Steps for Creating a Sales Culture in Your Service Department

“We want to create a sales team and sales culture in our Service Department but don’t know where to start.”

A great question that actually has a fairly easy answer and solution.  Below I will outline the steps to make this happen, but before I do, here are three simple rules you will have to be diligent with.

  1. Be patient
  2. Stay focused on your end goal
  3. Do not settle for less than what you want


Steps to turning your Service Department into a Selling Service Department:

  1. Realize that everything you do and everything you want to acquire has to be sold.  High, consistent Customer Satisfaction Survey Scores won’t just happen; you have to train your staff to sell high and to have consistent customer satisfaction survey scores.  High Customer Retention won’t just happen.  If you want high Customer Retention, you have to train your staff to sell High Customer Retention.  And if you want High Gross Profits and Sales, you have to train your staff to sell. All of this is not accomplished by just training Service Advisors because they are not the only ones who will affect those areas.  EVERYONE in the department will affect those numbers. Therefore, EVERYONE needs to be a trained salesperson. By training all of your staff in this fashion you will create a culture of selling and excellent customer service. What your employees say and do will either sell them on coming back or sell them on going somewhere where they can get the kind of service they were looking for.
  2. Place ads for every position that will attract sales people.  It is much easier to train someone to sell if they are recruited as a sales person.  For example, if you want to attract high producing and selling technicians, then place an ad that states; “Our Service Advisors have a customer paid repair order average of 3.0, an effective labor rate of $99, average over $100,000 a month in total sales and have survey scores to match.  Apply only if you have the skill to handle our large volume of work.”  Or, you can try, “Our average technician turns over 60 hours a week, what do yours produce?”  You can also say something like, “Entry level positions open (porters, greeters, cashiers, receptionist, etc.) that range in pay from $00.00 to $00.00 with the potential to make up to $80,000 annually within four years.  You must love working with the public or be willing to learn how.  Comprehensive training included.”
  3. Interview your recruits like sales people.  If you do not know how or what to look for in a salesperson, your sales department and managers most likely do.  Sit in on their interviews and have them help you with yours.  Also, don’t underestimate the value of the various personality tests that are widely available.
  4. Develop and offer pay plans that encourage individual and group sales.  I remember working once in a dealership in Canada where every cashier was hired, trained and paid like a sales person.  They offered a car cleaning kit to every customer that they came in contact with.  The kits were on a very well designed point of purchase display right next to where the customers paid for their services.  The cashiers were paid $5 for each one they sold with a small bonus built in for obtaining certain sales goals.  They also were trained and incentivized to encourage customers to reconsider services that were declined.  They didn’t come across as pushy or overly aggressive, but caring and helpful instead and they were effective.  They were constantly trained and encouraged with the ultimate goal of one day moving up the ladder to a higher paying sales position.
  5. Once you find the right person for a given position, train, train and retrain them in the art of selling.  In the example above, the cashiers weren’t really hired to cashier; they were hired to sell product, customer service and retention.  They not only did it, they did with pride and delivered world-class service and results.


The system used to create these results once your team members are hired is also simple.

  • They should receive initial training before their first day on the job and then two to four weeks of daily training until you feel the person being trained has fully and enthusiastically grasped the task at hand.
  • They then should be trained weekly in short 15 to 30 minute sales meetings.  Sometimes with the department as a whole, sometimes with various teams, solely with their team and sometimes as an individual.  These meetings should always be short, to the point, upbeat and always deliver something that will help them improve their skill level.
  • Role-playing should never be over looked.  It feels silly; it is uncomfortable but is highly effective.  If a person refuses to role-play with you, it may be the first sign that you really didn’t find the sales minded person you were looking for.  Airline pilots spend countless hours in simulators role-playing every situation imaginable, even crashing!  Why?  So that they are prepared for any situation when it happens.  Role-playing is part of the job.
  • Install a Sales Board that has every employee on it, what their goals are for their area of sales, their previous day’s results, their month to date results and their projected month end results.  Each employee should be required in a department wide monthly meeting to set their goal in each area.  The sales board should be placed in an area where every employee sees it every day.
  • Daily Individual Sales Sheets should be handed out to each employee daily.  These sheets should have the same information on them as stated above with the primary difference being that it only has that individual’s numbers on it and what their projected end of month pay is.  It is vital that every sales person knows exactly where they stand every day with every goal and what income they have and will likely earn.

To keep your sales staff (remember everyone in your department is now a sales person) excited and interested, you should constantly seek out new ideas and products for them to work with knowing some will be “home runs” and others will not.  Some products and ideas will be popular with your customers and then fade, some will never be popular with your customers and some will always be popular.  But you will never know which are which unless you try something new.  True sales people like things that are new.  They like to be challenged!
In closing, let me emphasize that YOU TAKE CONTROL AND STOP WAITING.  No one is going to accomplish this for you.  There is no single magic bullet, program or process that will get it done. This project will be the easiest hard thing you have ever done or the hardest easy project you have ever done.  As you pursue it you will begin to see the affects and results instantly.  It is not a question of whether what I have outlined here will work or not; it will.  The question is, do you want your department run by clerks getting the results you have now, or do you want it run by professional sales people that deliver the results you want while delivering a world-class sales experience for your customers?


About the author: Jeff Cowan, in his 29th year of training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for service departments. You can see him on a weekly broadcast of CBT News and read many of his published articles on various automotive publications. Currently partnered with NADA, EasyCare, NCM, Marellen, and other vendors and manufacturers, Jeff is the nation’s authority when it comes to training service advisors and service support staff. Visit his website at get info on On-Site Training, Public and Private Worshops, NEW DVD Training Program, Webinars, and a FREE trial of Virtual Training! For more great tips and advice, follow Jeff on Twitter at@JCowansProTalk. He’s also on Facebook, and Google+. You can also watch Jeff Cowan’s videos on YouTube!

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Comment by Tom Wiegand on January 26, 2016 at 4:51pm

Which will your customers prefer you implement:

a sales culture they already are accustom to hating,

or a Person2Person Relationship Culture they are not expecting yet will absolutely welcome with open arms?

At the end of a day would you prefer measuring what your team 'sold', or what your team 'caused' in loyal relationships that 'caused' customers to "buy" more than any sales team could have 'sold'?  

You too are a consumer --- which would YOU prefer as a customer?

Think about it!

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