It's OK to Prejudge Your Calls

I’ve worked at companies where they won’t tell you anything about the calls you’re supposed to run because they don’t want you to prejudge the call on the way to it.

What a bunch of baloney!

Whether I’m running a sales call or a service call, if they’re a regular customer, I want to know. If it’s a call-back, I still want to know. If I’m walking into a hornet’s nest, guess what — I want to know.

Here are a few other things I want to know before I arrive to the job:

  • Is this a new customer? If so, why did they call? Were they responding to an ad? If so, which one?
  • Is this a previous customer?
  • Do they have a service agreement? If so, what is its expiration date and what maintenance has already been performed?
  • What have we done here before?
  • What recommendations were already made to them that haven’t been acted upon?
  • Is this a call-back or a warranty call? If so, what was done and did they pay for it?
  • Was this customer quoted on our trip charge or minimum charge?
  • How do they expect to pay?

I don’t feel the information listed above is too much to ask for.

You don’t think that, as a service technician, I could do a better job and make a better impression with such information? If you have all that information readily available, and aren’t sharing it with employees who work face-to-face with your customers, the question becomes, “What are you collecting it for?”

As a field service technician, I want to know as much about the call I’m about to run as possible. Have you ever heard of something called pre-call preparation? The late Tom McCart said pre-call preparation was one of the keys to his success.

As a consumer, I hate having to tell my whole life story to several different people when I call for service. Not telling technicians and salespeople what the customer has already told you can actually create a situation where your company representative becomes irritating to customers the moment they walk through the door!

Defining Prejudging

Prejudging obviously means that you’re forming judgments in advance. Isn’t prejudging simply forming opinions?

Why do you care when a service technician or salesperson forms opinions about their calls? Don’t they form opinions on every step of the way anyway?

Don’t we all form opinions when we see:

  • Customers’ names?
  • Customers’ addresses?
  • Customers’ yards and the exteriors of their homes?
  • The customers themselves?
  • The interiors of customers’ homes?

So, who’s kidding who?

hether or not you tell your field personnel everything you know about the call in advance of running the call, they’ll still form opinions as they run the call. When you withhold information, they just won’t be as prepared for what they’ll encounter, Ind stand the risk of irritating your company’s customers unnecessarily.

It’s Okay to Prejudge Your Calls

Field personnel can hardly keep from forming opinions as to whether or not they like the call they’re running, the customer they’re dealing with, or how successful they think they might or might not be. You might say that they can hardly control what their opinions will be.

What they can control are their actions.

Whether or not a technician thinks he or she will be successful on any given call, the same procedure should be followed as the one used on calls certain to be successful.

The same holds true for sales. There is no way of knowing in advance whether or not a customer will buy something.

Just because everyone in the company has recommended a given product or service every time they’ve encountered a particular potential customer, there is no reason to believe that person won’t buy this time.

Just because a customer has a list of complaints about your company doesn’t mean they won’t buy something. You can’t even go by the way customers act: whether or not they seem receptive to your suggestions. Has it ever occurred to you that they may just have a good poker face?

When you’re in a selling situation, no matter how the customer is acting — rude, uninterested, etc. — your best course of action is to maintain a reasonably upbeat, positive level of anticipation and expectation. Act like you expect to have credibility. Act like you expect to be treated fairly and honestly. Act like you expect them to want you to resolve their HVAC problems.

You’ve got nothing to lose by maintaining this positive level of expectation and everything to lose by not doing so. Who knows, if you act like you’re a positive-minded person long enough, you might even accidentally become one.

Qualifying Prospects

I’ve heard of contractors and salespeople who qualify prospects before running a call. I sure wish I had the crystal ball they’re using to know in advance whether or not a call is any good.

Having run my fair share of service and sales calls, the only pattern I’ve been able to discern is that the better a call looks before I run it, the harder it tends to be. On the other hand, the worse a call looks, the easier it tends to be.

The worst calls are the ones your boss hands you and says, “I’ve got a really easy sale here for you.”

Personally, I don’t care if:

  • The customer doesn’t own the building and is just getting prices for the owner
  • It’s just a realtor
  • They’re not buying anything today — they just want to know how much a new air conditioner or furnace costs
  • They’re rude or difficult to communicate with.

You might even say that I especially like calls like that because the vast majority of my competitors refuse to run them. Or if they do, they never get back to the prospect with a price and take themselves out of the bidding. This making the job easier for me to close.

Actually, I do have a specific procedure I follow to decide whether or not someone qualifies for me to drive out to their home or business and see about resolving their HVAC problems. I see if they will set an appointment. If they won’t, they can forget about it. I’m not going out!

Charlie Greer is the creator of Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD, the co-creator of the Service & Maintenance Agreement PowerPack and the sponsor for Comfortech Idol: the Search for the Best Salesperson at HVAC Comfortech 2005. Charlie is in the midst of a 20-city U.S. seminar tour — “Stop ‘Selling’…Start Letting People Buy; Dispelling the Myths of HVAC Sales.” For Charlie’s schedule, product information, or to request a catalog, visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com, call 800/963-HVAC, or email [email protected].

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