Everyone is in sales


June 27, 2021

The author models his company’s Anteater “conversation starter” shirts. PHOTO: ABC HOME & COMMERCIAL SERVICES

The author models his company’s Anteater “conversation starter” shirts. PHOTO: ABC HOME & COMMERCIAL SERVICES

One thing I have struggled with through the years is the concept that everyone is in sales. To be quite honest, I have bloodied my head on this concept many times, and have even lost a few really good employees because I was pushing too hard to make someone a salesperson.

Over time, I lightened up. I now realize the value of employees who are really good at the jobs they do, and that is enough. There are natural salespeople, and there are people who would rather run out into a busy street than to have to ask someone about a sale.

That said, this realization does not change my belief that we are all in sales to some degree. Every interaction you have with a customer, a fellow employee or even your spouse, has some element of sales in it. My dad used to say, “Nothing in this world happens until a sale is made.” It’s just that what that sale looks like, and how it comes about, can vary greatly.

Sales happens every time an employee is performing a service, talking on the phone, processing a payment, etc. Each interaction with a customer either confirms the customer made the right choice when doing business with you, or it damages the relationship.


In our organization, we try to watch and listen for “salesmanship” in every interaction and phone call. We monitor all phone calls and have a phone system that will listen for key words, and alert us to those calls.

It may listen for the word “cancel,” which is like death to all of us. It also can listen for phrases you are trying to get your office staff to say. For example, one such phrase might be “termite season.” If your office staff makes sure to mention to customers it is termite season, and then asks whether the customer is interested in termite coverage, they can help make the sale — or at least set up the sale for others. Another phrase may be about lawn fertilization, like “green up.” The list of what you can ask your office staff to “make sure you mention” is endless.

Another way sales happen is in the field. My brother Bobby used to make buttons for all his field staff to wear; they said things like “Ask me about termites” (or mosquitoes or lawn care or whatever).

For my technicians’ uniform shirts, we put an embroidered version of our mascot, the Anteater, with a talking balloon, like in the comics, that merely says “Oh, by the way…” The hope is the customer might start the conversation for the technician if the technician is shy. The other advantage (sorry, Bobby!) is that, unlike a button, employees do not have to remember to put it on. So far, the results have been fairly good — not as great as I had hoped, but results are results.


Bobby, Raleigh and I have talked for months in this column about growing your business and how you can add services to become more ingrained with every customer. If customers are using you for multiple services, it is much more difficult for competitors to take them from you. Getting your entire team on board with the concept that “we are all in sales” is a worthy thing to do. You just have to find ways for conversations to start that do not make people who “hate sales” run off into a corner.

Honestly, we have had great success using “the phrase that pays” for our office staff. We have added services for existing customers, and have gained new customers. Letting people know you don’t just offer general pest control, but also handle termites, rodents, mosquitoes, lawn fertilization, weed control or maybe even more, is a really good way to go deeper with customers.

Happy selling!

(Editor’s Note: For additional unusual (and effective) industry branding examples, check out “PMPs show off brilliant branding.”)


About the Author

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JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Bobby and Raleigh, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at djenkins@abcpest.com.

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