By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
Not long ago, most service and sales teams operated completely separately and no one really gave that practice a second thought. However, as technology has begun to enable easier knowledge sharing, organizations have begun to recognize the opportunity that exists with some form of service and sales integration or collaboration. In fact, Aberdeen Group recently reported that 57 percent of best-in-class companies incentivize field technicians to identify cross sell and upsell opportunities for sales.
If you think about it, integration between the two functions makes perfect sense — service technicians are closest to your customers in their time of need and can often recognize sales opportunities. That said, not every service technician is cut out for sales — and not every service organization wants to have its techs selling. It depends largely on the industry you’re in, the nature of your operation, and the type of techs you employ. The good news is, while having the sales and service functions operating disparately just doesn’t make much sense anymore, there are varying degrees of integration or collaboration that you can try depending on what best fits your operation.
Different Approaches For Sales/Service Integration
One option is to train your service technicians to actually cross sell or upsell customers themselves. For some organizations, this can work well. A few things to think about: What are your techs’ soft skills like? Is this something they’d be able/willing to do? How will your sales department feel about this sort of arrangement? How will you compensate field techs for their sales efforts? The best part about this approach is that no opportunity is wasted because the field techs can address needs immediately and right on-site. That said, for some organizations, this is just too much of a change and not something the field techs are comfortable with.
If that’s the case, an alternative to having your field techs do any direct selling would be to set up some sort of formal referral/lead program so that when they uncover opportunities at a customer site, they can capture the appropriate information and provide it to sales so that someone can follow up in a timely manner. The salesperson following up on this lead will already be well-informed about what the customer’s need is, and if done well, this can be a pretty seamless system that enables the sales function to benefit from the interactions the service techs are having with customers without the two roles really overlapping. One thing to consider if you like the approach and want it to work well is how you’ll incentivize your field techs to make sure they uncover and capture these opportunities versus ignoring them or not formalizing the information.
At a minimum, in today’s environment, you need to ensure there’s real-time information sharing between your service and sales departments. Techs should be taking good notes on the job, and sales people should be able to look at the tech’s job notes to determine if there are any potential upsell or cross sell opportunities. The days of service and sales operating in silos are behind us.