Ten years ago, when I first started conducting seminars, I’d ask this question: “Is service technician a sales job?”

That question was, for the most part, received negatively. Service techs didn’t want to be associated with the word “sales” — and maybe justifiably so.

Since then, the whole field of sales has changed, with sales procedures going from being seen as something that is done to the customer, to something that is being done for the customer.

That’s especially true in service sales, isn’t it? When you’re running a service call, you’re not selling. You’re making recommendations, and usually your recommendations — although they may result in a higher dollar amount of the service call, increased profits for the company, and maybe even a financial incentive for you — are made in the ultimate interest of saving the customer money, time, stress, or inconvenience, right?

For instance, on most calls, you arrive on the spot and something isn’t working. At that time, the customer has the option of simply getting the least amount of work done for the lowest amount of money possible just to get whatever is broken up and running. They also have the option of having you clean up the equipment and doing a little preventive maintenance on it for a little more money.

And in many cases, you might spot a component or a need for a procedure that isn’t necessary to get things going right then, but will ward off a potential problem, expense, and inconvenience later.

Again, these additional recommendations may result in a higher service call at that time, but will ultimately save the customer money in the long run.


Whenever possible, I work on a flat rate and get an agreement on what the customer wants done and for what price before making the repair. I usually quote it at two or three different levels, just like I mentioned. I quote one price just to get things running, but not really leaving it in great shape. Then I show them how much it will cost to get things running and cleaned up.

Lastly, if I see anything that hasn’t caused an equipment failure yet, but will in the near future, I point it out, quote a price on it, and give them the opportunity to have me take care of that while I’m there also.

In most cases, it’s cheaper for the customer to allow you to take care of everything at once than to make two or more trips for emergency repairs — and I point that out, too. As a rule, it costs less to keep things maintained so they break down less and last longer— so I point that out, also.

Often, the breakdown was caused by a lack of maintenance, so when that’s the case, I’ll point that out, and that alone often results in the sale of a maintenance agreement right on the spot.

I’ve found that if they really are looking to save a buck, despite the fact that people hate to spend money on repairs, customers generally go with my recommendations to have everything done at once, to save money.

Consequently, I usually have a higher average service call than my colleagues and counterparts. People generally attribute this to my “sales skills,” but in reality, I don’t feel I’ve “sold” anyone anything. All I’ve done is made recommendations that saved my customers money, stress, and inconvenience.

In fact, after making my recommendations, I’ll often say, “It’s your money, it’s your equipment, and it’s your decision to make. All I need to know is what you’d like me to do.” I then just stand back and let them make their decision.


Another reason some techs don’t sell more is they don’t like the stigma attached to that word, “sales.” That’s mainly due to the high-pressure sales techniques used by some salespeople. Fortunately, sales in general is gradually evolving from the old-fashioned high-pressure sales technique to more of a “consultive selling” approach.

Personally, I have a problem with people telling me they’re “anti-sales” because they don’t want to high-pressure people.

Isn’t that your decision to make? Who’s asking you to pressure anyone?

Don’t let the actions of some people in the sales profession affect your actions. If you don’t like high-pressuring people, don’t high-pressure them. Just make your recommendations and back off and allow them to make their decision. I never high-pressure customers, and I don’t make them feel bad, stupid, or cheap if all they want done is the minimum. After all, it is their money, their equipment, and their decision to make.

As I mentioned previously, in service selling, sales is not something you’re doing to the customer. When done appropriately, it is something you are doing for the customer.

For instance, service agreements mean: safety, fewer repair costs, extended equipment life, priority service, less inconvenience, peace of mind, and discounts.

So, when you sell someone a service agreement, you’re usually doing customers a favor. In many cases, you’re helping customers avoid repair costs, inconvenience, and a host of other problems by replacing equipment instead of repairing it.

I don’t necessarily consider what we do as “selling.” I think of it as making recommendations and helping people to save money.

Greer travels the country running calls with hvacr service technicians, demonstrating his methods in the field. He’s the instructor for the “HVAC Closers Academy,” held in Ft. Myers, FL. For information call HVAC Profit Boosters, Inc. at 1-800-963-HVAC (4822) or visit Greer’s website at www.hvacprofitboosters.com.

Sidebar: Cooling Tower Cleared in Legionnaires’ Outbreak

CLEVELAND, OH — Early laboratory results indicate that there were 18 sources of legionella contamination at Ford Motor Co.’s Cleveland Casting Plant, site of a recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Four workers fell ill and two died. Although there is still no direct link between the victims and the plant, the sources have been narrowed.

A Ford industrial physician said that the 18 positive legionella samples came from a total of 153 water samples. Nine of the positive sources were from water systems where a mist can be generated. Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling a water mist containing the bacteria.

A cooling tower at the plant that was originally named as the possible source of the disease tested negative for legionella.

The bacteria type usually found in most cases of Legionnaires’ disease — legionella pneumophila — was discovered in two areas of the plant. Both are manufacturing operations that use sprayed water and both are in the casting plant’s melting area near the middle of the facility, stated Ed Miller, a Ford spokesman.

One of these sources was a pool of stagnant water beneath a cauldron used for melting. A water spray is used for cooling the cauldron.

The second source was a water tank used for cooling a furnace. This furnace had been out of operation, noted Miller.

Publication date: 04/09/2001