Field service operations provide a significant opportunity to drive growth by selling to your existing customer base, also called upselling or cross-selling. Businesses with field service are well-positioned to tap into their mobile workforce to do just that, especially at the time of a successful service experience. And most likely, your team is already doing this without much guidance or forethought; recent research found that 85% of field service workers see themselves as responsible for customer retention.
But the question is, how can you reach this audience at the right time, with the right message, in a way that doesn’t make the customer feel like they are being sold to during a service call? Here are three tips to help set you up for success:
- Get buy-in from leadership for upselling/cross-selling in the field.
- Deploy the right technology to make everything happen quickly.
- Train field service employees on sales tactics.
Make the business case for upselling and cross-selling
I spent fifteen years selling technology and leading sales, marketing, and customer service organizations for start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. I also spent a decade as a distinguished analyst and research fellow at Gartner, and I’m now the global growth evangelist here at Salesforce. I study global market trends for best practices to improve sales and enhance the overall customer experience. Customer base penetration, which I discuss extensively in my book, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, is an often-overlooked but critical component of long-term growth.
At its core, customer base penetration is selling more of your currently available products and services to existing customers. Over the past year, this concept has been one of the top conversations I’ve been having because net new customer acquisition has been difficult, and focusing on existing customers has helped companies of all sizes generate sales.
Our recent Salesforce’s State of Service report validated this concept when it found that 76% of decision-makers at organizations with field service say that the team provides their company with new revenue streams. But just how much value can field service generate?
Let the numbers speak for themselves
Before embarking on an upselling/cross-selling initiative, it’s important to quantify the potential opportunity to gain leadership buy-in. Here’s how:
Start by looking at your existing customer base. Determine which products and services they currently have, and what their existing revenue spend is (if you are in a subscription business), or how much they have spent with you in the past. Now you have a starting point. You can determine if there are any commonalities and patterns in your current customer base which you can use to create upsell and cross-sell efforts for your field services team. Consider these statistics when assessing the value:
- Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.
- The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, compared to a 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer.
Field service teams can be successful in upselling and cross-selling to existing customers because:
- They build trusted relationships with customers in the field every day when they’re able to resolve an issue.
- Their expansive product and service knowledge makes consultative upselling/cross-selling suggestions more natural and a good fit.
- They can visually gauge the customer’s receptiveness to their upselling/cross-selling talking points, and refine their approach in real time in every customer interaction.
However, it’s not as simple as providing your field service employees with sales enablement materials and setting a quota. While field service technicians are uniquely positioned to drive sales growth, they may not be comfortable selling, prepared to sell, or even interested in selling.
There is quite a bit that goes into making a transition like this with a field services organization. It takes mobile technology, customized training, and both monetary and career growth incentives for service organizations to set their technicians up for pre-selling and selling success.
Use mobile technology to capture leads
Field service technicians need mobile-ready tools to quickly capture what’s happening in the field and understand the full customer interaction history with the company – without adding new hurdles for them or the customer.
There are four core capabilities your field service team’s mobile technology must have to enable upselling:
- A 360 customer view. Provide details on the customer’s existing purchases, recent transactions and conversations, and any other customer relationship management (CRM) details that can help the field service technician provide a consultative approach that’s tailored to the customer’s unique needs.
- Capture opportunities for the Sales team. For more complicated sales processes, the field service technician should hand off warm sales opportunities. Enable field service technicians to quickly capture essential information from the customer and identify potential opportunities. What questions did the customer ask? In which product line(s) did they express interest? This can be a simple list of questions your technicians ask customers to understand their needs. Or, simply create a checklist of topics and product offerings that the technician can check off as the customer expresses interest in them.
For example, a set of questions an energy generator technician could ask their customer might include:
- How many power outages have you had in the past year?
- How long did the power outage last each time?
- When the generator is in use, does it sufficiently power the entire house?
- In the next year, do you plan to add on to your house?
After a month of gathering this data across all technicians, you will have a much more robust understanding of your customer opportunities. You can then identify new assets that can support your team to handle questions or engage in sales techniques on the spot.
- Close easy sales. Conduct light sales upgrades, like extending a warranty or adding in a replacement supply subscription.
- Demonstrate new products and solutions. Have product demos, videos, and information sheets available to quickly share with the customer. If you expect your field service technicians to do an entire sales pitch for all their customers, it could cause them to be late for their next appointment or rush through their time. A more attainable goal is to have easy-to-understand leave-behinds available to pique interest, with the promise of Sales following up with the customer later.
Deliver tailored upselling training and support
In addition to having the right field service technology enablement, each technician needs the right training for them to identify customer cues and engage in upselling/cross-selling.
It’s important to remember that field service technicians are not salespeople, nor should you assume they will enjoy selling. The two roles require different skill sets, but each plays a vital part in maintaining and increasing your revenue.
Train your field service technicians on sales techniques and how to look for customer cues. This can include easy upsells, such as extending a warranty or service level agreement, and more involved upsells like upgrading an outdated piece of equipment. Use Build Your Sales Career, a module on Salesforce’s Trailhead free online learning platform, to help your field service technicians get up to speed. They’ll learn prospecting, how to develop a contact strategy, and when to reach out to customers.
It’s not as simple as providing your field service employees with sales enablement materials and setting a quota. While field service technicians are uniquely positioned to drive sales growth, they may not be comfortable selling, prepared to sell, or even interested in selling.
All field service technicians should feel comfortable with basic pre-selling best practices. One of the most critical skills is how to set customer expectations for contact from your team. If a customer asks a question that Sales is best suited to answer, the field service technician should give a specific timeframe and channel in which they will be contacted.
Uncovering an opportunity and creating a lead in the CRM goes directly to Sales for follow up. This helps to create a valuable partnership between Service and Sales. The seller can progress the opportunity, and the field service technician doesn’t feel like they’re doing a seller’s job. It’s a win-win for Sales and Service.
Provide career and monetary incentives
When you expand the scope of any team member’s role and expectations, it’s vital to introduce consistent incentives to ramp up participation and recognize outstanding work. Deliver these rewards monthly, quarterly, annually, or on an ad-hoc basis to recognize exemplary achievements.
Include sales expectations as part of your employment contracts. Clearly explain how field service technicians can earn incentives by generating leads that convert to sales. A few incentive options include:
- Bonuses for a number of closed leads
- Career growth opportunities, such as a new career path and incremental growth for field service
- Extra paid time off (PTO)
Pair these personal incentives with public recognition, such as a team leaderboard. At a minimum, a simple “thank you” and acknowledgment in a team meeting can go a long way to reinforce the behavior you’re looking for.
Encourage the entire team by sharing growth metrics and KPIs that showcase the impact that field service has had on your company’s sales growth. This transparency and measurement will make the team’s work feel more tangible and, importantly, it can help justify increased investment in your team’s training and incentive programs.
Set up your field service team to upsell/cross-sell
The goal is to make sure that your customers feel like they’re engaging with your brand regardless of who they’re speaking to. With the right technology, training, and incentives in place, your field service team is primed to become your organization’s new just-in-time sales team.
Remember to ask your existing field services team what they think. Let them participate in the planning and design of this effort. If you include them in the process, they will be much more likely to embrace what you launch in the field.
By investing in your field service team, you are investing in your company’s future. Brands have ample opportunity to engage their existing customers, address their needs, and expand their solutions. Support them with a unified effort from sales, service, and marketing.
As your field service strategy evolves, continue to assess and refine your training and incentive programs to best support your team. Remember to praise team members for their hard work publicly and invite them to weigh in on how your strategy can improve.