Why Restoration Sales Reps Fail – And What To Do About It

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If you’ve owned or led a restoration company that employs sales reps, there’s a very good chance you’ll relate to the following questions:

“My sales rep did $2.5M at their previous company, but it’s been 5 months and they’ve only brought in a couple of $15k jobs so far. How is that possible?”

“My best sales rep is only at $250k in revenue for the year and they brought in $3M the previous year. What gives?”

“I hired this gal, and she was the top sales rep for a commercial roofing company 3 years in a row – she booked more than $2M in jobs just before coming over to us. Here, she’s only brought in $70k after 8 months. What do I do?”

I’ve helped coach or lead well over a hundred sales reps at this point, and generally, if I’ve got a sales rep that’s failing or under-performing, the first two things I look at are quantity and quality. Let me explain:

Quantity – Is the sales rep consistently doing enough of the leading activities we KNOW lead to inbound calls? These activities include X number of referral partner touches, scheduled sales meetings, networking events/meetings, and cold-calls or fresh contacts. A simple ride-along and calendar review typically tells you everything you need to know about the volume of their sales activities.

Quality – Is the sales rep having the right kinds of interactions with prospects and clients? Are they defaulting to the old “candy and smiles” routine, boozing and schmoozing, and handing out glossy flyers, or are they engaging the prospect/client with curious questions and professionally selling to their pain-points and needs? Again, getting some time out in the field with them will give you a lot of clarity as to the quality of their prospecting and customer development.

But what do you do if you put in the field time with them, and both their quantity and quality checks out?

Now it’s time to turn the attention toward the rest of your business.

I was watching a video of Alex Hormosi recently where he was talking about sales best practices. Maybe you’ve heard of him – he’s been all over YouTube and Facebook Reels the last few years.

I zeroed in on a single passing comment in the video. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “The number one reason why sales reps get in a slump or fail to succeed is they lose confidence in their product.”

This comment produced a swift and visceral reaction in me. Having come up in the industry on the sales leadership side of the business, I felt his statement in my guts. I’ve had seasons of riding high on a wave of sales, and I’ve had seasons in the business where I struggled to get out of my car or to pick up my phone. And as a VP of Sales, I watched it first-hand across my team. At Floodlight, I see it routinely in new teams we’re working with.

So what causes sales reps to lose confidence in their “product”?

Sometimes it’s a single fumbled job.

And I know that a lot of you owners and ops leaders are balling up your fists reading that. “How can they expect every job to go perfect? Do they realize how hard our people work and how difficult it is to deliver service in this business? They need to be less critical of our operations team and stay focused on bringing in more sales.”

Take a moment though and put yourself in the sales rep’s shoes.

Virtually every single prospect that your sales rep is approaching already has a restoration company they’re referring or working with. And they are not going to switch to your company simply because the sales rep is better looking, has cooler swag, or is handing out better-looking sales materials.

Your sales rep is making promises to these prospects. They’re hearing about the crummy experiences the prospect is having with a competitor, and they’re positioning you and your team as the solution.

They’re sticking their neck out and putting their personal reputation on the line for your company and their fellow team members.

So when a job goes sideways, no matter what, a great sales rep is going to feel it in their guts. Especially if the blunder that occurred was the same exact pain point that the customer originally switched to us to avoid.

Think about your sales rep receiving this call or text from the client:

“Jenny, this is our first job we’ve brought you in on. You touted the fact that your team provides 24 hr job updates to all of your multifamily clients, and it’s been 3 days since we’ve heard from our project manager. Our owner client is freaking out, and we have no idea what to tell them. I’ve left 3 voicemails for our project manager and still no reply.”

Then Jenny calls the project manager, and they proceed to tell her “they’re sorry,” but they have 26 files on their desk right now and are super-overwhelmed. “I’ll try to get back to the client today if I can.”

What is Jenny to do? Does the client care if the project manager is overwhelmed by too many files? So Jenny then goes to her recon manager to try and address it.

And her recon manager says, “I looked at the job, and everything’s going fine. What does the customer need to know? Just let them know everything is fine and that we’re just really busy from the storm this weekend.”

So Jenny sheepishly reaches out to her client and lets them know that “We’re just really busy from the storm this weekend, but everything is going fine on their project.”

If you’re Jenny, a commercial sales rep for a 24/7 disaster restoration company, how confident do you feel delivering that message?

How likely is Jenny to feel motivated to make an extra 15 or 20 cold calls that week to try and connect with more property managers? How much conviction will she have if she actually gets face time with a decision-maker?

Okay, okay, okay. You get it. But what is to be done? We operate in a very difficult industry, where there is no such thing as a perfect project.

Three things you can immediately do to address this dynamic in your business and restore the confidence of your sales team:

  1. When things go wrong on a job, take the service recovery seriously and engage your sales rep in the process. Explain to the customer why the failure occurred and what the team is doing to fix the system so it doesn’t happen again. But don’t stop there; ask the client what you can do to make this current situation right. I’ve often been surprised by how little a customer wants in consideration of the service failure.
  2. Complete a Pain/Solution Table with your team. This is a simple exercise we do with our Floodlight clients that has a profound impact on their business. Click here to watch a KnowHow I created that will tell you exactly how to do the same exercise with your team.
  3. Begin performing After-Action Reviews with your team when a job goes sideways. An after-action review is a dispassionate audit of a job after it’s closed and collected. Here’s a KnowHow we created to explain exactly how to implement AARs in your restoration company.

If you take action and implement these three behaviors into your business as a system, you will begin rebuilding and fortifying your sales team’s confidence in their product. And the concrete solutions you identify (or create) from the Pain/Solution Table exercise, over time, will become real points of pride across your team – not just for your sales reps but your entire team. Those solutions are what you and your team are actually selling. They are, in fact, the only thing your prospects and customers really care about. They are the only things differentiating you from all the myriad players in your market.

When you fix your service delivery, you will almost always fix your sales problem. And if you don’t, well, you may indeed have a sales rep problem. And you know what to do about that.

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Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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