Did you know that roughly 40% of sales leaders miss their annual revenue targets? While there are an array of uncontrollable factors that could impact overall plumbing sales success—hello, a global pandemic and widespread supply chain delays—a leading, yet manageable factor is a lack of company sales skills. Without proper plumbing sales training, the average plumbing company will struggle to gain customer leads, boost profit margins, and ultimately, fail to hit revenue goals in 2024.
Fortunately, the right coaching can help with that. In this intermediate plumbing sales training guide, we’ll share the basics of a sales pipeline and why it’s essential to business success, along with the impacts of effective plumbing sales training and the top tips to boost team-wide sales skill sets. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to maximize your sales pipeline all 2024!
What is a Plumbing Sales Pipeline (and Why is it Important)?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the journey leads take to become customers. It tracks prospects from the initial awareness phase through sales calls, solidifying scopes of work, providing service estimates, and closing deals. Robust sales pipelines even extend into customer retention periods, in which a business maintains customer relationships through recurring services.
When referring to a plumbing sales pipeline, we can anticipate common stages such as successfully connecting with customers (awareness), educating them on their plumbing needs (consideration), upselling or cross-selling plumbing services (decision), and providing routine maintenance (retention). Complete visibility into these pipeline stages enables more accurate revenue predictions and consumer insights, as well as reveals where specific company sales skills lack.
On the other hand, a lack of sales pipeline visibility can plummet plumbing company performance. Without clear visibility into the sales pipeline, a plumbing business will have no idea what (or if) the company plans to profit, which can quickly escalate into cash flow issues. Lacking pipeline visibility will ultimately lead to inaccurate revenue forecasting, forgotten leads, and impacts on customer satisfaction, making plumbing sales training essential for both a business owner and their team.
The Role of Plumbing Sales Training in Plumbing Operations
Most plumbing businesses don’t hire sales representatives, they hire technicians. However, at a time when effective sales representative training can yield a 353% return on investment (ROI) for the average company, plumbing sales training is a must to transform a field technician into a valuable asset. Not only can plumbing sales training help drive higher revenue on average service calls, but the involved skills coaching can set you and your team up for success in many different aspects.
With knowledge of the sales pipeline and various sales skills, plumbing techs are more inclined to enhance their communication abilities and obtain industry knowledge and solutions that help them stand out among the competition. Plumbing sales coaching helps increase productivity within the company and enables field techs and business owners to develop stronger, longer-lasting client relationships. In other words, sales plumbing training prepares a company for sustainable growth.
4 Tips to Boosting Your Plumbing Sales Skills
Plumbing sales training allows you and your team to easily set, secure, and scale your company revenue goals. Consider these four tips for boosting sales skills across your plumbing operation.
1. Educate Yourself and Your Team
While you’re already taking the first step to educate yourself on the importance of a sales pipeline, you need more than a basic definition to understand the vital role one plays in your operations. As you conduct plumbing sales training, investigate the crucial role the sales pipeline plays in driving new leads, the dangers of one running dry, and how changes can impact major areas of business.
Comprehending the snowball effect a poor plumbing sales pipeline can have on business profitability brings attention to the importance of quality sales skills—and why your employees need to have them. From not having enough sales to support long-term growth to lacking enough cash flow to support employee payroll and fleet management efforts, sales coaching is a must.
2. Set Reasonable (and Profitable) Prices
Market and customer research are key sales skills for developing a plumbing pipeline, and both will dictate service prices for your plumbing business. Your prices must be fair and appealing to local customers but also have enough of a markup to cover operational costs and align with your designated profit margin. In other words, your prices should be reasonable and profitable.
Many factors go into service pricing, including your business location, customer preferences, and personal expertise. An important factor in overall sales success is maintaining complete control and consistency over your business pricing. With cohesive company-wide pricing, plumbing techs can give highly accurate and detailed project estimates to customers to drive ongoing sales success.
3. Enforce Team-Wide Training
Plumbing techs who double as sales team members will need to leverage sales skills to successfully land leads and close deals. As a plumbing business owner, enforcing training programs and team-wide coaching can help staff master specific sales skills to reach the level of sales success you desire. When developing in-house training services, consider skills training on topics such as:
- Customer communication skills, including general service call etiquette, navigating work order timing, and how to clearly explain service estimates and prices to customers.
- Upselling skills, such as in-depth product explanations and discussing the advantages of upgraded services to encourage sales growth and higher average ticket prices.
- Cross-selling skills, including ‘why you need’ explanations highlighting services and products that relate to and complement the core purchase in support of higher sales.
- Complaint management skills, such as negative review follow-ups and quick resolution findings to maintain customer relationships, company reputation, and lead progression.
It can be helpful to host group discussions alongside your employee training efforts to gain a better understanding of which areas of your sales process need help. Your staff may have the skills needed to successfully land leads and sales. However, their ability to do so may be impacted by operational concerns you may not be aware of yet, such as a lack of team resources or communication channels.
4. Deploy Roleplaying Workshops
Beyond plumbing sales training, it can also be helpful for business owners to incorporate the use of sales role-playing workshops to gauge employee skill sets and determine the necessary areas of improvement. Similar to mock questions you would use in an interview, employers can pretend to be customers whom plumbing techs will attempt to sell the companies' services and products.
Direct coaching like roleplaying helps to reinforce everything you’ve previously gone over in the plumbing sales training process, from upselling and cross-selling to dealing with complaints. Rather than reading it on paper or speaking about it in a group, sales roleplaying helps nail down exact communication skills and general scripts for technicians to encourage sales while out in the field.
5. Practice Persistence in Operations
Like any element of business, consistency is key. Once you begin plumbing sales training, practice persistence in each area of your operations—maintain weekly coaching and roleplaying sessions, or create a suggestion box for team members to request certain skills training. Likewise, remember to maintain consistent pricing, follow up on estimates, and continue to fine-tune your processes.
Need help visualizing your sales pipeline or keeping your plumbing operations consistent? We’ve all been there. That’s why the team at JB Warranties has designed the JB Dealer Services Marketplace, a contractor’s one-stop shop for business management tools designed for the complexities of the plumbing and HVAC industry. Explore your options to craft a successful business pipeline today!
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at JB Warranties