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Services teams interact with customers more than 10x as often as their Sales counterparts. But, unlike outreach through traditional Sales or Marketing, these interactions are often welcomed and valued by customers because they come with prescriptive advice for achieving a specific outcome with their purchase.

Many technology organizations are under pressure to grow revenue, but don’t always get more Sales or Marketing resources to help them get that done. So, they’re finding ways to utilize the service interactions that are already occurring to not only drive upsell revenue, but also to help customers arrive at better outcomes. At TSIA, we refer to this process as “expand selling”.

Here’s a real-world example of successful expand selling, illustrated in one of the most creative and innovative uses of Services interactions that TSIA has encountered: Microsoft’s Achieve More program. By empowering their Support agents to do more than just fix the problem at hand, Microsoft was able to reduce churn and increase both revenue and customer satisfaction through an “uptelling” strategy.

What Is “Uptelling” and How Is It Different from Upselling?

For the uninitiated, “upselling” is the process of selling additional upgrades or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. As part of their technical support interactions, Microsoft Support agents actively encourage and advise customers to use relevant features of the products they’ve already purchased.

They can also show customers resources and services already available to them that they may not have been aware of but would benefit from. Because the customer isn’t being asked to purchase anything new, but instead being helped to find greater value in what they have already purchased, this type of interaction is referred to as an “uptell” rather than an “upsell".

How Microsoft Uses Uptelling to Increase Product Usage and Customer Satisfaction

When Microsoft’s Support agents had an “uptell” conversation with Office 365 customers about OneDrive, there was a 14% uplift in customer satisfaction and a 104% increase in the number of customers who actually started using OneDrive. And when Support agents had a conversation with Office 365 Home customers about installing the Office apps on multiple devices, these customers had a 12% improvement in customer satisfaction and were 272% more likely to install Office 365 Home on another device.

When done the right way, initiatives such as Microsoft’s Achieve More program benefit everyone involved. The customer not only gets the answer they were looking for, but in many cases, they receive valuable advice they didn’t even know they needed. Microsoft is turning customers into “raving fans,” by simply listening to the customer and helping them understand how they can achieve more with the Microsoft products they already own.

How to Drive Value Through Service Interactions

This sort of creative use of Service and Support touchpoints is a great example of TSIA’s core belief that “Helping will sell. Selling won’t help.” We believe that Sales results can be the natural result of Service motions, so long as they are taken in the mindset of helping the customer reach solve their problem, maximize their technology investment, or reach their desired outcome.

For members of TSIA’s Expand Selling research practice, we provide the “how to” manuals for making this happen. An example of this is our recently-published in-depth case study of the Achieve More program, called “The Power of Uptell”, where we cover all the critical practices, important learnings, and key metrics that are required to make a program successful at your company.

For non-members of our Expand Selling research practice, an abridged version of the case study can be found here with details on how Microsoft got started and some simple ideas on how you can get started too.

Doing the right thing sometimes means doing more than what is required, and far more than what was previously attempted. In Microsoft’s case, they had to believe that their Support agents could indeed do more than just take a reactive approach to resolving problems. It’s no coincidence that Microsoft has seen tremendous growth in the areas where the Achieve More conversations were most frequently held. It stands as a fantastic example of how engaging Services in the Sales process can drive positive outcomes for everyone involved.

To learn more about ways to upsell existing customers through services and sales collaboration, subscribe to our blog, attend a Technology & Services World conference, or contact TSIA for information about membership in our Expand Selling research practice.

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Steve Frost

About Author Steve Frost

Steve Frost is the vice president and managing director of revenue research and advisory for TSIA. He also serves as TSIA's vice president of CRO Council research, dedicated to revenue optimization. Throughout his career, he has held various leadership and business development roles at companies like Google, Netscape, and Loudcloud, helping them define their go-to-market strategy and business development tactics. Steve is dedicated to helping technology organizations grow their services, subscription, and XaaS revenue by optimizing their practices for growth throughout the customer lifecycle.

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