Should technicians sell equipment replacements, or should they flip leads to a professional salesperson? This is a question that comes up frequently among contractors. The truth is, there are arguments on both sides. Here they are.
Reasons For Technicians To Sell
1. Your Tech is Engaged With the Buyer – The tech is with the homeowner in a buying position, engaged with the homeowner, and in a prime position to sell before he leaves.
2. Homeowners Trust Techs – Most people distrust salespeople. There is always a fear that a fast-talking salesperson will take advantage of a homeowner. Techs, however, are trusted. It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to ask the technician, “What would you do if you were me?”
3. No Handoff – When a technician flips a lead, there is a handoff to the salesperson. While the best practice is for the technician to remain at the home until the salesperson can arrive, in practice this does not always happen. When it does not, there is a chance that the homeowner will call another contractor for a second opinion or quote.
4. Less Headcount – If your technicians are selling, one or more sales positions are eliminated. Anytime you can get the same production with reduced headcount you come out ahead.
5. Less Sales Expense – Typically selling technicians are paid reduced commissions from those offered to salespeople. In addition, most of the other expenses associated with salespeople are eliminated, such as company cars, phones, computers, etc. (note: when contractors do not cover sales expenses, they typically pay a higher commission, so the savings are still present).
6. Bridge For Smaller Companies – Small contractors may not generate enough leads to justify a salesperson. Accordingly, the owner takes on the sales role. At some point, making sales calls will begin to interfere with running the business. In these cases, it might make sense for one or more technicians to become selling techs to bridge the company from owner sales to sales professionals. This could even lead to a full-time sales position for one of them when the company grows larger.
Reasons For Technicians to Flip Leads
1. Have Trouble Seeing the Value in New Systems – Sales involves a transference of belief. This can be problematic for many technicians because they simply do not see the value of new equipment at current prices when older equipment can be kept running. This is evidenced by the age of the equipment at many techs’ homes.
2. Prefer to Fix Systems – Technicians became technicians in the first place because they like troubleshooting and repairing equipment. It is part of who they are, and they take pride in it. Many technicians will hesitate to offer replacement options when it is not crystal clear that a replacement is better than a repair.
3. Tend to Sell the Cheapest Solution – When technicians sell, they often offer the lowest cost, most minimal solution. This is what they believe is in the homeowner’s best interest because it represents the least cost for cold or warm air.
4. Don’t Know Financing and Rebates – While this can be solved with training, technicians are not conversant with the financing options. They must also learn about utility and government rebates and other programs. Until they become fully conversant with discussing both, they are likely to avoid financing and rebate discussions because these feel awkward.
5. They Are Not Professional Salespeople – There are many times when a homeowner will raise an objection that a sales professional could easily handle but that stumps a technician. Very few selling technicians will ever be as good as a sales professional in qualifying the prospect, unearthing objectives before they are raised, handling them when objections are raised, offering options, and closing the sale. No one would expect a salesperson to repair a system as well a technician and no one should expect a technician to perform the sales role as well as a sales professional.
Which Approach is Right?
The right approach for one company is not right for another. There are contractors who have tried and failed to offer to use selling technicians. There are other contractors who have multiple selling technicians turning over $2 million a year. Success, one way or the other, depends on the market, company leadership, and the personnel available.
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