Our survey revealed that HVAC sales staff rate the quality of a manufacturer’s products above benefits such as flexible working and financial incentives when choosing an employer.
The year-long research project asked the views of sales personnel in the air conditioning, commercial heating and ventilation industries during a year long study to find the manufacturers sales people most want to work for and their priorities when looking for a new job.
Jason Thornhill of Thornhvac said: “We sought views on the manufacturers salespeople perceive as being the best to work for, whether they are currently employed by them or not, and why certain manufacturers are perceived as being better than others.
“The survey showed that product quality, good management and a comprehensive after sales service were the strongest influencing factors when people made their decision about which company they would most like to work for.
“A strong brand, the financial stability of the company and product availability were other key considerations.”
Product quality ranked highest by air conditioning employees
More than two thirds of respondents in each sector rated product quality as an influencing factor when choosing who to work for – and in the air conditioning industry it was chosen by almost 80% of sales people. Almost a third also mentioned good management practices as a reason for naming their employer of choice.
After sales service valued by heating sales engineers
Product quality and service were almost equally important to staff when choosing their top commercial heating manufacturer, with 73% stating that they preferred to work for companies with good products and 65% ranking after sales service and technical support as a deciding factor.
Good management attracts staff in ventilation
Good management was ranked by 46% of those questioned in the ventilation industry compared to 30% in air conditioning and 28% in commercial heating.
Jason said: “Unlike brand perception and product quality, the nature of a company’s internal management is something staff don’t really have a grasp of until they have worked there, although it’s certainly true that some manufacturers are well known for being well structured with a strong focus on employee engagement.
“I think there is probably a lot more that all HVAC manufacturers could do to communicate their employee satisfaction levels as a way of attracting high performing sales people to work for them. Perhaps ventilation firms are better at it than most.”
How important are financial benefits?
The survey findings indicate that financial rewards are not as important to HVAC sales people as more tangible factors like the products they are going to sell.
Jason said this tied in with other research undertaken by the recruiter as part of the 2015 study.
“We carried out a number of detailed interviews with sales engineers to gain a deeper understanding of their opinions and priorities when making a career move and time and again we heard that sales people want to work for well-known brand names that have high quality, innovative products.
“These sorts of companies may pay a slightly lower basic than smaller manufacturers but the bonus potential is usually far greater. Their bonus structures will have been developed over time and will be well defined. Smaller firms understand that their sales people might have a harder time getting their products out to market which is why they tend to offer a higher basic salary to compensate for the fact that bonuses are not quite as easy to come by,” he explained.
As well as offering higher earning potential, manufacturers with innovative and well regarded products are attractive because of the technical nature of HVAC sales.
“A salesperson in the HVAC industry has a far more technical role to play in a project than someone selling in another field and that’s why HVAC sales engineers really need to believe in their product, its applications and benefits,” added Jason.
Retention is as important as attraction
The Thornhvac survey set out to find the best HVAC manufacturers to work for but Jason said this was only part of the story and manufacturers needed to focus on retaining good sales people.
“Brand, product range and technical support are all useful for attracting employees but if manufacturers are going to keep their best people they need to be providing much more for their staff.
“Our interviews dug a little deeper and revealed that the best companies to build a career with are those that combine market presence, innovation and an awareness of customer needs with solid internal management structures and staff incentives that develop loyalty and reputation.”