What Kind of COMPANY Are You Running? Make Your Service Team a Sales Team

April 27, 2005
re not running a service company. Youre running a sales company, and what you sell is service. Your service technicians are your reluctant sales force.

You’re not running a service company. You’re running a sales company, and what you sell is service. Your service technicians are your reluctant sales force. Rs a contractor, your success depends on the success of your service technicians. f you want technicians to offer (translation: sell) more service agreements, accessory products, labor hours, and possibly even replacement equipment, stop hoping things will improve, and make something happen. This means altering your company’s culture.

Converting from a service-oriented to a service-sales culture won’t harm your customers or soil your reputation. We’re not selling junk bonds or other items that people can pretty much live without. Every time we make a sale, we’re enhancing the comfort and/or health of customers. We often help them to save energy, which benefits the entire world for generations to come.

Moving technicians toward being part of a sales team benefits them because sales makes it easier to obtain bonuses. Financial incentives help to increase productivity and profitability. This provides your technicians with goals, which are a primary component for a gratifying career.

Since your technicians will begin making more money, they’ll be able to drive nicer cars and own better homes. Consequently, they’ll take more pride in what they do. They’ll stop looking at their job as a disposable position and start seeing it as a ca∉eer. A wonderful consequence is they’ll actually start recommending the HVAC field to friends and relatives, instead of complaining and warning them to stay away from it. This benefits the entire industry.

Altering a company culture isn’t difficult. But it’s unreasonable to expect the alteration to happen in one meeting. Altering a culture requires three items:

  1. Sales tracking
  2. Individual counseling
  3. Sales meetings.

Sales Tracking

Start tracking your technicians’ sales figures, specifically the:

  • Number of calls run (this figure doesn’t include callbacks run for other technicians or equipment warranty calls)
  • Number of calls resulting in “no sale”
  • Number of hours worked (deduct hours spent in meetings, training or running equipment warranty calls or callbacks run for other technicians)
  • Number of hours billed
  • Billable-hour efficiency (number of hours billed number of hours worked)
  • Number of opportunities to sell an agreement (number of calls run for customers who don’t own an agreement)
  • Number of service agreements sold (should average about one per opportunity)
  • Total gross sales
  • Average sale (total sales $ total number of calls, excluding equipment warranty calls and callbacks run for other technicians)
  • Number of replacement leads generated (should average about one per 20 calls)
  • Number of callbacks generated.

If your technicians are allowed to close their own replacement sales, track them as well.

Put these numbers on grid on a large whiteboard: the technicians’ names should run down the left side of the board, the categories should run along the top. Hang the whiteboard somewhere out of sight of any customers who happen to stop by, but where the technicians will see it on a semi-regular basis. Ideally, this board should be updated daily, but once per week is the minimum required to give it any meaning or validity for your technicians.

The board will generate a certain amount of healthy competition, although in sales you’re really competing to beat your own personal best.

Individual Counseling

Have a regularly scheduled 10-15 minute private meeting with each technician to go over their sales figures. The purpose is to decide what particular area has the most room for improvement, and to put together an action plan for the week. This is real sales management at its best.

Sales Meetings

Every other sales organization, including those that employ only highly motivated, trained, and professional salespeople, conducts regular sales meetings and holds regular sales training. Why don’t you? How can you run a sales company, consisting of a sales force of non-sales professionals, without holding regular sales meetings and training sessions?

You should conduct a minimum of one 30-minute group training session per week. Meetings should have a specific start time. More importantly, they should also have a very specific end time.

Don’t allow meetings to run into overtime for discussion or debate, or people will start dreading them. Instead, end the meeting on time, knowing employees will continue discussing the material during the week. This is what you want.

No single point needs to be resolved by the end of the meeting. This is a long-term endeavor.

It’s essential for a manager to accept responsibility for ALL the meetings and that this individual attend the meetings without fail. Skipping meetings or being called from them for any reason implies this training is a low priority.

What Do You Cover In These Meetings?

Conceiving and conducting 52 well-constructed meetings per year may seem a bit daunting. To help, listed below are a number of excellent topics that will take more than a year to cover.

For a professionally produced meeting, you can purchase (or borrow from your local public library) sales-oriented tapes, CDs, and DVDs. Simply play a segment and hold a discussion on the topic.

My experience is that people don’t necessarily commit to excelling in sales until they’ve gotten their lives in order and have begun setting some long-range career, financial, and personal goals — hence the large number of non-sales related topics recommended for consideration.

Discussion topics could include:

  • What is the purpose of a service technician’s job?
  • Defining excellence in service sales
  • Overcoming the salesman stigma
  • Proper grooming for service technicians
  • Why should customers buy from you?
  • The best and the worst things to do on calls
  • How to handle difficult people and difficult situations
  • How to maximize your career as a service technician
  • What’s good about this job?
  • Career options for service technicians
  • The raw truth about owning an HVAC contracting firm
  • The benefits of doing neat paperwork
  • Goal setting for service technicians
  • Planning for your retirement
  • Planning for your children’s future
  • Getting along with dispatch
  • Step-by-step procedure for running calls
  • Presenting the product and the price
  • Selling over the phone
  • Selling to landlords
  • Selling service agreements
  • Upgrading a repair to a replacement
  • Overcoming objections:
    *“Your price is too high!” *“I want to think it over!”
    *“ I have to talk to my husband.” *“If it ain’t broke,
    don’t fix it” *“I want to get other bids.”

Converting your service team to a sales team increases profits, but the benefits go much deeper and are more far-reaching than that. When technicians begin setting their own sales goals, and start reaching them, your life, their lives, and even the lives of your customers greatly improve. When that happens, you’ve done something to improve the entire industry.

Charlie Greer is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video series that provides contractors with a year’s supply of short, pre-planned technician training meetings. He’s also embarked upon a 20-city seminar tour throughout the U.S. For Charlie’s speaking schedule, information on his products and seminars, or to request his catalog, call 800/963-HVAC (4822), visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com or email him at [email protected].