In case you missed it, Kevin Holland of ACCA’s “The Exchanger” blog wrote an enlightening and useful post about a strategy service people should adopt in order to make closing sales easier. While sales training often focuses on persuasive language and confidence, Holland found the consensus among contractors is this: sales isn’t really about the salesperson. It’s about letting the customer make the sale for themselves.

Sorry salespeople (and that includes service techs in the field who deal directly with customers), this doesn’t mean less work for you. It means communicating in a different way. Instead of simply being a purveyor of information, the best salespeople consume and assimilate what customers are saying, then give the customers exactly what they want. They don’t just pitch products or services; they’re also psychologists in a way.

Holland got a lot of great (and colorful) responses from contractors from a survey the ACCA sent out, including one contractor who advised that when making a sale, “Shut up and listen. The customer will tell you what they want 90% of the time.”

That was the general consensus among contractors. One of the great things about this article — something that bodes well for sales-phobic service techs everywhere — is that sales isn’t as mysterious or scary as it’s sometimes made out to be. There was one survey respondent in particular who crystallized this idea pretty effectively:

“Avoid making the sale tough in the first place!” this contractor wrote. ”An effective process to do this is to allow the customer to be in charge of the direction and selection process based on his/her wants and goals.”

This contractor continued, “The salesman becomes the facilitator, source of information and trusted advisor. Price as you go, revealing costs progressively, so there is no sticker shock in the end. In the end, the customer is left to make his/her decision based on what they have specified, with full disclosure of costs and terms. The ‘close’ becomes an agreement to the beginning of a mutually benificial, long term relationship.”

There are a few key points to take away, whether you’re selling HVAC services, an upgrade to a customer’s cable plan or anything else one might be selling in the field. First, sales is about listening above all else. New information you garner from the customer could completely change your sales pitch. Second, an honest, forthright conversation isn’t just the best way to interact with someone, it can also help drive revenue. The more often field service techs look at potential customers as people with valid needs worth listening to, it’ll become that much easier to make sales — much easier than when it’s assumed the customer has to be convinced to buy something they don’t necessarily want or need.

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