If Service People Can’t Sell…


In pest control there is a division between companies with “universal pest control technicians” and those with the belief that service people are service people and salespeople are salespeople. There are good reasons to separate the sales and service function. One would be that you can devote full time to one or the other. Another is the belief that fundamentally these personality types are so different that you need separate functionality to put in place the best sales team and the best service team.

A question that I have for companies that make the separation is this: If service people can not sell, can they even identify?

Licenses differ from state to state. Here in California, you must advance from an applicator to a field representative to identify and sell a service. If service people remain applicators, the answer is self-explanatory. The applicator can only service and the company cannot expect him or her to identify anything going on at the property, at least legally. BTW, employing applicators is cheaper, but runs completely counter to the notion that one should identify before treating. (On this issue I believe California pest control licensing is very odd. While the state supports IPM and the need to identify before treatment, it allows people to start as applicators that can’t identify. Somehow that seems a bit backward to me).

But even if the pest control technician is a field representative, will a pest control service technician that does not sell have the motivation to identify anything new or unusual? Probably not. As they don’t stand to gain from the sale of a service, will they bother to identify or will these skills never develop, become dormant, in which case the company will never understand what potential was lost, without the separate intervention of a salesman?

For this reason, companies that separate the function focus on phone sales, door-to-door sales and defined inspections, whereas companies with universal pest control technicians focus on continous inspection with each service, as well as defined inspections and need not rely as heavily on phone and door-to-door sales.

If I were developing structural code today, my solution would be to require that those entering the field start with a knowledge of identification (along with safety), progress to application (alongside knowledge of risk) and finally bundle it into professional sales practice. When we allow pest control technicians to applicate and continue down that path alone for years on end, we have created a workforce that is largely ignorant of the tools necessary to guide good pest control professional practices, identification becomes very secondary to the job of the technician, resulting in the phenomenon of the “spray jockey.”

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2 Responses to If Service People Can’t Sell…

  1. Jerry says:

    Interesting- I don’t understand why a tech cannot ‘ID’ either. The label clearly states what bugs certain products can be used for and if ‘legally’ they cannot ID the pest, then legally they cannot treat.

    In Florida we have too many sales /techs but the problem is they are more sales than tech. 5 days are all this state requires to learn to treat a home or business which is what I think is a travesty.

    Very good article–I’ve booked marked your site.

    Jerry Schappert A.C.E.
    http://www.pestcemetery.com

  2. Gerry says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Thank you very much for visiting and taking an interest in the Hearts Consulting Blog. I’m glad you are finding value in our blog. I have enjoyed reading through the Pest Cemetery and will make a point to scope it out again.

    Yes, the problem is nation wide, the phenomenon of strong sales teams that just focus on getting the foot in the door and service guys just blowing through the production. For me, a major goal in blogging is to promote a more professional profession.

    Have a great weekend,

    Gerry with a G

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