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P1 Service Beyond the Numbers: People-centric Approach to Maintenance Sales Yield Measurable Results

P1 Service Maintenance Sales

One of the big numbers at P1’s Annual Meeting was the phenomenal growth in the P1 Service Maintenance Base. While the base has grown steadily over the past decade, the past two and a half years have seen millions in growth.

But behind every upward trend is a story of strategy, learning, change, and growth.

Such is the case for P1’s Preventative Maintenance Sales. Over the past few years, the approach to sales has veered away from bottom lines and training “rigor”, and focused more on the human assets – both associates and customers – involved in the process.

General Manager Heather Richards-St. Clair, who once worked in preventative maintenance sales for P1, says investment in each person, and understanding their differences, is critical.

“I believe you have to share time with your sales people,” Heather said. “Outside sales professionals have one of the hardest jobs in the company. They are met with rejection often.”

“Since I’ve walked in those shoes before, I understand everyone is motivated differently. If you invest time into learning what motivates a person, you help them to avoid burn out, and productivity is the result.”

Letting Sales People…Be Sales People

General Manager of Service Todd Andrews warns of the dangers of training “rigor”.

“In the past, we had sales people in rigorous training, to the point they never became customer-facing - at least not for quite awhile.”

He explained that P1 typically hires individuals who are not new to sales in general. These are people used to - and eager to - work with a customer.

“Information overload and taking that face-to-face opportunity out of the picture for too long will kill confidence and enthusiasm,” Todd said.

So one of the first changes made to the program was ensuring P1 sales people are customer-facing in their first 2-3 weeks.

“We know they’re not going to know everything, but we can support them with P1 resources, and help them learn while they’re doing the job,” Todd said.

And by resources, Todd means people. From the sales managers to some of the more seasoned sales associates, Todd says our people can bring different perspectives to help newer individuals, since not everyone does everything the same way.

“When something doesn’t work out, or goes sideways, we don’t chastise,” Todd said. “We use it as an opportunity to coach.”

For example, the tools outlined in the Proactive Sales Cycle (left) can be used at every step of the process – but they don’t HAVE to be. It’s up to the individual to navigate the process in a way that will best serve the customer - and P1.

“A sales person has to be able to ask a lot of questions, listen, and then select the appropriate tools for that situation,” Todd said.

Making the Right Sale at the Right Time

One of the things that sets P1 apart, according to Todd, is that we’re good at explaining the “why” to our customers: why it’s important to take a particular step at a particular time, resulting in the right maintenance for the right customer at the right time.

“We are not focused on price, we’re focused on the right solution,” Todd said.

It’s a strategy echoed by Proactive Solutions Sales Manager Casey Evans, who agrees that focusing on the uniqueness of the individual, and the uniqueness of each sale, is important.

“I believe the success comes from the strategies created when working together as a team to bring the PM solutions to life for the customer,” Casey said. “Not every solution will be sold the same.”

P1 Service Facility Solutions Teams

Proactive Sales Manager Tom Argubright notes that having the right people in place, and the training time they’ve received, has led to the strong PM sales team we have today.

And “team” is singular for a reason.

“We’ve been doing sales summits for some time now where we bring all of the service offices together as one big unit,” Tom said. “The teams are talking, swapping best practices and advice, and getting on the same page, working as one.”

The other strategy that has contributed to the success of preventative maintenance sales is bringing together the operations and sales sides so each can glean a better understanding of the other’s pain points and perspectives.

“Operations and Sales are dependent on one another, but a lack of communication between the two can lead to major problems,” Heather said.

She notes it is crucial that operations has involvement in sales opportunities.

“The operations team plays a major role in teaching sales professionals what it takes to execute our services, the labor and materials needed, the special maintenance needs of equipment, the things they can promise, and the things that should never be promised to a customer,” she explained.

Heather says that communication must last the duration of the sales process. “If these teams do not communicate at the beginning, middle, and end of every sales process, the chances a customer will be let down increase,” she said.

“P1 is really good about ensuring these teams work together and build relationships,” Heather explained. “I have seen mistakes made, but the beauty is that when a mistake is made, someone jumps in and uses it as an opportunity to teach so it is not repeated.”

“That is what sets our teams apart in the industry and allows us to serve our customers like no other company can,” Heather added.

With this, Todd notes both sides now have confidence in the deals brought forward: that we can execute them, and we can make money on them.

“We sell good deals for good margins, that also perform well,” Todd said. “When the two sides work together to create new customers, you see it in the bottom line.”

At the end of the day, Todd says all the tools are the same, but how you use them is what makes a difference.

“We’re just using our tools more effectively. We’re allowing our sales people to go out and sell, make mistakes, learn, and grow," he said. "We encourage communication and collaboration, and it’s working."

“That’s where the success is coming from.”

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