By Geoff Grow, Service Objects
We all know that customer service and support teams play an essential role in keeping our customers up and running. However, we don’t always pay as much attention to the role they can play in upselling and cross selling our services. Used the right way, your support team can truly be your secret weapon for building customer relationships, market share and revenue.
Of course, there is a good way and a bad way to leverage your support team to enhance revenue. You could probably guess the bad way: pushing them to sell at every opportunity. Or worse, incentivizing them to do this. Remember the widely publicized debacles that happened when people tried to cancel their AOL or Comcast accounts years ago?
But there are effective, sustainable strategies for moving your support team beyond serving as a pure cost center which leverage their expertise to add value to the sales process. Let’s look at some of the ways to do this.
Where Support Can Help The Sales Process
Here are some of the essential roles engineers can play in helping the sales and customer success team in their selling efforts:
Contributing technical knowledge. For example, many sales – particularly for technical products such as API interfaces – involve getting a customer or prospect to effectively test new services or run benchmarks. These sales often live or die on the quality of their technical support.
Peer-to-peer selling. Sometimes there is no substitute for having a developer talking to another developer, rather than filtering the sales process through a non-expert. And depending on your organization, it may be better to use your primary technical resources in these situations versus a dedicated “sales support team.”
Leveraging change. Technical support is often the first point of contact when a customer needs change: for example, when clients want to migrate your services to a new CRM or marketing automation platform or expand the use of these services to new applications. In cases like these, customers interfacing with your support team may be very open to new capabilities and solutions.
Scoping the problem. Technical support is often uniquely qualified to turn customer needs or problems into specific use cases for your services. Moreover, these situations sometimes arise outside of a formal sales process, when customers are seeking technical support for their issues. The support team can provide assistance that goes beyond “sending them to sales.”
Creating real value. This is perhaps the biggest factor of all. According to this article, effective upselling by technical support involves listening for needs and opportunities, and then suggesting solutions that benefit the customer. It cites a recent survey showing that over 40 percent of clients are annoyed by upselling during service interactions – but conversely, when your support team sees and shares ways to save people money or fill clear needs, everyone wins.
Support And Sales: A Holistic View
Our own company has had a great deal of success putting its technical and support teams front-and-center with customers. They are often central to the customer acquisition process, because new sales often hinge on implementation strategies and business use cases. In addition, the technical team is often involved early on in new customer inquiries, so when opportunities for upselling arise, our customers know that it springs from expertise rather than sales pressure.
Of course, leveraging your support team as a revenue driver requires a different management mindset versus a typical support team. You can’t be adding pre-sale responsibilities on one hand and pushing support productivity metrics on the other. You also need a focus on adding real value for the customer, as well as fostering cooperation and cross-functional duties within your own teams. In a very real sense, you need to cultivate a holistic view of what is best for the organization AND its clients. But when you do it well, the rewards more than justify the investment.
About The Author
Geoff Grow is the Chief Executive Officer at Service Objects, a contact data quality firm founded in 2001 that has validated nearly 4 billion contact records. Service Objects proudly maintains an NPS of 67, a score only found in the top 10 percent of technology companies nationwide.