The Yin Yang of Sales and Service


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When weighing the benefits of having one sales team and one separate service team vs. a combined sales/service team I believe something may be missing in the equation.

When you have separate sales and service teams the assumption is that they are assigned to do what they do best. Certainly you can maximize the selling ability of sales people by not burdening them with service. Likewise, you would not want to burden service people with sales opportunities they cannot close.

My question is this: Can you even be a good service person without the ability to sell yourself to the customer? Doesn’t the service person need to communicate and share concerns with the established customer? I hope you will agree that a good service person should have this communications skill. How much more difficult would it be for such a person to estimate and close a service agreement? In my own experience, if you hire reasonably intelligent service people, they can learn to estimate, explain a value proposition and close an agreement.

Likewise, can you be a good salesperons without the ability to service? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to the company and the customer if only the salesman was patient and willing to make sales in the performance of service and the gradual building of trust?

My thought is that while you contain the workload to the strength of the technician by keeping the sales and service functions separate, you play to their strengths only to the exclusion of any growth in the technicians’ weak area. I’ve also seen great sales people get tagged as service technicians. In these organizations you have talent that is wasted and technicians who feel held back or used.

Think of it this way. Would you want a worker who could count the money, but couldn’t read a product label? Or would you want the reverse, a worker who could read a product label but couldn’t add up the costs of service? Would you want one employee with “right brain” skills and another one with “left brain” skils? Or would you want one fully functional person with both left and right brain skills? By building a team that can Yin/Yang between sales and service, you are well on your way to a better place, regardless of company size.

When I search for technicians now, almost without exception, I will not take in technicians from certain companies that have split sales and service functionalities. The sales guys don’t seem to care enough and the service guys have been allowed to ignore communication skills and also seem to give themselves very low self-assessments. Perhaps some companies thrive on the low costs associated with the low self-assessing individual? Other companies have moved up very quickly with over eager sales people who speak as if they were wise old men. It does work for some companies. If they can make those sales stand with average service, they are good to go.

Another thought…. Side jobs. Perhaps people who will do bad things will do bad things no matter how they are treated by management. That’s one way of thinking about it. I have seen this breed: self-centered, negative thinkers, always looking for a short-term advantage. These are the guys that live day to day, paycheck to paycheck and never seem to overcome financial problems. My belief is that if you provide opportunities for service people to advance through the development of sales skills, their benefits will increase and the likelihood of them risking the loss of a career for a few silly bucks will deter them from taking on side jobs. It’s a known fact that those with little to lose are higher risk takers. So if a pest control company has totally eliminated the prospect of sales from a service technician and then the opportunity presents itself, isn’t the probability much higher that the low paid pest control service technician will jump at the short term opportunity to quietly suppliment his or her wages? Just yesterday, I received a report at Hearts Pest Management from both the field and the office about a customer that was tempting the staff with a side job. I’ll be making a call to this customer Monday morning.

Now if you are interested in providing well rounded service and sales regardless of the size of your company, it becomes imperative to focus on the weaknesses of your staff members. They need to be able to stretch for goals they didn’t know they could achieve. Your pest control team will be so much better off if you can get those pest control service guys to talk and get those sales guys to shut up for a minute and listen to the customer and to their environment. Occasionally it is possible to grab prospective employees from service oriented companies who have not attempted to develop their sales skills. When you find pest control service-only technicians seeking employment who can talk the trade, listen and ask questions during the interview, there is a good probability that you have found a diamond-in-the-ruff, a future sales star.

If you are a service-only pest control technician, you need to understand that your service is very expendable if your only abilities are spraying and baiting. You need to appreciate that relationships count and that you can and should parley that relationship into a more meaningful and profitable relationship that remains a trusted win-win relationship of customer and service provider. If you don’t develop these skills, there is always another spray-jocky that can be had at a lower price. In this case, you become a commodity, a cheap one at that!

If you are a sales-only pest control representative, be aware that your sales will increase when you listen to the signs in the environment. When you truly know the property and the relationship of your customers to the land and its’ improvement (or degeneration), you wil better your compensation and cement better customer loyalty to the company. As you gradually develop skills of observation with true grounding well beyond any set sales pitch and objection list, you will feel a deeper pride that stems from helping other people rather than fooling them. As a salesperson who is a devoted service provider, helping the customer improve his/her environment, you become a trusted advocate whose add-on sales are no more than the benefit that comes from trust and rewards associated with good deeds.

Yin Yang is best described in English as “the opposite side of the same coin.” But it is more than that. The coin image holds that we are talking about opposites (sales and service). While we know them to be connected, we visualize them apart from the other. If we think of pest control sales or any sales alongside service with the eastern imagery of Yin Yang, we begin to consider the possibility of a flow of ideas, efforts, work and accomplishments to and from those parts of us that focus on both sales and service. That ebb and flow between the two, like the waves of an ocean coming and going can lead to a natural sales and service system that is almost transparent to the customer or prospect.

When a homeowner says “some guy came knocking on the door again today” or “this guy called for the third time” and “his jokes are not funny any more,” then you know that the sales team is not Yinning. And if the service is done and the only reference to the service is that “they got everything, it really smells good (or bad),” then you know that the service team is not Yangging. When the pest control customer speaks about the contact and says, “Jonathan was here today. That guy is really terrific,” then you can be assured that he is much more able to sell/service using Yin/Yang, a guy who sells when he services and services when he sells. Jonathan is a relationship builder who works hard to understand people and pests.

In so doing, Jonathan has not only provided a service to both the customer and the company; in so doing he is more self-fulfilled and is better equipped to serve mankind in whatever way he chooses. That may sound a bit lofty, but it is true. Why? Because in the first example of a sales person, the sales guy is working based on an element of deception and non-caring toward the customer. For the service person, the worker goes about his or her daily task with an element of ignorance and apathy toward the customer. But when you can blend service and sales in an individual focused on the relationship, you have built a foundation of pride and self-worth that is wholesome and addictive.

As we build greener pest control companies for a greener world, we need to create and achieve stretch goals for our pest control staff. The kind of pest control technician I am talking about here and the kind of company culture I am discussing here is exactly what is needed as a foundation for an IPM based 21st century company. But that is another discussion…

(If you found this post useful, enjoyable or provocative, please use the social media buttons available to express your thoughts. Like it (icon below) if you would like it on Facebook. Comments are always welcome additions and allow you to speak your mind. Don’t be bashful).

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2 Responses to The Yin Yang of Sales and Service

  1. R says:

    Organizations that have members who’s main skill sets are universal do gain a very signifcant asset that an organization without this does not….a bond. A common language develops, improvements in preformance get shared and by implication bring the entire team upward, and speed to begin operations.
    The cost of all this is of course resources invested in the short term when a new members is brought in but if this cost can be carried the returns are usually folded many times.
    I think this is a highly benifical lens to see a company through in stressed economic enviroments. Specialization easily leads to an individual protecting that skill set as the means to protecting their financial security. A strong team needs knowledge flowing for it to work smarter and guarding information only serves to weaken a team, espically if the the specialist leaves the group.

  2. Gerry says:

    Speaking of specialists protecting their knowledge from others, this is a behavior that I find repulsive. Excellent, skilled specialists have little to be afraid of. Yes, they may feel that bringing in new talent creates some risk that the younger guy will take over. That is a risk. But when specialists block talent, what they are telling the company is that they have permission to and feel empowered to sabotage the company. This specialist thinks he can blackmail the company into keeping only his or her specialized talents or else!

    I won’t tolerate blackmail. These specialists are putting marks on their head. By not sharing, they state that they are not team players. By not helping the company by sharing, they are saying that it is ok to withhold knowledge at the expense of the companies objectives.

    Sharing is the nature of the 21st century. Everyone needs chances, opportunities, knowledge, goals and they must be given concrete opportunities to realize those ambitions.

    Nice comment there! Thanks for chipping in and thereby encouraging others to speak out.

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