Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 5)
Originally published: 04.01.12 by Wendell Bedell
|About This Series
This is the fifth of a six-part series on creating a selling system for commercial service agreements.
I designed the series as a complete A-Z guide. I encourage you to save these in a training folder.
The Selling Commercial Service Agreements series includes the following topics:
Preparing for service agreement surveys
(see June 2011 issue)
Equipment and system surveying and data gathering
(see August 2011 issue)
Profitable pricing strategies to win the business
(see November 2011 issue)
(see February 2012 issue)
Hiring and compensating service sales reps
Organizing for service agreements
These articles will appear periodically in HVACR Business
and are stored in the archives at
Your company’s capabilities, offerings, and the markets you pursue dictate which sales-tasking activities and competencies you require from your sales team. Your markets have unique business and technical requirements that must be fully understood and accurately assessed by the sales rep so that your company can provide profitable solutions and appropriate sales strategies and tactics to win the business.
Therefore, before hiring a sales rep, market requirements or sales-rep competencies must be identified and captured in a formal job description via a job analysis. The job analysis and resultant job description is used as the basis for all of your recruiting, hiring, training, and deploying of the sales position. The job-analysis process defines the sales-tasking requirements, performance standards, and personnel competency requirements to be successful in the sales job.
The Job-Analysis Process
We recommend using these questions when performing the job analysis:
1. What are the essential skills and knowledge required for the position?
2. What are the essential job functions and tasks to be performed?
3. What are the responsibilities and authority of the position?
4. What are the performance-success factors?
Why So Many Ineffective Sales Reps?
BSI has conducted extensive research to determine why so many contractors fail miserably at hiring effective sales reps. We found that it is due to failing to identify whether an applicant possessed the traits to perform successfully. These traits are listed on the table on page 40.
Successful Recruiting Strategies
The quality of the people you hire will in the end determine the quality of your sales force. Therefore, hire the very best people that have both the core and skill-specific competencies required to succeed in the sales-tasking activities you need performed to reach your goals.
There are several sources and methods available to find candidates.
Below are the most common:
• Within the company: Internal sources are the preferred source due to loyalty and employee motivation. Candidates can be found in other departments, friends of employees, and former employees.
• Help-wanted ads: These are the most common method of recruiting. To be successful, they must be carefully prepared. Help-wanted ads are marketing promotion pieces that must answer for the candidate what’s in it for me. Therefore, the ad must sell the company and the opportunity; you by phone, fax, and by email.
The following guidelines should be used when developing help-wanted ads:
1. Be clear, concise, and truthful.
2. Clearly indicate the job title.
3. Indicate the minimum education and skill-level requirements.
4. Describe the product/service offerings they will be selling.
5. Provide a broad description of the compensation plan and fringe benefits.
6. Indicate when the job needs to be filled.
• Use an executive search firm: Executive search firms are good sources of qualified candidates because of their screening capabilities, greater geographic reach, and the ability to penetrate competitors. They usually charge a fee up to 33% of the first year’s salary and bonus packages. Most provide screening and a direct contact to a competitor’s experienced salespeople.
• College/trade school internship programs: Another good source of candidates is college/trade school interns available during school breaks. This provides both a chance for you to evaluate their work ethic and capabilities, and an opportunity to determine if they are a fit for your business after they complete school.
• Your professional network: Using your professional contacts is probably the best means to find candidates. Most good candidates are not usually looking for a job and would not even see your want ad or other recruiting tactics. Just like with your prospecting for business, using a mutual contact referral has a greater impact on getting a favorable response from a candidate. When a potential candidate receives a call from you based on a referral from friend or professional associate, they tend to investigate the opportunity more closely.
Conducting an Effective Interview
Pre-planning the interview allows you to ask the questions, which enables you to control the meeting. You shouldtalk only about 25% of the time while the candidate talks 75% of the time. Using open-ended “high-gain” questions requiring an in-depth explanation or response allows you to gain a better picture of the candidate’s work ethics and habits.
During the interview, you must evaluate the candidate on:
• Their knowledge and understanding of the job opportunity.
• Their interest in the opportunity.
• Determine the candidate’s career objectives for fit within your organization.
• The presence of any knockout factors.
• Their match to essential job related success factors.
On page 38 we provide an example “Competency-Based Interview Questions” for a sales position.
How and what the sales rep does is a function of their personality traits. The resume and interviewing process tells you what they can do. However, these items do not tell us how the candidate will execute his sales tasking and other assigned tasks.
Since the sales rep is a huge investment in both money and your time, we encourage you to invest in a personality test to determine exactly how they will perform on the job. Today personality tests are accurate, predictive, and legally defensible as part of your selection process.
These tests, such as the Drake P3, identify core competencies and key behaviors and link those behaviors to behavioral traits that studies have shown are essential to be successful in sales. The results of this test will show if there will be any specific challenges a candidate might face on the job you’re trying to fill. These tests can be conducted in about five minutes of the candidate’s time. The candidate is compared against the personality traits of top sales performers. In addition, the testing is nondiscriminatory, unbiased, and legally defensible.
Sales Competency Evaluation
Once hired and deployed, the sales reps must evaluate their individual performance and training requirements. The sales rep should have a continuous learning attitude and implement his/her own self-development program from both external and internal on-the-job sources to shore up both core and skill specific competencies.
BSI provides Contractor subscribers with a free sales rep “Competency Evaluation and Training Guide Booklet” as a free email download. To obtain the survey form, simply send an email to customercare@GrowMyHVAC.com with “Competency Evaluation and Training Guide Booklet” in the subject line.
Flexibility and Adaptability A situation in which your ability to change your approach to a situation made a big difference?
Performance-Success Traits Why Important to Success How to Identify
History of hard work • Understands the value of a dollar; otherwise, first job is a nightmare.
Wendell Bedell is president of GrowMyHVAC.com For detailed information about GrowMyHVAC.com’s many other high impact residential and commercial professional sales and service call handling processes and price books to help you “Harvest” more from each call them at 1-800-240-2823 or visit them at
www.GrowMyHVAC.com. He can be
reached directly at 800-240-2823.
Articles by Wendell Bedell
The Five-Step, One-Day Strategic Plan
The Five-Step, One-Day Strategic Plan. DIY strategic planning to optimize your business
Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 5)
Part 5 of 6: Hiring Effective Sales Reps
Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 4)
Part 4 of 6: Proposal Writing Strategies
Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 6)
This is the sixth of a six-part series on creating a selling system for commercial service agreements. I designed the series as a complete A-Z guide. I encourage you to save these in a training folder.
Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 1)
This is the first of a six-part series on creating a selling system for commercial service agreements. I designed the series as a complete A-Z guide.