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This past weekend, I found myself at the mall doing some unexpected Holiday shopping. It was relatively uncrowded, which serves as a testament to the impact that e-tailers have had on the retail landscape. But, while there wasn’t much of a line at Banana Republic or Wetzel’s Pretzels, there was still a 45-minute wait to talk to Santa. I’m sure some of those families were just looking for the photo op, but the majority of the people were there to give their kids access to the one person who just might bring them what they want, and from whom they don’t have to pretend that they want something practical.

Last December, I talked about the lessons your B2B tech company can learn from e-tailers on how to “grow the shopping cart,” so this year, let’s take a look at what your Sales and Services teams can learn from your local mall Santa.

Santa’s Helpers Are the Ultimate Services Team

Now, if your kids are like mine, they’ve wondered aloud why it is that they can meet Santa at the mall, but have to be asleep when he comes on Christmas Eve. To help fill in the plot holes of this story (lest we be accused of sitting on a throne of lies), we tell the kids that the Santa at the mall isn’t the real Kris Kringle, but only his helper. You can tell Santa’s helper what you want, and he’ll make sure to pass on the information to Headquarters at the North Pole.

The side benefit, of course, is that the parents get to hear the wish list too, and can perhaps, er, "assist" Santa in making Christmas morning merrier. Santa’s helpers may not be selling anything, but they’re certainly helping to drive sales. It’s an intelligence-gathering masterpiece at a massive scale.

Put simply, when it comes to figuring out exactly what your kids have on their holiday wishlist, Santa’s helpers can go where parents can’t. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the relationship between Sales, Services, and your customers?

3 Ways to Apply This Gift-Wrapped Account Intelligence

At TSIA, we’ve written at length about the power of Services teams to generate leads for their Sales counterparts. Our research has shown that Services teams can generate upsell and cross-sell leads on about 3-5% of their cases, and that these leads convert to revenue more than 20% of the time. However, even if they’re not generating leads, your Services teams can still provide incredible value to your organization by simply gathering account intelligence. Here are a few examples of what can be done with Services-generated information:

1. It’s Insight That Your Product Development Team Desperately Needs

Sales, Marketing, and especially Product teams often don’t realize the data treasure trove that Services teams can provide. If your Product teams aren’t utilizing Services-generated customer data to guide their engineering efforts, there’s a very good chance that they’re solving the wrong problems. TSIA’s head of analytics research, Jeremy DalleTezze, can help make sure you capture and package this data correctly.

2. It Can Help You Avoid RFPs and Lower Sales Costs

If you’re in an RFP-heavy business (request for proposal), when your customer is starting up a new project, they have two options: tack on the project to an existing contract, or send it out for bid. If your on-site engineers and delivery teams can discover these new opportunities while they’re still nascent, you can stop the RFP before it starts and avoid hassle, risk, and expense. However, you must have the right systems and processes in place to enable this effort, and TSIA Expand Selling research is designed to help you do just that.

3. It Gives Your Sales and Customer Success Teams a Reason to Call the Customer

We’ve all gotten these calls from salespeople: “Hi, this is Bob. I’m just checking in with you.” The check-in call only exists so that Bob can legitimately say he doesn’t just call when he wants to sell you something. 

Instead, envision this call: “Hi, this is Bob. I noticed that you’ve had three different people call us this week with the same problem. We have some ideas on how we can help you.” The former call provides no value, whereas the latter one does. But, you need the intelligence from Services to pull it off.

Let Your Services Team Be Your Inside Look at Your Customer’s “Wishlist”

Remember, just like your kids will reveal their true wishes to Santa’s helpers, your customers are more than willing to tell your Services teams about their most pressing problems. This Relationship Equity is one of the most powerful assets your company has, and is founded on your Services teams’ status as a trusted advisor. The gathering of account intelligence is a low-cost, high-value way to cash in on this equity.  

Oh, and please tell Santa’s helpers that I’d really like a nice pair of wireless headphones. I’d have asked for them myself, but the line was pretty long.

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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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