Plumbing Sales Training

plumbing sales training

In this Be Elite guide, you’ll discover the ultimate guide to plumbing sales training, crafted by Elite Trades’ Founder and CEO. This comprehensive blog post covers everything plumbing business owners need to train their plumbers effectively and ethically. Learn why the best sales training isn’t about high-pressure tactics but about building relationships and trust. Understand the importance of proper pricing, setting client expectations, and having a uniform pricing process. Dive into practical techniques like the FORM method for rapport building and FBDBQ for presenting solutions. Get insights on handling objections, closing sales, and why hiring the right sales trainer is crucial. Whether you’re looking to elevate your team’s sales skills or seeking ethical sales practices, this guide has you covered. Transform your plumbing business with proven strategies and ethical sales training principles. Join the ranks of plumbing industry leaders today and Be Elite!

The Best Plumbing Sales Training Isn’t Actually Sales Training

For many, the word “sales” implies convincing someone to buy something that they don’t need or want and using pressure to get them to do so. We despise unethical sales tactics, high-pressure tactics, and anything of the sort. When the word sales is used by Elite Trades, we are talking about the process of leading a client to a decision, regardless of what that decision is.

Elite Trades drives sales in plumbing companies we work with but not through sales training. This is because no self-respecting plumber actually wants to be a salesperson.

In fact, most of the plumbers we have worked with over our 20+ years of helping plumbing contractors dominate their market cringe at the word sales.

But here’s the thing; in order for there to be work for the plumber to complete, a sale must be made.

“So much of sales isn’t sales at all, it’s about doing the little things right, understanding the customer’s needs, being likable and respectful, and providing solutions to their problems.”

A Great Plumbing Salesperson Doesn’t Actually Sell Anything

The world’s highest-producing plumbing sales techs don’t really sell anything to the client. They simply develop a relationship with a customer, make the effort to discover what a client’s real needs are, and become the solution to them by offering options to solve the need.

“When plumbing sales is done correctly, you become an order taker, not a salesperson. This is what we teach at Elite Trades.”

Get Yourself and Your Team Ready for Increased Sales

The net result of implementing a proven plumbing sales process such as the one taught by Elite Trades will be more sales and, in turn, more work. It’s important to remember that adding sales and work to a company with sloppy operations can actually backfire and make the business worse off.

Make sure you can say YES to ALL of these questions before focusing on specific sales tactics for plumbers:

Do you have the right people on your team? 

For the same reason the defensive lineman on a football team isn’t allowed to play quarterback, it’s important to do an assessment of your team and identify the people who should be selling plumbing services and who should not.  

Do you have a uniform pricing process in place?

One of the most important parts of an ethical sales process is providing clear and transparent pricing. To have this, your business must have an established plumbing price book implemented.  

Are you setting expectations with the client when booking a lead?

You can dramatically improve the closing rate and average ticket of a plumbing salesperson simply by doing a better job setting clear expectations when booking the lead. Getting time commitments, booking with the decision-makers, and working around tight schedules will lift sales without any training. Elite Trades can help plumbing company owners implement call booking procedures that will dramatically increase plumbing sales.

Can you deliver what you are wanting to sell?

Often, plumbing company owners looking to elevate their plumbing sales through training get the cart before the horse. Selling a product or service requires setting an expectation with the client. If the company can’t deliver the expectation at or better than the expectations were established, the whole sales process backfires.

What Makes Plumbing Sales Training Different from Other Trades Sales Training?

A home’s plumbing system is vast and ranges from equipment to piping. The skills required to be a good plumbing salesperson are the same skills that are required to be good at selling anything. At Elite Trades, we have found training plumbing sales is different from training HVAC or electrical sales because of how different the circumstances are that prompt the sale.

Client Demeanor: The opportunity to sell plumbing services or replacements arises after something bad happens to the client. Something is broken, leaking, or backed up. The rudeness and inconvenience will impact the client’s demeanor. This is why good plumbing sales training focuses on solving the client’s problem, building relationships, and not making sales.

Lack of Research: As established above, most plumbing sales are made as a result of fixing a sudden problem, which means clients often don’t have the time they need to research the solution, compare options, and costs. This is why Elite Trades teaches its clients how to sell plumbing with transparency and upfront communication.

The Trade Itself: Industries like plumbing are not typically associated with the selling of products or equipment, as opposed to the HVAC industry. Crafting a sales training program specifically for plumbers is critical to gain buy-in from the team as well as get the results you want.

Repair vs. Replace: Increasing plumbing sales or average plumbing tickets comes right down to repair vs. replacement options for clients. Tried and tested sales training for plumbing companies should focus most of their attention on this principle.

The Amount of Opportunities: Because plumbing systems are large, there are many opportunities to sell plumbing services in the home. A good sales training system for plumbing companies will also teach how to identify opportunities that should be harvested today vs. ones that should be left alone.

The Basics of Plumbing Sales – Training 101

Before a client can do business with you, they must like and trust you. To establish trust and likability, you must be likable and trustworthy. It’s just that simple. Some things to help with that are:

  • A nice, firm handshake
  • Look the client in the eye
  • Smile
  • Pay them a sincere compliment
  • Respect the client and their home
  • Ask questions (God gave you two ears and one mouth)
  • Seek to serve the client’s best interest
  • Follow the golden rule
  • Show the client you care
  • Be the kind of guest you would want in your home

Before a client can do business with you, they must believe they need or want what you’re selling them. Sounds simple, right? In reality, many people think they know what they want and need before they call for service. A salesperson must help that client identify what they really want and need and do so in a manner that gains trust.

Before a client can do business with you, they must know how much what you’re selling costs. Simple, but true. Piggybacking off this principle, the client must also feel like the amount of money the product or service costs is equal to or greater than the money they have to exchange for it. Said another way, they have to see value.

Before a client can do business with you, they must know how they are going to pay for it. The “how to pay” part is not a huge factor in small items such as a pack of gum at a gas station, but shortly after a client decides they need or want what you’re recommending, they are asking themselves, “What are my options to pay for this?”

Before a client can do business with you, they must decide when they need to buy it. When you walk through the threshold of a door and the water heater is leaking like crazy, this question has already likely been answered in the mind of the client. However, if you find yourself closing down a sale on a water heater from a faucet repair call, you were involved in helping that client see they should buy a water heater today.

Focus on the 50% that Matter

Based on the experience Elite Trades has gathered, about 30-40% of people will buy anything a technician recommends as long as they like and trust the tech and can afford the recommendation. 10-20% of people can’t or won’t buy from you for reasons you or your technicians cannot control. This leaves the money zone, where the remaining 50-60% are sitting, waiting to be taken off the market by either you or your competition.

If You Don’t Want to Be a Salesperson, Don’t Act Like One

Hmmm… weird. It’s funny, some of the techs that provide the most resistance to sales training act the most like salespeople. Aside from not acting like the stereotypical salesperson, let’s look at the specific actions that can make or break how salesman-like you look:

  • You’re a plumber or HVAC tech or sales guy; wearing a suit makes you look like a salesman.
  • You don’t reference a written price book when you price something out.
  • What do you do when someone gives you literature or brochures? This is the same way your client will perceive this.
  • You layout “MENU Prices” for your clients to choose from and speak in terms of “good, better, best.”
  • Speaking from scripts or being scripted.

Build Your Plumbing Sale from a Solid Foundation

Plumbing Sales Process

  1. Build rapport & establish trust
  2. Identify problems & present solutions
  3. Ask for the opportunity to service them

Build Rapport with Proper FORM

Rapport: noun – A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well. In Elite Trades language, this is the first step to funnel flipping. It’s the art of getting people to like and trust you and see you as a solution to a problem, not a salesman. The acronym FORM is a great way to start building the foundation real rapport is built on.

FORM stands for:

Family: Is there anything more important to someone? Developing conversation and asking thoughtful questions about your client’s family is a direct way to build strong rapport. People love to talk about family.

Occupation: Since we spend more than 1/3 of our lives at work, engaging a client about what they do for a living is a great conversation starter and may lead to other more personal conversation topics. “So, did you take the day off of work today?” “What keeps you busy during the day?”

Recreation: We may spend 1/3 of our life at work and 1/3 of our time sleeping, but what we choose to do with the other 1/3 of our life is a topic anyone loves to chat about. Developing recreational topics will require being observant. Kayaks hanging in the garage? A fully set-up workout room? Pictures on a beach?

Material Possessions: People like things. The things people choose to have around will tell you a lot about them. If done correctly, conversations about the things someone owns not only build relationships, but it will tell you a lot about what makes the client tick.

Present Solutions Using FBDBQ – Feature, Benefit, Different, Better, Questions

Often while selling plumbing services, plumbers get fixated on the features of a product. The feature is an actual part of the product that makes it better. Let’s say, for example, we’re talking about a water heater with two anode rods in it. The feature is the double anode rod. The benefit is what the feature does for the consumer. This is what your clients really care about, and salespeople often miss talking about the benefit. So, what’s the benefit of the double anode rod water heater? Longer tank life. Then we get to the different and better part. Is the feature that provides the benefit different or better than other products on the market? If so, how? And the last part is to close with a question. The question can be a confirmation question or a “do you want to move forward” question. Put it all together, and this is what you get:

“Betty, since you barely got out of the warranty period with your last water heater, the one I’m recommending we install today has a dual anode rod system. The job of an anode rod is to sacrifice itself to protect the tank from breaking down and leaking. And when you have dual anode rods, this protects the tank for twice as long. A typical “builder” model water heater only comes with one, so as you can see, this heater I’m prepared to install today is designed for professional use. Does having me install a water heater with a dual anode rod today sound like the best plan to you?” And there you have it. FBDBQ. Use them.

Which Way is the Funnel?

Plumbing Sales Training

If you view your client’s mind as a funnel because of normal sales resistance, the funnel is skinny side up. I also know that my ability to close the sale will be largely dependent on how much of my thoughts, ideas, and emotions I pour into that client’s funnel. Starting to see where this is going? The process of flipping a client’s funnel is simple, and teaching the major principles behind the skill of funnel flipping is the core purpose of this manual.

Provide the Client Options

By providing repair and replacement options to your clients, you are giving them the power to choose the option that is right for them and their budget when conducting plumbing sales training.

Handling Plumbing Sales Objections

Sales objections are simply questions or concerns that a client may have during the interaction. Read our in-depth guide about handling sales objections for the trades, or simply consider these key points:

The best way to handle an objection that comes up in a plumbing sales call is to avoid it.

Do this by following the principles we have outlined in this blog and in other Elite Trade publications.

The universal recipe for handling plumbing sales objections is:

  1. Listen to understand the client’s concern.
  2. Repeat the concern back to the client to ensure you understand it.
  3. Determine if the objection should be handled now, later, or not at all.
  4. Answer the client’s question or deploy an objection handling technique.
  5. Confirm the objection has been handled.

Closing the Plumbing Sale

We cover the topic of closing plumbing sales in depth in the Be Elite – Closing Plumbing Sales blog post. Some of the highlights you’ll find in that guide are:

  • Most missed plumbing sales are simply the result of not asking the client for their business.
  • Closing the plumbing sale (asking for the business) is the easiest part of the sales process if you execute the sales process correctly.
  • If you feel like you have to push for the sale at the end of the plumbing sales call, something else went wrong during the visit with the client.

“Elite Trades teaches plumbing contractors and their team to become plumbing solution order takers, not to be pushy salespeople trying to close deals.”

What to Consider When Hiring a Plumbing Sales Trainer

Bringing in a sales trainer to work with your plumbing techs and salespeople can be the key to driving the sales results you’re looking for. Bringing on the wrong one can be a complete disaster as well. Here is what to look for:

Does the trainer have specific plumbing experience?

Many sales trainers believe that because sales is universal, anyone can train plumbers. In our 20+ years of training plumbers, we know this is not true. For the best results, you should deliver training directly to your team, and if you get a sales trainer involved, it’s critical to make sure they are or recently were a wrench-spinning plumber.

Alignment with Core Values

Does the sales trainer align with your and the company’s vision and core values? Getting a sales trainer onboard who doesn’t will have a negative sales impact on the company and will create many cultural issues.

Online or In-Person

Both online sales training and in-person sales training for plumbers have pros and cons. Either way, at Elite Trades, we have found a combination of both to make the largest difference in sales across plumbing companies all over the US.

Where Can You Find the Best Plumbing Sales Training?

There are dozens of credible sales trainers for plumbers and plumbing companies out there. Elite Trades is highly regarded as one of them but takes a unique approach with all of our training.

“We believe that plumbing companies should be led by their owners (or managers) and have found that sales training delivered by a well-trained owner or manager is much more effective than sales training presented by a 3rd party.”

This is why our training programs are more focused on training the trainers vs. training the actual plumbing salesperson or plumbing technician.

Not only do we provide sales training for plumbers, but we also specialize in HVAC sales training, electrical sales training as well as sales training for water conditioning contractors and well & pump industry.

Be Elite and Practice Ethical Plumbing Sales Training

Ethics when selling anything, specifically in home services such as plumbing, is paramount. By following the principles and tactics outlined in this guide, you can ensure that the sales training being delivered to your team will not only produce sales results but will result in happy repeat clients. Join the plumbing industry sales leaders today.

– Be Elite

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