How are industry leaders implementing soft-skills into their field service teams? If you ask attendees at this year’s 2013 Servicemax Maximize Summit, it hasn’t been without some trepidation. Friday, Servicemax spoke with three industry leaders in field service — John Moore, senior manager of CSS business systems at Varian, Keith Moore, field service business leader at Molecular Devices, and Mike Mendoza, founder and CEO at Capital Air Systems — and asked them how they are transitioning their field service teams from focusing primarily on fixes to becoming a more dynamic sales and customer service team. Here are a few of their insights:

Start with Hiring

According to Keith Moore, a lot has changed in the last five years when it comes to hiring for field service, so embrace the change. “Before, technical skills were the most important thing, but now, when it’s easier to replace a broken part rather than fix it, it’s more valuable to have a technician that can interact with the customer well. After testing for technical skills, we conduct behavioral interviews to find someone who can interact well with the customer,” says Moore.

Provide the Right Tools

Soft-skills still require the proper tools. Panelists agreed that it is important to send service technicians into the field with the proper training and motivation to sell. Says John Moore: “It’s important to have field technicians that are equipped to help customers find the products they need.”

Focus on Solutions

Moving forward, customer relationships are the main focus for field techs, the panelists say. “There is no hard selling,” says Keith Moore. “You’re providing the customer with a solution. We encourage our field techs to look around, talk to the customer and find out what they need. Once a strong customer relationship has been established, the sales aspect comes naturally.”