Guest Column | November 22, 2021

Leveraging Service to Drive New Revenue

By Paul Hesselschwerdt, Global Partners Training

Trending Up Driving Revenue

This is about the time of year when companies are planning and budgeting for next year. Usually, this starts with an exercise around forecasting revenue. Over the last few years, we have seen companies expand their thinking about revenue growth to include field service as a new source of revenue. Carlos Gomez, North America VP of Sales for Bently Nevada, a division of Baker Hughes was one such business leader who appreciated that his field service people could be a significant source for revenue growth. For one thing, Carlos knew that service people interacted with customers far more frequently than anyone else in the company, including sales. Not only that, but the nature of those transactions was about creating value for customers by helping, advising, and solving customers’ problems. This led to high-trust relationships that were unique and incredibly valuable, both to the customer and to Baker Hughes. The challenge for Carlos and many other service leaders was how to leverage those high-accessibility and high-trust relationships to grow the business.

Service leaders know intuitively that having high trust relationships between customers and service people is good for business and a natural part of Servitization and Customer Success strategy initiatives. Their challenge, however, has been how to create a process for service people to follow that would result in identifying and capturing revenue, especially incremental revenue, consistently and predictably. Some companies devised lead generation schemes to help field service people notice potential opportunities to sell replacement products, then hand the lead off to a salesperson. Others created sales quotas, compensation programs, and sales training specifically for field service people. While these efforts generated some success, most companies missed the big opportunity because they missed the big picture. Instead of creating new processes and initiatives to get service people to sell, successful companies like Baker Hughes focused their service people on five activities that they could and should be doing with customers every day, which would lead to short and long-term revenue.

  1. Observing customers
  2. Delighting customers
  3. Recovering and improving relationships
  4. Offering alternatives
  5. Demonstrating value

The common thread among these five activities, which we call Revenue Generating Opportunities (RGOs), is that they are things that service people do, or should do, routinely. This is important because one of the greatest barriers that prevent service people from generating revenue is cultural; service people do not want to be perceived as salespeople. They rightly point out that the moment the customer senses that the service person is ‘selling’ something, the special partner relationship disappears. Even Offering Alternatives, which could be seen as part of a sales negotiation process is very different when it is done by a service person while problem-solving with the customer, rather than by a salesperson.

Enabling service people to leverage their special relationships with customers

The next step in the change process is for service people to learn and apply specific tools and skills for each of the five activities. For example, Observing Customers means not only watching how customers behave during a service call, but it also means thinking, what is the customer struggling with? Or why is the customer doing that work-around when there is a simpler approach available? That kind of systematic, proactive thinking leads to proposing new approaches and solutions, which very often means add-ons to service orders and expansion of service contracts. In one situation, the field service engineer working on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico ‘observed’ that the customer was not planning for the possible urgent replacement of certain parts, simply because the operations managers were new and unaware of the risks of certain critical parts failing. The engineer proactively created a simple spreadsheet inventory plan that the customer could use to prevent shortages of critical parts. For Baker Hughes, this meant a sale of several hundred thousand dollars of spare parts and a customer who was delighted by the engineer’s proactive thinking.

Total Customer Focus™ Training

The five Revenue Generating Opportunities are part of a Global Partners Training program called Total Customer Focus™ (TCF). In addition to the tools and skills that enable service people to systematically leverage customer relationships to increase revenue, TCF participants learn to identify and act in situations that they encounter routinely in servicing customers. Importantly, TCF training also shows participants how to connect the dots between the customer-focused actions they take and the resulting revenue. Over time, service people automatically think about how they can create value for their customers, not simply how they can better perform service actions.

Sustainable, repeatable impacts on revenue also have been documented by TCF participants at Baker Hughes and many other organizations.

In summarizing his feeling about the impact of Total Customer Focus™ training, Carlos Gomez pointed to the key change in thinking and behaving that he believes is critical for service people. As Carlos stated in the Future of Field Service podcast:

We want our service personnel out there thinking, how do I generate value for my customer? How do I not just solve a problem, but help my customer get to the next level? That empathy aspect is so important to understanding, what is my customer’s real pain point? – and then addressing it.

About The Author

Paul Hesselschwerdt has been a senior executive in training and consulting firms for more than 30 years. He has designed and implemented programs in customer service, sales and marketing, leadership, and project management across a range of industries, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and high technology. For additional insights, please visit