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Service person to salesman

Hi all, This is my first post, so here goes...
I manage a team of about 25 service technicians who work on a commission basis. The vast majority of these guys are the “fix it” type, where you have a problem, they come out, give you an estimate and you either take it or leave it.
Our industry, as in many has changed - our customers are more savvy, they are willing to try and do it themselves first and will generally seek the lowest estimates for the best possible deal.

Here is my challenge, A surprisingly high number of these service technicians will not accept the change to the landscape, believing instead that the methods and techniques that have served them through the years will continue to serve them now. We can point to example after example of their peers who have failed to meet basic performance requirements and have been let go, the direct impact to them with smaller commission checks, and other companies that have folded their tent. It is not feasible to replace all of them with believers as these technicians have a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill. Does anyone have any insight on how to effectively get these guys to see the light? We have tried training, coaching, bonuses, policy directives, ride alongs, celebrating successes…I am running out of ideas!! - by mpullman
First off, these guys are SERVICE PERSONS... mechanics, wrenches, they speak cfm, mm, and rpm. They deal in a world that doesn't speak back but yet can be very frustrating.

I flew for a multi-gm dealership and flew these guys around for almost 30 years and got to know many of them quite well. Here is what I admire about these guys.... as salesmen, its.. "look yer widget is broken, do you want to fix it?" Why? "Cuz eventually it'll cause the whatsit to wear which'll leak oil on your turbo and cause your car to burn up... then we'll really have options!”

I think you have a tough job making a wrench wizard into a master sales seducer especially if they make their money under a car. However, short of actually hiring a sales/writer you might just try a simple incentive and give them a 10% value added bonus or something like that when adjust the timing and “notice” that the tires are below legal tread depth or that there’s break dust that indicates excessive wear… ore whatever… that gives them the idea that whatever they can do to add to the operation since the car is already there that they might “save” your customers that extra $48 they pay when you do a diagnostic and apply it towards something that will save them money in the long run or keep their children safe.. and put an extra $40 in their pocket… or whatever…

But good luck with this… Do you think you could find a mechanic that understands this methodology that you could hire as a “lead” or supervisory technician.. put them in a suit and tie even... maybe denim but dress em up a little and make them all executives and start them thinking like managers… I mean they’re on commission anyways aren’t they… not a big stretch.. Oh well I know the job you have ahead of you… good luck..

Aloha… :cool: - by rattus58
It sounds like you've done your due diligence to address the issue. What's not clear to me (and perhaps not clear to you) is WHY your people are resistant. It must be:

A. They don't believe management
B. They don't trust management
C. They don't want to change
D. They can't change.

Which of the four do you think it is (it can be more than one)? - by Skip Anderson
Mpullman

We were in the same boat as you. We are a service company that has changed over time to a sales service company. Our company in nine years has joined four different sales organizations that supplies sales training. What I have found with each organization and with every sales training guide we have researched or tried they have one way of teaching their process. Not every person learns the same way not every person accepts change the same way.
To date every sales training guide we have seen or seminars attended express to do it this way without explaining the why. Just do it this way and you are on your way to success. This is not true. There is a need for a sales training guide that explains why and also allows the technician to interact asking the questions that are stopping them from moving forward. We have implemented a sales training guide that allows the sales technicians to ask questions. No question is unimportant. Some technicians need to think about change and how it works others need to see how the change works still others need to think and see how the process works properly.
Ride along is not affective unless the sales technician understand what to look for and the person who does the ride along understands why they are riding along. When I do ride along with our sales technician they believe I am there to show them how when I am there to see how they do the process. I can then see what needs to be improved and how we can tweak what they do.
When service techs are not prepared for success and they do fail or in their mind fail they revert back to the old ways they are accustomed to that have worked semi well for them. Prepare them for failure and you must be prepared as a company to accept failure until they learn the process. This takes more than a couple of days of training. Many managers/owners expect this to be picked up within a couple of weeks. Sales take years to modify and become a tool for success. It can never be perfected.
The training consists of building relationships and why, how to present and when to present the solutions. Gathering information about the client while realizing the behavior of the client then knowing how to communicate to the client in ways they understand. How to answer questions that do not deal with the product benefits and features becomes a need for the sales technician. Learning how to answer objections, concerns and questions by the client is a must.
To give you a complete answer I need to understand and know what your company does with the total system. Often time’s companies expect the employees to buy into a project without that company implementing the total strategy. The company states one thing but the ACTIONS imply different statements. That must stop.
Decision making by the office staff has to change. Give the profitable calls to those who are doing what you demand. Do not try to be fair and make sure everyone has a call .Having six calls and giving one to each of your six sales techs is not smart .Give your three best sales techs two calls each. This is not a profitable situation for your company
Take time with each sales technician and find out why they feel the way they do towards your new strategy. Once you have this information answer the concerns of your staff. Do not free lance this information. Sit down and think of legitimate answers to the concerns that prove why they must change. Get rid of the opinion that service Techs cannot be sale technicians. They can be taught how to sell. It is a slow process to change the perception of who they are. The technicians can learn how to sell. Those that refuse to change you must release possibly at a slower pace than you want or need to for the company to improve. Lastly quit rewarding with praise and money those who are not buying into the system.
I would love to talk more on this subject, we have tried for years to change and finally have accepted a different way of training our SALES TEHCNICIANS who are real sales professionals. They are buying into the system and catching on. - by rich34232
please feel free to write me on this subject. We had this same situation you are describing - by rich34232
I wrote this manual for my plumbing company and decided to try to help other contractors, so I modified it. This is a system we use for turning our technicians into super salesmen. This system works great for us, it takes only a few minutes to teach, we close a very high percent of our, and we get twice the amount of money (I think). We don't get any resistance from our employees because they see how much the other employees earn.

This system can be applies to almost every type of service sale including auto repair, roofing, appliance repair, electrical, etc.

This manual is not for sale, never was intended to be for sale, and it not edited very well, but it works. - by pcplumber
I wrote this manual for my plumbing company and decided to try to help other contractors, so I modified it. This is a system we use for turning our technicians into super salesmen. This system works great for us, it takes only a few minutes to teach, we close a very high percent of our, and we get twice the amount of money (I think). We don't get any resistance from our employees because they see how much the other employees earn.

This system can be applies to almost every type of service sale including auto repair, roofing, appliance repair, electrical, etc.

This manual is not for sale, never was intended to be for sale, and it not edited very well, but it works.
pcplumber, you display an attitude and a super willingness to contribute to this forum that is remarkable.

I will take the time to read your complete manual. - by Ace Coldiron
mpullman
This is a challenging situation, but when you start to see change, a thoroughly rewarding one.

We've done training in the past that has been geared to giving our people the skills and knowledge to become more effective and improve results in a changing market.

We've used a model that shows the ingredients that are required to create change and generate new habits - knowledge and skills are two of them and the third is attituide / desire.

Without the attitude and desire, training / coaching are usually a waste of resources. In other words if you don't want to learn new stuff, you won't. Most people don't like change!

So we've learnt that if we want people to buy into new practices, methodologies and cultures we firstly have to win their hearts and minds.

We've facilitated courses that have just focused on 'why change' and followed it up later with the 'what and how' of change.

We've found that people 'buy in differently' to change:

Some like to be given problems to solve i.e. how can we retain our market share when customers are using the internet more and more for their weekly shop? Where the groups of employees will come up with the solution.

Some do like to be told what to do and will usually do it as long as they're not in a minority.

Some like to be able to see, what this new way of working looks like and 'what's in it for me' if I do it - so some kind of acted scenario (as realisitc as possible) demonstrating new habits and great results, is good for these people.

Some like to see how these changes and improvements, fit into the big picture - how does it fit with my role, how does it fit with the business, other departments and employees.

A few will just go out and do it, maybe to be different or to be pioneers.

With all these, follow up after learning events is critical, as it is so easy to return to what you've been doing for the past x years. So continued observation, coaching, encouraging and training are crucial, this is usually best delivered by skilled line management.

Not all people make the transiition though mpullman. There are some casualties. Everyone though is given the best opportunity to succeed. - by marky
Guys- great advice!! PC Plumber- i really like your Bus. Man. I'm still going through it. Lost of good nugets of information.

Rich, great insight. We have tried many approches but may have expected significant results to quickly. We explained the "Why" and the "Whats in it for them", Its just going to take qute a bit longer to change the culture.

Thanks for the great input- gives us much to ponder. - by mpullman
mpullman

Welcome to the forum...it looks as if you are in VERY GOOD Hands! - by MPrince
I wrote this manual for my plumbing company and decided to try to help other contractors, so I modified it. This is a system we use for turning our technicians into super salesmen. This system works great for us, it takes only a few minutes to teach, we close a very high percent of our, and we get twice the amount of money (I think). We don't get any resistance from our employees because they see how much the other employees earn.

This system can be applies to almost every type of service sale including auto repair, roofing, appliance repair, electrical, etc.

This manual is not for sale, never was intended to be for sale, and it not edited very well, but it works.
How ya doing PCplumber?

Dang, I thought I found a private untapped reservoir of ideas and topics over here.

I am glad to see that you discovered this forum also.



mpullman,

Do you think you could mention what tyoe of service that your tech's are providing?

With a staff of that size, all doing service calls, I venture to guess that you are in the HVAC field.

Which training courses have you already fed to you technicians?

I wonder if there is a certain type of "Personality Profile", that would do better with one method versus the other and if so, then seek out this grading criteria and adapt the methods to the personalities.

Ed - by Ed The Roofer
MPrince, you are right. I think everyone covered any suggestion I may have had - by PRpro
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