Do you realize the failure rate in sales is 95%? That means 95% of the people who go into sales fail and get out. This huge majority of nonperformers are usually the ones doling out awful advice to you and setting a poor image for the profession.

Many techs have bought into this image, believing somehow that sales is disreputable or they’re “above it” in some way and would never do that to a customer. Bad word choices all around.

You see, sales — in the broadest sense of the word — is what we’re all doing in some capacity. Everyone. From the waiter at the nice restaurant, to the guy at the tire store, to the beautiful actress on a TV infomercial. And especially our children, who “sell” us on the idea that they must have every possible new toy/game/candy/clothes/entertainment gadget ever invented and a couple that haven’t.

When we get the benefit represented that meets or exceeds the price, we have received a good value. Pure and simple, the best and most valuable sales are service-oriented.

Service is indeed your highest calling. As a contractor, you’re in a profession that delivers the completed goal to customers, right in their homes. It is built, installed, serviced or repaired for them and their comfort. This is your product and your service.

Your product and service is not — I repeat, not — gadgets and hardware. It is not a collection of tools and it is most certainly not the cheapest price. Yet, many of you reading this may think that product and service is all about “head knowledge” and skill of the trade.

That extremely common thought, my friend, can be your downfall, and here’s why. Most contractors fail miserably in their efforts. It’s due to a ridiculous belief that if they’re good, they’ll be successful. Sorry to say, but this is absolutely and unquestionably not true.

Don’t believe me? Try this sometime. In a room full of contractors, ask, “All who think you’re really good contractors, please raise your hand.” (The only ones with their hands not raised won’t have heard the question!)

Now ask, “How many of you are really successful?” All but a single-digit percentage will drop instantly.

The vast majority are likely struggling to make payroll, too strapped for cash to grow or eking out a living on absurdly low mark-ups. And these are, of course, in that group who consider themselves good contractors.

So, what makes the difference between the few successful ones and the ones that struggle? Simple. Sales and cash flow.

I made that simple because I believe in simple assessments. In fact, most of us probably make problems too complicated for a workable solution. That kind of thinking can cause you to be overwhelmed by the sheer complexity, which results in putting it off or doing nothing, neither of which brings a solution.

Your business won’t die from having an outdated accounting program or having under-stocked trucks or paying too much for a length of pipe. Your business will die from lack of sales and cash flow.

So, to repeat, not all contractors who are good are successful. Only the ones who understand how to sell their goodness are successful.

Much of your success in sales will come from your own belief in what is right. That comes from confidence in your product, company and service. It doesn’t matter how basic this sounds — it is at the core of your ability to sell.


Plumbers are important

You must market and sell with conviction, passion and excitement — all qualities that set you apart from your dead-head competition. If what you do is basically the same as your competition, how — except by pure luck — do you expect to outsell them?

By offering a superior and immediately recognizable advantage your competition doesn’t offer, you turn prospects into customers. And that means sales … and cash flow.

Don’t let your salespeople ever underestimate the importance of their jobs. Plumbing salespeople keep homeowners comfortable and save them thousands of dollars by preventing potential floods.

Make sure your salespeople see their jobs as important. It will make them transfer this importance to customers, who see them as offering a solution — the sale — that satisfies their problem.

Many technicians shy from upselling. They believe customers will ask for the upgrade if they want it or will think the techs are pushy if they offer it. It’s up to you to make your technicians understand that if they believe the upgrade/upsell is a worthwhile option for the customer, it is their duty and responsibility to offer it.

Think about it. If you have just 20 service calls a day and only 25% of those homeowners like you enough to be called customers, that’s five repeats and 15 new customers a day.

Let’s say the five repeats only buy the upsell 30% of the time (national average is 60%) and the 15 new customers only buy the upsell 10% of the time. That’s 1.5 sales a day of something.

If two-thirds of your actual upsells in both groups only buy $300 of additional product or service (national average), you’ll be seeing nearly $78,000 out of your repeats and $78,000 out of your new customers for $156,000 in accidental money you’re missing (1.5 customers a day x $300 x 66.66% = $77,992).

You can’t afford not to train your technicians in selling techniques. It’s an investment that makes them better employees and puts more dollars in your pocket. You’re turning employees into an untapped profit source that builds their confidence in themselves, your confidence in their abilities and your customer’s confidence in your company’s expertise. Confidence equals sales. Pretty tough to lose when you sell through service.