What is the cost of sales?

BPCA President and owner of Harvey Environmental Ltd has shared his thoughts with PPC80 and alexo on the role of a sales team and the cost of sales within the industry.

There are sectors of the Pest Control industry, as with many walks of life, which are heavily sales focused. I know this from first-hand experience; I was a Surveyor and then a Sales Manager for a large national operator. Just lately though, I’ve been wondering what place Salespeople have in our industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there is always a need to drive business forward, and for that matter I guess any right-minded businessperson ‘sells’; but is having salespeople the way to do it?

I so often experience that my competitors with sales teams on a monthly target will undercut and promise the world to get another client on the books. I also see with these businesses that subsequent service is often substandard because they’ve lowered their price so much to make the sale that there’s no money left to do a proper job.

Ultimately what then happens is that the customer realises they aren’t receiving what they need, and look elsewhere for someone who will do what they say they’re going to.

Make sense? No – I didn’t think so. The customer is actually paying money for a service they aren’t getting and often they are being asked to pay more to put right what should have been done in the first place.

The company that come in and look at the job properly (detailed survey, time taken to understand the site issues and re-infestation risks) and price properly are seen as honest and professional (but often more expensive) – the outgoing company are cursed with “never darken our door again” but the industry is also tarnished by the initial poor experience – (on an association level, I would be happier if this type of thing was limited to companies and individuals outside of BPCA but sadly this is not always the case).

I wear two hats – the BPCA hat and my own Harvey Environmental one.

From my own stance we can tell the world that we think we’re good at our job – and we have lots of references from delighted customers to back our beliefs – the key thing is that we don’t arm-twist, promise jam tomorrow and lead people into never-never land.

I would suggest the above philosophy is one that would suit the industry well.

I also think that we should be honest at all times and by doing that we earn trust. When selling were not only representing the standards of our companies – we are representing the standards of the association as well.

It does pay to take less money out of a deal “there and then” and if by doing this the client thinks more of us and it leads to longer term benefits – this could be more repeat orders, more sites to service and far more longevity of the contract. This type of approach also protects the contract from competitor approach and from the approach of the accountant’s pen when cost savings are being sought.

I believe that quite the opposite of the ‘sales at any price’ ethos, quality of service and quality of customer relationship must be our top one priorities.

I have lots of friends whose businesses wouldn’t be what they are today without sales teams, but I for one don’t think that is how Pest Control should work.

We aren’t selling cars, we’re a service, and a service that can’t afford to cut corners at that. We can’t get a bulk deal on a load of Technicians and sell them on at a discount.

The cost is what it is.

Professional companies will solve pest problems, and clients are willing to pay for it (despite what they might tell you).

I guess you could say that the modern way of promotion should be the perfect way of doing business for Association members. With the way that the industry is moving/has moved already it could be said that the days are gone where we had to promise to be cheaper than the next guy just to get a foothold.

In today’s world, people can search easily and see what’s on offer, and find out for themselves who can meet their needs – but we can also make it clearer in a much easier fashion that we’re in the market, offering good quality Pest Control solutions.

I don’t believe that this industry is that complicated, quite the contrary actually – and I don’t believe that we need to complicate it to make sales – a straightforward and honest approach has to be the way to go – backed up with a quality survey and good references.

It matters to me that my customers do well as I want to work with them for a long time. It makes financial sense for my turnover, and their reputation is my reputation.

I’ll continue to sell them exactly what they need, but it won’t be a Salesman on a monthly target who sells it to them.

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