Resource Type: White Paper
Published by: Astea
Title: Forging a service and sales partnership
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The wall between sales and service activities is crumbling within many companies. Once largely viewed as a cost centre, the role of the service organisation has steadily evolved as companies recognize its potential as a source of new revenues and a valuable tool in strengthening customer loyalty.
However, there is often a disconnect between the service and sales organisations. Service technicians often serve as the face of the company, spending much of their time directly interacting with customers. They are potentially a valuable source of new sales leads, able to spot opportunities for new product sales or competitive product replacements, offer service contracts to clients, and even cross-sell/up-sell products or services. Most companies are not fully taking advantage of this potential sales leads stream
This white paper outlines the potential sources of new revenue enabled by better integrating service and sales activities, discuss the challenges of realising this revenue, and provides information on the tools, software,
and strategies that top-performing companies utilise to grow that revenue.
Companies that leave their sales and service organisations technologically or operationally separated could be leaving substantial revenue on the table.
However, according to The Service Council, of the 55% of companies that are not utilising their service teams for sales, most report that this is because the technicians lack training, lack the skill set or incentives to sell, or the companies prefer that they don’t sell at all. Service organisations also may lack the tools to turn those leads into revenue. The Service Council reports that 17% of service organisations still rely on paper, while another 19% don’t have any tools with which to capture leads.
Two types of service revenue
There are two ways that service creates new revenue. One is through direct sales of service offerings from existing service contracts, non-contract service, new contract sales, and parts sales. The second is by generating direct revenue via warranty sales and other value-added services.
Breaking down barriers
Many of the chief obstacles to meeting new service revenue objectives are both structural and technological. Many companies are not currently structured properly to foster better collaboration between service and sales.
Technology can also play a role. The Service Council says 53% of companies lack real-time visibility into service performance and potential revenue opportunities: traditional paper-based service management processes make it very difficult to communicate potential sales leads and new opportunities back to the sales teams.
Many companies are not currently structured properly to foster better collaboration between service and sales.
Keys to better service/sales collaboration
Linking sales and service requires a mix of operational changes and technology.
- The ability to accept payment in the field greatly expands the sales potential for the service force.
- Companies that do leverage the service teams to generate new sales leads typically have dedicated teams focused on service sales, and create sales quotas for the service organisations.
- Top performers also train service agents on lead identification and sales management
- The profile of service technicians is changing: technicians are hired also on their sales skills and experience. Some companies are hiring agents with more sales experience, and then investing their training budget on service/technical skills rather than the other way around.
- Should the service team should be selling directly or simply gathering leads? The decision will depend your company’s business, culture, and the type of service agents you currently employ.
- How do your customers view your service team? If the service technicians are simply seen as people who arrive, fix problems, and leave, then introducing a sales function may not yield the best results. If the agents are already serving as trusted advisors to the customers, however, they may receive more positive reception to sales activities.
- Evaluating the skill sets of the service force is also important. Can your technicians sell? Are they interested in doing so? What tools, technology, and infrastructure need to be in place that will help them sell effectively? Asking your technicians to sell without giving them the tools to do the job correctly will not yield new revenues.
- Don’t let the sales strategy compromise the work your service team is performing. It may still be more appropriate to send leads to a dedicated sales team for follow-up.
In order to leverage the service organisation to increase revenue effectively, companies will need to foster collaborative environments that will encourage the service teams to generate leads for the existing sales forces. That can be done by providing technicians with mobile technology that allows them to quickly and easily capture and communicate those leads, developing incentive programs that reward lead generation, and creating business process flows that ensure the leads will be followed up on quickly.