In the Big Discussion we will take one topic, bring together three leading experts on that topic and put four key questions to them to help us better understand its potential impact on the field service sector...
In the first instalment of this topic our experts answered the question "It is often said service technicians are the greatest salesmen – what are your views on this?" the second time out the question was Is there a difference between selling service and selling products? and last time around the answered the question Is incentivising service technicians to “sell” opening up new revenue streams or putting their “trusted advisor” status at risk?
Now for the final question of this important topic...
What impact does the rising uptake in outcome based services have on the relationship between service and sales?
Selling outcome based services requires greater collaboration and communication between service and sales than ever before. Service needs to understand and support the solution that the sales force crafts for the customer.
The sales force needs to have a clear understanding of the capabilities of the service team to craft the right solution.
Basically, service and sales must work as a team. In addition, the service organisation must be proficient at sales so they can add-on additional services to better meet outcomes as these opportunities present themselves.
Outcome based services require one of the most sophisticated sales processes as the deliverable is a business outcome, not a well-defined ‘thing’.
Hence the whole process of defining the outcome and configuring a profitable delivery model is very different from a transactional product based sales process. The implications of switching to outcome based business models will challenge almost every aspect of the organisation in terms of mind-set & culture, skills & capabilities and processes & tools.
As the service organisation is such an integral part of the commercial success, it must be closely involved in the sales process from two perspectives. The first is to ensure that within the co-creation process that a delivery model is developed which profitably dovetails into the customer’s operations.
Secondly and probably more importantly, during the sales/co-creation process , to have people within the discussion that convinces the customer that you are the right business partner to deliver an outcome based contract.
In outcome based services, the service company generally is providing an agreed to outcome for a set fee and therefore takes the risk for delivering on their promise at a cost that they can profit from.
Any recommendations for improvements in delivering on that promise more effectively will typically benefit the service company rather than the customer. In these cases, therefore, the results of the field service professional’s efforts are internally focused.
Sales, however, remains externally focused. Their role is to bring more opportunities to the service organisation.
Therefore, the relationship between service and sales can be summarised as follows: In outcome based services, sales is responsible for generating the top line revenue by increasing the number of contracts whereas service is responsible for enhancing the profits on that revenue by improving their efficiency at delivering on those contracts.