By Annick Perry
In the ever-changing environment that service businesses operate, there are many potential transformation initiatives available. But from all these potential choices, which are the best options to start with? Is there any low-hanging fruit that can help a service business to accelerate growth? Let’s look at the most effective practices that most successful service transformations typically start with.
Understand Your Customers’ Service Needs
It’s of critical importance that you understand your customers in order to quickly identify their needs and business challenges and be able to propose the right services. Due to the frequently intangible nature of the service business, customers often need help to articulate their service needs. The more effective the needs exploration phase, the more likely a customer will feel that they are understood and that the right services are being proposed. Most successful sellers will have developed their own “mental” customer segmentation model, with the typical needs, benefits and recommended solutions. It pays off to assist the broader sales team with good research and training to fully understand customer service needs.
Understand How Your Customers Buy Services
Your ability to sell depends on your ability to understand your customers buying journey. Do you have to train your field engineers to act as trusted advisors? Have you identified the moments at which a customer typically buys during a product life cycle? Or perhaps you have to work closely with the product sales force to sell a product as a service? Having a clearly defined sales strategy aligned with your customers’ preferred way of buying will make your entire sales force more effective.
Turn Average Sales Teams Into High Performers with Better Sales Methods
Sales teams that deliver average results often lack a good approach to selling services. The fundamental difference between selling services and products is that in the case of services, the discussion always starts with what the customer’s challenges are and never with the service itself. However, more often than not, product sales people typically focus on matching a customer’s documented needs with the product on sale. In the case of services though, most customers do not know that they have a need for services, or they may have given up on finding solutions for challenges that they assume cannot be solved. There are several proven service sales methodologies and you need to make sure that your sales people fully master the chosen method.
Let Your Top 10% Sales People Share Their Best Practices
Turn your entire service sales staff into high performers by providing them with sales tools that leverage the best practices of your top performers on a daily basis. A service sales guide written with the help of your top performers can really make that difference. In order to achieve this, you need to understand what your top sales people do so well, and research your customers and map the customer needs of the different types of customers with actual solutions. Such a sales guide can make your entire sales force excel, while the top is even getting better as they learn from sharing their best practices.
Make Everybody A Trusted Advisor
From the top of the company down to every front-line employee, companies should be able to gain the trust of customers and guide them towards whatever brings the best value to the customer. Our research has identified the categories of skills that are particularly important:
- Situational knowledge: Being able to relate to the customer and identify their issues and pains
- Capability knowledge: Know what capabilities you have that can solve the customer’s issues
- People skills: Behavioural, communicational and observational skills are very important, as well as being able to understand verbal and non-verbal cues
- Selling skills: Understanding the process of how you sell something and possessing negotiation skills
The changes needed to take place in order to compete in the service economy of the present and the future can be plenty for an organization. The way to realize them is to start with what can be actually achieved and overcome the challenges ahead.