Salespeople Are Killing Your Business, And You Are Letting Them

You know that eureka moment when the apple falls from the tree and bonks you on the head. Some people call it the AHA moment, or the light bulb moment. It is the moment that you realize that everything you know is wrong, and you think to yourself: How did I not see this?

I am a Heating and Air Conditioning salesperson by trade, and after twenty years in the trade a moment of clarity.  That epiphany came to me after a miserable 100-degree day in early June. It was one of those days that the air felt like steam and the humidity reached 85%. It was so hot and sticky outside, that it felt like I was melting. Try as I might I went on Six sales calls and sold nothing. Who has two thumbs and does six sales calls in a day? (This guy) I sat in a lady’s house who had asthma and could barely breathe and offered to do the job the very next morning and still nothing…. I found myself extremely frustrated, angry, and just downright disgusted.  This had put me at my lowest point in years, and I was the leader of a four-man sales force who was having the same exact problems. When successful people find themselves failing they stop, and re-examine what they are doing wrong.  So, that is what I decided to do.
I had taken every sales class and read so many books about sales that I was arguably an expert, and everywhere I went I always led the pack in sales. I led in both close rates and ticket sizes, typically I could sell 2 million a year in equipment sales. That fact alone made me extremely valuable to any company that hired me. I had taken power selling classes, low-pressure selling classes, body language classes, communication classes, and the list went on and on. Despite all this training I had watched my close rate drop from 65% down to 32%. Wow, that was a fifty percent drop and I had no explanation. I looked around and saw my team’s numbers also begin to fall. I lowered the prices …. no change. I raised the prices…. no change.  I hammered the basics, I trained and practiced and trained and practiced.  Still no change.

Then I started talking to salespeople from other companies, and one of them said something that resonated with me. It created that AH-HA moment we spoke of earlier.  He said “I am most successful when the service technician leaves the door open for me.  It’s like the customer is giving away money. “ BAM there it was, so simple that a child could see it, but a highly skilled salesman couldn’t. The difference was that they trusted the service technician and did not trust the salesperson.

The AHA moments that came after that were amazing!  I was flooded with insights and found myself leaving that meeting and heading out to the store to speak with random people about Salespeople.  Here’s is what I found out:


1. People don’t trust Salespeople….

2. People don’t want Salespeople……

3. People want experts and want to buy from that expert.

4. People want easy pricing, nothing complicated that they have to figure out.

5. When people are in the presence of a salesman, they instantly become defensive.

These assertions put me in a serious bind because if they were true the only ways to be successful were to use service technicians instead of salespeople.  At this point, you may be thinking “What is the problem with that?” Well, traditionally service technicians can’t sell lemons to a lemonade stand. So, we had to figure out how to deal with that problem, and in the meantime create a system that allowed the service expert in the field to make the same sales that would be made by the salesman.

That’s when a group of people in Georgia introduced me to menu pricing (Rodney Koop and his family) …. People know how to order off menus. So, with their help, we built out a set of menu prices, and then put that list in our service technicians’ hands. The service technician would simply read off the top line and point at it and give them the options, and you know what? PEOPLE LOVED IT! Here’s when you say, “Sounds like your just an order taker, and not a comfort advisor”.

Yes, you would be right, and being a salesman my whole life it was hard to acknowledge that my trade was dying. The harder I looked around for a reason to keep salespeople around, the more I found that customers did not want to deal with them anymore.  Salespeople are becoming like watch repairmen, almost non-existent people do not use watches anymore, they all use their cellphone (or their apple watch).  In the modern age of sales, we must sell a customer experience instead.  It must start with the customer feeling 100 percent in charge of the process. Customers want to eliminate dealing with salespeople, and only want to deal with the person who can solve their problem. The key to this is selling the solution to their problem, and not the product.

What did the numbers look like after the transition from salespeople to order taking service technicians? The close rate went up to 82%. The average ticket size increased by approximately fifteen hundred dollars per ticket.  A salesman takes 7-10% of every job a service technician takes less than 3%.  In the end, it made every aspect of my business more profitable, and in doing so has made our company a ton of money.

OH yeah I forgot to mention, That’s the way a Service Ninja does it