Many pest control business owners feel that they don’t fully understand the sales process, and for that reason, they don’t manage their inspectors very well. They say things like, “don’t just stand there, get out there and sell something.“ How often do you think this works? NEVER!! You do not need to be a sales expert to manage the sales process.
If you don’t believe me, watch Alec Baldwin play a hard-ass sales manager in Glen Garry Glen Ross. I can guarantee you that Alec Baldwin has never managed a sales force, but you would never know that by his performance. Go to YouTube and search for “Glengarry Glen Ross speech.“ Play the longest version. It just keeps getting funnier and funnier.
Sales is like any other function of your pest control business: there are inputs and there are outputs. Those inputs and outputs are either acceptable or unacceptable. The difference between the business owners who are strong in sales and those who are not, is nothing more than this simple secret:
The strong sales business owner does not put up with the “bullshit” from the inspectors, whereas the weaker business owner knows that they don’t know how to get sales and so they are at the mercy of the inspectors. They give the inspectors a ton of slack. Just remember most salespeople are not good folks to be giving excess slack too. They looove slack.
Rebecca was a very strong operational leader for her pest-control business. She also viewed most inspectors as selfish, annoying and lazy. Rebecca was savvy enough to realize she needed Inspectors, but she wanted as little to do with the sales process as possible. Rebecca’s four inspectors produced decent results, and her company grew 15% annually for years. Profitability was decent.
When Rebecca decided to challenge herself by monitoring and managing sales a bit more, her results were impressive. By better managing the inspectors and their pipelines and rescuing a few sales (based upon predetermined criteria), Rebecca was able to push annual growth to 25%.
The bulk of the sales management problems occur at the beginning of the process, caused by keeping lousy inspectors on the payroll. You cannot be afraid to fire bad inspectors. I know it’s a pain, but you have got to do it. Losing an inspector who isn’t selling much only saves payroll and increases profitability… and you should remember that only 1 in 10 inspectors is a true superstar. Therefore, you may have to fire 9 to find that 1 superstar, and you must create an objective “system” to find out if an inspector is a waste of time very early in the employment relationship.
You should be able to create a system with a 30/60/90-day plan. This plan should be objective enough so that the inspector can tell you if they have been successful, but it is possible that this measurement system may not be centered on closed sales alone. This is a common problem. Poor sales managers feel that the only way to gauge inspectors is through closed sales numbers, but there are many other ways to measure an inspectors success.
If you’ve been in sales management for any length of time you will realize that if you give an inspector an inch, they will take a mile. Lay the ground rules in the beginning of the relationship. Meet with them often (at the office and in the field). If you don’t you will find them sleeping in a park, showing up late to appointments so they can sleep longer in the morning and just going through the motions of the presentation process. As well as slacking on follow-up procedures. What gets managed gets done. Stop being a figurehead and truly be a superstar sales manager.
I realize that some of you reading this may be in the early stages of your business. So, when I say make sure you have certified training inspectors this is something for you on down the line. As you grow, you’re going to have a crew of inspectors… and sending a newbie out with somebody who’s got 1 foot in and 1 foot out the door will kill your growth and destroy your credibility.
I understand that if you are a small company then you are going to wear the hat of the sales manager... And I do realize a lot of you guys don’t use inspectors, rather you have your technicians sell your services.
No matter how your hierarchy is set up, you will still need to create a “train the trainer” program that has a certification at the end. I can promise you once this is done and implemented you will have a better trained staff, who will stay longer and produce better results.
Remember… not everybody is a good candidate to be a trainer. They may be wonderful technicians or inspectors, but suck at showing others how to do the work. As a sales manager you need to pick the best candidates to be a certified trainer.