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Companies are always interested in selling more, whether it’s selling more product, selling more subscriptions, selling more services, or ideally, selling more of everything. In the new world of x-as-a-service (XaaS), it really does become everyone’s job to sell. Given that Education Services organizations have regular contact with customers, they are in a prime position to uncover upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Instructors often hear things from students that indicate other needs that they or their company may have, and for which the instructor’s company offers a solution. This translates to a lead that can be forwarded to the Sales organization.

Education Services Can Be A Source of Sales Leads

At TSIA’s upcoming Technology Services World conference, we’ll be focusing on how to expand sales by leveraging Services organizations to generate leads and opportunities, both for each other and for the Product Sales organization. Why should every company make blending Service and Sales motions a top priority? TSIA’s vice president of expand selling research says it best:

Adding a Sales motion to an existing Services touchpoint costs 90-95% less than adding a new sales touchpoint.

Steve Frost, VP Expand Selling Research, TSIA

Education organizations are always looking for ways to increase their value to the company. Tracking the leads generated by Education Services organizations and their conversion rate is another way for ES to demonstrate their contribution to corporate revenue, above and beyond what they may contribute as a Service organization. 

4 Stages of Engaging Services in the Sales Process

In his "What is Expand Selling?" blog, author Steve Frost covers four key motions that help Services Delivery teams drive revenue from existing customers. Below, I expand on the concept he introduces by sharing ways that Education organizations can contribute in each stage of the sales process.

how to sell through services  

(Click image to enlarge.)

Stage 1: Gather and Leverage Account Intelligence

Data from Other Service Lines: Services-generated data is a fantastic place to look for education opportunities. Basic analysis of something as simple as trouble tickets and case files, which reside in the Support Services organization, reveal which companies are having challenges, and which individual users are struggling. Support Services data also reveals that 48% of all calls into Support are of a “how-to” nature, which enables ES to develop offers to meet the most pressing needs of customers.

Data from Education Services: By looking at learning management system data, ES organizations can uncover opportunities for others. One TSIA member reviews training content consumption activity to ascertain customers that are consuming either free, or fee-based content for a product that the customer does not “own”/subscribe to. Tracking consumption data has enabled their Education Services organization to forward leads to the Product Sales team and alert them to the fact that a customer is perusing training content for a product that the customer has not purchased/subscribed, but for which there appears to be interest.

Stage 2: Participate in the Sales Process

Who is doing the quoting for your Education Services organization? Who scopes out the engagements? If the Education Services team isn’t involved, the wrong solution at the wrong price point might be quoted. The chart below illustrates the difference in ES deal size when the Education organization has a dedicated resource who interfaces with Product Sales versus those education organizations that don’t.

average education services deal size  

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Clearly, the substantial difference in deal size warrants the involvement of ES in the Product Sales cycle.

Additionally, there is the retention value that training provides. In a recent TSIA Expand Selling Virtual Summit, the head of support for Microsoft talked about his team’s efforts in having the “up-tell” conversation; by letting a customer know about a feature they have access to but aren’t using, this resulted in a substantial reduction in churn and laid the ground for future upsells. Training achieves this same outcome. Enabling a customer to use more product features and functions results in greater usage of the product and thus helps drive retention.

To quantify this, a recent TSIA Quick Poll showed that over 50% of students use additional features and functions post-training:

post training product use  

(Click image to enlarge.)
Source: TSIA Training/Adoption Quick Poll: 2016

To close the sales cycle loop, ES can partner with Sales Operations to track the growth and churn (attrition) rate of customers who have been trained compared to those who have not been trained. 

Stage 3: Generate Leads

Leads from Other Service Lines: Referring back to Data from Other Service Lines as cited in Stage 1, 48% of all incoming support calls are “how-to” in nature. According to Steve Frost, Education Services leads are one of the main types of leads generated by Support teams. After all, who better than the support call agent to understand that the customer could use some training? While a certain diplomacy is necessary so as not to offend the customer in terms of their abilities and knowledge, sharing a curriculum roadmap provides a view of online and in-classroom training that further enables the customer and presents opportunities for ES. Additionally, the Support organization will be forever thankful to ES for reducing the number of “how-to” calls they receive.

Education Services teams should also coordinate with Professional Services (PS) teams, who are responsible for installing and implementing the product. As the focus of PS is to get the product up and running, the PS consultant has a good idea where the customer may experience challenges. If ES partners with PS to fully understand a customer’s needs and provides onsite training that is specific to that customer’s implementation, it results in a more successful project for all, setting the stage for the customer to maximize their business outcomes.

Leads from Education Services: Instructors are in a prime position to uncover new opportunities not only for ES, but for Product Sales and other service lines as well. As discussions arise in the classroom and questions bubble to the surface, it becomes clear where a customer/student is struggling. If the instructor documents this through proper systems, it provides the opportunity to follow-up and suggest other training, services, and/or products that could be beneficial to the customer.

Stage 4: Close Deals

In cases where ES has dedicated Sales staff and either Product Sales or another service line has generated a lead and forwarded it them, ES should be able to close the deal. Many upsell and cross-sell opportunities may be of a size that may not get the attention of a Product Sales rep, which is why Education organizations need someone on staff to keep an eye open for such opportunities and to whom other organizations can pass such opportunities. The last thing that the Education organization wants is for an opportunity to be missed simply because there’s no one on the ES side of the house to whom to direct it.

Learn More About How Other Services Fit into the Sales Cycle

By engaging in the four stages of the sales cycle, Education Services can increase its value in two ways:

  1. ES realizes the benefit of leads that are generated by sources other than the ES organization
  2. ES can contribute directly to the company’s bottom line for every lead it sends to product sales and/or other service lines, and that converts to a closed deal

To find out how other technology service lines are doing to get involved in the sales cycle, be sure to read other posts in our "Blending Service and Sales Motions" blog series:

Editor's Note: This post was edited 12/19/2018 to reflect current information. 
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Maria Manning-Chapman

About Author Maria Manning-Chapman

Maria Manning-Chapman, is the distinguished vice president of education services research for TSIA. She has more than 25 years of education experience in the high-technology industry. Maria is well versed in the dynamics of running an education services business and has held leadership positions in operations, virtual learning, business development, curriculum development, delivery, and partner management over the course of her career.

Maria's favorite topics to discuss