We are all in the sales and marketing business to some extent. In fact, just about everything that happens every single day can be attributed to some form of sales and marketing. Somebody decided to get the message out about a product or service, and then a salesperson took on the task of educating his client (or potential client) to a tipping point of value. Once we cross the tipping point of value, a sale is made.
In our industry, sometimes the concept of “sales” can be looked at as a bad thing. I disagree, based on the methodology of communication, desire of the salesperson or company and whether the sale enhances a client’s life. People buy things they don’t need all the time, but those things make their lives better in some way. Clients want to know what is available to them so they can make an educated choice for themselves.
We are selling all day long; it just takes on different forms that we don’t label as sales. When I convinced The Lovely Christy to go on a first date with me, I sold her on the promise of minimal risk but tremendous potential. When you are attempting to get your children to go to bed or do their homework, you are using a sales process.
For some reason when we get in the workforce and actually put on our sales and marketing hats, our perception changes because we are conditioned to have a negative view of sales. I’ve addressed this point before, although I can’t stress this reminder enough. Now I want to focus on the marketing component assisting the sales process.
Let's look at how your marketing message is showing up for your clients. Or is it? One of the really cool things about my job is I get to ride with technicians when I do my onsite consulting and training programs. I am able to view exactly what the client sees, from your technician’s education to the communication process regarding your products, services, warranties, etc.
I was recently onsite with a client and went on three different service calls, with three different technicians, that produced three different guarantees communicated to the clients. You might wonder how this can happen. You covered the guarantees when you put the technicians through training when they first started with your company. This must mean they know, remember and share the right information. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth.
This is just one example of a mixed message. Guarantees are a part of your marketing message, but what else are you attempting to convey to your potential clients that is getting lost in human communication? Are you running a seasonal special that your front-line team is not aware of? Do you have coupons in the newspaper that your team only finds out about when they read the paper themselves? Do they learn about a discount you’re offering because a client hands them a postcard you mailed at the end of a call?
We can all dive deeper into the communication exchange that is happening in the field when no one is watching. This isn’t about baby sitting or trying to be Big Brother; this is about protecting and improving your value proposition as the marketplace experiences it. I consistently stress to my clients the importance of performing ride-alongs with the front-line team, but obviously we can’t be in all places at all times. Therefore, we must implement new strategies to make sure our messaging and branding is being executed at the highest level.
Business growth model
When I was being trained by Michael Gerber at The E-Myth Academy many years ago, one of the concepts he taught revolved around innovation, quantification and orchestration. This is a great model for business growth in many capacities, and it’s an important thing to apply to your brand message in the field.
First, we innovate a marketing campaign by making some positive changes or trying something new. Then we must quantify with our team their understanding of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how it positively affects them, the company and the client. If they don’t understand what we’re marketing or why we’re marketing it, how can we expect them to effectively communicate it with our clients? From that point, the orchestration piece is simply implementation. Make it happen.
One of the best things we can do is begin to educate our technicians and salespeople at a higher level — what we want the client to understand about our company brand and how we’re better than or different from the competition. One of the strategies we recommend is pulling a random stack of options sheets and invoices once a week and go through them with the entire team.
Make copies of them and give a copy to every front-line team member. The options sheet will tell a certain part of the story of the service or sales call. The invoice will shed more light on what actions were taken based on the communication and education regarding the options sheet. Did the technician offer multiple options to the client based on the original reason for the call? Did he have the warranties stated regarding each offering along with a few benefit points for each item?
The options sheet is the story board and the technician gets to tell the story based on the discovery process executed on the call. When you have your entire team looking at each other’s paperwork, they learn from each other. I study adult education a lot, and it has been proven that one of the best ways we learn as adults is from our peers. When your team is looking at each other’s paperwork, it creates a safer environment than just getting called into the manager’s office and beaten into submission yet again.
Another positive outcome of having these meetings is your team realizes there is no perfection. Everyone crafts their paperwork a little bit differently. Everyone has different key points they speak to when educating a client about a service agreement. Now everyone gets to see how it all comes together.
This is a very powerful platform for you to learn what is actually happening in the field and ask questions regarding the conversation and value proposition that took place with the client. This also gives you the ability to make suggestions regarding how to kick it up a notch each week for constant and never-ending improvement.
Many different ways exist to communicate with our clients, but the main ones are through marketing and the sales process that your technicians are using. If you’re not innovating, quantifying and orchestrating, you are not progressing forward. Implement these strategies and see how much better your brand and marketing message is communicated to your clients.
This article was originally titled “Sales, marketing and communication” in the October 2015 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.