Are you old enough to remember when the only thing you expected your Techs to do was show up to a customer’s house, do only the work requested, and then let you know what that was so you could send the customer a bill in the mail at the end of the month?
Selling? There was no selling. Just what customer said they wanted, no more no less.
Ah, the bad old days…
Why bad? Because the customer doesn’t know the systems in their home the way your Techs do. So unless the Tech happened to ask the customer if they could do a survey of the entire system, the problem may or may not have stayed fixed depending on the system’s overall state. Add to it, there may be other things in the process of failure that will likely break down after the Tech’s gone. What happens when it fails a week or a month after you were just there? Think your customer is better served by any of this?
Let’s say your Techs do ask to evaluate the entire system and they see some bigger problems that really need to be addressed. Now what? Are they a deer in the headlights thinking, “Oh, no! I’m not a salesperson. I’m ‘just' a Tech. What do I do now?”
The good news is Tech’s don’t really have to “sell,” at least not in the stereotypical way. They don’t have to wear a plaid jacket or be pushy like the image they all have of a used car salesperson. All they really need to do is communicate what they know and practice ethical selling principles. If they do that, the sales will follow naturally and will be a win for the customer first, a win for the company second, and thirdly a win for the Tech if there’s a rightful bonus for doing all the steps right.
Sales, at its foundation, is about effectively communicating. It starts with asking the customer great questions, taking notes, and asking permission to look around and survey the entire system so they don’t miss anything as this would be bad for the customer and the company if we skipped this vital step. Then it’s a matter of presenting a menu of options and explaining the features, advantages, and benefits of each thing they are recommending.
Techs will become evangelists for ethical selling when trained properly.
And the best place to train them is in your own hands-on working Training Center. I say that because at my family’s PHCE business we knew that what the Techs know and have confidence in is what they’ll recommend. It is critical to have the products you want them to sell set up and working in the hands-on training center so they can get familiar with them. They should be thoroughly trained on all aspects of the equipment and be able to reel off its features, advantages and benefits with ease. To achieve this, role plays are essential. Once they hear their authentic opinions come out of their own mouth a few times, they should find it much easier to share them when they are speaking in front of the customer.
There are some guardrails you need to set, however. For example, the Tech should not be selling—meaning communicating or offering up—anything to a customer that is not in the customer’s best interests. That includes condemning equipment that is still OK.
The example I give in my book The 7-Power Contractor® is, if I went to your mom’s house and she had a two-year-old water heater and all I found was that the pilot tube was disconnected and I came upstairs and tried to sell her a brand-new water heater, would you call that ethical selling? How would you feel about me? Not too good.
But what if I found that the pilot tube was disconnected, and I came upstairs and said this:
“All I found was the pilot tube disconnected, but while I was there, I noticed that the water main valves are really shot, and that’s your only emergency shutoff. While I’m here, is that something I can replace for you now? And, I do have one other question: Are you finding that you get all the hot water you had hoped for when you purchased this water heater two years ago?”
Maybe the customer will share that a whirlpool or hot tub was added after the fact or maybe they’re just waiting too long for the water to get hot. It’s a great opportunity to offer great solutions to these problems.
You get the idea.
What else is in the customer’s best interest is to be very prepared and totally systematic the way you go about selling. You need a repeatable way to find out what customers really need and want in a way that helps them discover you have solutions to other problems they assumed they just had to live with.
If you replace the word selling with serving, that is really what it’s all about.
Communication is key, but there’s another important piece of the sales puzzle, and that’s learning how to build value around all the things your company can uniquely do for the customer.
To do this you have to hone in on what is their existing comfort and efficiency and get to what they really want.
Here are three open ended questions to start with.
- What is going on today? Or What is the main reason you called us out here today?
- What do you see as a successful outcome of this service call?
- While I’m here is there anything you feel you want to address in the way of (comfort, safety, energy saving, etc.) related to the reason I’m here today?
Take notes! The words the customer uses are the ones you want to repeat back as you present them with a solution.
If you do find additional problems based on your survey, make good suggestions on what you can do to take care of it now because typically it’ll never be cheaper for you to do it than if they approve it while you’re there.
Once you’re done with your evaluation, let the customer know how long you will spend either onsite creating a customized proposal that you will go through line by line with them so they know exactly what they will be getting for their hard-earned money. And if you can’t do this onsite, let them know when you’ll be back to go through it together.
Note: Avoid just emailing a proposal. Going through it line-by-line with the customer gives you the opportunity to respond to their questions or objections in real time, greatly increasing your chances of making the sale. If necessary, you can set up a time to do a Zoom meeting to go through it. And finally, if that can’t work you can email the proposal but only if you set up a phone call to go through it with them.
If you want your Techs to sell a lot, make a plan to invest the time, energy, and money required in training them to become great servant communicators. You will get that investment back and way more very quickly from Techs who are focused on providing the customer with solutions designed to not only increase their comfort, safety, and peace of mind but also the trust in you and your company to put their needs first.