products allow dealers to discuss window energy performance in terms of solar transmission; a value that is much easier for customers to understand (i.e. how much energy is allowed through the window). Also, because the newer solar transmission meters use digital technology, dealers can present a professional and modern image, exemplary of the high performance window being offered.

Still newer technologies have combined numerous light sources and meters into single instruments. These all-inclusive digital instruments are growing rapidly in popularity, as they allow demonstration of more energy performance values while not increasing the size of the sales kits that dealers must carry. Finally, some of these newer instruments also demonstrate SHGC values, something that has recently grown in importance to customers in light of the new energy tax credit included in the stimulus package.

There are also new instruments on the market that allow sales technicians to analyze the energy performance of the current windows in a customer’s home. Many homeowners have no concept of the performance of the windows installed in their home. Using the proper devices, customers can see a tangible difference between their existing windows and the windows being offered, reiterating the need for replacement.

Perhaps just as importantly, a sales technician using these new teaching techniques can earn trust by encouraging customers to make an education-based buying decision. Let’s be frank, buying windows is a major investment for most consumers. As times are tight and as consumers demand an energy efficient product, they are more likely to make a window purchasing decision from a position of knowledge and understanding about the product. Wouldn’t you want to be the technician that helps them achieve the knowledge?

The instruments used in a sales kit must appeal to as many personalities as you can anticipate in the sales field. Devices that can show the analytical energy performance of a window serve as a nice complement to the simple heat lamp that can appeal to the sensory side of customers. Implementing both these technologies equips a sales staff to cover a wide array of customers and situations in the field.

With sales tools as well as every other aspect of business, a new environment requires a new approach. If you aren’t reacting to the changing times you risk falling behind. Realize the image of your presentation offers the first impression of what the customer can expect of the finished product. If you haven’t taken a hard look at what’s available to upgrade your sales demonstration kit, there is no better time than the present.

Mark Imbrock is co-owner of EDTM, Inc., an electronic instrument manufacturer based in Toledo, Ohio, serving the window industry in promoting the performance of energy efficient windows by supplying complete sales demonstration kits. He welcomes any feedback on the article at 419/861-1030 or Nick Lipp, also with EDTM, provided assistance with this article.