Field Service USA wrapped up recently in Palm Springs, and I was honored to attend—both as a presenter and as an attendee. With nearly 800 industry peers and enterprise executives coming together in one building to discuss innovation in field service and the broader service supply chain, there was much to learn in such a short amount of time.

Here are a few of my favorite key takeaways from the event:

Sell outcomes not products

A conversation between Arthur N. McGinn Jr. senior vice president at Canon Solutions America; Gary F. Johnson vice president, global technical at Pitney Bowes; Charles Hughes, vice president of technical site services at Acuative; Venki Subramanian, head of product management, customer service management at ServiceNow; and Jeff Blum, vice president of the west region at KONE Americas really caught my eye. Their panel, titled “Transforming Your Service Business Model from Selling a Product to Selling an Outcome” focused on how companies can differentiate themselves against competition in a product uptime-driven ecosystem.

The most convincing solution was the use of big data. “The ecosystem is coming together with mobile, cloud computing and the aggregation of big data. We’re on a journey getting to what customers value, which is real-time insights into their assets,” KONE’s Bloom said. Big data allows companies to optimize their supply chain in a way that values both the customer and the company, itself, as product uptime is maintained and surplus and excess spend is eliminated.

Another key differentiator is executive buy-in. As a company, you have to make sure that both shareholders’ and customers’ needs and wants are met in a way that makes all parties happy. “The most important thing about all of it is making everyone feel good about how you’re moving forward with the data,” explained Johnson of Pitney Bowes. “It’s a team sport, it’s a journey, and every touchpoint can be a winning point for everyone to move forward and create a positive outcome.”

Growth is a process

Terry Diaferio, senior director, North American Service, and Joseph Molesky, senior national operations manager of the Tennant Company had a conversation on how to set a vision for your company and turn service capabilities into an engine that drives growth.

Growth takes time, but it’s an investment that has several benefits. Growth helps turn cost into profit, generates revenue through increased customer touchpoints and encourages current partners to do more business. But where it gets tricky is understanding how to scale sales and services alongside the overall growth. Diaferio and Molesky frame it this way: Do you want a cost model, or do you want a profit model?

Building a cost model to generate sales is okay, and plenty of companies do it. But if you want to drive growth at an exponential rate, things need to be done a bit differently. To do this, it’s important to ask these key questions when looking to scale: Who is on your transformational team, what are their roles and what can they bring to the table?

Next, it’s important to take into consideration what customers want. For some customers, they may want exceptional customer service—others may just want a low price. It varies from industry to industry, company to company, so it’s important to understand where it’s worth investing in growth and with whom to make these changes. A customer that want’s a cheap product may not care if you invest heavily in after-sales service—they care only about the features and services that apply most to them.

Changes effect people, too

Sarah O’Brien, senior director of Business Transformation at Sears Holding spoke to the importance of understanding the “people-side” of internal changes—whether it’s the integration of a new software, new product, new customer or more. It’s easy to get caught up in how new things can affect the business from a technological and financial standpoint. But, it’s just as important to understand how the people within business are affected as well.

Her main tips for handing the people-side of internal changes are:

Firstly, know your people. It’s important to receive feedback, ask questions and be open to criticism. Secondly, get context. If a technician says something isn’t working, be sure to fully understand the situation so that both you and the technician are on the same page. Understand influence. It’s vital to know what motivates workers and be open to acting upon those motivations to build community. Finally, respect your people. Don’t just listen to their feedback, but act on it. Show them that they are a part of the evolution process during these changes and you will earn their trust and respect.

There were many other great conversations at Field Service USA 2018 that covered a vast range of expertise—from the importance of maximized product uptime, to learning how to use data, driving after-sales service revenue growth and more. As technology evolves, so do we as industry leaders—and so we’re looking forward to next year.