The first step in enthusiastically engaging your field service team in business development is to understand your starting point. In my last article, we introduced a simple 20-question tool to help you assess your current situation against proactive service best practices. This time, we will consider the second step — creating a vision of what you want your service business to look like in the future. This will reveal the gap between where you are now and where you want to go, which will uncover the actions necessary to achieve your goals.

To accomplish this task, you will need a quiet corner where you can spend uninterrupted time focusing on the future. Although it is possible to complete this in one sitting, you may wish to work over several sessions, returning to edit and fine-tune your work. I also encourage you to review your thoughts with members of your team and solicit their input into the creation of your vision.

Imaging a Better, More Proactive Future

Imagine that there is a dark corner of the tool crib where no one has been in years. You take a moment one day to explore this space and discover an odd-looking contraption covered in dust. Upon closer investigation, you realize that it is a time travel machine. You brush away the dust and the cobwebs, clean off the dials and hop in. The instruments on the dashboard immediately light up. You set the clock for exactly 18 months from now and press the big green button that says “GO.” In the blink of an eye, you are propelled a year and a half into the future.

The view looks pretty good! You marvel at the progress you have made since you started this initiative. Your field service technicians are providing unprecedented value by actively exploring actions that your customers can take to help them in their business. Now imagine that you are writing a letter to a friend and describing the great work your field service technicians are doing by taking a proactive role in helping your customers.

Although this is a vision of the future, write it as if it has already occurred — as if you have already achieved your vision. Avoid words like “will have” or “hope to.” Remember, you are simply describing the reality of what you are observing 18 months from now.

What Your Vision Should Include:

As you describe your vision of the future, be sure to develop a clear picture of the core areas of the business as they relate to business development. Remember to describe the future as if you have already achieved it. Consider the following areas of focus:

  • Business Promotion as a Service: It is critical that your field service team recognize that their business development efforts are an integral part of the service that they provide. Use this section to describe how you have positioned the business development efforts of your field service team as part of the service provided. How does it provide value to your customers? Why is business development by your technicians a service and not a selling activity? How is this of value to the field service professional? How does the field team demonstrate its support of this initiative?
  • Opportunity Capture: Use this section to describe how opportunities identified in the field are captured and managed. What specific steps does your field service team take when they uncover an opportunity? How do they record the opportunity and how is it captured into your opportunity management process?
  • Tools & Processes to Support the Techs’ Efforts: Expand on the tools that you have in place to support your field service professionals and how they are used to facilitate their efforts. Describe the processes that you have developed to manage and follow up on opportunities that are identified in the field. How are your technicians involved in developing the solution? How are all stakeholders kept informed of progress?
  • Understanding of the Company’s Products & Services: What steps are you taking to keep the field service team current on your organization’s products and services so that they are in a better position to uncover opportunities and more comfortable speaking to the customer about them?
  • Collaboration with the Sales Team: Describe the level of cooperation between the sales and service teams. How do the teams work together? How has this cooperation been instrumental to the initiative’s success?
  • What Your Customers Are Saying: Describe what your customers are saying about this initiative. What has happened to customer satisfaction scores? What have customers told you about your tech’s recommendations and how those recommendations have helped them?
  • Articulate the value proposition of this initiative from four perspectives:
    • The customers’
    • The technicians’
    • The stakeholders’
    • The business’

It’s time to get to work. Turn off your cell phone and your email, hop into the time machine, set the dials for 18 months into the future and push the green button. See you on the other side!

Next time, we will consider some of the hurdles to consider that, if left unaddressed, could sabotage your efforts.

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."