I’ve interviewed, hired, or trained well over five thousand Service Sales Representatives. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people whose sales skills and results were at the top of the industries they served. I’ve been on thousands of sales calls mentoring new Service Sales people and worked with seasoned veterans pursuing major deals. Their personalities were wide ranging, but their skill sets were very similar. I’ve also worked with struggling Service Sales people who didn’t succeed and moved on to other careers. In short, I’ve probably been involved with more dedicated Service Sales people than anyone else on the planet over my long career.
It’s not uncommon for firms to attempt to transition technicians into Service Sales. The logic usually applied typically goes like this; He or she is good with customers, they are already in the Service Department, and they understand our products or systems better than anyone else. All these assumptions may be true, but in my experience they have little to do with reality. The reality being that someone who is dedicated to Service Sales must be an expert communicator, have the ability to spend as much as fifty percent of their time prospecting, and typically won’t get the order in the majority of situations. This is unfamiliar turf for technicians. They thrive on trouble shooting, being heroes to their clients when solving problems, and the big differentiator; they don’t carry the weight of a challenging sales quota. Technicians face pressure in their jobs for a number of reasons, but at the end of the day they get satisfaction from completing the task assigned. As anyone who has ever worked to meet a sales quota knows, you’re never satisfied, and it never seems to be completed. And of course your quota goes up every year.
I’ve had some very successful Service Sales Reps. that came from the technical ranks. Unfortunately I’ve had far more failures. In most cases they didn’t even last a year. Many times they went back into the technical force and thrived. More times they may have found their previous position not available or they left the firm feeling embarrassed or frustrated. Good technicians have a specific skill set. Good Service Sales Reps have a specific skill set. It’s rare that individuals have both skill sets.