The Untapped Sales Force

It seems to me that we have an untapped sales force in our industry. They are the service technicians. Most professional HVAC salespeople would give anything to get into the home or office of prospective customers. And, when they do, they are held suspect by the prospective customer who views them as “somebody just trying to sell something.”

Yet the service technician is actually called by the customer and is welcomed in to solve a problem. The customer has the problem at that moment and seeks a solution. Professional salespeople often have to sell the customer on their need for a solution. Not the service technician. The customer already faces the problem and is asking for the solution.

In addition, the service technician is not viewed as a salesperson. The technician is viewed as the person with the solution to the immediate problem. More often than not, after the technician solves the problem, customers ask, “What can we do to prevent this from happening again?”

What an opportunity for the service technician to sell a new system, upgrade, add-on, or additional safety controls! Yet, few technicians give this opportunity a second thought. Think of how many lost sales go this route.

Customers also are more apt to take the advice of a service technician who repairs hundreds of systems each year as opposed to the advice of a professional salesperson who the customer perceives as “just wanting to sell something.” Customers regularly have asked me if they have a “piece of junk” or a good brand. This is yet another opening for a potential sale, depending upon the condition of the system and the sales acumen of the technician.

It seems to me that many contractors may be missing out on vastly increased sales by failing to provide quality sales training to their service technicians.

I am not an expert in sales, but I have sold many new systems and upgrades simply by listening for the customer to give me an opening. I have practiced ways to respond to those openings, and they have worked wonderfully. I wonder what the result would be if I were to learn real sales techniques from the professional salespeople.

Yes, I know that many service technicians will object to the idea that they become salespeople. However, I think if they were properly informed of the possibilities, given quality sales training, and perhaps even incentives from their contractors, many technicians would change their minds. Once I tried it and made a few sales, I not only got the hang of it, I sort of caught the sales bug and was eager to make another sale.

Just think of the vast untapped sales force already in place and equipped with the technical knowledge just requiring a little sales training.

Norm Christopherson, Service Instructor, Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC, Local 66, Lacey, Wash.

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Publication date: 07/28/2003