Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mobile Field Services, Cross-Selling and Enterprise 2.0

Selling more service contracts, warranties and appliances were three reasons Sears gave for mobilizing their field service technicians in this recent article. Cross-selling is also a key to successful field services organizations according to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management ( May 2009). Isn't it interesting how important onsite sales are for organizations that provide services?

It seems that in these days of internet e-commerce, people still like to look into the eyes and talk to a real person. If that person just happened to fix your satellite TV hours before your football game, you are very happy with them. You are willing to listen to them as they make recommendations and referrals.

If you are a software developer of mobile applications for Field Services Automation (FSA) you are going to have to take the notion of "sales" seriously in your application. Gartner states that leading FSA companies will need to include CRM components in their field services applications. This may include integrations with mobile sales force automation tools or SaaS providers, product catalogs, inventory levels, shipment tracking, etc.

Location based services may also have a role here as discussed in this article on mobile sales applications and LBS.

Let's continue this thought process and integrate cross-selling, Enterprise 2.0 and mobile applications. In this article on Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile Software Applications, the idea of a Facebook like application for businesses is explored. The ability to have an enterprise collaboration and communication tool that utilizes many of the concepts of social networking. If a key contributor to the success of a field services company is selling products and services while onsite with a customer, then what would happen if the service technician expanded his product line with those of key collaborating business partners?

Let's think through a scenario:
  1. Plumber Edward fixes a leak for Mrs. Jones
  2. Plumber Edward sees the tile floor on the bathroom needs repaired
  3. Plumber Edward is connected to a tile installer via an online Enterprise 2.0 website
  4. Plumber Edward refers the tile installer and uses the Enterprise 2.0 website or the iPhone version of it to notify the tile installer
  5. The tile installer receives the referral via the Enterprise 2.0 service on his Blackberry and wins the business.
  6. The tile installer notices that the floor needs repaired and refers a carpenter via the Enterprise 2.0 website.

You get the picture. A group of linked and collaborating businesses cross-sell each other's products and services via a mobile Enterprise 2.0 service. Each of these collaborating businesses have eyes, ears and faces in the marketplace seeking to find business for the other members. This is business collaboration with big benefits!

I can image a time when there is a monetary value placed on each level of referral. Direct referrals are worth more than a 2nd level referral. Members could participate in different collaboration groups depending on the market dynamics.

Sears said that the onsite service technician, standing face-to-face with the customer, had the best opportunity to sell products and services. They invested in equipping their mobile service technician with more wireless mobile software applications to assist in closing more sales. They reported it was successful.

I would like to hear your thoughts and comments.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant /