One of the most tried and tested truisms of life is that people like to do business with people they know – that’s why they’re called business relationships. The reassurance consumers feel from conducting transactions with people they know, trust and feel some personal connection with takes much of the uncertainty out of doing business. It also has the knock-on effect of speeding up the process as people that have known and worked together for some time develop shorthand in their speech and interactions. It’s why so many filmmakers and theatre directors work with the same cast and crew members over and over again. It’s easier, quicker and frequently more productive. Importantly, it can have a very positive effect on those two great metrics of so many projects – bringing them in on time and under budget.
A business’ best salespeople and business development managers know instinctively the importance of a personal connection with their clients and it’s why they’ll spend a significant amount of time fostering that connection – giving their dealings with the client the human touch.
Secret sales weapon
But it would be a mistake for any organisation to leave this all to their sales team, particularly organisations that include field service workers in their mix. Because these members of staff could be the secret best weapons in an organisation’s sales arsenal. After all, they’re the ones on the frontline, the ones out there meeting the customers face to face, the ones who cannot help but form personal contacts with the clients they service.
In a position to form long-term relationships with their customers, technicians become trusted advisers. Visiting field sites, they are able to see for themselves exactly how their clients’ businesses operate and what goods and services they can offer to improve productivity.
In the course of their site visits, they may identify additional work or problems that need to be addressed immediately. And at the metaphorical coalface, if this happens, they can then immediately quote and capture customer go-ahead, leading to a satisfactory outcome for customer and provider alike. The customer has their needs fulfilled quickly and smoothly, and the provider is able to take full advantage of an additional revenue opportunity.
The other great advantage of the service worker’s presence in the field is that they are also able to pre-empt work orders. With their status as a trusted adviser, they are able, for example, to inform customers of plant or equipment that is becoming unreliable and costly to repair, and will soon need replacing.
The more informed the customer is and the more swiftly they are given this information, the easier it is for them to make rapid decisions.
So, it’s clear that experienced and knowledgeable field service workers can act as extremely effective salespeople. But to do this technicians need to be fully supported by head office. This support should comprise several elements. First, they need incentives to take on this role. Not every field worker will relish the idea of adding this particular string to their bow. To ensure you don’t end up with the equivalent of the woebegone service station attendant trotting out a two-for-one upsell to their customers in a manner that says ‘I hate doing this, but my boss insists I do’… technicians must not only fully understand the importance of this aspect of the job, but be properly compensated for performing it.
They also need to be given access to appropriate training. Salespeople have years of experience in how to, literally, talk the talk. Technicians’ training is naturally very different, being technically and practically based. Sales training that gives them the correct skills needed to have these conversations with their clients is imperative.
Above all, they need to be provided with software that will make communication seamless, information gathering almost instantaneous and their presentation skills slick and impressive.
The right software solution can provide various documentation options that will assist the technician carry out these tasks, such as quote forms and product manuals. Dog-eared brochures fished out of the back of the van or clunky communication channels with workers kept on hold or caught in a forwarding cycle delay the sales process and don’t instill confidence in customers. Software that not only provides any necessary data or information at the touch of a button, but also lets the customer know where their technician is at any moment and when they can expect their arrival, does the opposite. It helps build trust. And trust is what relationships are built on. Business and otherwise.