Should Sales Choose Install Teams?

When salespeople sell a job, should they have the authority to choose who installs the project? In my experience, most sales proposals assume the most skilled, smartest, and efficient installers/techs will execute the work.

If salespeople are allowed to chose installation teams to do their projects, it is very common to overbook the installer 'Varsity Team', and leave the 'Junior Varsity' installers scrounging for hours on less prestigious projects.

Especially for smaller integrators without Operators Managers to organize things, salespeople build close relationships with specific installers and techs (their team of 'fixers'), but then they just kind of ignore new/less experienced technicians. This is bad, because the best techs get overworked and do not have time to train up the new ones to be better.

How should this be handled? Should salespeople be allowed to specify certain installers? Or should installation work be planned without sales preference taken in account?

When I ran an installation department we rewarded the installers by allowing them to pick the projects based on their ranking with company inspection reports on the close out of each project and customer surveys. They chose the jobs based on the scope and salesperson.


Did you find that the higher ranking technicians were selecting "cake jobs"? I like the idea but I could also see it being abused. If I was a technician I would immediately abuse the system by bringing my rank up, selecting easy jobs from then on out, and keep the rank high with swiftly completed, low risk, low complexity jobs. Was there something built into this system to prevent this?

I'd hate to be the Operations Manager at that company! If you have enough business, technicians, and sales people to make these choices, you should certainly have an Operations Manager.

I agree that customers need as much consistency as possible and we do our best to deliver that. However, we do what we have to do to get all of the work done on time, to our standard, and within budget. If that means a different team for a customer on occasion, then that's what we do. It's the Operations Manager that makes those decisions, not the sales person that can't see the bigger picture.

Finally, if you are an integrator with a wide disparity in competence, quality, etc. between teams, then you need to improve your training and processes. Develop standards and enforce them!

I think you highlight the exact reasons that sales staff selecting team members is a bad idea unless they plan on running their own projects. There should be an operations manager, program manager, or a PMO that is in charge of allocating personnel to the greatest benefit of the company as a whole, not a particular sales person. A given sales person might setup a little kingdom of their own otherwise.

In my experience it was a good idea to take the best technicians, make them leads, and divvy them up amongst key accounts. I have been very lucky in having some phenomenal techs assigned to my projects under this method. Those "supertechs" both made up for their assigned crew's shortcomings and eventually developed those subordinate technicians into even better techs.

What type of 'jobs' do you have in mind here? If you mean ADT style, where sales sells solo and the tech shows up after the paperwork, I'm not qualified to say.

On jobs that need technical assessment before quotation however, there are natural ways to re-distribute the demand between the overworked and undertrained. The easiest is to have the bench scruffs accompany the account rep to assist from the get-go, in a pre-sales capacity.

Lackeys are to be preferred for such customer facing activities as documenting existing systems, tedious measuring, tool hauling, ladder and crawl space work as well as providing well-timed affirmations/nodding. Off premises, the eager grunts are invaluable for data-entry, customer documentation coordination, preparation and delivery of the quote as well as beverage management/takeout ordering.

This allows the sales person to build a rapport with the mindful minion as well as de-sensitizes the customer to the newbies physical presence, which tends to reduce those day 1 calls from the customer inquiring about the qualifications of the fresh-faced installer.

If the job is over the greenhorn's head then he should accompany the super-tech on the pre-sales visits, to learn from the experienced one and provide whatever functions he is capable of. With a secondary goal of being able to go solo on the follow-up meetings. Again, this provides the salesperson the opportunity become familiar with the peon personally, which is key.

Ultimately sales people, in addition to wanting the job done right, want it done soon; and so they will now be more willing to choose the overlooked over the overbooked.

Our typical install ran from $3,500.00 to $7,500.00 in USD. Most were higher end residential and some commercial. We did do a few very large jobs with some humorous tales to tell. Jobs took from 2 to 4 days and we're all hard wired. Our issues were mostly the little details and cutting some corners. Our sales people were responsible for turnover and paperwork after the installers left. We suffered from an acute case of the "done-butts". Always something small but enough to require an unscheduled return trip and a delay in payment. It's done.....but! Sometimes there were potential liabilities like "it's done......but those three far doors aren't working (or wired for that fact) We finally instituted a 100% inspection policy with documentation similar to a fire alarm sign off. The installer says he checked everything on the list and then a service tech went back through to verify. If something minor was missed he would take care of it and note it. Service loved it because a planned inspection was better than an unplanned emergency. It was also a gravy week for that guy. If it was major the installers were sent back. We worried the end users would object due to another appointment and delays. We provided information about what to expect in the sales process. We had a few customers who refused to have the system turned over because the crew doing the work had a 100% rating for a long time and we felt it was unnecessary. So we scheduled at their insistence. The reward for doing the best in sercice calls with no returns.....inspector for a week. The reward for doing 100% quality and attention to detail....pick of the jobs.

I guess when I was in the field I must have been on the varsity team. I seemed to always get the big, complex jobs that no one wanted.