Most sales teams focus on closing deals and adding to their pipeline. They rely heavily on marketing programs to drive leads, but often overlook a valuable resource: intel from field service technicians.
In a recent survey, Aberdeen Group found that 57 percent of best-in-class companies incentivize field technicians to identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities for sales. “Service technicians are often in front of customers at a time of need. The intelligence, which can be gleaned from these interactions, is invaluable to the sales team,” the report says.
Not all service techs want to sell, but they can still play a valuable role in the sales funnel. For instance, if they have to fix the same problem week after week because a customer is misusing the product, the company could add a training service into the contract to teach the customer proper use. Not only does this build efficiency into the company’s operations, but also it adds value to the customer, who has more productive assets on the floor.
Not only is the communications gap between sales and services psychological, it’s also a physical one. The two camps rarely interact in daily work. To glean insights from field techs, sales must make a concerted effort to ask them questions relevant to business.
Here are some of the most valuable questions that sales and marketing should ask their frontline workers:
Who are the happy customers and why are they happy?
Stacey Epstein, chief marketing officer at ServiceMax, suggests asking field techs this question for a couple of reasons. “Whether the customer is happy due to great product, or great service, this helps marketing understand the value proposition. It also helps them find great spokespeople, quotes and references about their offering,” Epstein says.
Constance Marroquin, marketing manager at global medical technology company ArjoHuntleigh, suggests asking: Does the customer know the value you are providing, and is that person the economic buyer?
“Often the service tech may not have direct contact with the person who is making the economic decisions for their products and services. It is important they seek them out, give them a summary of the service (value) they have provided and leave a business card,” Marroquin says.
She also recommends asking techs if they know the company’s top three competitors.
“Service should have a general knowledge of products and services of their top three competitors so they can easily identify the names and products in an account. Service can be a great source for market intelligence, but they have to know what to look for,” Marroquin says.
In a recent LinkedIn discussion, several field service managers shared the questions that they think sales should ask techs. Here are a few of their recommendations:
- What improvement would you like to see?
- How is the system working?
- What does the customer think about the system?
- What enhancement does the customer want?
- Do you think the customer training is working?
- What do you feel we could do to improve the after-sales support?
- Do you think there is a possible sale at your sites?
- What is the customer’s impression when they see you?
- Assume that you are the customer. Do you think that our efforts can gain your loyalty to our organization?
Epstein says sales teams will find value in aggregate data from field techs. “As a marketing person, if I can get reports on where there are failures, I can run campaigns for those products, regions, etc. for service offerings or even product upsell,” she says.