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In my role as head of TSIA’s Expand Selling line of research, I’ve talked to dozens of companies who have tried to more tightly integrate their Services and Sales efforts. In some cases, they have attempted to utilize their Support or Customer Success teams to capture low-cost leads. In other cases, they’ve tried to involve their Professional Services or Managed Services delivery teams in the pre-sales process in order to more effectively sell services or increase margins. Most of the time, even with the best intentions and sometimes with substantial financial investments, these plans just don’t take root and flourish. They fizzle out after a few months.
Those of us who are regular gym-goers see a similar phenomenon every January. For the first two weeks of the year, the treadmills and yoga classes are packed with people whose resolution is to get into shape. It lasts a short while, until the other priorities of life start to get in the way and suddenly it’s no longer hard to find a parking spot. So, what makes the difference between those people who stick with those exercise routines and those who don’t? Two things: They have commitment, and they have a plan. If you want to bring Services and Sales together toward a shared goal of cost-efficient revenue generation, you need to have commitment and a plan, too.
Blending service and sales motions is a topic that's growing increasingly important for many technology and services organizations, as TSIA regularly sees their conundrums manifesting themselves in several ways. We field questions about how involved the Professional Services and Managed Services delivery teams should be in selling the deal when they know they’ll be on the hook for making things work after the contract is signed. They frequently ask our Service Revenue Generation researchers how they can create support offerings that not only make money, but still create enough value for the customer that the renewal becomes a no-brainer. At the apex of Sales and Services stands your Customer Success team, who struggles to find the balance between the two forces. In our Expand Selling line of research, we give companies clear guidance on how to to use all of their Services touchpoints in the sales process, with a focus on growing revenue with existing customers.
Effectively blending Sales and Services motions requires the full cooperation of both parties. If one is committed, but the other one doesn’t participate (or actively resists), you can find yourself in a political struggle. This ends up wasting valuable time and cycles as your customers swap out your solutions for those of your competitors who have evolved their customer engagement models. It’s important to gain alignment on shared goals and “who does what” in a world where the line between Sales and Services isn’t always clear. In the end, you’ll not only have the plan to get in shape, but ensure everyone knows their role and how to work together to get it done. And remember, the ultimate and neutral arbiter is data, and TSIA has the numbers to show what works and what doesn’t.
Effectively blending Sales and Services motions requires the full cooperation of both parties. If one is committed, but the other one doesn’t participate (or actively resists), you can find yourself in a political struggle.
One of the great things about membership in any of TSIA’s research areas is the ability to benchmark yourself against your peer companies on key metrics and success factors. It’s like going into your doctor for your annual checkup, which is always a good idea before you try to get back in shape. You’ll find out what you’re doing well, and where you could stand some toning up. Based on this unbiased evaluation, you’ll know where to focus your efforts for the maximum returns. Your TSIA Research and Member Success teams can use this benchmark to create a custom “workout plan” just for you.
That said, here are three quick “warm-up exercises” that you can do to see where you currently stand so you can prepare yourself for the transformation that lies ahead:
Find out where Sales and Services blending is already happening at your company. Chances are, there are people in your Services organizations who are already discovering and sending leads to their Sales counterparts. Your Sales teams already have go-to people on their Managed Services teams who help them write proposals. Talk to these employees about how you can help them do it more efficiently, and see if what they’re doing can be replicated.
Make an account plan that doesn’t stop at the signature. With one of your upcoming deals, try pulling together your Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services teams and sketch out how each of them can help serve and grow the customer over the life of the contract. What new products might help them? Where do you think they’ll struggle? Then, set tasks in Outlook or your CRM system so you don’t forget.
Chances are, there are people in your Services organizations who are already discovering and sending leads to their Sales counterparts.
Start small and simple. No one just goes out and runs a marathon without training. They start with a shorter run and gradually increase their speed and distance. In the same way, look for segments of your business where transforming the engagement model is most necessary. Once you’ve got it working there, you can expand the effort to larger swaths of the organization.
One of the best ways to get your Sales, Services, and Executive teams working together is for all of these stakeholders (not just the services executives) to attend the TSW conference in San Diego this spring. No one understands the transformation of technology business models like TSIA, and we’ve written the book (several of them, actually) on how to align for revenue growth throughout the customer life cycle. In these new outcome-based models, Sales’ influence no longer stops at deal closure, and Services’ role begins before the contract is signed, not just when it’s time to get the customer up and running. The teams must work together in all facets of the Plan, Monitor, Implement, and Optimize (PIMO) customer journey framework. Everyone’s goal should be to serve and grow customers in a way that is actionable, sustainable, and rooted in data-driven best practices.
In the meantime, Happy New Year from all of us at TSIA...and stick to those resolutions.
Editor's Note: This blog was updated 12/18/2018 to reflect new information.
Post Date: January 2, 2018
Steve Frost is the vice president and managing director of revenue research and advisory for TSIA. He also serves TSIA’s vice president of expand selling and subscription sales research. 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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The Technology & Services Industry Association (TSIA) is dedicated to helping technology and services organizations large and small grow and advance in the technology industry. Find out how you can achieve success, too. Call us at (858) 674-5491 or we can call you.