In the last two articles of this series, we focused on implementing a plan to engage your field service professionals in proactive business development. Now we’ll address some key actions that can be taken to reinforce the approaches and skills necessary for your team to successfully make recommendations that will benefit your customers.
Talk About the Value of the Initiative
One of the most essential actions you can take is to constantly talk about the important role your field team plays by making proactive recommendations to customers. Speak about the value of this approach every chance you get. Reinforce why the organization has adopted this strategy. Stress why it is valuable to your customers and to the field team themselves. Make it a topic of every service/safety meeting.
Measure and Communicate Progress
People are more motivated when they have real feedback that confirms that they are making progress. Create a dashboard of key metrics and post a current copy in a conspicuous place. In our last article, we discussed a range of metrics that could be considered for your dashboard to measure the effectiveness of your field team’s efforts.
Products and Services
Your field service team will not promote opportunities if they are unaware they exist, nor will they initiate a conversation with a customer about products or services if they do not know enough about them to engage in conversation comfortably. To address this, develop a strategy to bring your team up to speed on all the latest products and services your company provides.
Soft Skills Training
Your field team’s success in making recommendations depends on their perceived credibility from both a personal and professional perspective. If the customer does not trust the field professional’s motives (personal credibility) or is not confident in his or her competence (professional credibility), then they will not be successful in making recommendations to the customer, no matter how much value that recommendation may add.
Train your technicians on how to build both personal and professional integrity. Use this as an opportunity to define the customer experience you would like your customers to have consistently over time and across the technician team. Provide clear guidelines for technicians to follow so they can confidently and easily deliver on this.
In addition, train your technicians on how to lead conversations to introduce recommendations that will motivate your customers to move forward.
If you are familiar with the research behind learning and forgetting, you know that we forget most of what we learn when we hear it only once. You will also know that we can dramatically increase learning and reduce forgetting through repetition. It is imperative not to assume that everyone will remember and apply everything they learn without repetition to reinforce that learning. Here are some things you can do:
- Reminders: At every opportunity, review the key skills and approaches that field service professionals can apply to help them make proactive recommendations. Short reminders by email can also be effective for this purpose.
- Practice: Many of the skills necessary to engage the customer in proactive business conversations can be challenging and, for some, uncomfortable. We can help our field team overcome these challenges by providing plenty of opportunities for them to practice these skills in a safe environment. Consider taking part of each service/safety meeting to review a particular skill and allow time for practice, including role playing.
- Coaching: Providing feedback on how the skills are being applied in the field can be an incredible learning and reinforcing opportunity. Get out in the field to observe and coach your team on communicating with customers. Remember to provide feedback on the positive actions your team is taking as well as on opportunities for improvement.
Keep on Top of the Process
Nothing will dampen your team’s enthusiasm more quickly than broken processes that don’t support their efforts. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, things will likely go wrong at times. It is important to continually monitor the process to ensure that it is working the way you intended and intervene when things just don’t go right. This commitment will go a long way in communicating that you are serious about the initiative and that it is here to stay.
In the next article, we will wrap up this series by discussing how you can promote your field team’s proactive efforts as a valuable differentiator to your customers.