How can Customer Support safely assist in the sales motion? This is something we’ve been talking about for a long time at TSIA, and the short answer is that Support can be extremely beneficial to Sales in both landing new customers and uncovering opportunities with existing customers. But, this can’t happen unless there’s a company-wide understanding of just how valuable Support is to the sales process.

In this post, I will share how Support organizations can support Sales during all stages of the customer journey.

Support’s Role in All Stages of the Customer Life Cycle

Support organizations serve a valuable purpose at all stages of the customer life cycle, from bringing customers on board to taking care of the customers you already have, paving the way for upsell, cross-sell, and renewal. Let’s take a look at exactly how Support benefits each stage of TSIA’s LAER customer engagement model, which consists of the Land, Adopt, Expand, and Renew stages.

This model outlines all of the activities required to bring customers on board, helping them adopt and consume the product they’ve purchased, expanding customer spending with your company, and the activities required to assist them in making the decision to renew their contract.

tsia laer model

Land

Support is increasingly getting involved in pre-sales motions, especially as more customers opt for the “try before you buy” approach to their technology purchases. In these encounters, Support organizations are being tapped to offer a scaled-down Support experience while the prospect is still making their purchasing decision so that they can sample the level of customer care they can expect to receive.

Adopt

As Support organizations begin to employ dedicated data analysts and data scientists, they now have more visibility into consumption and adoption data, allowing them to see exactly how customers are using the technology. They can then share this data with their peers in Sales, Product Management, Marketing, Development, and Customer Success to make more informed recommendations for helping customers effectively adopt the solution.

Expand

On average, Support interacts with customers 10x more than any other organization within a company. They have a front-row seat to customer pain points, making them perfectly positioned to identify and prescribe service and product opportunities that can solve customer needs that others within your organization may not even be aware of.

Renew

Because Support is actively involved in making sure customers achieve their desired outcomes and overcome challenges, they are actively involved in renewal activities.

What Technology Customers Want

Support is just as important as the product you’re making, selling, and shipping to your customers. In an increasingly experience-driven economy, you need to ask yourself, “What kind of experience do our customers want from us?” Support is soundly in the middle of this. Customers want:

  • A low effort experience
  • An educational experience
  • A fast and efficient experience
  • An experience that acknowledges their uniqueness
  • A relevant experience

These demands come with one caveat: while you can’t always deliver a completely unique experience to each customer and still remain scalable, you can acknowledge the uniqueness of each customer. This brings me to my next point.

The Industry is Seeing the Value that Support Brings

So, how can support deliver on the level of experience your customers expect? Support is an organization that:

  • Can help turn a prospect into a customer
  • Is entrenched in delivering the ideal experience
  • Can restore a customer’s faith in the product or company
  • Can continuously create an emotional connection between a customer and your brand
  • Can drive up renewals and reduce customer churn
  • Can increase adoption and consumption of products and services
  • Has the technology and data to speed up the sales motions
  • Can help customers achieve success and their desired outcomes
  • Has a strong impact on customer upsell and cross-sell

Across the technology industry, the annual average length of time Support employees spend on upsell and cross-sell training is 2.5 days per support engineer. Two years ago, that number was 0, so it’s clear that more organizations are seeing the value of training Support engineers on how to identify leads and turn them over to Sales as opportunities. This helps Sales have more informed conversations with the customers about products and services that will be the most beneficial to them. It’s good to see more of a commitment being made to enabling that very valuable skill building in Support.

How Support Leaders Can Prepare their Support Staff to Be More Helpful to Sales

In order for this collaboration between Support and Sales to be successful, Support leaders need to think about how Support employees are being engaged to not only be part of the sales motion, but be motivated and inspired to do so. This starts with being honest about how your organization as a whole views Support.

Does your company see Support as a cost center? When Support functions as a cost center, that mentality and behavior can ooze out into the employees, which will in turn ooze out into your customers as well. We call this “cost center creep”, and you can fight it by priming your Support agents into realizing just how critical they are to the customer experience, which you can start doing by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do our Support employees believe they are critical to the overall customer experience?
  • Do we struggle with “cost center creep”?
  • Does Support realize their role in customer retention and expansion?
  • Do managers know and encourage these responsibilities?
  • Do we have the right mix between break/fix reactive support and proactive support?
  • Do we incorporate our employees in the higher-level success metrics?

Start Involving Support Into the Sales Process

In today’s experience economy, what you sell is important, but how you sell it is going to be what sets you apart with your customers. TSIA research shows that 80% of customers have already made a buying decision before they’ve even spoken to an account exec. It’s how you sell it that’s going to be a differentiation between a won or lost deal and Support is in a position to be the differentiator in how you sell to your customers.

Members of TSIA’s Support Services research and advisory program have access to the industry-validated data, research reports, and proven action plans to involving your Support team in the sales process. You also will get insight on how to better transform your Support organization to remain engaged and get excited about their growing role in all aspects of your business. Reach out to TSIA today to learn more about how you can start working smarter and unlock more potential with the Support team you already have.

 
 
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Judi Platz

About Author Judith Platz

Judith Platz, is vice president of research, Support Services, for TSIA. During her over 25 years of customer support experience, she has been responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development and technical work streams, including technical support, account management, business consulting, implementation management, and training.

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