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Turning your field service techs into money makers….

Dec 21 • Features, Management • 4213 Views • No Comments on Turning your field service techs into money makers….

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We take a look at some of the advice of our good friends at TheSmartVan.com on how to start seeing clear revenue streams from service techs.

To begin, Sean Lydon, begins by outlining three top tips for gathering refferals from your field service engineers.

Service techs, writes Sean can be a company’s biggest referral booster — or loser.

On the front lines, they are best-positioned to garner new business. But while they undergo rigorous technical education, they often aren’t given sufficient training in the softer “people skills” that earn referrals.

So what are Sean’s three top tips for earning more revenue from service?

PREPARE THE CUSTOMER FOR A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE — BEFORE THE CALL

Keith Lowe, co-founder of Conditioned Air Solutions, a 28-person heating and air conditioning company in Huntsville, Alabama has a pre-service call tradition that he says gives customers a feeling of transparency and prepares them for a great experience: He e-mails a picture and bio of the technician to the customer before the call.

It adds a personal touch and lays the ground for a great service call, he says — and that’s the first step to generating repeat and referral business.

TRAIN YOUR FIELD SERVICE TECHS TO COMMUNICATE

When customers feel at ease with a service tech — an experience they don’t usually expect from technicians — they are more inclined to share that positive news about your company with friends. How to create that comfortable environment?

“When you first arrive, introduce yourself in a professional manner, smile, and announce that you’re there to fix the problem,” says Sally Mounts, PhD, president of  Auctus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm near Pittsburgh,

“People are not used to empathic technicians who are adept at communicating. If you are [that technician], you’ll be seen as extraordinary.

“Explain how long service calls usually take, since no one really likes having strangers in their homes.  Ask if they would like you to leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking on their floors. While you are working, be friendly and open. Ask if they would like you to explain what you’re doing and why.”

Adds Mounts: “People are not used to empathic technicians who are adept at communicating. If you are [that technician], you’ll be seen as extraordinary.”

ASK FOR REFERRALS

Even the most enthusiastic customers may not send referrals. Why? Nobody’s asked them.

Lowe, of Conditioned Air Solutions, says he holds technicians accountable for asking for feedback and referrals. His company uses ReviewBuzz, an online reputation management application, which he says makes it easy for his customers to post feedback on multiple review and social media sites, such as Google Places, Yelp, and Facebook, in a single entry.

“Before they leave the house, our technicians are to hand the customer our ReviewBuzz card with the technician’s name on it, and say something like,

‘Would you mind going onto this website to give me a review and let me know how I did? I’d really appreciate it,’ ” Lowe says.

Then explain that referrals are the lifeblood of any successful business, and ask if they know anyone who could also use your services. Ask if you can use their name in your referral call.”

For those who don’t have a system like ReviewBuzz, Mounts offers this advice for techs:

“After completing the project, explain what the customer can do to prevent [the issue] from happening again. Give them your business card and tell them to call you personally if they have any problems in the future.

Then explain that referrals are the lifeblood of any successful business, and ask if they know anyone who could also use your services. Ask if you can use their name in your referral call.”

Of course referrals are one thing but what about putting your field service engineers in a position where they can also directly sell. Whether it be upgrading SLA’s or supplementary items leveraging a field service engineer’s trusted advisor status to secure further sales is a solid strategy but not many service techs have a background in sales; they may not even be big people people to begin with.

So how can you train your repairmen, installers, and supervisors — these product people — on the soft skills of up-selling?

In this second feature Ian Stewart came up with a few simple tips you can start using (or reinforcing) right away to boost both your field engineers confidence, and their sales numbers.

KNOWLEDGE IS YOUR BEST TOOL

Whether they know it or not, field techs have a powerful tool on their side that even some very good salesman don’t: intimate product knowledge. And that gives them credibility — something a salesman very seldom has.

“Once the customer gets that you know what you’re talking about, they’ll think everyone in the company knows what they’re talking about,” says Brendan Cooke, an installer-turned-customer service rep for All-Guard Alarm Systems 

“If you can educate the customer, they’re usually going to be satisfied with the product. And being an installer is the greatest education you can get in this industry. Learning all the functions of the product, walking people through it; that’s probably the greatest tool I have.”

SELL THE OPPOSITE

How often do you run into a customer who says they’re already satisfied with the service they’re getting from one of your competitors? Well Earl King, the founder of King Productions International, a HVAC sales consulting firm in Texas, says that shouldn’t nip your sales pitch in the bud.

“First, I’ll ask [a customer] if they’re satisfied,” King says. “And if they say there are, then I ask if we can do a maintenance audit — no charge, no obligation. I want to look at all their service tickets over the past 12 months or so, review how much has been spent on materials.”

Typically, King says, it’s not much. Having that knowledge in your hands creates an opportunity to sell away from what the customer’s already getting in a full-coverage agreement with someone else. If you can show a customer they’re paying more in a yearly service agreement than they’re getting back, you may be able to pick off a new customer by offering a “programmed maintenance,” labor-only agreement, which is always a lot cheaper.

FIRST, LISTEN

Great salespeople are said to have a silver tongue, right? Actually, it’s the ears that count.

By listening closely to what the customer is — and sometimes isn’t — saying, you can pick up on what their problem is,

By listening closely to what the customer is — and sometimes isn’t — saying, you can pick up on what their problem is, and how your product or service can solve that for them. Joe Crisara, a sales educator for ContractorSelling.com, talks about the “turn-around” technique, where you as a seller get the customer talking about why he’s interested in your service.

Get them, essentially, to sell you on your own service — that helps them reinforce the fact that they want and need it, and it gives you information about exactly what they’re looking for.

“Many times buyers provide a false reason so they don’t reveal too much about their situation, thinking that you may use it against them to close the deal,” Crisara writes on his blog.

“The turn-around helps your buyers ‘think it over’ before you start making prices and solutions so they are certain that the service or product they are requesting information [about] is something they definitely will purchase.”

DON’T ASSUME

Part of listening is keeping an open mind, says Mike Moore, who runs HVAC Learning Solutions. And that means don’t assume anything. You don’t necessarily know what a customer’s budget is, or what they can and can’t afford.

People may surprise you — but if you don’t offer your best, you’ll never sell your best. So start by offering customers the service or product that best fits their needs — not what you think fits in their price range.

“The customer will pay for what he or she can afford, and it is never your job to decide what one can financially invest in,”

NO EXCUSES

Andy Halpein, the owner of Laser Printer Resource in Walnut Creek, Calif., puts it bluntly: “If they want a job, they’ve gotta sell.”

That’s kind of a sink-or-swim directive, but the point is valid: Sales is simply part of the job now. In some cases, that means pitching customers out in the field.

Or, as Halperin says, it can be as simple as just be performing a great repair, gaining the customer’s trust, and making sure to mention ongoing service agreements and handing them the company business card. Either way, it’s now a must. “Hopefully [the tech] is great — and usually they are,” he says. “I only hire great, awesome ones.”

 

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