A Letter from Paul:

Technical Knowledge Isn’t Enough

When I was in high school, I was kind of a nerd. I went to a prep school and took advanced math, chemistry, and physics classes. At the time, I thought it was a good method to engage my brain and keep me out of trouble (wishful thinking). I enjoyed reading popular science, especially about Ronald Reagan’s concept of electromagnetic rail guns in outer space shooting laser particles at enemy war planes.

But…how many of you want to be pigeonholed as an engineering geek? I was headed that direction until I needed money for a new Sony Walkman, so I got a job at 15. I was hired to stock and sell women’s shoes. Time to stop solving quadratic equations and figure out how to relate to women and help them find the perfect pair of pumps for their next big event.

So…. what is the point here? The ability to combine your knowledge of the technical side of our industry with the relational skills that provide non-technical people with an understanding of how HVAC systems work is HUGE! Managers of companies that are tech driven seek to find people who know tech, but also know how to relate to people.

In our industry, we call these people “SALES ENGINEERS”. But what does that term mean?

To me, it means somebody who can talk “tech” but still “interface” with the average Joe so they can understand and choose to buy the product that is being sold. This requires a special talent which not many people possess. Many times, I have explained the refrigeration cycle to someone (compressor to condenser to evaporator) only to see a glazed look on their eye. Do you have the skills necessary to make someone understand a technical concept?

Our industry is becoming more complicated every day. From hot gas reheat to hot gas bypass to mag lev turbocor compressors to BACnet controllers, we live in an industry that is full of acronyms and difficult to understand concepts which change from day to day. Those who dabble in this world, will understand the fringe but not the core. Those of us who live in this world are a rare breed and are invaluable to their present employer (call me if you want a job).

It is important to educate our potential customers and help them understand. For example, if someone wants to turn their thermostat down to 65 degrees and complains that it never gets below 74, I will gently explain to them how the coil discharge temperature at 59 degrees can’t possibly maintain a space setpoint of 65. This helps them understand without overwhelming them with jargon and industry terms they don’t know.

Our job is to bridge the gap between the core “tech” people and the non-tech people (buyers of the product). As with most purchasing decisions, we must gain the trust of our buyers by educating them without overwhelming them with technology. For now, let’s keep selling more HVAC and find the right shoe for the occasion!

Stay tuned for our next blog!

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