Randall Murphy

Service maintenance agreement sales… you gotta love them! Lot and lots of agreement sales. If you think about it, when customers purchase maintenance agreements, they’re essentially paying you money every month to come back and sell them something else. They lock customers down, offer special incentives, deliver peace of mind; there’s a multitude of benefits for both customers and contractors. Unfortunately, for many shops, agreement sales are virtually nonexistent and it’s a shame because they can keep any business running strong all year long and eliminate the slow seasons. In this article, you’ll find out why sales are generally low for most companies. You’ll also learn a simple system to turbocharge your crew to become agreement-selling fanatics.

First things first - you must provide value. There’s nothing more difficult than to sell than a product or service that doesn’t offer value. With every feature and benefit an agreement offers, give it the “would I buy it” test. If you wouldn’t buy it, why would your customers? Keep in mind that sales are made when value exceeds price.

If you’re having a difficult time creating a list of features and benefits to offer in your maintenance agreements, try calling your competitors. (You might want to have caller ID blocked.) Simply ask if they have maintenance programs, what they offer with each program, and how much they cost. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to how they’re “pitching” the agreements, what they’re saying and how they say it. By calling your competitors, it’s not only a good way to run across some great ideas for spicing up your agreement offers, but you’ll get a clear understanding of what your competitors are providing. Remember that to beat the competition, you must know the competition.

Once you feel you’ve got a great offer, it’s time to train the techs and salespeople - and this means thorough training. Not just a few quick run-throughs but complete training, over and over and over again until they can do it in their sleep. The key to learning any presentation well is repetition. Too many instructors skim over the material too quickly and move on. If you want abundant agreement sales, only move on when everyone can give a polished presentation; it’s that important.

Try videotaping your training sessions. Set up a video camera on a tripod and tell your students that you’re doing it for you, so you can become a better trainer. This way, they’ll forget about the camera… it’s about you, not them. This is important because you want them to pitch naturally, the way they would in front of a customer.

Before you train them on selling your new agreement, ask them how they are pitching the current one. Listen closely to what they say and how they say it. If you have an employee who sells a high number of agreements, have him share his technique after everyone has explained their approach first. This way, others won’t claim to use the same technique.

The reason for videotaping the first session is to create a benchmark for the training. The incredible benefit you gain from videotape is it doesn’t lie; it offers a real world example of how customers view technicians and how they present themselves. It also allows techs to see how they’ve progressed through the training. This is very important because as they get better, their sales will improve, and when this happens, they’ll further embrace the training and want more. To reinforce this type of training, it’s important to role-play, not just during training sessions but all the time. When you walk past a tech in the hallway, say, “I hear you have a really great maintenance agreement, tell me about it.”

Keep in mind that one reason why customers buy maintenance agreements is to feel special, like a VIP. Technicians tell customers they will get special treatment and benefits. The problem here is that most service technicians don’t know how to deliver the VIP treatment. In an industry where shoddy work, redo work, and leaving filthy jobsites is commonplace, it’s a little difficult to sell the idea that they will be treated special when they aren’t feeling special to begin with. Therefore, it’s imperative that every employee learns how to thrill their customers by giving them the best quality care.

Okay, at this point, we’ve got a great offer and the techs have the presentation down pat, but we’re missing a very important piece; getting techs inspired to become self-motivated to sell more. This is where most companies miss the mark; they haven’t answered the “why.” Why should techs take the time to pitch agreements? For a five or ten dollar spiff? I wouldn’t be motivated; why would they? Show me the money!

By exposing the “why,” we uncover where motivation stems from. Let’s look at selling car insurance. Insurance agents enjoy selling new customer policies, but that’s not what excites them; they’re excited about the policy renewals. Every new insurance salesperson knows their first year will be very bleak (frozen burritos and ramen noodles), but in years to come, their earnings will grow and continue to grow (surf and turf). They understand the tremendous value of feeding the pipeline. In the contracting industry, there are no pipelines being fed. Most businesses rely completely on marketing and they absorb huge customer acquisition costs to maybe service a client twice. This is another tremendous benefit of selling maintenance agreements; creating customer relationships that inspire future business.

The answer to inspiring techs to sell like crazy is simple: with every maintenance agreement sold, the employee who sold it keeps the lead. This means when a client calls in for more work, the tech who did business with them gets it. This also means that agreement sales leads become lava-hot commodities. When incoming calls slow down, the techs with the most agreements will be swamped. That’s because they’re getting their foot back in the door, fulfilling the promises made in the agreement, such as safety inspections, and they’re uncovering more needs and up-selling. This is another reason why so many companies experience such low agreement renewals; their customers were forgotten. Renew my policy? You never called me back! Plus, where’s my safety inspection? Give your employees “ownership” of their leads, and they’ll maintain them. Why? Because it’s critical to their future success… they’re feeding their pipeline.

Publication date:03/08/2010