Customers rightly or wrongly assume that your after sales personnel (fitters, service engineers, delivery people etc) simply wish to do their jobs and have no commercial interest unlike your sales people. In other words customer expects more objective information from them. So, how can we use this to our advantage? Well, did you know that a great many sales opportunities are left unexploited simply because delivery people and fitters may simply shrug their shoulders when a customer asks for information on about prices, delivery terms and product advantages and the like. "Don't ask me, you need to ask a sales rep" is the usual response, when the buying signal was so strong and the customer was hot to trot, the sale has simply been lost before we even get a chance to look at it.
All kinds of information can betray buying intentions, wear and tear, inadequate production capacity, machinery no longer meeting the requirements, deliveries by competitors etc. Customers often ask apparently "innocent" questions, however, these questions are normally disguised in a non-committal package, as this is felt to be the least threatening. For example
I heard you also offer maintenance contracts; do you think that would be something for me? What is the delivery term for a new boiler? It's not easy to find that type of washer is it? Do you think that heater will last through winter?
Keeping eyes and ears open: make your maintenance staff, delivery staff etc alert to buying signals, demonstrate how customers are inadvertently telling you what they really want, maybe through half a days sales training. Next, provide these personnel with written information on your products, delivery terms and the like. They will then be able to answer any questions about your products efficiently and effectively.
Insist on systematic reporting: For reporting, use a form that is to be completed by all technical staff after one of their customer calls. One of the fields within this form could be to establish whether further contact is needed. All reports should be processed by a coordinator. Informal reporting is possible as well through weekly or monthly breakfast meetings, or during an informal Friday afternoon meeting where both sales people and technical people sit down and swap notes.
In addition to product information, also give your technical staff an order list for products that need to be replaced regularly, for example toner cassettes, belts, seals and the like. Your customer will appreciate their offer to deliver these products during their next call.
Motivation: Of course it is not easy to maintain such a feedback system on a permanent basis. However, you can motivate your technical staff by informing them that the information they provide boosts sales and turnover. You can even give your technical staff an extra incentive by offering them a bonus or commission based on the sale.
In summary convince your technical staff that innocuous questions or remarks by customers often conceal real buying intentions.