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Sales & Service: From Technician to Salesperson

|  November 25, 2014

Where have your best salespeople come from? This question occurred to me while enjoying fellow columnist Dan Gordon’s new book, From Technician to CEO: The Evolution of a High-Growth Pest Control and Lawn Care Company. It’s a must-read from the man who can teach you everything you need to know about numbers. Dan’s wisdom is yours for the reading, and his vast knowledge of our industry is astounding.

Your sales department could be diverse, with a mix of beginners to a few hardened veterans. Some might have risen through the technician ranks, wanting an opportunity to increase their income. Others might be experienced sales pros from other industries. It doesn’t matter where they come from, but it matters if they’re producing. You might even have sales staff who want to move to the service department. I’ve experienced this situation, too. They see the chance to shine as a great technician who can and will sell. They’re the inverse of the service technicians who’d rather move to a foreign land than sell something. I’ve never understood the mentality of not wanting to sell, but some people are afraid of it.

What’s your role in moving a technician to the sales department or vice versa? Product knowledge of your service offerings is first and foremost. Technicians moving into sales should possess these skills, but too often they don’t — and you shouldn’t assume they do. Knowing what pests are covered under your service agreements is only the first of many aspects of that part of the business they need to learn. They could have limited knowledge of termites, the contractual complexities of termite contracts, and the importance of properly preparing a termite inspection report or graph documenting the damage.

Moving from sales to service is also a big transition. Many service abilities have to be learned. I’d put this person with your best service tech — one who manages his route efficiently, provides stellar customer service and receives outstanding reviews.

For employees transitioning to sales, providing sales training and motivation is a must. Setting sales goals and having a target for them to shoot for is key, but the goals and target must be adjusted from time to time. The goals might be different in the winter vs. the busy times of spring and summer when pests are more active. Also, the slower winter season is the best time of year to provide sales training. Newcomers to the sales or service arena will appreciate being trained and attaining the skills they need to be a successful producer for your company.

Keeping high-performing employees is a must in today’s business world. We’re all competing for them. Companies are always on the lookout, and you shouldn’t be surprised if other companies try to persuade your employees to make a move, which is why it might be important for you to be willing to “move the cheese” and let your employees change departments if they want to.

You can reach Johnson ­— a past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), president of Sevierville, Tenn.-based Johnson Pest Control, and founder of ACES for Business — at

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