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The Three Most Powerful Words in CI

Have your installers learn the phrase that adds to more client upgrades.

It always amazes me how much time and effort we expend on growing sales with new customers. Each day our installers load up the vans and head out to client homes and businesses intent on delivering amazing results. Most days they deliver in spades.

Upsell illustration
Getty Images

I remember the early days of my CI business, Livewire. I was the one out there doing the installation work. Naturally, I’d look around the home as I worked, looking for upgrade opportunities. If I saw something worth mentioning, I’d turn to the client and say, “Did you know there’s a better solution for ________?” Even better, if I established a good rapport with the client, they’d start talking to me about all the projects on the “someday” list. These rap sessions were fertile ground for expanding the “Did you know?” or “Have you heard about?” interview technique.

Also by Henry Clifford: Get in the Ring With RMR

Most of my visits to client homes in the early days would result in some kind of repeat business in the form of upgrades or an entirely new project. As the business grew and I couldn’t be on each job site, those upgrades fell off. They were still there, but it wasn’t the same. It stumped me for a long time until I came up with a theory. I had replaced my own efforts with salespeople. They were project-oriented and often wanted to move on to the next deal as opposed to spending any more time than necessary on the work they’d already sold. I also hired installers to replace my own lackluster technical skills. The installation crews looked at the projects in terms of workdays and didn’t necessarily want to encourage more work since it might screw up the schedule or maybe they didn’t connect the dots that more work meant better job stability. Whatever the reason, clearly the incentives were out of whack.

Fast forward a few years and we developed an “on-site upsell” sheet where common items like surge protectors and interconnects were listed on the work order. The installer could then easily stock these items on the van and mark them off on the sheet. Collecting payments for these add-ons became burdensome and resulted in a lot of inadvertent “shrink” where we gave away products without properly billing for them. At this point, we weren’t using our installation resources wisely either. Crews used to working on multi-day projects were running service calls and vice versa. We ended up breaking our installers up into separate installation and service departments. Anything less than a day (we call it “small ball”) goes to service while the installation department sells work in half-day blocks.

Next came a program that still exists to this day — referrals. We decided that instead of asking our installers to be salespeople or wishing that our project managers would be more upgrade-oriented, we should create a landing page on our website where anyone at Livewire can submit photos and detailed information about any new work they spy. Any work resulting from a sold referral gets paid out as a 1% bonus. All for just taking a picture and submitting a brief description. Some of our installers routinely add thousands of dollars to their take-home pay by simply looking around with a curious mind and saying those all-important three little words: “Did you know…?”

Once again, we find ourselves in need of a referral program reboot with the launch of our new lighting and electrical division Lightsource. Our two champions for the program, Marshall Lupejkis and David Hicks, are amazing professionals. Both are used to a “shake-and-bake” workflow where they’re used to a dynamic where someone’s often referring them business that they can then take all the way through to completion.

Also by Henry Clifford: The Power of 1%

Without a “Did you know…?” workflow for Lightsource, Livewire might struggle to gain traction. Just this past week, we decided to come up with three easy “Did you know…?” scenarios where one of our installers might be on-site and be able to refer in business that might even be able to be accomplished that same day. Kitchen ceilings were one of the first suggestions. These are a slam dunk for being able to price and install easily using LED upgrades from manufacturers like DMF or WAC.

I’m excited about this most recent breath of fresh air into our business and grateful for the opportunity to remember just how effective a technician can be as an accidental salesperson when armed with some easy-to-remember talking points.

What are you doing in your business to maximize referrals and upgrades in the field?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.