In June 2016, one of my techs, Phil, had to have complete reconstructive knee surgery.
After the successful procedure, he confided in me that he was concerned about the day-to-day pounding his good knee and reconstructed knee would take, crawling in tight spaces and attics. He just didn’t want to do it anymore. He still wanted to work for us in the office. I wasn’t opposed to that, but I only had nine employees at the time and I already had an office person.
As if on cue, my customer service representative (CSR) told me the next day she was having trouble keeping up with the routes and phones. I was still doing most of the sales, but the office phones rang a lot with reschedules and questions. So, I approached Phil about becoming our first-ever inside salesperson. His job would be to answer the phones, call back canceled clients and help mail our sales brochures.
Fast-forward to July 2022, and Schopen Pest Solutions now has five inside salespeople (or Sales Super Stars, as we call them) and a sales director. Many companies would call this a “call center,” but my people hate that term. Most of the phone calls do come through my sales team, and they take a lot of pressure off our client service advocates (CSAs).
Our Sales Super Stars do a lot:
- Respond to Thumbtack and Home Advisor leads.
- Follow up with Thumbtack and Home Advisor leads until they tell us to stop or they get a restraining order from a judge.
- Respond to “chat leads” through our website.
- Answer phone calls from Google+Local inquiries.
- Answer phone calls from referrals.
- Answer phone calls from clients with general questions.
- Handle tons of data entry.
- Attend weekly meetings with me.
- Attend end-of-the-month training meetings.
- Mail sales brochures to new clients who didn’t sign up for our quarterly programs.
- Mail end-of-the-season renewal letters to our seasonal clients.
- Call seasonal clients to convince them to renew.
- Mail letters to former customers’ homes with new owners.
When a customer or potential client calls our offices, the phones only ring to our sales team and my desk (which, yeah, I know, basically makes us a call center). After the fourth ring, the phones ring to every person in the company. We have 22 phone lines for our two offices (and 50 cell phones, one for each employee in the company). Our salespeople are in our corporate office with my general manager, director of operations, billing director and me.
TRAIN FOR SUCCESS
Phil eventually left our company because he was frustrated with the lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding sales. Basically, I had told him “if the phone rings, sell them something.” That’s not exactly a great way to train an employee.
Today, our sales team understands the importance of calling our leads back with urgency; following up with the emails and texts; and communicating which sales leads are sold, being sold or not sold. Even our data entry has SOPs to ensure we have the right name, address, email and phone number.
Obviously, training is critical for salespeople. We want our team to have confidence when picking up the phone. We meet once a week to go over procedures and make sure they are being followed. We also have an entomology class each week on a specific pest (yellowjackets in July, stink bugs in October, etc.). Our sales team also learns about the products we use and how they are applied.
Another important item we cover in our sales meetings are real-life pest incidents — phone calls that come into our office that might have been odd or caused us a problem. By breaking down the phone calls, we can all agree on a way to handle that situation better in the future. Note: Whatever we train the salespeople on has to be the same for the billing department, CSAs, managers, technicians, supervisors, etc. Everyone at Schopen Pest Solutions is communicating the same information to our clients.
My sales team likes a challenge, and they can be competitive. To spice things up, I offer daily bonuses if our team members hit their goals. At Schopen Pest Solutions, I expect my sales assassins to hit $1,000 per day. If they do, they get a sales bonus on anything over $1,000. If they hit $2,000, the reward is greater. At our end-of-the-month-meetings, our top salesperson is recognized and gets a chance to win hundreds of dollars in our Queen-of-Hearts Board (if they pull the queen of hearts card, they win).
My inside salespeople are the first line of defense for our company, but they also are the first impression for many new clients.
A smart, articulate, engaging person sets the tone for the rest of the company. For many customers, the person answering the phone is Schopen Pest Solutions.