This can be a deep subject, yet I’d like to apply it to our everyday maintenance and service calls as it relates to sales. To be humble means that you recognize and accept your limitations based on realistic and accurate thoughts about your importance and significance in what you do and what you stand for. The humble person recognizes that although he may have an opinion and strong convictions, he still can empathize or sympathize with others and see things from their point of view. He also understands that he can be an expert and knowledgeable in one subject while profoundly ignorant in others. So, he’s not a “know-it-all”, yet will give expert advice, while keeping an open ear to the needs and knowledge of others. This is where most technicians fit in.
On the other hand, there are individuals who are arrogant, self-important, condescending, egotistic, and seek to overwhelm others with their brilliance. This is the opinion that many technicians have about the attitude of sales people. It’s all about the close and persuading people to think their way, whether or not it is in the prospect’s best interest. Yet, many highly successful sales people can check their ego at the door and still preserve their dignity while fulfilling the needs of others by providing solutions that best fit the prospect’s budget and needs. This is known as authentic humility.
When training technicians to communicate, the majority of them feel that we’re trying to teach them to “sell” and be persuasive, which brings them out of their comfort zone. I hear it all the time: “I didn’t become a technician to sell things; I want to fix things.” So, how do we get them to communicate repair vs. replace, membership agreements, accessory sales, etc., without having to try and persuade them to be a high-pressure sales person? (Which we are not trying to do.) They just want to be a humble servant to their clients and fix the problem.
The challenge is that humble people can be easily trampled on and ignored by their arrogant and aggressive counterparts. When they suggest a solution and hear “no”, they feel resentful, helpless, and become reluctant to make reasonable suggestions on the next call or any call for that matter. We don’t have to teach them false modesty or how to be aggressively persuasive and condescending. They just need to practice authentic humility.
Authentic humility allows a person to preserve their dignity while being able to effectively communicate solutions to challenges that they discover during their maintenance and service calls. It’s not really “selling” as much as it is providing expert service every time on every call. The sales will happen once a technician realizes that she can be humble and sincere at the same time as being willful in a positive way without being passive. In other words, it is her duty and obligation to share her expert advice with a customer, which may lead to her selling something for all the right reasons and in the best interest of the client.
To demonstrate this, I’d like offer a suggestion that I call the “We factor”. An authentically humble technician chooses to be ethically consistent on his calls, rather than being impulsive and unpredictable. Once a challenge is discovered on a call and the technician is offering an expert solution, using the word “we” while sharing these options means that they are in this together.
Here are two examples. One expresses aggressive, persuasive, and arrogant behavior, while the second approach exalts authentic humility:
- I found a pitted contactor here that is causing damage to your system. I need to replace it now before it causes more problems. Otherwise, you’re responsible for the future damage it will cause to your system. Your cost on this repair will be $XX. (This is aggressive, negatively persuasive, and arrogant.)
- I discovered that your system has a pitted contactor, which may cause your system to malfunction during the summer months. We can replace it now without a separate service call charge or we can take our chances and see if we can get through the summer with it. What do you think we should do? (This is humble, yet expertly sincere and allows the homeowner to make an educated decision without being pushed.)
Once trained, this goes the same for IAQ recommendations, intelligent fan control, surge protection, and other accessories that can legitimately benefit the homeowner.
Applying authentic humility to our daily encounters in general is a great practice to have that will positively impact all aspects of life. So, let’s apply it to your communication training with your team as well. Your success depends on it!
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