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From Service To Sale

The who and how of in-the-field sales

Choosing an approach to backyard sales can be tricky, especially when deciding who should initiate sales and who should close them. Though there isn’t a blanket answer, pool pros looking to improve their methods can take cues from others in the industry who have refined their sales process.

The Art of Initiation

Often, service technicians are considered the best for initiating field sales, but Michael Wagner, president of Pool Scouts in Virginia Beach, Virginia, says that all depends on the skill set of the technician and their relationship with the customer.

“Many of our technicians are in the customer’s backyard once a week and have established a relationship and trust with the customer,” he says. “In this case, they would usually have the first conversation about the need.”

 In most cases, Wagner explains, technicians are trained to identify problems with equipment or pool conditions during normal scheduled servicing. After assessing the problems, they can have an initial sales conversation with the homeowner, but they typically pass the information to the office for follow-up. 

Communication is Key 

David Hawes, president of H & H Pool Services in Dublin, California, says it is a delicate balance for service techs between getting the work done and making time to talk about potential equipment purchases. 

“We try to equip techs to have a short but informative conversation discussing problems and potential solutions that can range from simple repair to major replacements,” Hawes says.   

He says repair technicians then have a more detailed diagnostic call with customers to help complete a sale. Technicians also regularly have conversations among themselves about what type of equipment they’re recommending to customers, Hawes says.

“We use that opportunity to talk about the problems they are reporting and the best resolution,” Hawes says. “This can be a teaching moment for some troubleshooting tips for that particular model. Maybe it’s why we recommend a different unit as well as the potential costs for each option so they are better prepared if the client asks.”

The pool professional should not be intimidated to have a real conversation about the customer’s swimming pool and what it may need to function as it should. The opportunities that await those of us in the pool industry in the customer’s backyard only continue to expand.”

Jimmie Meece, America’s Swimming Pool Co.

This helps technicians seem more knowledgeable to their clients, which Hawes says successfully captures sales. 

Jimmie Meece, brand president of America’s Swimming Pool Co. in Macon, Georgia, also says having technicians make sales hinges on their training and communication skills. 

“It may also depend on their expertise in the industry,” he adds. “What if the customer is interested in a pool renovation? If the technician is not comfortable explaining that process with the customer, it may be best to pass along the information to a salesperson within the office.” 

However, Meece believes the ideal scenario is when service technicians are trained to determine the repairs and make the sale after assessing the issue.

“This would avoid any confusion within the office and the inefficiency of having someone follow up with the customer,” Meece says. 

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Training for Success

At America’s Swimming Pool Co., Meece says they train technicians to see themselves as active partners in helping keep the sales pipeline full. Technicians are incentivized with bonuses for services and products they sell while in a customer’s backyard. 

“The technician needs to fully understand the swimming pool and the equipment so that they can provide their expert opinion to the customer on what the pool may need,” Meece says. 

To ensure every employee has sales knowledge and skills, America’s Swimming Pool Co. offers an online training site, sales training guide and free sales techniques training. 

In addition to these resources, Meece says the best salesperson is someone who truly knows the product or service being sold. 

“The service technician will be able to identify repairs needed, not only relating to what the customer may have called about but also issues that may be causing other problems with the pool and the equipment,” Meece says. “The service technician can then properly explain what is needed, how much it will cost, how long the repair may take and answer any questions the customer may have about the process.” 

Tools Beyond the Pool 

When it comes to tools for customer care, America’s Swimming Pool Co. uses customer relationship management software to organize estimates and communicate with customers. 

PoolOps, the company’s proprietary software, helps franchise owners digitally manage their business. It can monitor staff progress and track assignments remotely while also providing a convenient way to communicate with customers. 

Meece says once the service is completed, customers are sent a “pulse check” through another digital tool called pulseM, which allows the customer to leave a review of the service.

“If they were not happy, we have an opportunity to find out why and resolve it, and if they were happy, we can ask for a referral and Google review,” Meece says.

H & H Pool Services relies on a text platform to communicate with customers, Hawes says. 

“Email is not always checked as often as text messages,” he says. “Most clients are not home at the time of our service visit, so we want to notify folks as soon as a problem is observed.” Along with alerts about issues, they also send pictures and a report to customers. 

Whether they are initiating sales, passing them on to another department or seeing through from start to finish, technicians should be knowledgeable and stay up to date on equipment and company policies while anticipating customer questions or concerns.

“The pool professional is the pool expert,” Meece says. “The pool professional should not be intimidated to have a real conversation about the customer’s swimming pool and what it may need to function as it should. The opportunities that await those of us in the pool industry in the customer’s backyard only continue to expand.”

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