The Authentic Humility Mindset

By Steve Mores

This can be a deep subject, yet I’d like to apply it to our everyday maintenance and service calls as it relates to sales. To be humble means that you recognize and accept your limitations based on realistic and accurate thoughts about your importance and significance in what you do and what you stand for. The humble person recognizes that although he may have an opinion and strong convictions, he still can empathize or sympathize with others and see things from their point of view. He also understands that he can be an expert and knowledgeable in one subject while profoundly ignorant in others. So, he’s not a “know-it-all”, yet will give expert advice, while keeping an open ear to the needs and knowledge of others. This is where most technicians fit in.

On the other hand, there are individuals who are arrogant, self-important, condescending, egotistic, and seek to overwhelm others with their brilliance. This is the opinion that many technicians have about the attitude of sales people. It’s all about the close and persuading people to think their way, whether or not it is in the prospect’s best interest. Yet, many highly successful sales people can check their ego at the door and still preserve their dignity while fulfilling the needs of others by providing solutions that best fit the prospect’s budget and needs. This is known as authentic humility.

When training technicians to communicate, the majority of them feel that we’re trying to teach them to “sell” and be persuasive, which brings them out of their comfort zone. I hear it all the time: “I didn’t become a technician to sell things; I want to fix things.” So, how do we get them to communicate repair vs. replace, membership agreements, accessory sales, etc., without having to try and persuade them to be a high-pressure sales person? (Which we are not trying to do.) They just want to be a humble servant to their clients and fix the problem.

The challenge is that humble people can be easily trampled on and ignored by their arrogant and aggressive counterparts. When they suggest a solution and hear “no”, they feel resentfulhelpless, and become reluctant to make reasonable suggestions on the next call or any call for that matter. We don’t have to teach them false modesty or how to be aggressively persuasive and condescending. They just need to practice authentic humility.

Authentic humility allows a person to preserve their dignity while being able to effectively communicate solutions to challenges that they discover during their maintenance and service calls. It’s not really “selling” as much as it is providing expert service every time on every call. The sales will happen once a technician realizes that she can be humble and sincere at the same time as being willful in a positive way without being passive. In other words, it is her duty and obligation to share her expert advice with a customer, which may lead to her selling something for all the right reasons and in the best interest of the client.

To demonstrate this, I’d like offer a suggestion that I call the “We factor”. An authentically humble technician chooses to be ethically consistent on his calls, rather than being impulsive and unpredictable. Once a challenge is discovered on a call and the technician is offering an expert solution, using the word “we” while sharing these options means that they are in this together.

Here are two examples. One expresses aggressive, persuasive, and arrogant behavior, while the second approach exalts authentic humility:

  • I found a pitted contactor here that is causing damage to your system. I need to replace it now before it causes more problems. Otherwise, you’re responsible for the future damage it will cause to your system. Your cost on this repair will be $XX. (This is aggressive, negatively persuasive, and arrogant.)
  • I discovered that your system has a pitted contactor, which may cause your system to malfunction during the summer months. We can replace it now without a separate service call charge or we can take our chances and see if we can get through the summer with it. What do you think we should do? (This is humble, yet expertly sincere and allows the homeowner to make an educated decision without being pushed.)

Once trained, this goes the same for IAQ recommendations, intelligent fan control, surge protection, and other accessories that can legitimately benefit the homeowner.

Applying authentic humility to our daily encounters in general is a great practice to have that will positively impact all aspects of life. So, let’s apply it to your communication training with your team as well. Your success depends on it!

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Appreciate Different Styles – They Could Just Make Your Company Better

By Vicki LaPlant

The personality style of the majority of contractors in HVACR closely matches that of medical surgeons. I don’t have any scientific research that validates this belief. However, I have had 30 plus years of observing contractors and, for one reason or another, have interacted with a number of medical surgeons.

Each medical surgeon is a specialist. When my husband was sent to the orthopedist several years ago, it wasn’t just one orthopedist. No, he had to go to one who only did surgery on backs and a different one who only did surgery on hips.

Similarly in our industry, there are installation specialists who design and build sheet metal duct systems for large commercial buildings and those who specialize in residential. The same is true for the service technician who generally specializes in commercial or residential heating and air conditioning equipment. And both of those specialists are very different from the service technician who specializes in servicing refrigeration systems.

Another commonality is personality style. Surgeons, different from most general practitioners, have little or no bed side manner. In other words, the surgeon can often correct the problem for the patient, but don’t expect much if any clear explanation of what the surgery is or how it will be performed. A persistent patient might hear some technical jargon:  “Oh, it is only a minor lobotomy.” Surgery, in my opinion, is only “minor” when it is being done to someone else.

Pretend you didn’t see this coming – the same can be said of HVACR field personnel.

Recently, we conducted a communication seminar for Central Oregon Heating and Air Conditioning in Redmond, Oregon. The seminar included a personality style inventory using the Myers-Briggs Assessment tool.  (This is similar to the Kiersey Personality Style Inventory, but Myers-Briggs was the original instrument and the one that I was trained and certified to use.)

Everyone in the company – ownership, management, office and field personnel – went through the training and took the assessment. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, 86 %, of the almost 50 people, in the company are Introverts. Only one of the Extroverts in the company works in the field. The other Extroverts are office personnel and salespeople. Again, not surprising.

A misconception is that an Extrovert likes people and an Introvert doesn’t. Not true, but the belief persists because Extroverts emote and interact with people more easily. The Introvert, on the other hand, often seems removed and reserved in his comments and shies away from people interaction.

The Myers-Briggs Style Assessment describes the difference between an Introvert and an Extrovert this way: An Introvert prefers to focus on the inner world and an Extrovert prefers to focus on the outer world. As individuals, we use this focus to both gather and process information about the world. So an Introvert prefers to gather information quietly, without a lot of conversation or interaction with others, and processes information gathered internally. An Extrovert prefers to gather information through interaction with others and processes information by discussing with others. The Extrovert prefers to interact and the Introvert prefers to concentrate.

Back to the comparison of the medical surgeon and a person who works in the field installing or servicing HVACR equipment.  Both must have the ability to concentrate on details and to gather and process information without the input of others. After all, it is the surgeon with a scalpel in her hand operating on my lobotomy and I would appreciate her concentration on me and my brain and not on the other people in the operating room. And, it is the technician alone with a furnace trying to determine what is wrong or the installer, generally alone, with the puzzle of an attic, crawlspace, or basement and a piece of equipment to figure out. The ability to gather and process information independently without input from others is critical for both professions.

This is not to say that either profession is excused from the need to interact with the patient or the customer. Sometimes, it is a requirement of a job that requires us to move out of the comfort zone of our preferred personality style.

Some of the best teachers I know are Introverts. People, who did not know these teachers well, would actually peg them as Extroverts. These teachers are more comfortable functioning with their focus turned inwardly, as Introverts, but when required, due to the work environment, can function as Extroverts.

So what is the takeaway of this information?

The majority of service technicians and installers working for you are Introverts and prefer to focus internally. Praise this trait because it actually allows them to be excellent at their job of diagnosing and correcting home comfort problems. And realize that they are not being stubborn or negative about the interaction with customers required by their job – it is just not natural and comfortable. Encourage, motivate, and train your field personnel to interact with the customer more because it is a part of the job. And establish a protocol that the more likely to be Extroverts, office personnel always suggest that the customer ask questions of the installer or service technician if something is not understood.

And, on occasion, hire an Extrovert for the field!

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!