Many people think selling physical products, like computers, printers, or industry-specific equipment (i.e., medical devices, bank equipment, HVAC units, etc.) is easy. Companies can include photographs and hardware specs for their products in brochures, catalogs and on their website; and demos can often be conducted right at the customer’s site.
But, in reality, selling products is actually quite difficult, especially for individuals who have never sold anything in the past. This may be particularly true for services technicians, regardless of how much experience they have in the field. And yet, it is these technicians that in most cases have long and ongoing relationships with many of the company’s product and services customers.
So … the question often arises, “Why can’t our services technicians also sell to our existing customer base?” The rationale behind this is, if they can be taught to “sell” extended services agreements, equipment upgrades and professional services on already installed equipment, they can become a vital source of new revenue.
For example, some customers may only vaguely be aware or understand that their warranty service on a specific piece of equipment lasts for only one year (or less) without fully recognizing that any post-warranty support may need to be billed on a time and materials basis – which could end up being quite expensive.
This is a classic case where existing customer accounts may be clamoring for enhanced coverage or extended service agreements – or for various other types of professional services that your company may offer (i.e., user training, train-the-trainers assistance, custom documentation, etc.) – but they do not always have easy access to the information that might ultimately “sell them” on a specific product or service upgrade.
However, if your field technicians are properly trained in cross-selling and upselling the company’s services, they will be able to, first, identify which accounts might be “ripe” for selling extended maintenance agreements, etc. and; second, point them in the right direction to get all of the information they need to support their pending purchase decision. Further, if they have been keeping up-to-date with your company’s portfolio of product and service offerings, they will also be ready to speak directly to the needs of those accounts with respect to additional product and/or services support.
What your field technicians could conceivably contribute to the company’s overall services sales effort – at the very least – is a good understanding of what their customers need, and the ability to help match those needs with the various types of products and services your company offers. This information, of course, will then need to be communicated to the appropriate sales groups within the organization (i.e., those that have direct responsibility for overseeing the communications). As such, once properly trained, your services technicians may be able to assist the company in tapping into a previously untapped – and potentially very large – additional source of revenue.
From the customer’s perspective, customer service, technical support and sales support go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, you cannot be a successful services organization if your field technicians do not have a fair mastery in all of these areas. Your field technicians have already received extensive training on how to fix various types of systems and equipment, and have probably taken remedial training courses from time-to-time (or whenever the company introduces a new product line). Customer service should be no different for them. They should also be incented to take follow-up courses in this area over time – possibly with the inclusion of services cross-selling and upselling training. That is the nature of the business, and they are directly immersed in it – day after day, situated right at the front lines.
Whether you call it “Customer Service”, “Technical Support”, “Field Service”, “Customer Relationship Management”, “CRM”, or whatever – it just makes sense that by providing your customers with a full measure of technical, sales and customer service support, you can improve their overall levels of satisfaction and loyalty. It is a win-win situation for everybody involved. The best-in-class services organizations have already learned how to accomplish this – and now, with the proper technical support, cross-selling and upselling sales support and customer service training, your field technicians can learn as well.
When you think about it, there is nothing difficult about building customer loyalty – if your employees receive the proper training. In fact, if you do it right, it can be argued that training your service technicians to fix the customer is really a lot more productive than merely training them to fix the equipment.