“Which function in your organization has the most touchpoints and the highest customer trust?”

Here I go again, preaching to the choir. You know where this line of thought is going. Today I want to voice a different tune. I don’t want to highlight what sets Sales and Service apart, but I want to find the common ground. Because we need each other for the sake of organizational survival and growth.

A couple of years back I chaired the Copperberg After:Market event. In my closing remarks, I provoked the audience with the word “after” in “after-sales.” Is service an afterthought? A big NO came from the delegates. Though the word “after” triggers quite some emotions and hits some nerves, let me share an ugly truth with you: after-sales does not exist without an initial sale! Service will not replace sales. Service should not compete with sales over margin contribution. Both sales and service have a role to play in customer value creation throughout the life cycle of a product. The product becomes the carrier of value creation.

Become a Contributing Center

So, I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands by asking if your service organization is either a cost-center or a profit-center. We now agree that you are a contributing center! Agreeing on this nomenclature is key to collaboration with sales for two reasons:

  1. In a head-to-head battle with sales, sales will claim ownership of the revenue play. You don’t want this. You want a joint role and responsibility in revenue generation and margin contribution.
  2. More conceptual, if Service were a true profit center, Service would have had the organizational and budgetary mandate to sustain and grow service revenue. Practically all CSOs I’ve met have a budgetary mandate up to 2,500 dollars, pounds or euros. That’s not enough to drive your own margin and revenue destiny. So, maybe it is better to have Sales co-funding your new Service tools. In return, you share your customer trust and high-quality touchpoints with Sales.

Create a Feedback Loop

Collaboration between Service and Sales can be explained using the technique of Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD).

At last year’s Maximize we did a Technician survey and asked what motivates them. In short, most technicians want to be a hero on site. With that status, they create customer trust. As a result, they get high quality and contextual feedback.

What happens when technicians can’t share that information or get a feeling that their insights are not actioned? Does your organization have an incentive scheme to encourage technicians to create leads? Does it work? Do salespeople take leads from the service domain seriously? Do service people know how to deliver leads on a silver platter?

casual loop for service and sales

Yes, technician insights have the potential to create more and better leads. The service domain is also a repository of information to develop new services. Services that include the voice of the customer. Services aligned with your customers’ use cases.

As a salesperson, you would make a great impression on your customer when you display your ability to listen and show that you proactively use the feedback they share with technicians. Not only will your propositions be better, but also your customer will feel genuine interest and attention.

The killer feature in this Causal Loop Diagram is the reinforcement towards the technician. A reinforcement that outweighs any financial incentive scheme you can devise. Imagine how the technician feels when they get feedback that their discovery and insights have made a difference. This feedback is coming from two sources—firstly, the salesperson who confirms the use of the feedback, then the customer who confirms that their previous conversation was actioned.

Closing the loop adds to the technician’s empowerment and increases their status as a hero onsite. And guess what, next cycle this technician and salesperson will contribute even more to your bottom line.

Does it really work this way? In 2016 we trialed this causal loop with more than 60 chief service officers. The results were published in Field Service News in a piece called Demand Generation: A Groundhog Day Experience. Do share with us what your experiences are. Happy collaborative hunting!


ABOUT Coen Jeukens

Avatar photoCoen Jeukens is vice president of global customer transformation at ServiceMax. He works with customers and prospects to fully unlock the true value and potential of their service organizations. Prior to joining ServiceMax, Coen was the services contract director at Bosch where he implemented an outcome-based business model, with highly impressive results. Coen is also a regular keynote speaker at prominent field service conferences around the globe.