Guest Column | June 22, 2018

The Evolution Of The Field Service Engineer: From Service Provider To Trusted Advisor

By Vele Galovski, VP Research, Field Services, Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA)

Field Technologies Trusted Advisor

Nothing happens for equipment manufacturers until something is sold. Nothing to install, nothing to service, nothing to renew. Great hardware and equipment manufacturers have been built on great engineers creating great products for great salespeople to sell. And the best of the best repeated this cycle as often as they could. Even talk of additional services revolved around the initial product sale. These “attached service” offers included customization, installation, support and maintenance contracts, and training on how to use the equipment. Then, every 18-24 months, engineers developed a product refresh and the cycle started all over again. However, customer and supplier discussions are changing.

Customer And Supplier Discussions: The New Spectrum

Recent industry trends are resulting in new discussions between suppliers and customers. Instead of the product sale representing the end of the process, the initial placement of equipment is only the beginning of a much longer conversation. Additionally, customers are now becoming more hesitant to purchase the asset up front. Instead, many are deciding to lease the asset, or they are requesting a trial period before committing to buy. Some customers that lack the necessary skills to manage and implement the increasingly complex technology require hands-on help to fully adopt the product’s features. Finally, customers are more focused on their core competencies and they are insisting that suppliers guarantee the promised returns.

customer and supplier discussions

While it’s still true that nothing happens until a sale is made, the reality today is that a lot more has to happen after that initial sale. In this new consumption-based model, organizations should look to their field service engineers to find the skilled, trusted advisors that can drive account adoption and expansion.

How Field Service Engineers Become Trusted Advisors

Every sales person strives to achieve the coveted status of “trusted advisor.” As customers seek assistance to fully adopt product features and reap the promised return on investments, field service engineers check all the boxes to be a trusted advisor as part of their daily duties:

  1. Relationship: Field service engineers are on site with customers up to 50 times per month. During that time, they can build strong relationships with customers as they resolve issues and get them up and running again.
  2. Context: Field service engineers see good and bad implementations during break/fix incidents. They are in the perfect position to extend appropriate, in-context offers that improve customer performance.
  3. Personalization: Any salesperson would jump at the opportunity to get on customer premise to see current operations and competitive product placements. Field service engineers already have this intimate knowledge of a customers’ environment which can be leveraged to present targeted offers.
  4. Immediacy: Field service engineers provide customers with the instant gratification that comes from showing them how to better use their product. This immediacy cements field service engineers as a “trusted advisor” in the eyes of the customer.

What We Heard At TSW About The Expanded Role Of Field Services

At TSIA’s Technology Services World conference in San Diego back in May, the conference theme was “Blending Service and Sales Motions.” We heard great case studies on how technology companies leveraged the expertise of both their Sales and Service teams to land, retain, and grow customers. Within the field services track, best practices for driving adoption and upselling to premium maintenance and support tiers took center stage.

  1. Leveraging Field Service Engineers for Cross-Sell and Upsell

We have all heard the arguments that involving a field service engineer in cross sell and upsell activities somehow compromises their trusted advisor status. But the data shows that’s just not true. At the end of the day, if an FSE believes in the company and the product, they have a responsibility and they owe it to the customer to promote the benefits of the product, how to use it better, and to help them achieve more and better outcomes. Helping the customer achieve better outcomes enhances the FSE’s status as a trusted advisor.

  1. Establishing Land, Adopt, Expand, and Renew (LAER) Practices for Field Services

Since more revenue will come after the initial sale, expand selling is enabled by driving customer adoption of products and services, understanding how the customer is using your product, and helping them to achieve their business outcomes.

For example, mobility platforms enable field service engineers to quickly identify appropriate value-added services based on the following “triggers” related to observed operational issues versus industry performance:

  • Process efficiency
  • Equipment utilization
  • Environmental conditions
  • Individual operator performance
  1. Developing Expand Offers

To support the future consumption-based models, organizations need to create additional value- added service offers that go beyond break / fix and focus on optimizing customer processes. Examples presented include:

  • Use of augmented reality and smart glass applications to enable customer self-service and remote support.
  • Condition-based preventive maintenance based on data collected from connected products.
  • Management and operation of equipment on behalf of the customer, including calibration services and workflow improvements.
  1. Establishing Incentive Compensation for Field Service Engineers

With 40% of field service organizations incenting their field service engineers to identify cross sell and upsell opportunities, best practices in establishing an actionable lead generation program were presented, including:

  • Required fields in your lead input system
  • Lead qualification process
  • Human curation within the lead qualification process
  • Sales leadership buy-in (and empathy)

From Service Provider To “Trusted Advisor”

Executing the LAER model will be critically important for future OEM revenue growth. As indicated above, field service engineers are uniquely positioned to drive adoption and identify value-added service opportunities as part of their daily duties. Leveraging their trusted advisor status can help your organization be relevant and successful for years to come.


Vele Galovski is vice president of research, Field Services, for TSIA. Using his nearly 30 years of industry experience, he has led and advised organizations, both large and small, in the achievement of breakthrough performance and cultural transformation. Vele has also written a book, The Perpetual Innovation Machine, that redefines innovation as Standard Operating Procedure. He may be contacted at