The best sale you can make is to your service techs!

Bonding With Service Techs

Hey Salespeople! The best sale you can make is to your service techs! by Charlie Greer

The service department drives and supports the sales department. You can run print ads, send out direct mail pieces and telemarket your customers until you're blue in the face, but nothing beats a sales lead generated by a service tech. Consequently, the best thing that can happen to a replacement sales professional is to establish a healthy relationship with the service department. Inversely, the worst thing that can happen is for there to be antagonism between them. Invariably, the top salesman in a company is the one who's established healthy relationships and a position of mutual respect with the service techs.

The question sales people have for me is always, "How do I generate more leads out of my sales department?" It often seems to me that they're looking for a quick answer, or possibly something that someone else can do. They often have completely overlooked the most important thing you can do to generate more high quality replacement leads out of your service department, and that is to bond with your service technicians.

Below is a list of ten suggestions to improve salesman/service tech relations and generate more tech leads

1. Consult with them after running each call. The most common complaint service techs have told me they have with salespeople is that they don't get back with them after running the leads they give them. Often, when I ask salespeople if they get back with their service techs after running their leads, the response is, "Our techs are paid a commission on each lead they generate that I sell, so they know whether or not I've sold it by looking in their paychecks." That was not the question.

Getting back with techs after running the leads they generate lets them know exactly how you work and also gives meaning to the trouble they go to generating them. Techs really appreciate hearing exactly what transpires on the calls they generate for you. Aside from improving your relationship with them, while discussing the lead you in which were unable to obtain a commitment, the tech will often provide valuable input that will help you get back in the door and close the sale.

2. Thank them for each lead they generate for you. Another of the most common impediments to getting more leads out of your techs is that they might either feel the leads they generate are unappreciated or that they're afraid of wasting the salesman's time. Often they won't generate a lead to a customer they don't think will buy, even when they believe it might be in the customer's best interest to replace their equipment. Make certain your techs know that you don't consider any lead a waste of time and that you appreciate their efforts.

3. Contact them before running each call. It never ceases to amaze me how seldom salespeople I work with go to the little trouble it takes to research a previous customer's history before going out to quote new equipment. The customer always assumes the salesperson consulted with the service tech before going to their home, and it's only professional to do so, even when the tech is difficult to contact.

4. Attend service tech meetings and technical training. There are three benefits to this, actually. First, they will respect you for learning the technical aspects of the job, which is a common complaint technical people have with sales people -- they don't believe they're interested in the technical aspects of the job. Learning the technical aspects will go a long way toward improving your relations with them. Secondly, you do gain valuable product knowledge, which can only help to further your career. Thirdly, it gives you time away from the office together.

5. Ride with them during slow times. This is another triple benefit. First, spending time with your techs helps you to get to know them better, which can only improve your relations with them. You'll have a better understanding of their job, what they go through and what it takes to generate a lead. Secondly, you'll learn more technical aspects of the job. Third, it gives you the opportunity to talk with them about lead generation; what to look for, what to say, your level of expectation, etc.

6. Make sure they know you've got the customers' best interest at heart. This is actually the biggest impediment to service tech lead generation and the most important thing you can do to generate more leads out of the service department. You've got to overcome the stigma of "sales." They need to feel that helping people and solving problems is at least as high of a priority with you as making sales and earning commissions.

7. Give their leads your prompt attention. Don't ever let it get back to the tech that you put off seeing one of his customers for any reason.

8. Visit them when you see their trucks in a driveway. Service tech work is hard and dangerous work, and it's actually kind of a lonely job; all they do all day is handle complaints. It's nice to see a friendly face one in a while. When I saw one of our vans in a driveway and I had a few minutes to spare (we all leave early for our sales calls, don't we?) I thought nothing of stopping in to say hello to the tech and see if there was anything I could do to brighten up his day. Even when working as a salesman driving my personal vehicle to run sales calls, I wore a company uniform and had magnetic signs on my car, so when I show up at a customer's home when one of our techs is there working, it doesn't surprise the customer and they just allow me to come inside and see our man.

9. Solve their problems. Techs are often reluctant to turn over leads because of a bad experience they may have had in the past. Perhaps a customers told a salesman something that ended up causing trouble for the tech. Don't let that happen to you. Also, let them know that you can actually solve problems for them. You can take a customer with a variety of service problems and complaints and, simply by replacing their equipment, eliminate those problems. Let them know that you'll go out and visit customers who are difficult and try to smooth things over for them.

10. Get to know them as people. Socialize with them. Does this mean you need to "buddy up to" or "schmooze" people you otherwise wouldn't, like just to get leads out of them? It doesn't have to. Service techs are the salt of the earth. Most of them will drag themselves through a muddy, spider-infested crawlspace to fix a sweet old lady's ductwork (perhaps even at no charge) while their own ductwork at home is falling apart. Get to know them as people and you'll respect them. If you're worthy of it, they'll respect you.

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