Asking service people to sell? Easier said than done!

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Over recent months, we have noticed an increasing number of requests along the following lines….. “How can we get our field service teams to contribute more to our sales efforts?” This community often have more regular access to key customer stakeholders. They are also typically regarded with a level of trust by customers that many salespeople could only dream of. There is therefore an impeccable logic to exploring how this community can help identify and progress additional new sales opportunities with existing customers.

However, this logic faces one massive obstacle…

Most field service people do not WANT to be salespeople. They have never seen themselves in this capacity, it’s not what they signed up for and it is not something to which they have ever aspired. They fear that their customers will think they are pushing something these customers don’t want and therefore this will undermine the levels of trust between them. Indeed, we have seen many examples where field service people can be highly sensitive to the possibility of this happening and therefore don’t fully embrace the role they are being asked to fulfil.

So if you are going down this path, how do you get it right? There are a number of factors however two things are vital:

  1. Reposition the notion of ‘selling’ in their minds. Field service teams typically operate with a fixing/supporting mindset. They exist to help customers. They are motivated by this. They enjoy it. In their minds selling is often seen as counter intuitive. It is seen as a dark art that they want nothing to do with. However if you position selling differently, then everyone can be aligned. Selling, in fact, is all about helping customers be more successful. Positioning selling in this way creates the mental ‘permission’ to introduce ideas and solutions that potentially enable them to become more successful.

  2. They then need to have at their fingertips crystal clear understanding of how what their company sells does in fact help customers be more successful. Most selling organisations don’t have this. Yes, they may have their value propositions however these are not always articulated and communicated to sales teams in a format and with a clarity that build the confidence and willingness to introduce them into their customer conversations. This often requires deeper collaboration between the marketing, product and selling teams. For example, if you are selling to a school, how will what you are asking people to sell help a school become a better school. If you are selling to a hospital, how will it help them become a more successful hospital. If you can answer this question in the minds of anyone dealing with your customers, it will have a huge impact on future sales potential.