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    man during interview

    Recruiting 'Sales Technicians'

    Jan. 21, 2022

    “Sales technician” is a dirty word to some people in this business. That’s due to the actions of certain individuals and even some large companies and corporations that have kind of a shady culture. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not all sales techs are unethical. The trick is finding the ones that do know how to work on equipment, have a conscience and ethics, and know how to sell.

    I did all of the recruiting for a start-up company, and I only hired people I knew were going to be winners right out the gate.

    We didn’t “grow technicians from the ground up.” The owner tried it to some degree, but realized in a very short period of time that he was just too small and too new for that to work for him. I suspect that many of you are in that position.

    Here’s my system, in a nutshell.

    Craigslist ad:

    I did all my recruiting on craigslist.

    Your ad does not have to be Shakespeare. Any experienced HVAC tech seeing your ad is in the job market. What’s most important is that your company has a number of positive online reviews, especially if some of those reviews are by current and/or former employees.

    Any experienced HVAC tech seeing your ad is in the job market. 

    The ad changed every time I posted it, but it generally went like this.

    EXPERIENCED HVAC SALES TECH

    • Good commission structure
    • Enjoyable work environment
    • Company benefits.

    REQUIREMENTS:

    • Experience in HVAC service and sales
    • Good driving record
    • Clean criminal background
    • We drug test. No illegal drug use permitted.
    • Send resume or letter along with a recent pic of yourself, and the best time to call you with complete details over the phone.


    The Phone Interview:

    Once I’ve received a response from a potential employee, I look over the resume. I’m looking for any kind of mention of success, or at least an interest, in the selling aspect of the job. If they look like they realize that selling is very much a part of the job, I’ll give them a call.

    I usually started by explaining how our company works. Since we were a start-up company, we had no backlog of existing customers. Our entire advertising message was, “If your air conditioner still works, but not very well, give us, a call and, for $49, we’ll tell you why.” That worked very well. Obviously, everyone who called had problems.

    At that point I explained that we could only run about 2-3 calls per day because we did a very thorough inspection and wrote down a list, in order of priority, of every single deficiency we found in their system. We’d then go over it with the customer and see what they wanted to do.

    When I explained this to someone who eventually was hired and became our very best technician, he responded by saying, “You don’t have to tell me to do that because that’s what I do. I do it because it protects the reputation of the company. The second reason is to protect my reputation as a service technician  ̶  if it breaks down shortly after I’ve been there, it was probably because of something I pointed out to them that they decided not to have me take care of while I’m there.” That’s exactly what I want to hear.

    I then ask them about their experience with sales. Have they ever received any kind of recognition or reward for their sales? What do they sell the most of, and what is their sales process?

    If things go well, I ask them to come to the shop for an in-person interview.

    First In-Person Interview:

    They must:

    • Be on time or early
    • Completely fill out the job application. This tells me whether or not they’re going to give me a hard time over paperwork.
    We usually discuss the normal things that people talk about during job interviews, but I specifically want to understand their attitude toward sales and how it applies
    to the job, and again ask them to talk about what they like to sell and how they sell it.

    I specifically want to understand their attitude toward sales and how it applies to the job.

    Since we were really into keeping systems spotlessly clean and IAQ, I especially wanted to know their feelings on that.

    I explain the employment process, which includes a first interview, a second interview, and since we’re not your typical company that wants you to run as many calls a day, they must spend at least one day riding with one of our service technicians, as an unpaid observer, to make sure they like what we do and want to work in that manner.

    Don‘t hire anyone:

    • On the first interview. (They will never be that same person in front of you again)
    • You wouldn’t let date your daughter
    • You met at your AA or NA meeting
    • Who moves around a lot or has worked for every company in town
    • Who’s ever spent more than a day or two working for a known rip-off company
    • Seems shady.

    If the candidate seems like a good potential hire, I schedule a drug test on the spot and send them on their way. 

    I make it a practice to walk them out to their vehicle so I can see what kind of shape it’s in. Whatever level of clean or dirty it is, that’s more than likely how they’ll keep your truck.

    Between Interviews:

    Check:

    • Driving record
    • Criminal background
    • Drug test
    • References. Call their references. You’d be surprised what some people have had to say about job applicants who thought they’d give them a glowing reference.
    • Call their previous employer. They’ll usually just confirm their dates of employment, but you can always ask, “Would you hire them back?”
    • I’m hoping that there will be some kind of follow-up on their part, like an email thanking me for my time or even a thank-you card in the mail. 


    Second interview:

    I ask about anything in their background about which I have questions, and ask if they have any questions for me.

    Have the interviewee spend some time with some of the women who work in your office. If they give them the creeps or a bad vibe, don’t hire them.

    If things are going well, we schedule their first ride-along.

    After the Ride-along:

    Ask the tech they rode with if they think they’d be a good fit.

    Call to schedule a third in-person interview. I don’t leave a message or text them unless I have to. I want to see how easy they are to reach. If I can’t reach them while they’re waiting for me to contact them about a job, can you imagine how hard to reach they will be when I need them to run an extra call?

    Ask the potential hire their feelings on the way we work and if they can see themselves doing it.


    Third Interview:

    Ask the potential hire their feelings on the way we work and if they can see themselves doing it.

    If they’re happy and I’m happy, I offer them the job.

    Charlie Greer was voted “Favorite Industry Sales Trainer” in 2020 and is the creator of the audio book, “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales “and “Tec Daddy Service Technician Survival School.” Contact Charlie by calling 1-800-963-HVAC (4822) or go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email you comments on these columns or your questions about salesmanship to [email protected].