The #1 Secret to Sell More Service Contracts

by Chris Arlen on June 12, 2009

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The #1 Secret to Win More Service ContractsYes, there is a secret. Yes, there is a #1 of secrets. Yes, it helps sell more contracts, and the larger ones at that.

Here’s the secret: it’s the difference between a cough and pneumonia.

This isn’t a question on an exam in med school. It is the sales secret for how successful salespeople connect service symptoms to the larger conditions of customers’ businesses.

Sales Symptoms and Conditions

A cough is a symptom. But does that cough mean you have a common cold, or pneumonia? Obviously one condition is minor, the other serious, potentially fatal.

By not being aware of the condition, whatever fix is proposed is likely to fail. The same is true for selling service contracts.

Symptoms = Service Issues

Let’s substitute symptoms for service issues, common ones are:

  • Poorly trained contractor employees
  • High turnover
  • Poor quality
  • Service mistakes & errors

Conditions = Business Impacts

For conditions, let’s substitute business impacts, common ones are:

  • Customer’s employee productivity
  • Total cost of ownership (of contracted services)
  • Regulatory compliance (in or out)
  • Brand equity (going up or down)

A Common Selling Trap

The trap most contractors fall into is they address the symptom when selling, but don’t dig enough to understand the larger impact on the condition of the business. Since they don’t know the condition, they can’t connect it to symptoms.

Salespeople are guilty of not showing customers how their service symptoms can have a serious impact on the health of their business.

In essence, offering Kleenex to a customer who has pneumonia.

Savvy & Successful Salespeople Know This

Truly successful salespeople uncover those larger conditions, and then show customers how their service symptoms are connected to business impacts.

Smart salespeople make the case for their customized service offering. They show how their service solves the issues (coughs) and either enhances or protects customers’ business (pneumonia-free health).

That’s compelling. That’s a proposition customers value. That’s a winning proposal, and a signed contract.

And business impacts are the real power behind winning more contracts.

Business Impacts Speak to Multiple Decision Makers

Your service impacts customers’ businesses in many critical areas. And customers’ decision makers are looking out for their own agendas.

When service issues are connected to business at a larger level, decision makers feel their agendas are at least being recognized.

Decision Makers: Roles & Agendas

Decision makers may come from different functional departments, but they all fall into common roles. Simplified here into a useful few:

  • Gate Keeper
  • Final Authority
  • End-User

GATE KEEPER

The Gate Keeper’s role is to ensure their business areas are considered in the decision of contractors. Gate Keepers are represented by:

  • Procurement, who’s there to mitigate risk from bad buying decisions
  • HR, to ensure employment legalities are covered
  • Safety & Environmental, to maintain contractor compliance with regulations & in-house programs
  • Finance, to keep spend in line & ensure transparency

FINAL AUTHORITY

The Final Authority is the person who pulls the trigger on the decision. Their focus is how their decision impacts business results.

For example, they’re looking to see if the service contractor will help them:

  • Lower costs
  • Improve productivity
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Ensure regulatory compliance
  • Strengthen brand equity: image & reputation

END-USER

This is the service contractor’s typical point of contact. The role that interacts with the winning contractor in the delivery of service.

During the decision process End-Users are focused on the viability of contractors’ offerings. To sort through smoke and mirrors and see what really works and what won’t. That’s why they are included in the decision making process.

As a result, contractors sell to this role almost exclusively.

And that’s a big mistake.

The End-Users’ agenda may align with the contractors solution, but it can still be torpedoed by another agenda, one that’s off the End-Users’ radar screen.

Just think back to bids where your End-User contact said you’d get the contract, but in the end you lost.

Even when the End-User is the only decision maker, they still have to justify their decision up the food chain.

To help them do that, savvy contractors show how their service solution addresses the agendas of the Final Authority and critical Gate Keepers, in addition to the End-User’s own agenda.

Addressing Multiple Agendas

Connecting service issues to business impacts speaks to the agendas of different decision makers. And this is where salespeople can win big.

When a contractor’s solution solves service issues and delivers positive business impacts, that’s the contractor that gets selected. Consensus among decision makers is a slam dunk.

Are you connecting service issues to business impacts?

~~~~~~
Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

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