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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:

Part I:
Preparing for service agreement surveys
(see June 2011 issue)

Part II:
Equipment and system surveying and data gathering
(see August 2011 issue)

Part III:
Profitable pricing strategies to win the business
(see November 2011 issue)

Part IV:
Proposal-writing strategies
(see February 2012 issue)

Part V:
Hiring and compensating service sales reps

Part VI: 
Organizing for service agreements

These articles will appear periodically in HVACR Business
and are stored in the archives at
www.hvacrbusiness.com.

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

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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.

Personality Assessment
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
and Training
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?
Planning and Organizing      How you organize your daily tasking activities and responsibilities?
Goal orientation                  A circumstance where your commitment to getting things done contributed significantly to your success?
Continuous learning          A skill or knowledge set you needed to better do your job or advance your career and how you obtained that knowledge?
Consultative selling         A time when you went through a complete sales cycle with a very successful closing that was important to your company?
Account management        A situation where you identified an opportunity and how you successfully planned to win the business?
New business development      A situation where you identified a market opportunity and strategies to capture this new business?
Judgment and Problem Solving    Explain how you prioritize, track, and work activities on a daily basis.
Technical credibility          How you develop estimates and proposals for service agreements?
History of hard work      A time when you had an important job to complete with minimal, or no, help at all and what you did to get the job done?
Aggressive          A time when you overcame objections?
Personable          A time when you had to modify or change your actions to respond to the needs of another person?
Perceptive         A time in which you influenced the actions of others in a desired direction?
Intelligent         A time you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision?
Communication skills       A time you had to use proposal-writing skills in order to communicate to all decision makers to close a deal?
Leadership         A situation when you wanted your boss to approve a change you were recommending?
High energy        A situation when you had to work past normal working hours to meet a customer demand?
Tenacious         A time when you had to go beyond the call of duty to get the job done?

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.
•    Works hard with little supervision.
•    Exerts whatever effort necessary to make something happen.
•    Gets hands dirty/manual labor.     •    Job every summer.
•    Worked during school year (or played major college sports).
•    Financed part of education expenses.
•    Wants a job.
•    Type of job.
Aggressive    •    Must be able to approach people.
•    Must be able to ask for the order.
•    Must be able to overcome objections.
•    Must be able to come back after thrown out or bad call.    •    Sports: team or intramural.
•    Observe in interview.
•    Leader in fraternity, sorority, or club.

Personable    •    Must be able to generate quick rapport.
•    Cannot be abrasive.
•    Must be people-oriented.
•    Must be flexible.
    •    Track record of belonging to clubs, fraternities, or sororities.
•    Team player.
•    Elected leadership positions.
•    You feel attracted to versus turned off by.
Perceptive    •    Must be able to listen to trade and manipulate a close.
•    Must be able to anticipate trade.
•    Must be street-smart.
    •    Maturity level during interview.
•    Answer questions well, no rambling.
•    Plays off your questions during interview; looks for what you want.
•    Discipline present.
Intelligent    •    Must be a quick learner/think on feet.    •    Most college graduates from reputable colleges O.K.
•    Observe thought process in interview.
Communication skills    •    Must be able to sell.
•    Must be able to write clearly.
    •    Observe in interview.
•    Projection tells you a lot.
•    Clarity of application.
Leadership    •    Must be able to command attention and respect to increase results.
•    Always need for managers.
    •    Positions of elected leadership posts.
•    Not a follower; sets own pace.
•    Person who directs or persuades others in a uniform manner.
High energy level    •    Sales job is physically and mentally demanding.
•    Salespeople must thrive on action.    •    Ability to do more than one thing at a time.
•    Observe in interview.
•    Observe one day in field.
Goal oriented    •    Sense of urgency critical to success.    •    Preference for active sports and interest versus reading, movies, etc.
Tenacious    •    Many parts of job seem to never be done, have to stick with it and keep pushing.
•    Effort in our business, applied with intelligence, usually equals success.    •    History of sticking things through to the end; not a quitter.
•    Sports area; never a starter but stuck with team.
•    Proud of accomplishments.

 

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

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Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 5)

Part 5 of 6: Hiring Effective Sales Reps
View article.

Selling Commercial Service Agreements (part 4)

Part 4 of 6: Proposal Writing Strategies
View article.

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.
View article.

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.
View article.