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Across the technology industry, companies are under pressure to do more with less. The good news is that, when Services and Customer Success teams become involved in the sales process, they can help grow revenue from existing customers in a cost-effective way. This concept and the underlying practices that make it work are what TSIA calls “expand selling”.

Helping will sell. Selling won’t help.

J.B. Wood, Complexity Avalanche

Why Should Services and Customer Success Get Involved in the Sales Process?

Selling can be the natural outcome of a Services conversation. To help provide guidance and clarify the “how” and “why” of involving Services and Customer Success in selling, here are three core principles you should keep in mind. I’ve also included a related blog post for each that can provide additional details.

  • Your company’s Services and Customer Success teams interact with your customers 5-15x more often than their Sales counterparts, a concept we refer to as “touchpoint calculus.” If you wish to grow revenue from existing customers in a cost-effective way, these interactions can’t be left on the table.
  • Customers will talk to their Services and Customer Success professionals about problems, challenges, and initiatives that they wouldn’t divulge to a Sales rep. This “relationship equity” allows them to identify new projects and gain competitive insight.
  • TSIA embraces the philosophy of “Helping will sell, selling won’t help.” Any Sales-related activity taken on by Services or Customer Success must be done strictly within the context of helping the customer solve their problem.

How Services and Customer Success Can Contribute to the Selling Process

TSIA has identified four key motions that Services and Customer Success teams can take to become more engaged in the sales process. Keep in mind that the activities become more complex as you go, and are designed to take the customer deeper into the sales cycle.

Stage 1: Gather and Leverage Account Intelligence

Services and Customer Success teams are the keepers of a treasure trove of data that can be utilized by Sales and Marketing. However, in many cases, these outside groups aren’t even aware of the customer information that Services possesses, and this data requires organization and translation to be useful. Before embarking on a massive initiative around analytics, TSIA recommends meeting with your Sales, Marketing and Product Management teams to see which data elements you possess can be useful to them. As Marketing teams come under pressure to deliver custom messages on an account-by-account basis, having this insight may extremely useful and timely for them.

Stage 2: Participate in the Sales Process

Services and Customer Success teams are constantly being asked to “chip in” throughout the various stages of the Sales cycle. As Sales and Services motions become more tightly intertwined, new rules of engagement will be needed.

A great way of allowing Services and Customer Success professionals to dip their toe in the water is by having an “up-tell” conversation. Once the customer’s problem is solved, they simply teach the customer how to utilize a feature they’ve already paid for but aren’t using. The results can be overwhelmingly positive, but if Services and Customer Success teams are going to engage in this or any other sales-related activity, they need some grace on their core metrics. If you hold them to their usual standards on case resolution time or call volume, they will be unlikely to try anything new.

56% of customers who have been trained on features and functions are likely to use those new features.

TSIA Research

Stage 3: Generate Leads

You will be hard-pressed to find a more cost-effective source of B2B leads than your Services and Customer Success teams. The leads can cost between $7 and $25 (Marketing leads cost 10x as much) and close between 20 and 25% of the time. Nearly half of the leads these teams generate are for Services-related offerings, since the people who are taking the leads are the ones most familiar with the value of Services.

Around 10-15% of Services professionals are already sending leads for new opportunities to their Sales counterparts, even without a formal program in place. Find out who these people are, ask what data they’re capturing, and follow up on what happens after they pass the lead to Sales. When you’re ready to launch a structured pilot program, these are the people you’ll want to start with.

Around 10-15% of Services professionals are already sending leads for new opportunities to their Sales counterparts.

Stage 4: Close Deals

TSIA has found that Services and Customer Success teams can be tasked with closing upsells under carefully-orchestrated conditions. In these circumstances, account growth has been shown increase significantly. Although non-salespeople should not be asked to drive complicated sales, the types of sales they can drive effectively should fall in line with TSIA’s STAR protocol:

  • Simple
  • Transactional
  • Analytics-Driven
  • Repeatable

The first step to creating repeatable solutions is figuring out which problems you’re solving time and again. Once you have a grasp on this, you can create offerings and bundles that Services teams have a good chance to sell.

Get More Expert Advice and Strategic Plans for Blending Services and Sales Efforts

At TSIA, we’ve been researching and tracking the success of companies all across the technology and services industry who are able to effectively blend Services and Sales motions to create a cohesive and cost-effective customer engagement journey. If your organization is wanting to begin this process or are stuck along the way and need a hand, reach out to TSIA today to learn how membership in our Expand Selling research practice can help you optimize your teams for increased customer spend and retention.

In the meantime, I encourage you to read my paper, "Engaging Services and Customer Success in the Sales Process," which goes over the 4 steps above in more detail. You can also watch this video of a TSW keynote I presented on this topic, “The ‘E’ in LAER: Driving Expand Revenue with Services”. In this session, you’ll learn how to utilize Services teams at various stages of the sales funnel and get examples of how TSIA member companies are driving cost-efficient growth from their existing customers.


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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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