From Technician to Salesperson

It is no secret that generating leads and getting a “foot in the door” is becoming difficult and expensive. There is more information available to consumers and businesses, which results in their opinions being formed prior to talking with anyone.

The sales game has changed—consumers have more control and power even if they have bad information or do not understand all of the information. This situation can make the sales process more complicated and longer.

In many cases, the level of service or support is more important than the actual product. Early in my sales career, I learned that “sales may sell the first product but service sells everything after that.”

What does this mean? After someone initially purchases a product based on features or functions, their decision to purchase additional products from a company is based on the level of service they received.

Service is defined as when a product is not functioning correctly or some other situation requires a service person or technician to physically go to the location to service the product. The role of the person that goes out to the customer’s location is primarily to fix or service the product, not to sell in the traditional sense of the word.

More and more organizations that have technicians in the field, however, are equipping them to sell additional products and services to existing customers.

Why does this make good business sense?

1. Technicians are already inside the home or business.
2. In many cases, rapport or a relationship has already been developed.
3. Additional needs and opportunities may exist with the customer.
4. Recommendations made by technicians can be very powerful.
5. There is a given expense associated with sending a technician on a service call. If the technician is able to offer additional revenue generating products or services, the expense associated with sending them on the service call can be offset.
6. In some cases, a sale may generate future revenue streams, such as additional maintenance contracts or extended service agreements. In other cases, immediate revenue can be generated from an add-on maintenance checkup while the technician is there or from the sale of a complementary product.

Let’s take look at these points in more detail:

Points No. 1 & 2

These represent the key elements of the traditional sales process—getting inside the customer’s home or place of business and having rapport or a relationship developed. In most cases, a sale will not occur unless these two conditions exist.

These conditions are not a given in a service situation. The customer may be upset as a result of having to place a service call. The call may be the service technician’s first visit to the customer’s location, or it may be a repeat call or multiple attempt to resolve the problem. The point is that each situation will be unique.

Point No. 3

As a management team, you must determine what additional products or services make the most sense for technicians to offer. Some things to consider may include:

  • Is what you are asking technicians to offer or recom- mend a natural extension of the service or support they currently provide the customer?
  • Does anyone else in your organization sell or offer the same things you are asking technicians to offer?
  • Will technicians be familiar with what they will be offering or will it require additional training?
  • How much additional time will it take to present or make additional recommendations?
  • Is the product or service some- thing that will be delivered or completed at that time or some time in the future?

There are no definitive right or wrong answers to these questions. It will vary for each business and market, but what is important is that these factors are taken into consideration when putting a strategy and program into place.

Point No. 4

The key is for technicians to “recommend” or “offer,” not “sell” in the traditional sense of the word. Most technicians do not want to sell, and customers do not want to be sold (especially if they were not expecting it). There is a difference between a consultative approach to providing the customer with information or a recommendation and outright selling.

In traditional selling processes, a series of questions are asked to establish the need, some type of formal presentation is made, a formal close made and then objections are addressed as they come up. This process can take a while and requires training and experience that is usually reserved for salespeople.

What is being suggested is that as a normal part of the service or support the technician is providing, they are taught to recognize an opportunity and make recommendations. If the customer has a question, the technician should be equipped to answer it, which usually involves simply explaining or expanding on the benefits of the offer.

Points No. 5 & 6

These are the economic reasons to consider having your technicians recommend additional products and services. Identify those items that have a margin that will allow you to pay an incentive to the technicians and allow for the cost of some simple marketing pieces. The incentive does not have to be at the same level that you might pay a dedicated salesperson because the incentive is not the primary source of income for a technician.

For each item or additional service that the technician sells there should be commission or payout that is a percentage of the value of the sale. This payout should be paid regularly (included in each paycheck or on a quarterly basis). The key is that the technician should know and recognize the additional income they are earning and what the potential is.

Paying technicians for lead generation can be done but the idea here is to identify products or items that technicians can carry with them in their truck or items that can be delivered to the customer. Technicians can also offer additional services that they provide themselves, such as preventative maintenance checkups or extended service agreements.

You should also offer service contracts on other products. These are usually items that technicians are familiar with and would be comfortable explaining the benefits of these services.

The next article in this series will appear in the October issue of Water Quailty Products and will review a sales training program that can be implemented for service technicians.

David P. Scurlock is president of Direct Professional Services, Inc. Scurlock can be reached at 847.340.3874 or by e-mail at davidscurlock@sbcglobal.net.

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