Five tips for helping field service engineers become revenue generators

Mar 04, 2014 • FeaturesManagementcost centre to profit centremanagement

Moving the field service division from being a cost centre to a profit centre is a shift that many companies are trying to undertake and something most service management experts suggest wherever possible.

There are fantastic opportunities for establishing revenue streams from your field service engineers but remember you employed them for their technical skills not their outstanding flair for sales. In fact, the likelihood is that many members of your mobile workforce may not be natural salesman and may find these additional requirements outside of their comfort zone.

To help you encourage your field service engineers to be more comfortable with the added expectation of becoming revenue generators Field Service News looks at five tips that you can role out to your field service engineers to help them grow and nurture their inner salesman.

Remember that the field service engineer is the expert

Field service engineers are knights in shining armour. Invariably they have been dispatched to fix a problem in your customers’ lives. Whether it be in the working environment or the home environment, your field service engineers are the experts that will get your customers’ back on track. As such they are given trusted advisor status from the moment they arrive on site.

Perhaps the most important and often hardest thing for a salesman to achieve is to gain the trust of their prospective clients. The field service engineer with their status as trusted advisor has broken down this first barrier immediately and is therefore in a great position to sell additional services or products.

Field service engineers who may not feel comfortable selling in a direct face to face environment (which can certainly be daunting for the inexperienced) should be reminded of their ‘trusted advisor’ status and be encouraged to draw confidence from this elevated position. In sales, confidence is absolutely everything.

Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy

Okay so your field service engineer is aware of the power of his position as a trusted advisor and is a super confident natural salesman.

Great, this gives him a perfect opportunity for that first time sale but as any good sales organisation will attest, whilst the first sales is important it is repeat business from your customer base that is absolutely vital to future proof your business.

Therefore it is essential that your field service engineer doesn’t taint the image of trusted advisor and only uses his position to sell your client products or services that are of genuine value to them.

Your clients are not stupid and if they are sold something that they didn’t necessarily need or at a price that is out of kilter with standard market rates, more often than not they won’t bother phoning you up to complain, they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.

However, if your field service engineer provides your clients with solutions to problems they need on a fair and honest basis, you will find that repeat sales will remain steady for years and years.

Don’t try to be a SALESMAN

If we were to ask you to describe a salesman how many of you would say loud tie, cocky attitude, and with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cheesy lines? (Looking just like the chap at the top of this feature perhaps?)

Well, for a start remember not all salesmen are estate agents or second hand car dealers.

In fact you’ll probably find that those estate agents or second hand car dealers that fit into this stereotype of the ‘classic’ salesman are amongst the poorest performing in their respective field.

Whilst there are a number of sales techniques whether it be SPIN, AIDCA, DIPIDA or any of other acronym out there, the simple fact remains that the best sales people play to their strengths and are just themselves.

Sales needn’t be any more complicated than understanding your customers’ problem and offering them a solution. Your field service engineers should be better placed than any salesman to achieve this and don’t need to try to be something they’re not.

Educate your field service engineers on all your products

Your company may operate a number of related or even disparate solutions and your field service engineers are perfectly placed to cross sell if they have a broader understanding of your full product set beyond their own area of expertise.

Field service engineers are the greatest conduit that you have to your customers.

They are right there, talking to customers face to face, with a unique opportunity to gain insight into their needs. Whilst their primary role is to remedy a problem, and their secondary role may be a direct sale, a potential third role could be to be to open up cross selling opportunities into other areas of the business.

For example whilst recently having a field service engineer visit me to fix an issue with my phone line, I got into a conversation about broadband speeds.

The field service engineer was knowledgeable and gave me some good advice about moving to fibre optic internet (as well as other options for improving my broadband). He also worked for a rival company to my current broadband provider.

If he had been able to arrange an appointment for me to get fibre optic broadband installed I probably would have scheduled something there and then. If he had been able to arrange a call with a member of his company’s broadband sales team I would probably have agreed to a call and would have been a very warm prospect.

As it was he did neither and the likelihood is I will now remain with my existing provider and upgrade my service, because it is the easier option for me and I like most consumers will opt for the solution that requires the least hassle.

Yet had the field service engineer had the tools and incentive he could have sold me into another service his company provide as he had the knowledge and opportunity.

Give them the tools to succeed.

Which leads us into our final point, if you want to your field service engineers to become revenue generators, you need to give them the tools they need to achieve this. Fortunately the technology is all there waiting for you.

Key needs will include form creation and signature capture, access to ordering systems and of course payment collection. All of these can be found as apps that sit on smart devices operating on both Android and Apple’s iOS and can sit on a plethora of devices .

However, perhaps the most important consideration is to establish a transparent means of communication and interaction across all divisions of the company.

Whether this is a sophisticated cloud based end-to-end software solution or a simpler processed based solution that makes use of your existing assets, if you are expecting your field service engineers to become revenue generators you need to give them the tools to succeed.