This is the first article of a 12-part series designed to cover the steps to a successful service call. The steps are designed to:
1. Raise the dollar amount of your average service call
2. Get a service agreement sale on every call
3. Overcome objections, including the dreaded "price objection."
Most people in sales positions spend their careers avoiding what is commonly referred to as the "price objection."

This series is meant to make you stop avoiding price objection. In fact, you'll get so good at handling the price objection that you're going to steer them into it. You'll take an "I want to think it over" objection and convert it into the price objection. You'll to take "I need to talk it over with my husband, my boss, my father-in-law or my dog" objection and convert it into the price objection.

Why would you want to do something like that? Because, for the most part, there really is only one true objection and that is the price objection. Oh sure, they throw all kinds of objections at you, but usually, regardless of what you're actually told by the customer, it boils down to money.

To start, remember this: the quicker the price comes out, the quicker the price objection comes out. Lots of service techs and salespeople are always in a hurry and walk into the call, price book in hand, do a cursory diagnosis, whip out the price book and point to the price, then wonder why they're getting the price objection.

When I first arrive on the scene, whether I'm running a service call or a replacement equipment sales call, I leave all sales materials in the truck and only carry in my tools.

The first thing I do is take a look at the problem that prompted the call. Once I'm confident I can resolve the issue, I reassure them that I can and will take care of their immediate problem, then do a more thorough inspection of the complete system.

The first line of business is to put their mind at ease.

Within moments, I like to say, "Okay, I can fix that, it won't be a problem." I may not even know exactly what's wrong or how I'm going to fix it. In fact, I usually don't. I want to confirm that their problem appears to be something that my company does.

Regardless of what I'm called out there to do, the time of year or the weather, and again, whether I'm running a sales call or a service call, I always look over the air conditioner, the furnace, the exposed ductwork, their airflow, all exposed wiring, their filtration and their humidification.

I remove all access panels within reason because you never know what you'll find until you look, and you'll probably be the only HVAC professional that has gone to that type of trouble for them.

Additionally, doing some slight, non-destructive disassembly helps me to take "ownership" of the call.

Many service techs aren't allowed to touch anything with their tools without first obtaining a signature, and that's just plain wrong. Before asking for commitments, you first must establish the right to their business.

Additionally, you've got to be assumptive. You've got to be positive about the whole situation, as if you know they're going to buy. Being unwilling to get started without a signature throws a shadow of doubt over the call. You're projecting that you don't want to do too much without a commitment because there are people who turn you down, which is the exact opposite of the message you should convey.

Salespeople shouldn't skip the "Inspection Step" of the presentation, even if you have very little technical experience. Who has more credibility in the home, a salesman or a service tech? If you're like most people, you answered, "service tech." So, build your credibility (and learn more about equipment) by dressing more like a tech that do you a salesman, and do the inspection on your sales calls.

Here are seven things that a complete inspection of the entire heating and cooling system does for you:

1. It builds value.
2. It provides time to establish your own personal credibility.
3. It provides time to build rapport.
4. You will understand the necessity of and the benefits the customer receives by doing the repair or replacing the equipment. You'll sell yourself on the job. The selling process works from the inside out. People can see right through you, and when you're sold on the necessity of the work, they'll see that as well. When you make your recommendations, forget about the money and base your recommendations on the benefits the customer will receive by accepting them.
5. When you do a complete inspection, you suddenly change in the customer's eyes from someone who's trying to sell them something to make a commission, to a true HVAC professional who's doing his job and looking out for their best interests. You'll also be the only salesman they talk to who's gone to that kind of trouble for them. Consequently, you'll set yourself apart from the competition.
6. The inspection helps you spot components that are likely to fail, but haven't yet. How many times have you run more than one call at a location within the same season and had to face the wrath of customer who wants to know why you or the tech that went before you didn't tell them about it on the previous call?
7. A consequence of number six, above, is that you'll sell more add-on tasks.

If you're concerned about efficiency, don't try to make it up by cutting the inspection short. The more thorough the inspection, the more problems you'll find and the more likely you are to make the sale.


Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." You can read his monthly column, "Tec Daddy's Corner," in Contracting Business, available online free of charge at www.contractingbusiness.com www.contractingbusiness.com/> . You can learn more about Charlie's products and speaking schedule at www.hvacprofitboosters.com www.hvacprofitboosters.com/> . Email Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com .