In a PCT Business Boosters webinar series hosted in 2020, Patrick Quigley, founder of Sales Training by Design (www.salesbydesign.com), a customizable sales training business platform, and Chris Huntsman, co-founder of Slingshot, a customer engagement platform built specifically for home service businesses like pest control and the webinar sponsor, virtually connected with PMPs to share sales culture strategies designed to boost companies’ profitability.
Quigley, a well-known sales trainer in the pest control industry, began his career in 1979 as a termite technician, rising through the ranks of residential and commercial sales, before being named director of sales for a longtime industry distributor. During the last 40 years, Quigley expanded his portfolio by helping firms grow their top and bottom lines through all aspects of business development.
To kick off the webinar, Quigley discussed how he defines cross-serving and how every pest control company can work to incorporate the idea into its sales culture.
CROSS-SERVING BASICS. For Quigley, cross-serving is all about having the ability to bundle your services to improve your top and bottom lines. When bundling services, your return per hour becomes higher, resulting in a more profitable sale.
However, bundling services in order to cross-serve is not something that happens automatically. The process can take multiple meetings with your client, Quigley said, during which technicians should be vigilant about additional services they can offer alongside the current service being performed.
“Let’s say you’re there for general pest control and you’re doing your inspection. I wouldn’t come back with just a general pest estimate,” Quigley said. Instead, he suggested that technicians have a conversation with their clients prior to the full inspection to get a feel for any other extra services they could provide, and then later try cross-selling to those clients. “Come back with carpenter bee, estimated mold and insulation, etc., all at the same time,” Quigley said.
Quigley also stated that, ultimately, clients want to buy; they do not want to be sold to.
“I believe the more services that you provide your client, they’re less likely to cancel,” Quigley said. “So if you’ve got them under termite and general pest control and you do some additional ancillary services with them as well, I think (it’s) less likely for those customers to cancel if they get disgruntled.”
BUILDING THE CULTURE. To begin cross-serving effectively, Quigley said the first step is determining what type of sales culture your pest control company has, and what type you want to employ in the future.
Throughout Quigley’s years in the pest control industry, he has seen some companies take a wait-and-see approach to cross-serving, and some actively make a cross-serving sales strategy happen. “I believe that really is the essence of somebody growing their business at a faster pace — making it happen,” Quigley said.
Quigley then shared some of the tips he’s picked up over the years that PMPs can use to take an active approach and make cross-selling happen at their company.
Hire Outgoing Technicians. Quigley’s first tip was to focus more on personality rather than experience when hiring new pest control technicians. Technicians with outgoing and friendly personalities can easily build the types of relationships with clients that are pivotal for encouraging clients to buy bundled services later on.
“Many technicians are not thought of as a new sales income source, and I think they should be,” Quigley said. “There are situations that I’ve seen where some salespeople just sell what they are at the house to sell. And what that allows for, in my mind, is the technicians to come back and offer those other services that the sales rep didn’t talk about.”
He added, “The technician is the sales rep that sees the opportunity to grow the lifetime value of a client,” emphasizing that a friendly technician with great communication skills will take the opportunity to recommend additional services while performing their regular service.
Cross-Training. Once a new technician is established in their role, the next step in incorporating them into your sales strategy is to cross-train them. Cross-training involves teaching technicians about every service the pest control company offers, including add-ons that are performed by partnering companies.
As an example, Quigley explained that if you have a termite technician who was never trained in or taught about the other services offered at your company, they are unable to cross-sell by talking with the client about additional services that could benefit them.
“Cross-training all of your employees to understand enough to answer any questions, to at least maybe turn in a lead or get somebody else involved in providing these different services for the client, is critically important,” Quigley said.
Think in Terms of Units. Next, Quigley discussed the importance of setting sales expectations by thinking in terms of units rather than dollars. When cross-serving becomes the focus of a company’s sales culture, and the firm incorporates technicians into their everyday sales strategy, that company opens up tens of thousands of new opportunities to grow their return per hour.
To put this into perspective, Quigley presented an example of a technician who works for a pest control company that offers 15 different types of services and generally makes 12 stops to customers per day, five days a week, for 50 weeks out of the year.
“That’s a total of 3,000 stops per year. And you multiply that 3,000 by the 15 services you have in a year. There’s 45,000 opportunities to talk about one or two of these services that you may be able to cross-sell to your customers,” Quigley said. “That’s about 22,000 opportunities if you only saw half of your customers. That’s 22,000 opportunities to talk about other services that you may offer your clients.”
When you think in terms of how many opportunities your company has to cross-sell, it becomes easier to focus a sales strategy on ways to create even more of these opportunities, which is critically important to helping the business grow from year to year on its top and bottom lines, Quigley said.
IT STARTS WITH LEADERSHIP. While many of Quigley’s tips focused on the ways employees and technicians can become an integral part of building a cross-serving sales culture, the pest control company’s leadership team has to take the initiative and pave the way for these changes to come to life.
Quigley said that one way leadership can encourage technicians to cross-sell to their clients is to offer bonuses for each viable cross-service lead they bring in.
Whether it’s an incentive based on commission or units doesn’t matter, he said. “I don’t think there’s one blanket way of doing it.”
Additionally, Quigley encouraged leadership to structure their technicians’ schedules in a way that allows technicians time to speak with clients more and evaluate whether or not a client would be interested in cross-services. A technician’s ability to cross-sell to clients can really “depend on how much time you’re giving your technicians between stops to process in that area,” he said.
COVID-19. Quigley also addressed the issue of COVID-19, saying that it can be difficult to begin implementing a cross-serving sales culture during the pandemic, as in-person meetings between clients and working in the office were limited. However, he assured PMPs that cross-selling was still very much possible if they put in the extra effort.
“I think having (a) weekly meeting with your team is critically important,” Quigley said. “Still talking about sales opportunities, whether it’s about closing an inspection or cross-selling” is key.
Quigley also said that despite the pandemic, he continues to see a promising amount of sales in the pest control industry.
“Pest control is an essential industry, not just in the United States, but around the world as well,” Quigley said. As long as PMPs continue to communicate and support their clients, whether virtually, through phone calls and emails, or in-person, cross-serving is still a huge opportunity to expand their company’s sales culture, he said.