Service has become a critical source of much needed revenue for many companies.
I’ve worked for and with a number of highly regarded businesses that have radically overhauled their service infrastructures to tap into the rich vein of sales opportunity flowing in through their contact centres and digital platforms.
Yet, some of these excellent organisations have still not found a way to achieve the same impressive level of sales through their field service operations.
Whilst it is undoubtedly true that service technicians are ideally placed to recognise when customers may benefit from a new value-added service or product or equipment upgrade, more often than not they do not engage the customer in a “sales conversation”.
After all, they are service engineers and not sales people and what’s more they work remotely with a degree of autonomy not usually accorded to office based colleagues.
Faced with this roadblock and the fact that the primary job is to actually deliver the quality of service that customers have already paid for, it is tempting to put service technician sales on the back burner for yet another year.
“Can you really afford to miss out on a channel where a trusted advisor is speaking face to face with your best customers?”
I thought not, so here are 4 proven ways to help your field based technicians to boost your service revenues without forcing them to become sales people:
1. Offer your service technicians some light sales training and provide appropriate rewards for leads generated
Having spent time out on the road interviewing engineers, I’ve yet to find one who would refuse to highlight a product or a service that would obviously benefit the customer and increase loyalty.
They just need some encouragement to start the conversation in a light way (e.g. “Have you thought about?”, “Have you ever heard about?”) and a simple next step to follow (e.g. “Just call this Freephone number and my colleague will get one sent out/set you up with an annual maintenance plan”).
In considering rewards for leads generated, please bear in mind that money – although often very welcome – is not necessarily the best motivator. Other softer rewards such as priority for holiday allocation or time off in lieu sometimes work better.
2. Provide your service technicians with marketing materials tailored to their needs
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some service technicians find it hard to start a sales conversation so it is always worthwhile prompting the customer to ask the questions, which puts the service technician in the more familiar role of problem solver or solutions provider.
Some of the ways that service businesses do this include:
- SMS text messages on the day (“Please don’t forget to ask your technician about…”)
- Promotional materials handed to the customer (“50% off carbon monoxide detectors with all annual boiler services”)
- Information on statement of works (“Lime scale reduces energy, your engineer can help”)
It is important to ensure that the messaging highlights additional benefits that the service engineer is ideally placed to talk about and that the customer actually receives and responds positively to these messages.
3. Equip your service technicians with mobile technology that makes it easy for them to demonstrate new products and services and to record sales leads.
If you are still using that reliable old PDA (or worse still recording information on paper), it is time to invest in new technology.
Service efficiency demands that time spent at the customer is treated as a precious resource. Ensuring that your service technicians have laptops or tablets capable of exchanging real time information with your company’s CRM system ensures that valuable customer information is shared and recorded and allows rich media such as video to be used to succinctly demonstrate features and benefits of added value products and services.
4. Ensure that your service technicians have back-up and follow through for their sales engagement
If your objective is to use your service technicians to generate leads, then you must provide them with a fully resourced back office that will close out these leads efficiently and feedback the results without delay to the originating engineer.
Also be sure to answer any concerns or questions instantly and to let the technician know when the customer has commented positively about his/her experience as is so often the case.
And finally do make sure that any bonuses are paid promptly and that those high achievers are recognised for their contributions.
By following the four steps outlined above, it is possible to move from a zero to a six figure new revenue stream without building a new salesforce.