I believe HVACR technicians are entitled to live as well as customers are entitled to live. Do you? And, please, don't give me the stock "Yes!" answer. I mean, do you really believe it?

If you're going to pay your techs more, let's face it, they're going to have to be more productive, meaning they're going to have to generate more profit dollars in less time. And, the only sure-fire way to increase billable-hour efficiency is to make more recommendations on legitimate products and services - and I do stress legitimate - that your customers will benefit by owning. This means technicians will do more work and make more money on each individual call.

In the end, this means someone is going to have to sell more. That "someone" has to be your techs in your uniforms standing in front of your customers.

Are we asking too much of technicians? News Business Management Editor John Hall contends that requiring your representatives in the field - i.e., your techs - to hone their selling skills, in addition to every other skill they're required to possess, is asking too much ("Add Another Log To The Tech Selling Fire," Dec. 29, 2003). I have to agree to some extent. We do ask too much of techs. For one, there is forced overtime - but that is a topic to be discussed at a different time.

In response to whether or not requiring techs to learn how to be more productive in the field (and that means selling more) is asking too much, my response is this: Why are we placing limits on our techs' abilities to absorb knowledge? As someone who has gone through thousands of service calls, I'll say, yes, service sales is difficult. However, is it the hardest job in the world? No.

How can we say our techs can't improve their communication skills until they're given the opportunity to learn? Granted, it's a miracle when a one-day seminar for someone who's never shown an interest in sales has a long-term positive impact. However, your techs are agreeable to drive around visiting your customers for 30 to 40 years. So, they can't improve their communication skills with regular training over a 40-year period?

Wolves In Sheep's Clothing?

Being good at service and good at sales at the same time is not a crime, is not impossible, and is actually what you need.

Why the "anti-sales rhetoric" when it comes to service technicians selling? Am I missing something? Is it that we want our techs to be good communicators and salespeople, but not too good?

I am a firm believer that if you're going to do something, go all out. Therefore, is it unethical for techs to work on their sales skills? Why is it OK for a person with the job title "salesperson" to study sales, but it's not okay for techs to do the same? Is service technician a sales position or not? If not, who's supposed to do the selling on service calls?

If your techs can't sell the work, they'll never get the opportunity to show off their technical skills and your excellent customer service. Sales skills are nothing more than communication skills and people skills, which are a requirement for success in all careers.

A consistent pattern that I, as well as other top salespeople and sales instructors, have experienced and observed is this: Top producers are frequently accused by their less successful peers of lying to customers to make sales. It would seem that many contractors who resent being typecast as "rip-offs" just for being contractors seem to have no problem typecasting techs who sell and salespeople as rip-offs.

I challenge one and all to show me any documentation where anyone in sales instruction has suggested ripping people off. That is not what sales is about.

And, for the record, lying isn't selling. It's lying.

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

Publication date: 01/12/2004