November 22, 2021
This Account Executive is Not Your Typical Engineer
Tate Honaker pursued a degree in mechanical engineering because he enjoys math and science and likes to challenge himself. But he didn’t know how he would use his degree until he met a Trane sales engineer at a job fair in 2013. Tate quickly realized he wanted to work in sales and landed an internship at Trane Technologies that summer.
“Sales isn’t a typical career path for an engineer – but I knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day doing heat transfer calculations,” Tate said. “I like getting out and talking to people and solving problems.”
After his internship, Tate took on a role as service account manager. After three years, he moved into his current position, complex solutions account executive with our Trane Commercial HVAC business, which he says is a perfect fit. He brings Trane’s holistic approach to commercial building owners, showing them how Trane’s complex solutions – HVAC equipment and service, controls, lighting, even general contracting in some cases – can help them meet their business goals.
And he does it from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he can pursue the outdoor activities he loves – snowboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing. Tate had his sights set on this locale since spending his middle school years watching extreme sports on YouTube from his home in the flatlands of Ohio and was bold enough to make it happen. Colorado Springs is where Tate built his career and grew his family.
Tate with his wife, Steph, and daughter, Elyse.
‘I love my job’
“I love my job because every day is different,” Tate said. “I get to interact with people all day long, and I get to play three different roles. I play engineer when I help evaluate whole building systems for customers. And I play the role of businessman when I help customers understand how Trane can help them achieve their business and financial goals. And when I’m selling large holistic building projects, I feel like I’m playing the politician – taking all of the stakeholders’ desires into account and finding solutions that make everyone happy.
“The holistic projects are really exciting for me – and so is the fast pace. I’m working on 3 to 6 projects at any given time, and I’m coordinating and communicating with my customers constantly. But it’s not always what you’d expect from a sales engineer role. For example, some of my stakeholders include the city mayor and the education director of a community college.”
Tate also enjoys the support he receives from his team, even though they’re spread out across the western United States. His manager sits in Seattle, while his counterparts are located in Seattle and Denver. Tate says the team’s communication style – how they discuss strategy and share results – help him be a successful salesperson.
“My team members are really supportive of one another, and we challenge each other to be successful,” Tate said. “This support is indicative of Trane Technologies’ inclusive culture. I’ve had some great mentors over the years who have advocated for me and helped me grow professionally. I really value the freedom I’ve been afforded to work independently and the support I get as part of a team.”
Why work at Trane Technologies?
During his internship, Tate performed market analysis on Trane’s competitors, and made an important discovery that would impact the rest of his career.
“I discovered that Trane has the best solutions to offer customers – Trane really is the best in the industry,” Tate said. “When you work in sales, you really need to believe in what you’re selling. I can confidently talk with my customers and know they’re getting the best solutions to meet their needs.”
Another important piece for Tate is Trane Technologies’ bold stance on sustainability – nearly all of his projects include energy savings and consider renewable energy.
“I feel really good about helping customers reduce their carbon emissions,” he said. “In addition, our sales team is extremely professional and next-level. We’re not talking about the features and benefits of Trane equipment – we’re talking about how our project will help drive their business results, improve sustainability and meet political goals.”
Tate’s advice to account managers everywhere
No matter your geographical location or employer, Tate’s advice to account managers everywhere is universal.
“It takes initiative to be successful in sales,” he said. “The marketplace is more competitive than ever, and there are many people making promises about what their companies can deliver. So it’s up to you as the account manager to research and understand your customers’ business goals and vertical market trends. The sale won’t just fall in your lap.
“Be well-read, become a student of the market and find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. It helps to be financially savvy and understand how your customer’s business works. Using that information, take the initiative, be creative and go out and get the sale.”