We built a brand new house about four years ago.
We actually bought an older house, with the idea of adding on to it, making a few remodels and then living in it.
We really loved the house, but realized about half way through our remodel plans that the house needed so many revisions, it would break our budget. We instead decided to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch. Believe it or not, this was the cheaper way to do it.
It was a gut wrenching decision, not only because it was a beautiful house, but also because I really hate paying for things twice.
We figured that this would be the last house we would ever buy, so we may as well do it right.
So we did it right.
The High Pressure Heating and Cooling System
One of the things we decided to include with the new house was a state-of-the-art high pressure heating and cooling system. We live on Cape Cod, Massachusetts so the winters aren’t too cold and the summers aren’t too oppressively hot.
But in the middle of August it’s brutally hot.
Since we had decided to “do it right”, we got the central air conditioning in addition to the regular heating component.
We also decided to get many of the other systems in the house state-of-the-art as well. The fire prevention system, the lighting system, the water heater/plumbing system, the sprinkler system are all basically computer systems that require some technical expertise to make sure they properly function.
All of them require annual maintenance to keep them in top working order.
However, out of all these complex systems we have in the house, only the company that installed the heating and cooling system send us regular reminder to make appointments to do “semi-annual maintenance checks”. The mailer comes every six months with an email.
Now, I’m no HVAC technical genius but all this really amounts to is two guys coming into the house, taking a look at the heating system and replacing the air filters.
Solely because of their letters and emails, I call them, they call me back and then they come by and check things out once or twice a year. Just to see if everything’s alright.
After their visit, they send us a bill for a cool $180 for a mere 30 minutes of work.
Not a bad hourly wage to say the least…
And for a heating and cooling system that would cost many times that amount to replace, I figure its a small price to pay.
Amazingly, they are still the only company that contacts us every year, twice a year to make sure everything is working well.
The Sales Management – Sales Rep Contract
I once took over a ten person sales team, which every member was in the bottom half of the national rankings in the 600 salesperson sales force.
In my first sales meeting with them (after a mere two days on the job), I decided I would take a slightly different approach to my leadership with them.
In an effort to be helpful, I had carefully put together 30 or so snazzy power point slides to dazzle them with all the things I expected from them to achieve sales success. At the last minute though, I tossed that idea and decided to simply use a chalkboard to write down what they expected from me in order to be successful.
After their last sales manager (who was clearly lacking certain key leadership skills), I figured this would be a great way for me to introduce myself as the new guy who actually cared about what they wanted most.
So I asked them the question and wrote their answers on the board.
The list was pretty long, but the top three were:
- Call us back when we call you
- Follow up on projects we are working on that need help
- Let us know where we stand
I then asked them what I should expect from them. That list was not quite as long, but it was fairly extensive.
We made the agreement that we would both honor both sides of the agreement. I would do what they asked and they would do what I asked of them.
By year’s end, 50% of them were in the top half of the sales force and three won the top sales award for the company…
Don’t Be The Plumber
With all the talk about businesses having a tough go of it right now, I’ve always wondered why the heating and cooling guys are the only ones who faithfully contact us to do follow up.
I mean, that $180 is pretty easy money. Money like that is ripe for the taking with the other systems we have in the house.
For example, the hot water heater we have is notoriously finicky. It needs constant TLC.
Does my plumber email to remind me to service it? I mean, he has my email address after all.
I spend the $180 with the heating and cooling guys because they:
- Call me back when I call them
- Follow up on periodic maintenance of my heating system
- Let me know where I stand
And it’s good business.
Sales Management Training and Heating and Cooling
In sales management, one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the average sales mangers out there and lay your own personal foundation for success is to simply do the same thing the heating and cooling guys do:
- Call your sales reps back when they call you
- Follow up on projects we are working on that need help
- Let them know where we stand
Most plumbers, subcontractors and sales managers miss this critical point to success.
At the very least, basic follow up is essential to sales management success.
Not only do your salespeople want it, but they need it. In fact, they demand it.
So ask yourself:
- Are you calling back your salespeople when they call you?
- Do you have a scheduled weekly meeting with each of your salespeople to review your combined actions to help close the sale?
- Do you actually provide valuable feedback to your sales reps during semi-annual and annual reviews of your salespeople?
If you are doing at least some of these things, then you are more heating and cooling guy than plumber.
If you’re not however….