As you prepare for a busy winter season, you’ll start having meetings and scheduling training sessions. You may even announce a new contest to motivate your technicians to sell the latest and greatest products you offer. You do all this so you can increase your sales, earn a decent profit, and build a bright future for your company. Unfortunately, if you are like many companies, this season will be like all the others.

The meetings become gripe sessions with complaints that the “good” calls are not handed out fairly. Training sessions become dull, and you begin catching technicians completing paperwork instead of paying attention. You notice that the same technician wins the contest over and over but sales never seem to go up.

For a lot of companies, this scenario repeats itself season after season, but it doesn’t have to. You can break the cycle and prepare for a profitable season by focusing on three components for your technician training.

Remove Salesman Stigma

First, it should be no surprise to any of us that most technicians just hate the idea of selling. They view selling as somehow taking advantage of customers or getting them to do something that they don’t want to do. They equate selling with those technicians they see in sting operations, and they will offer the cheapest repair possible to avoid customers labeling them a “salesman in technician’s clothing.” Many of these technicians feel the company is trying to make salesmen out of them — and they will resist any program where they might be asked to sell.

The reality is that everyone sells, and we have all our lives. Whether it’s a husband selling his wife on the idea that a new power tool will save money in the long run or a teenager selling his parents on how a new computer will help improve his grades, everyone sells. We just don’t look at it as selling. We need to remove these technicians’ fear of being labeled salesmen by having them offer options and help the customer decide what to do.

Start by having a meeting with your technicians and make an announcement similar to this:

“On every service call, our technicians will provide the customer with three repair options. The customer can then choose whichever option is best for them.”

Print this policy on paper and give it to each of your technicians and post it in a visible location in your office. Technicians who fear being labeled as salesmen have no problem giving the customer options and letting them pick the option they want.

It doesn’t end with the announcement. Explain to your technicians that the options will be presented in the following manner:

“Your first option is ____.” Then explain the advantages or benefits.

“Your second option is ____.” Then explain the advantages or benefits.

“Your third option is ____.” Then explain the advantages or benefits.

“Which of these options would you like to do today?”

Tell technicians you will review the invoices to make sure each customer receives three options. At this point you will likely get the question: “What if there aren’t three options?”

This will lead to the next component of the training.

Bundle Repairs into Options

It has been my experience that, when looking at the entire system, there are several failures on every service call. These include the following:

• The failure that caused the symptom which prompted the customer to call for service.

• The condition that caused that failure.

• Two or three other failures that the customer is unaware of. Example: A customer calls because there is no cooling.

• The system is low on charge, causing no cooling, which prompts the call.

• There is a leak in the system causing the system to be low on charge.

• The outdoor coil is dirty, etc. Other similar failures are discovered during the call.

Here is where technicians need to look at the system as a whole. A good exercise is to write a failure on a white board and ask your technicians to come up with causes for that failure. This will help them think about why things fail and how we can create options for the customer.

Once the failures are known we can bundle them into options. Too many options can confuse a customer and cause them to seek other opinions. On a service call, giving three options seems to work best. All options should be on paper and list each repair to be done.

The total investment should appear at the bottom of each option. The paper can be part of your invoice or a separate form, but a copy of all the options must be returned to the office. Technicians should also know that the lowest option always includes the failure and the condition that caused it. This will lower callbacks and increase average ticket sales.

Make It Your Culture

Ever wonder why, after you put something new in place, a month later everyone is doing it the old way? Or do you wonder why you have to go over the same things over and over again? The answer is that it never became part of your culture. Until it becomes part of your culture, technicians will always revert to what is most familiar.

This is the most difficult step because it requires companies to exercise a lot of discipline. No matter how busy you become this season, you need to have a weekly meeting with your technicians. In this meeting, each technician will present one or two invoices from the previous week. Have each technician describe:

• What they found on the call.

• How they presented the three options to the customer.

• How the customer responded.

After the technician’s presentation, ask the group what they liked and what they would do differently. This will help all the technicians improve their performance. Once technicians realize that you will do this exercise every week, no matter how busy the schedule is, it will start to become part of the culture of your company.

Preparing for the next season can be difficult and frustrating, but if you follow these steps you can have a very profitable season and brighter future.

Publication date: 12/24/2012