"Talk" the Walk

Jun 17, 2021 • FeaturesmanagementBBA Consultingfield service managementJim Bastonservice strategiesLeadership and Strategy

Jim Baston, President of BBA Consulting Group, continues his blog series on “supercharging” revenue generation through the field service team. In this new article, he discusses the importance of evaluating the words we use within our organization to describe the technicians efforts to help the customer.

Talk the walk. Language is important. Our team will scrutinize what we say in an effort to understand what we mean. So, if we tell everyone that their proactive efforts is a valuable service but we talk about it as if it’s a sale, then our team will think that our service ideas were just for show. If the team feels that the proactive initiative is really a sales program in disguise, it’s unlikely that we’ll get enthusiastic participation from them. We might get lots of lip service, but no one is going to do the really uncomfortable bits like talking to the customer about an idea that they have. Leave that to the sales team.

Here is an example of what I mean by not “talking the walk”. We’ve introduced the initiative, everyone is excited and at a service meeting we decide to report on the efforts of someone on the team. We announce with some fanfare that: “As a result of this technician’s efforts, we have increased our sales to this customer by 10%. Way to go tech!” Hmmm, sounds like selling doesn’t it. Notice that the words view the benefits from the service company’s perspective. It’s focused on what the tech’s efforts have done for our company, not the service impact for the customer.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that there’s anything inherently wrong in recognizing the tech’s efforts and saying those words, it’s just that by speaking about the tech’s accomplishment in this way we may do more to dampen enthusiasm around the initiative than to boost it.

Recognizing the tech’s efforts by “talking the walk”, starts with describing those efforts from how they impact the customer rather than our service company. For example, we could say: “As a result of this technician’s efforts, we’ve helped this customer lower their operating costs and reduce their risk of failure”. In other words, rather than talking about how the technician’s efforts helped us (sales), we’ve talked about how their efforts helped the customer (service).

It’s worth taking the time to evaluate the words we use on a regular basis to describe our techs’ proactive initiatives to help the customer. Do we use words like “sales”, “selling” and “cross selling” as part of our regular vocabulary? Do we talk about your techs’ efforts from how it impacts our business rather than our customers? This awareness will help us be more sensitive to what we say and help ensure that we talk about our techs’ efforts as the valuable service that it is.

Next time we will consider how we promote what we are doing to our customers.


Over the course of the next week, listen carefully to and make a note of how people within your organization talk about the role of techs in business development.  How many times do they use the word “service”?  How many times do they use the word sales?”

Evaluate your own words. When talking about the results of the techs’ efforts, how do you describe it? Do you talk in terms of how those efforts benefit your company or how they benefit the customer?

Create a plan to raise awareness of how you and the rest of the management team speak about your techs’ proactive efforts and how you will change the talk to align more with the walk.


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