The Missing Ingredient in Most Service Calls

March 4, 2011

By Adams Hudson

Let's be practical, shall we? The reason techs are the logical focus for sales to customers is because they are most times the company's one and only chance to enter a home and talk to a customer.

You're there because you've been called there. Your customer has already said, "I need you." And, oh, what a regular old salesperson wouldn't give for a gig like that! But this one best chance for selling doesn't belong to just anyone. It belongs to the tech.

And unfortunately, people skills are often overlooked in service technician training, and that hurts the entire industry. It's ironic that a service technician possessing mediocre technical proficiency, and even questionable ethics, can appear more credible by relying simply on an excellent in-home manner. The tech that might be far more worthy can seem less credible because he lacks the people skills to inspire it.

Establishing credibility isn't a game of luck and doesn't depend on the customer. Almost any customer can be won over, and there are certain techniques that can be used to help you do it.

Conversely, credibility is a fragile thing, and there are just as many ways to destroy it as there are to create it. Sadly, but predictably, it is much harder to rebuild it than it ever was to lose it in the first place.

Sell With Service
Do you realize that the failure rate in sales is 95%? That means that 95% of the people who go into sales fail and get out. This huge majority of non-performers are usually the ones doling out awful advice to you and setting a poor image for the profession.

Many techs have bought into this image, believing somehow that sales is disreputable or that they're "above it" in some way and would never do that to a customer. Bad word choices all around.

You see, sales - in the broadest sense of the word - is what we're all doing in some capacity. Everyone. From the waiter at the nice restaurant to the guy at the tire store to the beautiful actress on a TV infomercial. And especially our children, who "sell" us on the idea that they MUST HAVE every possible new toy-game-candy-clothes-entertainment gadget that has ever been invented... and a couple that haven't.

When we get the benefit represented that meets or exceeds the price, we have gotten a good value. Pure and simple, please don't forget: the best and most valuable sales are service.

The Power of the Upsell: Big Money, Small Effort
Many technicians shy from upselling. They feel customers will ask for the upgrade OR will think they're pushy if they offer it. Hear me out: If you feel the upgrade/upsell is a worthwhile option for your prospect it is your duty and responsibility to offer it. Make your techs and salespeople see upsells this way. And here's the way you make them work...

If you have just 20 service calls a day and only 25% of those like you enough to be called "customers," that's five repeats, and 15 "new" customers a day.

Let's say the five repeats only buy the upsell 30% of the time (national average is 60%), and the 15 new customers only buy the upsell 10% of the time. That's 1.5 sales a day of something.   If 2/3 of your actual upsells in both groups only buy $300 of additional product or service (national average) you'll be seeing $78,000 out of your "repeats" and $78,000 out of your new customers for $156,000 in accidental money you're missing. (That is: 1.5 customers a day x $300 x 66.66% = $77,992.)

Bottom Line: You can't afford not to train your technicians in selling techniques. It's an investment that makes them better employees and puts more dollars in your pocket. You're turning employees into an untapped profit source that builds their confidence in themselves, your confidence in their abilities, and your customer's confidence in your company's expertise. And confidence equals sales. Pretty tough to lose when you're on the right side of the training track.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. PHCC members can get a free report "Upsell Your Way to Higher Profits" by emailing their polite request to or faxing company information to 1-334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at or call 1-800-489-9099.

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