It’s a great question. And one we are asked to consider quite frequently. But maybe the real starting point is: ‘Should I engage my service team in our sales process?’ After all, typically their role is to get the customer up and running, address issues and problems, sort out queries, share information and well, serve the customer. And anything that detracts from that could be a diversion.
We asked one of our customers, with plenty of relevant experience, for his perspective. Jason Morjaria, Managing Director of Commusoft, the software business which supports field service automation and efficiency sees real opportunities for businesses. But not everyone is so keen, as Jason explains:
When I’ve talked to clients in the past about making their service teams part of the sales process, they often shy away. “They’re not sales people” “I don’t want pushy sales”.
Let’s unpick this, and see what conclusions we might come to. There are risks, and this might not be for every business.
- People who go into customer service generally don’t want to be salesmen. Some will make the move, and very often make fantastic sales people. But many people see sales and service as different roles entirely, with different skills and different pressures.
- When we deliver our Gazing service programmes, our clients often tell us that it is the work done by the customer service team and the trust they generate that keep the customers coming back, year after year. So why do anything to compromise that trust?
These are fair points. But what about the upside?
- Sales is always tough, the life-blood of most businesses and generating leads and opportunities is something that almost every business wants to get better at. So anything that improves this should be considered.
- And who is it that our customer opens up to? Who understands customer better than anyone else, sometimes talking in depth with the customer on a regular basis? In so many businesses it’s the service agent. So why not make more of this opportunity?
On balance, it feels to us that if you can find a way to encourage your service team to think more about sales, the upside outweighs the downside. But it has to be managed skilfully. And we’re happy to share some thoughts.
Consultative sales is ultimately guiding the customer to the best solution. If the best solution is to repair an asset, then sell the customer on doing that. If it’s to replace the asset, then focus on the benefits of replacing it. The difference is how you communicate, putting the value proposition first – this isn’t as hard is it may seem and just requires a little training and aligning your service engineers on why it matters.
And as you may have spotted from some of Jason’s terminology, our Gazing Performance principles offer some guidance here.
Everything starts with direction. Getting clarity of what you expect from your service teams is critical. If you’ve done a Gazing management or leadership programme, this is the ‘top of the beam’. The Priority Planner tool helps bring this clarity. Even a basic understanding that liaising with the sales team and sharing information could be part of the role, can be helpful.
Once direction is clear, the Performance Triangle comes into play:
- Mindset – ‘serving your customer’ and ‘suggesting appropriate paid-for solutions that can help them’ are not mutually exclusive. So long as the guidance is in the customer’s interest, buying something from your business could be the best advice your service team could give them. So service and sales can go hand in hand.
- Skillset – knowing how and when to engage is critical. Using the Decision Making Cycle is the critical skill here. This way of selling should sit very well with service agents, because it is all about being on the customer’s agenda and doing something with them, rather than to them.
- Structure – some good robust structures will significantly improve the chances of success.
- Training the teams to handle the situations they are likely to face.
- Ensuring their sales colleagues are working closely with them, ready to pick up on leads.
- Some regular checking-in to see if it’s actually happening. What could be more demotivating than all that good lead-gen going unnoticed?
Of course we’re scratching the surface here. But if you’d like to discuss how we can help to get your service team more engaged in the sales process please do get in touch.