Booking The Service Call: The Sandler Selling System Up-Front Contract

The Sandler Selling System, developed by David Sandler, provides sales training techniques, methods, and strategies with a focus on long-term change. In the mid-1990s, I became a student of the Sandler System and I continue to use it today. I encourage anyone with an interest in the sales process to become familiar with the principles of the system.

The Up-Front Contract

A key part of the Sandler System is the Up-Front Contract, which outlines steps for a successful client meeting.

There are five steps:

  1. Get the prospect’s agenda.
  2. Give them your agenda.
  3. Reach agreement on each other’s agenda.
  4. Agree on an amount of time for the meeting.
  5. Agree on any next steps.

Simply, the Up-Front Contract is a verbal agreement between two people. Its aim is to respect the agenda of both sides, establish agreement on the next steps, and determine what that next steps will look like.

A good friend, Larry Byrd, trained me on the system. As part of his instruction, I was always taught that a meeting which starts well will end well. With this in mind, I want to demonstrate how this relates to booking the service call.

The Service Call: A call that starts well ends well.

Despite the service call not being a meeting, these five steps are relevant here. For a call to start well and end well, CSRs must initiate the conversation. Then, utilize the Up-Front Contract theory to start a solid process and eliminate any misunderstandings – on both sides – from the onset.

Gratitude, empathy, and humility are key when answering the call – even if the customer doesn’t display respect and kindness. It’s a challenge to remain kind with snide customers; however, it’s an important first step in booking the service call.

Let’s look at an example script between a CSR and a prospect customer, who is critical of our process.

CSR: ABC Heating and Air, this is Roger. How may I help you today?

Customer: My heat is out. I am freezing. How soon can you get here and how much does it cost?

First, it’s important to gain control of the conversation, which takes skill and courage. Later in the call, the question of price and timing will be answered.

CSR: Well, thank you for calling – I can certainly help you with that. I know it’s cold and I can certainly understand the frustration. Who am I speaking with and have we ever been to your home before?

– Control has been established.

– Gratitude and empathy are evident.

Establishing if the call is from an existing customer is important, as many service agreement customers have priority. Moreover, service fees for emergency calls are often waived for these customers.

Customer: My name is Mrs. Snarky – and you have never been here before.

With a new customer, getting the name and address helps qualify the call – until this information has been obtained, never suggest fees or schedules.

Qualifying is key: Read more about qualifying based on relationship and urgency here. Click Here.

CSR:  Well, thank you for reaching out to us today. May I have your address and cell phone number?

Customer: 123 Main Street, Atlanta, GA. 205-555-2368

CSR: And when were you hoping for us to come out?

Here, we’re establishing the prospect’s agenda. Avoid assumptions, often calls aren’t as urgent as CSRs perceive.

Customer: Well, as soon as possible. Prospect’s Agenda.

CSR: Okay. We can put you on the schedule for today. There is no need to stay at home and wait; we’ll text you when you are next.

Customer: Can’t you give me a time?

CSR: Yes, but the only time we can guarantee is the first call of the morning. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those available for several weeks – these slots are always filled quickly. Usually, we provide preventative maintenance and non-urgent calls at that time. We never know how long each call is going to take, but it does look like we can be there today. Like I said we can give you plenty of notice and you don’t need to stay at home and wait.

Customer: Well … how much will it cost?

Now we give her our agenda.

CSR: Since you’re a new customer, let me explain how our pricing works. First, there is a $79 service fee. Then, after the technician has determined the scale of the job, the customer is presented with service options. You’ll know exactly how much the job will cost before the technician starts any work. Assuming the technician has everything needed, all the work will be completed in one call. How does that sound?

Customer: Sounds good. Agreement.

CSR: Okay, great. Please respond to the call or text from dispatch, so we’ll know you’re at home otherwise we won’t come out because we need you to meet us.

One final question, how did you hear about us?

Customer: Google.

Now, we’ve established our agenda, the customer knows the call will cost $79. Once the technician has assessed the situation, the customer will be presented with options and a price will be agreed before any further work takes place.

Offering customers options makes smart business practice

You can learn more about this here.

CSR now passes the baton to the technician, whose responsibility it is to offer service and product options based on the budget and needs of the customer. Any technician trained in The Service Call Blueprint will be confident in presenting options to maximize the service call. 

I always welcome comments and feedback.

About the author, Roger Daviston

Roger Daviston is a personal growth consultant who gets measurable results. He facilitates and encourages individuals to change behavior and make different choices to achieve better outcomes.

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