RJ Lee Group also has a number of technologies that can be applied to more than one problem. An instrument can take a measurement related to lead contamination, and it also can measure the composition of a metal part.
“It’s endemic to an organization which services a lot of different kinds of disciplines,” he says.
And the problem is particularly prevalent among new customers, who haven’t realized all of the different services RJ Lee Group provides.
The nature of tire kickers
Lee says since they sell technical services, they mostly deal with technical people, who are what he calls tire kickers.
“They like to see and touch and feel and know, and they are generally only interested in their problem,” he says. “In their company, the guy sitting next to him could have a very large problem of a different order and yet they are just focused. It’s the nature of scientists and engineers.”
That same focus goes for his employees at RJ Lee Group.
It’s a good quality to have when you’re working to solve something, but it makes it hard to shift to the broader picture, especially if that person is naturally introverted or doesn’t have a strong social skill set.
“In their mind, they are the company, so what they have to offer is what the company offers,” Lee says.
There’s an axiom in science that more good science is lost by bad salesmanship and by bad interpersonal relations. At the same time Lee has seen people win the day with lesser technical content, but a better presentation.
Increasing the touch points
A lot of organizations look for ways to cross-sell to their current customers, but in RJ Lee Group’s case, the employees do such a great job with customers, it’s about making that customer relationship broader.
“We’ve done several things, which are not out of the ordinary, but are accumulative in their effect,” Lee says.
“We believe that we’re going to have to touch that customer four or five different ways to get him thinking about us when they have a different problem,” he says.
Now, when they get a new customer, Lee says somebody calls him or her up and thanks them for the business and shares what other services RJ Lee Group provides.
Lee himself and his vice president of sales also identify and approach companies where there are multiple opportunities for contact and collaboration, making sure to talk about all of their service offerings.
The company has hired a customer retention person who works with the new customers and the technical point of contact to support him or her in building the relationship.
The idea is to partner the scientists with someone comfortable asking questions about other aspects of the customer’s business or their personal lives. Lee says it gets the conversation started, and like osmosis, their technical employees become more engaged.
If you have great customers, you want them to return more frequently for a greater variety of services, Lee says. So far their efforts have already made a difference, although he would like to go further.
“Because we’re scientists, we’re pretty good at tracking,” he says. “We track the people that we’re out reaching in this manner, and we’ve seen a significant increase in the frequency, which is what I’m interested in.”
Lee also wants to create formalized training and mentoring in the future.
“My idea would be to find that unique young science or engineer and train them first in customer relationships and then train them secondly on their job,” he says.
You want to start at day zero, when the person arrives, with training them about how you interact with people. He believes it’s important to start with young employees because they are still on that learning curve for how they’re going to build their professional life.
You also should look for more than just technical skills in the people you hire.