As part of our on-going series on generating business results with Total Customer Focus (TCF), we wanted to present the impact of TCF on generating new revenue opportunities.
Service Revenue Generation – A Common Challenge
Leveraging service people to generate new revenue is a key issue for many service organizations. The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) has even created a discipline focused solely on the topic of service revenue generation. The reality is that service people interact with customers far more frequently than sales people and therefore have many more opportunities to identify and pursue sales leads. Companies are struggling to find the best organizational models, practices and skill sets that will maximize the impact of their service people on new revenue.
For example, we were recently meeting with managers of a global technology leader to discuss their plans for leveraging their field service workforce to generate new revenue opportunities. This company already had processes in place for tracking sales leads initiated by field service people. They also had a group of specialists dedicated to preparing quotes and handling the sales logistics involved in progressing a lead to a final sale. And they had a compensation system for rewarding field service people for the leads they generated.
At one point in our discussion one of the managers made an interesting comment:
“Generating a lead is not such a problem for us, any of our service people can generate ‘paper leads’. What we need are quality leads. Otherwise we end up chasing leads that will never turn into business or do turn into such low value business that they aren’t worth pursuing.”
Another company, again a global industry leader was considering how to enable and motivate their field service people to spot potential sales opportunities in their day to day interactions with customers and simply have a discussion with the customer about it. Although a portion of their service force were successful at this, the majority weren’t. Their challenge was to enable everyone in the field to identify and pursue new sales opportunities with customers.
Companies with large field service groups are working diligently to translate that special trusted partner relationship between customers and service people into new business opportunities. Many are using a traditional sales enablement approach that includes training in fundamental selling skills, setting up lead tracking and measurement systems and providing a program to reward service people for generating leads and supporting them to close.
We think these initiatives miss an important point. Service organizations are not simply an extension of the sale organizations. Adding sales capabilities to your service people can generate some new revenue for sure. But it overlooks a far more significant and unique opportunity to capture high margin, sustainable revenue.
3 Unique Capabilities that Unleash the Revenue Generating Power of Service
In our experience working with thousands of service people, sales reps and account managers, we have found that service people are in the best position to leverage 3 unique capabilities that lead to high margin, sustainable revenue streams.
- The first is about developing Quality Leads. A lead is generally considered high quality if it is based on a known, urgent need that the customer is convinced he or she has to address. So, instead of asking service people to spot opportunities to ‘sell’ something, train them to be proactive.Service people are in a great position to anticipate how their customers may struggle to achieve their most important business goals, what we call their ‘Big Picture’. They also observe where their customer is struggling every day to improve their business and address tough challenges. And service people can very often fill the customer’s knowledge gaps by providing valuable information about new technologies, products and services. By doing this service people are helping the customer to address current challenges as well as anticipate future ones. The ‘lead’ is not so much identified as it is developed by the service person and the customer together – it’s a high-quality lead from the start.
- Second, service people are in the perfect position to nurture high margin business. Because service people are pursuing leads based on needs that customers agree are real and urgent, the customer is already convinced of the value of the supplier’s solution. The service person is able to position his/her solution on the value to the customer, rather than price. This almost certainly translates into higher prices and margins. When the price-only buyers from the customer’s procurement get involved in trying to commoditize the supplier’s solution, it’s too late. The real value buyer is convinced that the impact on his business is worth the price.
- Third, service people enable their organizations to create revenue streams that are sustainable for the supplier and customer. When sales people are discussing a deal with a customer the focus is on negotiating. Both sides want a solution that addresses the customer’s needs. But they also want to secure the best deal for their company.Contrast this approach to a collaborative discussion between a service person and her customer that focuses on a solution that addresses the real needs of the customer and does it in a way that is both possible and reasonable for the supplier to provide, consistently over time.
These three capabilities enable service people to develop quality leads, nurture high margin business and create sustainable revenue streams. These capabilities also correspond to the 3 shifts in thinking and behaving with customers that happen when service organizations become Total Customer Focused.
Instead of creating new processes and support structures for service people, start by answering the 5 questions below. Your answers will help you to prioritize the development areas to focus on first. And improving your capabilities in these 3 areas will drive increased revenue faster than designing a new compensation plan or lead tracking system.
If you would like to learn how your organization could leverage its service organization to drive revenue, contact us today.