It’s an age-old argument. “Without Sales, the lights don’t come on,” says the selling professional. “Without Service, you don’t get a paycheck,” says the seasoned service technician. Who is correct?
I’d like to share ideas about something I haven’t heard anyone address: the relationship between sales reps and your service department — more specifically, how to work with people who service your customers almost every day.
First off, I refer to working with, not for, your service team. Although you hand an account over once installation is scheduled, your relationship is peer-to-peer and symbiotic. They don’t work for you, and you don’t work for them. Together, you deliver the company’s vision to prospects and customers.
Sometimes, working together can be challenging because of egos – service techs rescue end users, salespeople earn adoration and a commission by making friends. Each process requires a degree of confidence and chutzpah; you’re both walking into stressful situations.
Let’s define “ego”:
- The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.
- In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior and is most in touch with external reality.
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit.
Salespeople develop a thick skin over time; it is the way of things. We accept and embrace negativity as part of the profession. We celebrate every deal as though it was the greatest thing since automatic duplexing.
On the service side of the fence, service technicians have a “how do I fix this thing” mentality. Your new sale evokes visions of botched configuration sheets, incorrect delivery details, undiscovered networking challenges, and false end-user expectation levels due to mismatched requirements.
Additionally, they walk into bad situations, address mechanical failures and end-user frustration and make it better – service techs are heroes thriving on closed tickets.
This dynamic can be strained beyond the rival level, delving into hostile competitiveness. Yet, even with this friction, the Sales and Service squads are on the same team – colleagues tasked to find and keep customers resulting in predictable revenue, managed costs and expanding profit.
The argument for building a meaningful connection with your service department is multifaceted. Here are three motivators supporting working with your service team:
- Happier customers – happy customers equal retention, renewals, and referrals
- Happier team members – positive energy attracts opportunities for growth
- More business – technicians can uncover needs and opportunities every day
A happy customer is a great customer
When you are presenting a solution and all you talk about is speeds, feeds, monthly cost, scanning, document management, digital transformation, and leasing, you are selling yourself short.
Talk about the systems and people behind the scenes, who support you and your clients. Those who process invoices, take customer calls, open service tickets
A happy team is a great team
Happy employees are more productive and support the company values and goals. Indeed, studies reveal that happiness may increase productivity by 12%. That seems a little light if you ask me, but you get the point – happiness is good.
Including another member of the organization, from a different department, is inclusive, supports transparency and illuminates common goals, all resulting in a more cohesive and affirming work environment. It’s a win-win.
Happiness is more business
You may ask yourself, “How is working with my service department going to increase sales?” The answer is simple: Team selling, when executed, exudes confidence, illustrates successful relationships, and promotes the “I want to belong” feelings in your prospects.
Add in the happiness quotient, and you’ve got a team that others want to be a part of.
It goes deeper. If after meeting a prospect and putting your best, happiest foot forward, your prospect remains a prospect, it is for the best. The prospect is not ready to be part of a successful and cheerful team. You’re better off.
How to work with your team
Let’s get tactical.
Invite the technician who would handle the account on the presentation appointment – do not include your sales manager.
Meet at a coffee shop before the meeting. Buy a cup and a snack, sit down, and brief your coworker on three points:
Why you’re here – To introduce the servicing professional and the philosophy of the service department. This is not a pitch. Tell a story of how a customer achieves business goals because of what the service department was able to deliver.
What not to say – Describe what you do daily. Don’t discuss response time, uptime guarantees, closed call ratios, and the like. Talk about your life as a technician, kids, spouse, gas prices, etc. Of course, answer ANY questions the prospect poses.
As the selling professional, let your technician answer the question and interface with your prospect organically. DO NOT STEER the conversation in any direction. Let it happen, let it get personal, and make sure the technician leaves a card.
The goal of the appointment – Let your tech know what you want out of this specific meeting.
If you’re aligned with all decision makers and deserve to ask for the business, let the tech know. Tell him or her to let you handle the ending of the meeting and move forward.
The theme is to show your prospect you’ve got a team of professionals behind you, tasked with helping customers through technical difficulties.
Final note, a little goes a long way.
The best thing you can do to make your techs love you is simply giving them a gift card to Starbucks, or any quick food establishment in the territory. Service teams fuel up on to-go meals and snacks almost every day.
Getting back to the original arguments of sales vs. service, who is correct? Both.
Be the positive force in your dealership by extending, inviting, and recognizing the service crew’s contributions. You could be the hero.
is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site TheDeathOfTheCopier, where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique – and often provocative – view of technology and people, addressing the impact of digital on 21st century business. His 2014 book, Death Of The Copier, offers a controversial summary of the early days of Managed Print Services and the not-so-distant future of the hard copy industry. Reach out to Greg at email@example.com.