Here is a list of the six most common ways contractors kill sales, often without even knowing it.
1. Yell at, embarrass, harass, interrogate, or humiliate a tech when things go wrong with a sale.
The more a tech sells, the greater the probability of trouble. The more your techs try to sell, the greater the probability of mistakes being made, especially when they're new to sales and haven't quite mastered what to say and what not to say.
One of the more difficult things contractors, owners, and managers have to learn is holding their tongue and stifling the urge to act out emotionally when employees make what we might consider "stupid" mistakes. Yell at one tech and you may not only kill all sales efforts on the part of an employee who is in a position to bring you untold amounts of wealth, but you could also very easily kill service tech sales for a number of techs who hear about your actions.
People are funny. By not selling out of spite for you, these same service techs will limit their own career and earning potential. It's true.
2. Not allowing techs to go home until all requests for service have been run.
The best way to cut expenses while making more sales is to make more sales per call, generating a higher average dollar amount per service call. That's a no-brainer. Where it gets rough is in realizing that if your techs are going to make more sales per call without working more hours per day, they're going to have to see fewer customers per day.
I received my share of "hate mail" the last time I wrote about this, but I'll say it again: Why not allow "the law" to help you? The law, in this case, is the law of supply and demand. When the demand for your excellent services outweighs your ability to supply them (without overworking your valued techs to the point where you drive them away), raise your prices until you're able to meet the demand.
Do you realize that if we all worked like this, we'd all be making more money and have the respect we deserve? You're bending over backwards in the interest of "customer service" instead of capitalizing on your inability to easily meet the demand for your services. Your prices are your "regulator." Don't get bigger, just more expensive.
3. "The Price Book Scam."
You know how techs always hate it when you distribute a new price book with higher prices? Here's a little trick I've caught some contractors pulling on service techs being paid by the "billable hour" or on "billable hour efficiency": They replace the old flat-rate price book with a new book appearing to have the same prices, but with a higher hourly rate and shorter times allotted to each task. Bottom line: the company makes more money per task without raising prices by paying the techs less per task.
Even the suspicion of cheating your techs out of commissions or billable hours will kill sales and increase employee turnover.
4. Flaunting your own wealth.
Need more be said?
5. Cutting commission rates when commissions get "too high."
I once consulted with a contractor who said he informed his techs that commissions were being discontinued until sales picked up. True story.
Needless to say, that idea didn't work either.
6. Not providing sales training.
You're not running a service company. You're running a sales company, and what you sell is service. Your service techs are your "reluctant sales force." Scary thought, isn't it?
Every other sales organization, including those which employ only highly motivated, well trained, professional salespeople, conduct regular sales meetings and hold regular sales training. How can you manage a sales force consisting of non-sales professionals without holding sales meetings and conducting regular sales training?
Guest columnist Charlie Greer is a service technician, a salesman, and president of HVAC Profit Boosters Inc. He is the sole instructor of the Sales Survival School for HVAC technicians and salespeople. He can be reached at 800-963-4822 or Charlie@hvacprofitboosters.com.
Publication date: 10/13/2003