13 Jul From Service to Sales: Cross Training Field Technicians
Most of us would agree that salespeople and service techs are two different creatures. Both have unique skill sets and specialized product knowledge, and both are a vital component of a successful spa retail business. While many field service technicians may balk at the idea of selling, they are actually in a perfect position to make additional sales. Like it or not, these days sales are an integral part of service calls. So, how does management go about cross training field techs in the fine art of selling products? First, let’s talk about why.
Reasons to Cross Train
By training your service team to cross sell and upsell on-site, your service department can generate increased revenue. Here are four reasons that field service technicians are ideal for cross training in sales:
- Access: They are at the customer’s home to fix an existing problem.
- Trust: Customers trust the tech’s product knowledge because they know how to take care of the product.
- Urgency: The sale can be handled right there on the spot.
- Cost: It can reduce the cost of sending the tech on the service call.
According to Field Connect, “it is easier and cheaper to train a field service technician to recognize additional needs and to recommend products and services than it is to hire and train a new sales rep.” Help Scout reports that the “probability of selling to an existing customer” is 60 to 70% compared to a 5 to 20% “probability of selling to a new prospect.” When you consider that information, along with the fact that each service tech has already built a customer relationship, become a problem-solving expert, and established customer trust by solving problems, it’s easy to see the benefit of cross training service techs in sales.
The Necessary Skills
Having established why you should cross train, let’s talk about what that training looks like. Razor Sync suggests these three strategies:
- Establish priorities: Technician first, salesman second. “A product or brand recommendation should flow naturally throughout the conversation with the customer. Instead of making a direct approach to sales mandatory, let your technician decide when to actively sell.”
- Explain why: Customers see techs as experts and trust their advice making them more likely to purchase products service technicians recommend.
- Provide tools: “Give your technician’s personal business cards, allowing them to become primary points of contact should the customer have additional questions about products.”
Because field service technicians are often uncomfortable with sales, a good approach is to train them to recommend a product rather than to sell it. “For technicians who are not comfortable promoting a product or your brand in conversation, or when time doesn’t allow a discussion, provide a brochure and link to your website for additional information.”
The biggest part of cross training is helping service techs understand that their sales role is targeting opportunities to meet customers’ individual needs. There are two things techs need to know about how to cross sell and upsell:
- The upsell should be relevant to the current service or original purchase:
- If you replace a filter, then sell a backup filter cartridge.
- If you clean a spa, then sell spa chemicals.
- If you repair a cover, then sell spa cover cleaning solution.
- If you replace a pump, then sell an extended warranty.
- The emphasis should be on benefit-focused products that can solve a real problem:
- Having a filter on hand saves time in the future.
- Spa chemicals ensure the health of users and extend spa life.
- Spa cover cleaners extend the life and looks of your cover.
- Extended warranties ease the burden of future problems.
Most of all, sales training should emphasize actively listening to the customer while on a service call. Because service techs know how to keep spas functioning at the highest level, actively listening to what the customer says positions techs to offer an appropriate fix and even suggest a product or service the customer didn’t even know they needed.
Deciding What to Sell
The key here is to focus on value to the customer. For instance, Forbes suggests that “to cross-sell effectively, think about those products that naturally pair well.” For a spa technician that could be suggesting a higher quality filter when fixing a clogging issue or offering an extended warranty when replacing a pump, as mentioned above.
Actually, warranties are a perfect sales opportunity for service technicians because they understand the real benefits of preventive maintenance. MSI Data recommends focusing on selling preventive maintenance service contracts to give customers “higher equipment reliability and uptime.” It’s a great way to “establish ongoing trusted relationships…and there’s less worry that their equipment will malfunction.” In fact, most people have bought extended warranties, upgraded to a better/faster/more efficient/product, or bought a product they never knew existed after talking to a service tech.
Because field service technicians are often uncomfortable with sales, a good approach is to train them to recommend a product rather than to sell it.
Technicians are often called out to drain and clean hot tubs, which Swim University recommends doing every 3 to 4 months. This is an opportunity to suggest line flush products. As you know, part of the draining process also involves inspecting the electrical system to ensure there are no leaks. Many people are not comfortable dealing with electrical systems, so they call a hot tub technician to drain and clean their unit. It’s a great opportunity for techs to inspect filters, pumps, and heaters. It’s also a good time to suggest spa filter cleaners and enzymes to reduce biofilms.
Technology Makes it Easy
If service techs are uncomfortable with cross selling and upselling in the field, there are a number of field service management software options that can help them. For instance, Sky Boss is a mobile app with a feature called “Technician Notes” that, according to Brian Wells, “If technicians are out doing, say, a simple drain cleaning…Technician Notes can deliver prompts for the technician in the field to upsell another service, like hydro jetting.” Providing techs with equipment to track site maintenance so they can suggest replacement parts before they break also offers these benefits:
- The right technology lets them access and record information gleaned from exchanges with customers.
- Mobile solutions can advise them on products, services, etc. to upsell or cross sell based on the service currently being provided.
- Fully mobile field service solutions allow all of these, plus they have the ability to generate quotes, take credit cards, and capture signatures.
Before going on a service call, have techs use this technology to review cross sales suggestions and take the recommended products with them to the site. Customers are more likely to buy something if they can take possession of it immediately.
Finally, consider offering incentives for sales made in the field. Aberdeen Group recently reported that “57% of best-in-class companies incentivize field technicians to identify cross sell and upsell opportunities for sales.” Training your field service technicians to stop and take a look at how spa maintenance is being handled on-site will help them decide if one of your products could handle it better. If you’re still looking for a reason to cross train from service to sales, Bain & Company reports that “it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones, and cost of bringing a new customer up to the same level of profitability as an old one is up to 16x more expensive.” What more reason do you need?