The role of a Territory Manager is an incredibly demanding position, especially when contractors utilize their partnership correctly. We sat down with Mel Harris, Director of Residential Sales and Dustin Gregoire, National Sales Manager for Bosch Thermotechnology Corp to find out why the expectations for a Territory Manager are evolving and what contractors can do in order to get the most out of their TMs.

Mel Harris has been in the HVAC industry for over 20 years, and started his career at Carrier. He enjoys working in an industry that’s both dynamic and also niche. When companies want to change their sales profile/bring new products to market, Mel is the man to call.

Dustin Gregoire has been with Bosch for 17 years. He came up through the thermotechnology division in Bosch. Thermotech is made up of three sectors: tankless hot water, hydronic boilers, and air conditioning, and he’s familiar with them all. Dustin started in the hot water sector, and has worked in both tech support and troubleshooting. After moving into sales 12 years ago, he hasn’t looked back.

What to Expect From Your TM

Training and Resources

The territory manager position is incredibly challenging, there’s no doubt about that. As a contractor, what should you expect from your TM/sales reps to get the best support for your business? According to Dustin, training is integral from a manufacturing standpoint. At Bosch, their resources are inherently superior due to the sheer scale of the organization. That allows them to empower contractors and is imperative to long-term success. Contractors should be asking for that cutting-edge information and the resources that are available from their TMs.

For example, Bosch is now offering a lot of online learning and training now that is fully interactive. Online testing and training saves contractors time and money, two things that are always a premium. From Mel and Greg’s experience, the biggest obstacle is usually just the contractor’s comfort level with these mediums and not necessarily their knowledge of it being available.

Communication

Any good TM answers the phone, and that doesn’t mean texting back. Every contractor should expect that when they call their TM, they will answer the phone. That means weekends, during the Super Bowl, etc. 95% of the job is being reliable. If you can’t rely on your TM to answer the phone, they aren’t providing you with the support you deserve.

The Ever-Changing Role of the TM

A lot of times in distribution, successful territory managers tend to have long-standing relationships with their contractors, or they have been in the area for a long time. If that territory manager doesn’t start working down the ladder of the organization to build relationships throughout the organization, retirements and attrition will cause them to lose those relationships. We’re dealing with new generations, and you have to adapt.

When you walk into a contractor’s office and see literature, physical marketing materials, or big binders, that demonstrates where they are in relation to this generational shift. Young contractors don’t want to pull out a physical service manual. When they’re in an attic or on somebody’s roof, they want to be able to pull up a diagram on their phones or tablet, while older ones may not be comfortable with that. For manufacturers and TMs, you have to be in the middle of that so you can give your clients and customers what they need.

Current Challenges for Business Owners

Rapid Change

Technology is being enhanced at such a pace that it’s hard to stay on top of trends and innovations. Contractors in our industry aren’t necessarily known for staying abreast of facebook trends, google trends, and other rapid digital changes. We are also undergoing a huge generational transition in our industry at every level. From contractor to distributor to manufacturer, we’re all being challenged by it. A lot of us are being left behind because we’re struggling to react instead of being proactive.

Marketing to a Younger, More Informed Public

Millennials want to be communicated with and marketed to in a different way, and that’s presented a unique challenge in each sector of our industry. Many contractors don’t even have an Instagram account. They’re still marketing the same way, with a truck that has “Joe’s Heating and Cooling” slapped on the side. We as an industry need to figure out a better way to do this. We need to in order to be successful, and many in the trades are unfortunately getting left behind.

Right now in this country, we have the most intelligent and informed consumer base in the history of the nation and probably the world. Everyone is doing their research, and realizing that if you spend a few hundred bucks extra on a more energy-efficient model, it’s going to pay for itself in a short amount of time and save money in the long run.

Younger contractors that are taking over companies are people that have gone to business school, and they aren’t just making decisions on who Dad’s buddies were. They’re looking at what they can sell the most to make the most money. They’re doing their research and then catering to the consumers that are doing their research before making a major purchase. HVAC systems are considered a major purchase, so contractors that aren’t catering to that new demo are hurting themselves.

About Bosch

While many people may think of dishwashers when they hear the name “Bosch”, Bosch is actually one of the largest privately owned companies on the planet. Boasting Over 400,000 employees, 66% of the business is in automotive. If you own a car in the United States, it probably has Bosch components.

Bosch is also a global leader in hot water. Part of the reason Mel came to Bosch is because he knew air conditioning, but he didn’t know hot water and wanted to learn.

When Bosch makes new decisions in a market, they look at the most underserved areas of that market. For the air conditioning unitary market, they saw that there was no true modulating inverter compressor. They figured out the sweet spot for that, in the 18-20 SEER range, and brought it with a very appealing price point. Bosch is great at innovating. When they see an opportunity, they take advantage of it.

Another reason for Bosch’s success, especially in the trades is their ability to create products that have strong brand recognition, competitive pricing, and are designed to be easy to install for the contractor.

If you’re interested in adding Bosch as a line for your company, you can visit their website to research their products and find contact info there. You can also find Dustin on LinkedIn, where he stays active.