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In the Trenches with the Office Equipment Dealer: Service Technicians as Marketers

28 May, 2002 By: Tim Teasley imageSource

In the Trenches with the Office Equipment Dealer: Service Technicians as Marketers

of the best sources of sales leads and advertisements for an office equipment
dealership is often either taken for granted or simply overlooked. That source
is the dealership’s team of service technicians. This article explores three
programs that can utilize your dealership’s technicians to increase sales,
customer satisfaction, employee morale, and company profits. Proper use of these
programs will also increase the level of cooperation, between your
dealership’s Sales and Service Departments.



regular intervals, ask your service technicians to compile a list of machines
that they categorize as problem equipment. Require a sales representative to
communicate with the technician and follow up with the customer. The sales
representative should be instructed in how to approach the customer in this
scenario. The conversation may begin, “Your equipment was flagged by our
dealership’s Equipment Performance Deviation System.” (A sophisticated way
of stating that our technician is having a problem with your equipment!)


process can be formal or informal. However, a formal process promotes
consistency and accountability, which are key to the long-term success of the
program. A well-designed form should be used to collect information from the
technician and feedback from the sales representative. The technician should
supply enough information to understand as to why the machine was classified as
a problem.


sales representative should communicate with the customer regarding the
equipment. Then they should compare the following information with the service

  • Age
    of the equipment

  • The
    meter reading on the equipment

  • The
    service contract renewal date

  • Lease

  • The
    manufacturer’s specification of the equipment

  • The
    physical environment at the equipment’s location

  • Whether
    or not the equipment has a surge protector and clean power

  • The
    customer’s application

the sales representative to follow up with the customer (in written
documentation) and to forward a copy to the technician with their findings and
recommendations. During the initial launch of this program, ask the technicians
to limit the number of the problem equipment referrals to a reasonable number,
depending on the size of your dealership. An unreasonable number of referrals
received at one time will only overwhelm your sales force and impede the


dealership should supply the sales representative with available pre-defined
options to upgrade the equipment, exchange the equipment, or suggest assigning
another technician to the account. Occasionally, terminating the relationship
with the customer is the only option.


your service technician’s list of problem equipment will also be your
dealership’s most unprofitable accounts. Simply put, your dealership cannot
afford all customers. Identify the ones that are costing your dealership time
and money. It is a very difficult task and should be exercised with a high
degree of discretion. A basic approach is to either increase the price of your
services to make them profitable or terminate the relationship. 


remember the first customer I advised, “Our Company cannot afford you as a
customer.” Our Accounts Receivable Supervisor had transferred his telephone
call to my office, when his service call was denied because his account was
severely past due. He was very demanding and unrealistic. He was angry and
wanted to talk to executive management. As I reviewed his account, I read
numerous notes from our service and account receivable employees, detailing
problems with the account. As we continued the conversation, he stressed that he
was the customer and that the customer was always right. There was only one
logical response. I said, “Sir, I can appreciate your comments. However, I
have been reviewing your account and our dealership cannot afford you as a
customer.” After a moment of stunned silence, he asked what must he do to
remain a customer. He realized that our service was better than our competition.
My response was clear. He must first pay off his account. Upon payment, we would
be happy to dispatch a service technician. At renewal, the price of this
contract was increased substantially to make it worth the extra demands of the


Problem Equipment Identification Program will assist the technician in deleting
problem machines and assure your technician is satisfied and properly supported.
Sales representatives will be better informed and customers will be better



sales lead reward program is an excellent way for service technicians to earn
extra money. The program should encourage service technicians to assist the
sales representatives in identifying sales prospects. Customers generally build
trust and a rapport with their service technicians. Therefore, technicians
should be trained in how to recognize a sales lead and communicate it to the
sales force. The best method is to use a pre-printed form listing the necessary
information. To authenticate the lead, the sales manager must approve the lead
as qualifying. This will discourage superfluous referrals that result in no sale
and thereby reduce the credibility of the technicians. To prevent collusion
between a sales representative and service technician, the sales lead reward
should be subtracted from the sales representative’s commissions.


be effective, the sales lead program must be ongoing. To accomplish this, review
the program with the service technicians and the sales representatives at least
quarterly. Anytime a service technician complains about their salary or pay
plan, ask them how many sales leads they have submitted!



cards received after service calls are an excellent way to assure the quality of
the service technician’s work. However, they are often overlooked as sales
tools. Positive comment cards can be used to complete a sales representative’s
site seller book. Nonetheless, negative comment cards can be used as sales tools
as well. The customer may have negative comments simply because the equipment
does not meet their needs. A qualified sales representative should always
follow-up on negative comments. Bear in mind, very often the key operator will
complete the comment card and never communicate the information to their
company’s decision maker.


be effective, comment cards need to be:

  • Easy/Quick
    to complete

  • Include
    prepaid postage for mailing

  • Quickly
    input on the Internet

overlooked sales tool is the business card. Technicians should have business
cards to hand to customers and prospects. I know several dealers that, to save
money, do not give technicians business cards. What a mistake! Business cards
have proven to be an excellent and inexpensive advertising tool. Plus, business
cards are morale boosters and give service technicians a sense of achievement
for a nominal investment. What a bargain!


most successful dealerships are the ones with the most efficient programs.
Please note that there should not be a one-time launch of these programs, but an
ongoing process. The above programs save advertising dollars, encourage service
technicians, motivate sales representatives, and make your dealership more
profitable. So, utilize one of your greatest resources - your service
technicians. They can be your best marketers!


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