Determine how to promote your technician’s efforts through proactive business development.
When product and service promotion by technicians is treated as a service, you avoid making recommendations for the sake of “selling” and focus on promoting only those products and services that you think will provide a measurable benefit for the customer.
There is tremendous value through this approach and it is consistent with the technicians’ own view of their role. The challenge for many service providers, however, is articulating this value to their existing and prospective customers.
It is this challenge that explains why so few service organizations promote their technicians’ proactive business development efforts. I recently spoke at a field service event about the promotion of products and services by the field service team. I asked a few questions of the audience and found that, although the vast majority of the attendees had either a formal or an informal expectation that their technicians would make product or service recommendations to their customers, only one or two said that they actually promoted these activities as a benefit to their customers.
This is unfortunate because the proactive efforts of the field service team represents tremendous value for their customers and provides the foundation for differentiating their business.
If you have engaged your field service technicians in business development as a service, how are you communicating the benefits to your customers? How are you using your technicians’ efforts as a differentiator of your service offering from your competitors?
If you feel you could do better, consider the following steps to develop a communication strategy that will resonate with your customers and help you differentiate your business from the masses.
Assemble the information you will use to describe the promotion of products and services by your technicians to existing and prospective customers.
The purpose of this step is to be able to answer the question, “How and why are the proactive recommendations by your technicians a unique approach?” The goal is to be able to clearly and concisely communicate with existing and prospective customers about what the customer can expect when doing business with you and why it is different from your competitors.
Start by recording all of the components of this initiative that contribute value for the customer. For example, your initiative may include components such as:
- An initial meeting with the customer to review their objectives and understand their unique challenges so that the field service team has some direction in terms of what is important to the customer.
- Annual meetings with the customer to review the progress of the initiative and to determine if the customers’ goals and objectives have changed.
- Customer satisfaction surveys that measure the effectiveness of the technicians’ recommendations in helping the customer achieve their goals.
Write down exactly how your technicians will approach their proactive role and what this will look like to the customer. What will the technicians do when they find an opportunity? How will the customer be engaged? What options does the customer have in turning these efforts “on” or “off,” and so on.
Create a list of the benefits created by the proactive efforts of the field service team. Start by brainstorming all the possible benefits that will result from your technicians’ proactive efforts. Specifically, how will this approach contribute to your customers’ success? For example, how can your technicians’ efforts help your customer to save money, reduce operating costs and/or improve equipment availability?
Consider how you can tailor your technicians’ efforts to be focused on the customers’ longer-term goals and objectives and how this approach creates value. Identify specific examples of how your technicians have contributed to the success of other customers.
Identify why this approach is different. Compare and contrast these benefits in terms of your proactive vs. the more traditional reactive approach to service delivery. Keep in mind that the customer may automatically assume that you are turning your technicians into salespeople.
Although you may have the noblest intentions of improving service levels through these proactive efforts, not everyone will initially recognize this. Consider how you will overcome this perception and help your customers become enthusiastic supporters of your effort.
Create the Narrative
Put the output from steps together to create the narrative that you will present to your customers.
Once you have defined what you do and why it is of benefit to the customer, you can put this together into a narrative that you can share with your customers. Start by writing down your side of an imaginary conversation that you will have with a prospective customer that will introduce this valuable service.
Continue to work and refine this narrative until you are satisfied that it clearly and accurately communicates the service and its value and why it is unique.
Please note that this is not your Unique Selling Proposition — that short, concise statement that in a few words communicates the unique benefit of your approach and positions you as different from your competitors. That comes later.
Test it on Customers
Identify a number of trusted customers that you can approach to share your narrative about the proactive efforts of your field team as a service. Don’t try to “sell” them on the idea, but rather explain to them that you have engaged your field team in this way and you want their feedback on your approach.
Describe the service based on the notes that you created in step 3, then listen carefully to what they have to say. It is important that you get feedback from a number of customers so that you get a broad perspective on how your service is perceived and accepted.
Once you have the feedback from your customers, you can fine tune your presentation and tailor it so that it is appropriate for the various audiences. For example, the discussion you might have with existing customers to inform them what you are doing and how it will work will be different to the one used by your new contract sales team.
Update your marketing efforts and materials to include the new service. After revising your message based on the feedback from Step 5 above, it is now time to update your marketing efforts and materials to include the new service and how it differentiates you from your competitors.
It is also the time to create your Unique Selling Proposition so you and your team can quickly and easily communicate the benefits of your approach.
The proactive efforts of your field service team to promote your products and services provides real value for your customers when the intent is to offer a higher level of service.