1st Step in Creating Proactive Service® – Focus on Service, Not Selling

Jim Baston service expertIf you are interested in creating a proactive service® focus for your field service technicians, the first step is to focus on the service, not the sale.  This is more than just semantics, it is a mindset that deals with the very heart of what we want our technicians to do.

Technicians who seem naturally gifted at selling their company’s products or services do not see their efforts as selling at all – they recognize their recommendations as the valuable service that they are.  To them it is a service activity.

Many service managers, however, treat business development efforts as a selling activity and this subtly undermines their efforts in three ways.

  1. It puts the focus on what more the service company can “get” out of their customers.  We may look at the opportunity in terms of “… let’s leverage our customer relationships to win more business.”  There is nothing inherently wrong with this and of course, it is the objective of every business development activity.  However, this is a short term, tactical approach, which can obscure the much larger opportunities to build a differentiated service offering.
  2. It positions the technician as a salesperson.  I don’t know about you, but I have not met many service technicians who appreciate being called a salesperson.  In fact, most are insulted by the title.  To be successful we need our technicians engaged and enthusiastic and this is pretty hard to do when the technician doesn’t see it as his or her job and is insulted by the expectation.
  3. It adversely impacts the relationship with the customer.  If the technicians do take the “selling” role to heart, we risk alienating our customers.  The harder the technician tries to sell to the customer, the less effective they will be in building new business.  The reason is that, the moment the service tech starts to “sell”, he/she transcends that bond of trust that has been forged with the customer.  Regardless of how genuine the service technician is, the very reason the customer trusted the tech in the first place – the fact that they aren’t out to sell them anything – is suddenly no longer the basis of the relationship.

The preferred approach is to treat business development as a service.  Like the technicians on our team who seem to create an endless stream of opportunities, we need to get all of our technicians to recognize that identifying ways for the customer to run their facilities more effectively is a critical and valued service and not a sale.  There is a subtle difference here, but an important one.  When the technician understands that using their heads as well as their hands to help the customer is a service, they will approach the role with more enthusiasm and focus.  And customers, when they see that the technician is providing valuable suggestions aimed at helping them operate more effectively, will recognize and welcome this as the valuable service it is.  Certainly some technicians will be uncomfortable in engaging the customer in conversation so may have some difficulty in executing the plan as effectively as we might like, but that can be overcome by skills development like our Proactive Service® workshops, mentoring and support systems.

Maintain focus on this approach to business development by using every opportunity to repeat the mantra to the techs that identifying opportunities and bringing them to the attention of the customer is a valuable service.  Let them know that if they don’t think it is “right” for the customer, then they should not have the conversation.  Make it clear that you are not interested in sales for sales sake but simply want to ensure that each customer receives the benefit of having someone of their caliber in their facility.  Take this approach and the sales will take care of themselves.

I’d love your feedback! And as always, please feel free to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site. If you are reading this blog post via email, you will need to locate this post on my website by clicking here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the comment section.



“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

– Muhammad Ali


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  1. […] the first blog in this series, we talked about the first step to create a Proactive Service® focus for your field service team. […]

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