When you send your team of experts into the field to interact with customers, are they selling to them? Chances are, if your service company is like most out there, your team is headed out into your marketplace with sales tools (like brochures and price charts) and sales targets or quotas.

And, while this might work to generate revenue, it’s not a great long-term strategy.

Customers know they are about to be sold something, and that makes them very skeptical, plus it starts the customer/expert relationship on an adversarial note.

Your experts probably hate it, too, because I haven’t met very many air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration (ACHR) service technicians who love selling. They got into the business to maintain ACHR systems, not to be sales people. It’s a challenge that few professionals enjoy.

Take the scenario to its logical conclusion: You have experts who probably don’t love selling, and they’re selling to people who don’t really want to be sold anything. Who wins? No one. Your business generates revenue, the customer gets their ACHR system installed or repaired, but, ultimately, the satisfaction level is very low.

Instead of selling, serve.

Serve your customers. Aim to help them, find out the problem they’re facing, and create the perfect solution for them that will improve their lives.

Here’s how it works: When your expert shows up to a customer’s house, he or she should build rapport and ultimately should listen to the customer. The customer will define the problem. After doing an assessment of the situation, the expert should lay out a few options that will solve the customer’s problem, and allow the customer to choose.

The same thing is happening in a sale — the customer has a problem and the expert brings a solution — but the emphasis is completely different. In a sale, the expert is forcing a solution on the customer; when you serve, the customer gets to select the solution that best meets their needs. In a sale, the expert does more talking; when you serve, the expert does more listening.

This is a transformational approach where everyone wins:

• Your customer loves it because it puts their needs first and doesn’t push anything on them;

• Your team loves it because it’s far more closely aligned with who they are as a professional — there’s no pushy techniques; rather, they’re just discovering a solution and offering it to the customer; and

• You win because you end up with happier customers and happier team members, and that translates into more revenue for your business.

It’s time to change how you do business. Stop making it about the sale, and stop trying to sell to your customers. Instead, take a totally different approach and start working on serving your customers. Put them first, listen to them, and seek to help them. You’ll build a more loyal following of customers, and you’ll get paid well to do it because serving people and earning money aren’t mutually exclusive.

Become a company that serves and you’ll stand out from your competition and attract more customers to you. That’s a winning way to do business.

Publication date: 5/2/2016

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