Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study nanotech technical and scientific seminars (TSS) companies from a managerial perspective. Specifically, it means to: firstly, understand how TSS firms manage the sale of their services; and secondly, to identify the implications that different approaches in the TSS sale management have on the client firm's innovation process.
Design/methodology/approach – First, a literature analysis identifies the critical variables of a service sale management model for nanotech TSS firms. Then, an empirical investigation involving ten nanotech Italian companies was conducted. The empirical results were analytically generalised and integrated with suggestions from the literature to provide general insights into the research topic.
Findings – The paper shows that nanotech TSS companies adopt two alternative models for managing their service sale: a customised approach and a standardised one. They differ in terms of: management of the commercial relationship; phases of interaction with the client firm; and degree of standardisation of the provided service.
Research limitations/implications – Because of the applied research methodology, the findings can be generalised to TSS companies offering services in the field of nanotechnology, although implications for similar technology-intensive sectors are discussed.
Practical implications – The two TSS sale management models have different implications on the client's innovation process, in terms of: firstly, structure of the process itself and, secondly, applied managerial and organisational practices. These effects should be considered by the innovator that wants to fully exploit the potentiality of the acquired service.
Originality/value – So far, TSS have been analysed in the literature from the client firm's point of view. The paper widens this perspective, since it considers the two opposite viewpoints in the TSS sale: the service supplier's and the service buyer's.