How To Solve The Field Service Cross Selling Debate

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When I asked whether field service technicians should be cross sell three months ago, I never expected I’d get such a big response.

If you’re a member of any field service management LinkedIn groups, you know that most posts only snag a like or two, and maybe a comment. At least, that’s usually the case with mine. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find the piece I’d written on cross selling had turned into a digital seminar of 26 thoughtful responses.

cross selling and upselling

Twenty-six comments is hardly viral, but the vigor of the debate in those comments was contagious. Responses went beyond yeses and noes, and included well-considered ideas about the dividing line between sales and service. To get responses like this, the topic at hand must matter to people.

That first post asked whether or not field service technicians should cross sell, but it didn’t answer the question. In this post, I’ll propose how to resolve the field service cross selling debate: field service technicians should be enabled, but not forced, to sell.

Cross selling and upselling: yes, no, maybe so?

Eighteen of those 26 responses were original (eight simply responded to other comments). Here’s how those 18 broke down:

— Seven yeses

— Four noes

— Seven more complicated answers

The yeses focused on potential. They cited technicians’ unique opportunity to sell: technicians aren’t in sales, and the customer already knows them, both of which might contribute to their trustworthiness.

In two cases, the yes’s argued that sales are part of service. If someone’s product is going to break down, or if they can benefit from a complimentary product or service, then sales is an extension of service.

The noes reflected a different vision of service. One commenter said cross selling “defeats the purpose of pure customer service.” Other responses said the impetus to sell was deeply discomforting. For example, one respondent asserted that sales quotas “make engineers uncomfortable,” while another was more direct: “Don’t give me sales targets, or I’ll be looking for the door.”

It was the “it’s complicated” responses that intrigued me the most. While they were wary of forcing technicians to sell, they were also open to the idea of cross selling and upselling, should the opportunity be right. In a few cases, they saw service and sales as intertwined: one response noted that, since “service sells contracts… field techs are always selling.” Similarly, another noted that sales/technician collaboration can “offer appropriate solutions that will benefit the customer and generate more business,” but that pushing sales on customers could lessen a technician’s credibility.

As lucrative as cross selling is, it’s just as big a risk. Alienated field technicians and customers isn’t only less than lucrative, it contradicts the tech’s purpose altogether. There may be a point in the future where the average technician’s mindset changes enough that they see cross selling as a natural extension of service. That day hasn’t arrived yet, however, so it’s still too early to suggest policies that require cross selling, like sales quotas for service techs.

That said, there’s clearly still an openness to selling when appropriate: call it the “if-and-when” school of thought. If and when it’s appropriate to cross sell and/or upsell, that’s a good option, and one that accords with the tech’s purpose: to help people. To this end, the answer to how to solve the field service cross selling debate is: don’t force sales, do enable them.

Upselling and cross selling with field service software

And a great way to enable your field techs? Features in field service management software that make it easy to cross sell and upsell. Software can provide the option to sell for technicians who want to, but doesn’t force it on those who don’t. And, if it’s easy enough, it may even wind up making some sales-uncomfortable people more comfortable with the idea.

I spoke with Brian Wells of Sky Boss, who described some of the sales-friendly features his software offers. The “Technician Notes” feature of Sky Boss’s mobile app can remind technicians of opportunities to sell. “If technicians are out doing, say, a simple drain cleaning… Technician Notes can deliver prompts for the technician in the field to upsell another service, like hydro jetting.” Technician Notes delivers these prompts like the push notifications normally offered by apps. If technicians aren’t comfortable with selling, they can disable these notifications, and focus on pure service.

Sky Boss’s app also shows a full history of past jobs at a location. That broader context can be the difference between cross selling as a money-making device, or cross selling as a necessary element of service. If a technician sees that a customer is paying for cleaning for, say, the third time, the offer of hydro jetting becomes helpful rather than pushy. Even a technician who hates the idea of sales could get behind that.

Max Paltsev, CEO of Service Fusion, also described how a feature in his company’s mobile app could help interested technicians sell. Service Fusion’s picture-driven product catalog makes it easy to view inventory technicians could cross sell.

service_fusion_add_product_catalog_app

 

The above picture shows another feature of Service Fusion’s product catalog, the add product feature that suggests related products usually purchased with one already selected. Paltsev noted how this feature could make cross selling easier for interested technicians: “when the item is in front of you, “… it’s like having a menu board with photos at a fast casual restaurant… the cashier doesn’t have to be a top-ten salesman in the country to sell a drink or an upgrade… they just have to follow a simple routine and read out what’s in front of them.” In other words, if you’ve got a technician who wants to sell, but isn’t sure how to start, a feature like this can make that transition easier.

Cross selling and upselling: is it for your technicians?

I’d argue only they can answer that. I’d also argue that the willingness to sell I found in those LinkedIn responses suggest that the best move any manager can take is to offer the opportunity with products like field service management software.

Do you have experiences with cross selling, either way? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.

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Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe is a former Capterra analyst.

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