Selling doesn’t begin when a tech is at the customer’s doorstep — it starts when your customer service representative (CSR) answers the phone. All sales momentum either builds from that moment on, or it falls apart.

Dramatic? Nope. That’s why when I’m working with clients teaching them my Sales Power selling system, I insist on spending time coaching the CSRs — and, if I can get to them, the dispatchers, as well.

You might be asking yourself, “The CSRs and DSRs aren’t selling, are they?” If you think they aren’t, you’re wrong — both CSRs and DSRs have the ability to sabotage sales at every turn if they’re not provided with a documented set of operation manuals and trained in how to properly do their job.

The good news is, with never-ending training, they can boost sales.

CSRs are the initial face of the company for the potential customer or even returning customer. Everything they do or don’t do affects their ability to close the call and book it. More than that, they must make the caller feel good about his or her choice of calling us versus the competition, and they must make the caller they’re speaking with feel like the most important person in the world.

I do a lot of sales training with CSRs, and I can tell you most have absolutely no idea what they sound like on the phone because their company doesn’t record calls.

There is a right and legal way to record calls. You’ve probably heard the intro: “We record all calls to insure the highest level of customer service.” It’s easy for a CSR to mouth the words of a script and leave a customer feeling cold.

Don’t believe me? Record your calls. Here’s what I know: Even if they’re good on the phone under normal circumstances, they usually fail on maximum call days. That’s because stress rises as the phones are ringing off the hook. They will speed up, shortcut the process, and even become borderline rude. It’s only natural.

At companies where all training — and especially sales training — is on the tech only, issues crop up that undermine sales and customer satisfaction. If you have CSRs who aren’t properly trained, your sales are being adversely affected.

And dispatchers need to know way more than how to clear the dispatch board of calls. They must know how to recognize and then maximize every sales opportunity. Great DSRs must know if by 2 p.m. that the awful truth is coming to reality. That awful truth is there are too many calls and not enough techs to do them.

So, who will they make sure still loves you (e.g. customers with planned maintenance agreements), and what will they do about the customers who are not going to like you so much?

Great DSRs must keep in constant contact with customers who are waiting so they don’t feel neglected. If a customer feels they’re being neglected and left in the dark, it’s the tech who must first calm them down upon arrival, and sales are likely compromised.

To achieve the sales momentum we want and need, it requires that CSRs and DSRs be in never-ending weekly coaching sessions. Why? CSRs and DSRs can either make sales soar — or, they can destroy them.

Still think I’m being overly dramatic? Fair enough.

Scenario No. 1: A call comes in to a CSR and they don’t explain how you do business such as a flat-rate pricing system, they don’t explain if you have a minimum service fee for the tech to run the call, and they don’t explain that the tech gets paid at the time of service. They show no empathy to the caller. The result: The tech arrives to a hostile environment and has to do what I call “uphill selling.” They now have to stop and explain that there’s a minimum service fee, that the pricing is from a book and the price needs to be quoted and approved before any work can start, and finally they have to explain that they must get paid at the time of service.

Now let’s add some gasoline to this fire. The DSR keeps calling or texting the tech who is busy doing the steps of the sales system to push them along to the next call. This forces the tech to shortcut a tried and true process that best serves not just the customer they’re in front of, but also the company in the form of more dollars per call.

Scenario No. 2: The DSR keeps the tech bouncing from one part of the service area to the other. They don’t call ahead to make sure the decision maker will be home, and now the tech arrives to a place where no one is home or no one around that the tech can sit with and go through what they’re going to do so they can build value. This adds to what is called “windshield time” in today’s lingo and is wasted billable hours that could be billed by implementing a time-tested dispatching method that maximizes revenue.

Regular sales coaching of CSRs and DSRs is not optional. It’s one of the only ways you can ensure repeatable high-quality customer interaction that promotes higher sales and customer satisfaction.

There are three ways to make this happen all the time:

  • Do phone role-playing that include sending a CSR out of the room to field a “fake” incoming call. See if they follow the written procedures that will make the caller feel welcomed, promote empathy, and build momentum for the great tech who will be coming to their home or business to make everything right again.
  • Record phone calls for coaching purposes. We think we know what we say and how we say it, but we never do until we hear ourselves.
  • Have mystery shoppers call you to find out how you’re doing.

Include your CSRs and DSRs in your sales coaching program and watch your sales jump to the next level. You’ll be glad you did.