Using service technicians to boost revenue is a hot topic right now.
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 revenue through their field service technicians.
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. However, more often than not, they do not engage the customer in a “sales conversation”.
After all, they are first and foremost service engineers and not sales people. 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 service technicians boost revenue 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 . For example, a question or a suggestion such as:
“Have you heard about product x?”
“The reason you are struggling with ‘a’, may be because of ‘b”
As well as a simple next step to follow. For example:
“Just call this Freephone number and my colleague will get one sent out to you”
“You’d save money if you go onto an annual maintenance plan. Would you like me to arrange that for you?.
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. This then 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 – e.g. “Please don’t forget to ask your technician about…”
- Promotional materials sent to or handed to the customer – e.g. “50% off carbon monoxide detectors with all annual boiler services”
- Information on the statement of works – e.g. “Lime scale looks unsightly and increases energy consumption, 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.
Also that the customer actually receives the message in advance of, or during, the technician’s visit. Finally, that the customer is likely to respond positively.
This means of course that you should forget the hard sell. This will likely antagonise both your customers and your service technicians.
3. Equip your service technicians with mobile technology
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 is vital. This ensures that valuable customer information is shared and recorded seamlessly.
It also allows rich media such as video to be used. This can succinctly demonstrate the 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.
Otherwise you won’t close out sales leads efficiently. Worse still, you’ll likely demotivate your service technicians.
The same applies to providing feedback and answering any concerns or questions without delay.
Additionally, do let the technicians know when customers comment positively about buying products and services as a result of their visits.
And finally, do make sure that any bonuses are paid promptly. Recognising high achievers for their contributions also pays dividends in the long run.
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.