Engaging your technicians in business development activities can increase the value to the overall service your company provides. An important factor is recognizing that the proactive efforts of your technicians is a service. Here are six steps you can take to ensure your efforts of proactively engaging your technicians in this way are successful.
Imagine that you’re about to launch a new service — something you’ve never offered before. Now, consider the steps you’ll take to make it successful. What will they be? In all probability, you’ll clearly define the specific steps the technicians will take to deliver the service properly.
You will likely provide training for your technicians to master the skills of the service. You will work hard to get buy-in from other divisions or groups within your organization that contribute to your ability to deliver the service effectively. You’ll talk about the new service at your service and safety meetings and promote it to your customers and get them to agree to at least consider using the service.
If business promotion by your technicians is a service, doesn’t it make sense to support it in the same manner that you would any other service that you chose to offer? Let’s look at the steps you revealed above in the context of engaging your field service technicians in promoting your services.
1. Define the specific steps of product promotion.
Through this step you specifically define what you expect the field service technician to do. This will include steps that they will take to explore for opportunities — for example, asking questions on arrival on site or after the service is completed. It will also include what you want them to do when they have a recommendation.
This could include discussing it with the customer and facilitating a follow-up visit from someone from sales or management. In addition, it’s important to be clear on how the opportunity should be recorded so that it is captured and tracked.
2. Provide training to support the technician’s efforts.
Some technicians may be uncomfortable in engaging the customer in conversation about products and services. You can overcome this by providing training and supporting the technician through coaching.
The training should include how to present the recommendation in a manner that communicates its value to the customer and what to do if the customer hesitates or says no. It would also be beneficial to use training as an opportunity to reinforce that these proactive discussions are all part of the service.
3. Educate your team on your organization’s capabilities.
This is directly related to the previous step and one that is often overlooked. Make sure that your field service team has a working knowledge of everything your organization does that can directly benefit the customer.
If they are not aware of a capability, then they will not recognize an opportunity to recommend. If they do know but are not conversant, then they may be reluctant to discuss it with the customer.
4. Get buy-in from the other divisions or groups within your organization that you’ll depend upon to deliver the service.
Chances are your field service team will find opportunities that will need to be handed off to another group like sales or projects and these groups may not be within your direct control.
It’s important that these groups work with you seamlessly or else your efforts may be frustrated. Your technicians will soon tire of making recommendations that are not followed up in a timely manner for example.
5. Talk the walk.
You’ve decided to offer the proactive efforts of your field service team as a service, so it’s critical that you use language that supports this. At your service meetings, it’s only natural to talk about the success of the initiative. In doing this, however, it’s important to avoid talking about the technicians’ proactive efforts as selling.
For example, if a customer purchased a product from you because of the recommendation of a technician, be careful not to talk about it as a sale as in, “Technician A sold product B to this customer.” Instead, talk about the service that technician A was able to provide to the customer by recommending product B to solve a particular problem.
It may be a subtle difference between the two examples, but it is an important one. Your language impacts your business culture and by using a “service” language you’ll be continually reinforcing your efforts to engage the techs.
6. Promote the proactive efforts of your technicians to your customer and get them to agree to the service.
This is an important step to pave the way for the technicians to provide this service. By speaking with your customers about what you’re doing and how it will benefit them, you help the customer recognize the technicians’ efforts for what they are — an important part of the overall service.
Getting the enthusiastic engagement of your entire field service team in making proactive recommendations is not an easy task. A lot can go wrong. Technicians may not see it as their job. Customers may become confused if they feel they are being sold by their service technician.
Opportunities may fall through the cracks frustrating customers and technicians alike. Other divisions may not provide the support required. Much of this can be avoided by treating the initiative just like you would any other service initiative and providing the planning, processes and training necessary to ensure success.