Let's get one thing straight: You are not running a service company. You are really running a sales company, and what you sell is service. Meanwhile, your service techs are your "reluctant sales force."

Scary thought, isn't it?

Every other sales organization, including those that employ only highly motivated, trained, and professional salespeople, conduct regular sales meetings and hold regular sales training. My question to you is: Why don't you? How can you run a sales company consisting of a sales force of non-sales professionals without holding sales meetings and conducting regular sales training?

The recommendation here is that you conduct a minimum of one 30-minute training session per week.

Meeting Guidelines

In regards to training, here are some recommendations for conducting such sessions:

  • The meetings should have a specific start time.

  • More importantly, they should also have a very specific time to end.

  • Don't allow meetings to run into overtime for discussion or debate, or people will start dreading them. Instead, end the meeting on time, knowing your employees will continue discussing the material during the week - especially if the topic of debate really was an issue in which they were honestly concerned. (This is what you want to happen.)

  • No single point needs to be resolved by the end of the meeting. This is a long-term endeavor.

  • It is essential that a manager accepts responsibility for all the meetings and that this individual attends the meetings without fail. Skipping meetings or allowing yourself to be called from the meeting for any reason makes the statement that this training has a low priority.

    More Pointers

    In regards to discussions and meeting interaction, here are some important points:

  • Avoid heated debates. Allowing people to attack one another could stifle the free flow of ideas.

  • Don't be concerned about techs who do not appear to be interested. They could just have a good poker face. They might be afraid it will seem "un-cool" to participate. They could be afraid of being criticized or ostracized. In short, give them time. They will come around.

  • Never force your opinions on your techs. As the old saying goes, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

  • Technicians are masters at drawing management into circular arguments about issues that they care nothing about. Don't allow yourself to become someone's play toy.

    Possible Topics

    For a ready-made, professionally produced meeting, you can purchase (or borrow from your local public library) sales-oriented tapes, CDs, and DVDs. Simply play a segment and hold a discussion on the topic.

    My experience has been that people don't necessarily commit to excelling in sales until they have their lives in order and have begun setting some long-range career, financial, and personal goals. That's why it may be smart to stick to some non-sales related topics at first to get the ball rolling.

    Conceiving and conducting 52 well-constructed meetings per year may seem a daunting task. However, here are a number of excellent topics that will take you more than a year to cover:

  • What is the purpose of your job? (Correct answer: To generate a profit for the company.)

  • Defining excellence in service sales.

  • Overcoming the "sales stigma."

  • Proper grooming for service techs.

  • The best things to do on calls.

  • The worst things to do on calls.

  • Handling all types of difficult people and difficult situations.

  • Maximizing your career as a service tech.

  • What's good about this job?

  • Career options for service techs.

  • Goal setting for service techs.

  • Planning for retirement.

  • Planning for your children's college educational expenses.

  • Solving your boss's problems.

  • Getting along with dispatch.

  • Upgrading a repair to a replacement.

  • Overcoming objections, including "Your price is too high," "I want to think it over," "I have to talk to my husband," "If it isn't broke, don't fix it," and "I want to get other bids."

    If you have not started training sessions, do so soon. It's one of the best things you can do for your firm.

    Guest columnist Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD." He can be reached at 800-963-4822, charlie@hvacprofitboosters.com, or www.hvacprofitboosters.com.

    Publication date: 12/08/2003