Sand Bags, Shell Games And Successful Pest Control Sales

Pest control sales can be a pretty sweet gig when things are rolling. Nobody questions you about your daily activity, the boss is fairly happy to see you and as long as numbers are adding up in the positive realm you can just about come and go as you please. Have a day or two of poor performance however and it can seem like you can’t breathe as the pressure from a disgruntled boss closes in from all sides. In my residential sales days there was a guy who had a system of keeping the bosses off his back while enjoying the ‘good life’ almost everyday. Being the struggling new sales weasel I was, my branch manager thought it would be good for me to do a little extended ‘ride along’ to see if I could pick up some pointers. I made it my mission to hang around with him as much as I could and try to figure out what he did and how he did it so maybe, just maybe I could have a little of that good life too. In reality, it didn’t take long to figure out what he was pulling off but the how was gonna take a bit more study. Even with that I kept milking my ‘training’ along with him because the days were so much fun. If this was sales, I wanted in.

A Sandbag Can Be Dead Weight-Not This Time

My colleague, let’s call him Steve wasn’t the top dog every month but he was probably the most consistent salesman turning at least one new job in per day but two on most. Steve came up the ranks just as I had and was a tech before he got into sales and we had worked together a little here and there. I don’t think he was real excited to have me hanging around at first but it didn’t take long and we both were having quite the time. We just seemed to click together on sales presentations and people were eating out of our hands to the tune of 3 or 4 new sales per day. Fun was an understatement and we spent more time laughing and hanging around places where potential clients weren’t then we ever did in front of a prospect. Even with that Steve would ONLY post his daily sale or two and just barely fulfill his quotas and I was beginning to see the full scope of why but still contemplating how.

Sale Sale Where’s The Sale?

Steve would always have the bulk of his appointments set for the morning so once he hit his numbers he had all afternoon to run around the county stopping at the local bar to shoot some pool, drive by and see an old friend or just whatever he needed. He rarely called in to schedule his work like you were suppose to but checking in with the office to get any late afternoon leads he always made sure to reserve room in the schedule book as he explained he had ‘pending’ sales. Steve usually hit at least one more appointment from his phone leads before heading home and 9 times out of 10 it was a sale but it could be days before the office knew about it. By my count each day was a three to four bagger and on some days we only made four or five appointments all day. The next day however when we all posted our numbers for the daily count, Steve would post just two jobs sold and always declared at least the minimum amount of sales calls you had to make which was seven. Even though I saw him do it with my own eyes, it still was a bit of a mystery and pretty slick how no one ever caught on. Our branch manager often said with a smirk, “I know you’re hitting your numbers- but- I don’t know how.”

It’s All In The System

Every company has a system I’m sure & employees, as their nature is will so often exploit this for their benefit. It’s just the way things work and Steve had this one down cold. Normally after selling a job you would immediately call the office to have it scheduled and usually that could be done the same day. The following morning was when you posted the previous days sales but Steve NEVER posted his work from that day unless he had to to keep his numbers up. Instead he sandbagged the contracts and would post the work the following day (or longer) so actually two days or more after the sale. This way if by chance he had a slow day or, sshhhh, he took the day off after attending the daily meeting he could do so and still have sales to count. He almost always had more than a couple contracts to play with in this way and most of the clients bought into his line that our book was filled until such and such a date and he’d call them with a schedule day as soon as he could work them in. Plus, since he was once a tech he often did his own work which bought him even more time. (the tech in his area loved it because Steve always gave him the the ticket to turn in for production) His daily activity (appointments) log was also a shell game of sandbagging mastery. Many times he’d count calls of those he sold but didn’t count the sale itself. As with any excess sales he NEVER posted more than the seven required appointments nor any of his late afternoon calls and would hold those for another day. I’m still not really sure exactly how he pulled it off but he always had a legitimate list of seven bona-fide sales visits even when he barely worked. It’s just that the dates of when he saw these folks wasn’t always accurate but that was easily fixed with the artistic use of a pen. The beauty of Steve’s system was even though I watched it played out right in front of me I never knew what sale he would pull out to post. Like a street vendor who makes money with a shell game we all knew Steve would have his sales & numbers we just didn’t know from where. I’m pretty sure my manager knew all about what was going on but why question a good thing? After all, a sale is a sale or so those in the biz say-and Steve, well that made him successful at the three oldest tricks in the book. Sandbags,shell games and sales.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Everybody has a system, I like to get it done early because you never know what may be lurking around the next corner. I also think the best sales come from Service People, they understand thje work and don’t undersell it.

  • I think the successful people in this business do have a system and work it. One of the most successful salesman I ever saw absolutely REFUSED any phone leads & worked mainly evenings. That branch mgr. (I was told) never said a word if he didn’t come in for the normal meetings. I truly tried to have a system but things changed so much in my career going from position to position and finally back to tech. I think you’re ‘dead on’ with your thought about service people not underselling. While my largest jobs ever sold was as a sales guy-my most quality and valuable sales came as a tech—

    Good Insight
    Thanks