The greatest opportunity to differentiate your service business and gain market share over your competitors is in the hands (or rather the heads) of your field service technicians. They have the knowledge, experience and proximity to customers necessary to make recommendations that will truly help customers. All technicians need to do is recognize the opportunity to promote a beneficial product or service, and then take the initiative to bring that solution to the customer’s attention.

Pretty simple, right? Not so fast.

If you are disappointed with the results of your field team’s efforts to promote your company’s products or services, you are not alone. In my experience, nearly all service leaders who have looked to their field teams as sources of revenue growth are frustrated because the actual results trail desired results — often by a great margin.

Here are six reasons that explain the less-than-desired results:

1. Limited Management Support

This is the top reason for poor results: Management does not get fully involved in teaching, encouraging and coaching their teams. Without constant focus and support of the field team’s proactive efforts by management, it will be impossible to maintain the momentum of the field team’s efforts. What managers are asking field technicians to do is uncomfortable for many. Without encouragement and support, techs will slowly but surely revert back to their own habits

2. Unclear Expectations

When I work with managers to help identify why the results may be lagging expectations, I often find that managers have not clearly articulated how, exactly, they want field techs to promote their products and services.Managers should ask themselves several questions:

  • Why do I want techs to drive revenue?
  • Am I asking techs to become salespeople or just better service people?
  • What is the benefit to the customer?
  • What should techs do if they find an opportunity to help?
  • How should techs record that opportunity?

Unclear expectations leads to unfocused action.

3. Poor Systems and Processes

This refers to the systems and processes in place to take action once the field team has identified the opportunity. Questions managers should ask themselves include:

  • How are opportunities pursued — and by whom?
  • How do we keep everyone informed?
  • Who is responsible for follow up?

When systems and processes are not clear and communication is poor, opportunities tend to fall through the cracks and nothing will stifle the field team’s efforts more.

4. Lack of Interpersonal Skills Training

Training should be focused on the skills and approaches that will help the field team communicate more effectively with their customers. While most field professionals can speak quite comfortably about the technical issues, some may be uncomfortable engaging in conversations about why the customer should purchase a particular product or service. Skills training in these types of conversations will help reluctant technicians take the initiative. One word of caution: Look for training programs that are designed specifically for field service professionals. There are many programs that are “dumbed down” sales programs originally designed for salespeople, which could turn off (rather than energize) your team.

5. Lack Knowledge of the Company’s Products and Services

When working with field service teams, I often discuss their company’s products and service capabilities. At some point, technicians will inevitably confess that they didn’t realize their company offered all of the solutions, while others will admit they don’t have enough knowledge of their firm’s capabilities to broach them with the customer. As a result, many opportunities to help a customer are lost because they go unrecognized — or the field professional is too uncomfortable to speak up.

6. Customer Perception of Technicians’ Efforts

One of the reasons that your field service team can be so effective at promoting your products and services is because they have a higher level of customer trust than other employees. Unlike salespeople, customers often trust field technicians because their job is to fix problems and keep equipment operating effectively. If your field team is overly aggressive in promoting your products and services, the customer may see the technician as more of a salesperson and the bond of trust is lost.

The proactive actions of your field team can propel your business to greater heights if harnessed effectively. If you have engaged your technicians in business development activities and rely on them for revenue generation but are not happy with the results, evaluate your efforts against the six points above and see if you can identify opportunities to boost their efforts. Your field team – and your customers – will thank you.

If you are interested in evaluating the proactive nature of your own field service team, check out our self-assessment survey.

ABOUT Jim Baston

Avatar photoJim Baston is president of BBA Consulting Group Inc., a consulting and training firm located in Ontario, Canada. Since founding BBA Consulting Group in 2001, Jim has focused his attention on helping technical service companies develop and implement strategies to transform field service personnel from reluctant into enthusiastic promoters of their company’s products and services. He is also the author of several books about how service companies can improve customer satisfaction and revenue, including "Beyond Great Service: The Technician's Role in Proactive Business Growth."