by Karen Schmelzer
Of all of the employees at your SaaS business, it’s your support team that understands your customers’ needs the most.
They’re the ones on the frontlines with your customers every day, addressing questions and fixing real issues in real-time. They have the closest relationships with existing customers, talking to them regularly and keeping tabs on changing needs. They know your customer’s struggles, and they know their triumphs.
This kind of knowledge is pure gold for marketing and sales departments — but way too many SaaS companies ignore these valuable insights and leave money on the table as a result.
When your support team works in close alignment with your sales and marketing teams, it has huge benefits, including:
- Support can help develop customer personas
- Support can elevate the pitch process
- Support can optimize offers and pricing structures
- Support can alert the staff to install-base sales opportunities
- Close working relationships between sales and support pave the way for better customer experiences
Support Can Help Develop Customer Personas
Customer support teams understand better than anyone which customers are the best fit for your product.
Specifically, they know which types of customers have the best results, stay with your business for the long-term and use the product to its full potential.
They know which factors (company size, stage of growth, industry type, pricing structure, etc.) tend to be ideal for the software. They also know more about the users themselves: Their roles, responsibilities and KPIs.
This puts support in the unique position to help build customer personas based on real-world insights so that the marketing team can craft their messages accordingly.
In addition to each customer persona’s demographic info, support can help identify what each persona needs, their use case and potential requests or questions that might arise during the sales process — all vital info for sales and marketing to leverage in messaging and positioning.
On the flip side of that coin, support teams are also the best people to help create anti-personas — portraits of those customers who aren’t a good fit for the software. These customers end up draining disproportionate resources or turning over quickly.
Support teams know exactly which type of customers tend to run into roadblocks or call in with frustrations, because they take those calls personally. This makes them more invested in helping prevent more of these bad-fit clients.
Your support team can advise on messaging around product value, key features and capabilities and cost — anything that will help avoid confusion down the road.
This persona work will enable your marketing and sales teams to reach out to the right potential customers with the right message — work that will ultimately help you win best-fit customers as well as identify any red flags earlier on in the sales process so that reps can act accordingly.
Support Can Elevate The Pitch Process
One tricky thing about selling software and other complex products is that potential customers don’t always know what they actually need when they first approach your company.
They may have a problem or pain point, but they don’t know all the solutions that are available to them. In fact, at Chargify we’ve found that many customers don’t actually understand how they need to configure the software to meet their unique needs until they are in the onboarding process.
That’s why the best SaaS companies have an educational and consultative sales approach. It goes well beyond surface level and instead focuses on making sure that customers know early in the sales process how your product will work to solve their unique needs.
This can reduce churn and speed up onboarding, which in turn lowers costs and boosts revenue.
Plus, leveraging the expertise of people with firsthand experience into how similar companies have used the software builds trust with potential customers. When they hear about how other companies have had success with your software, they’ll be more likely to believe that it can work for them too.
Support Can Flag Internal Sales Opportunities
As we mentioned in our post How to Measure the Success of RevOps at your SaaS Company, one sign that your departments are all working well together is that they are all working toward the same goal: increasing overall revenue.
In the past, sales might have exclusively focused on boosting new revenue, while customer support focused on retention rates. In today’s relationship-based market landscape, though, it’s crucial that each department understands how each of these goals affects the ultimate goal of boosting revenue.
Just as sales should avoid landing clients that are a bad fit and thereby problematic for support, support should be alerting sales to new opportunities from within the install base.
The support team should know how to identify new internal sales opportunities so they can alert the sales team. And there should be a process in place for how these opportunities are flagged so they can be actioned on immediately. A few examples of these potential sales opportunities are:
- Mergers and acquisitions – New names mean new logos that your SaaS company can sell to.
- New funding or financing – This means that companies have additional resources and exposure, which means it’s a good time to reach out for referrals.
- Significant growth – When companies start to grow quickly, they often need new features and upgrades.
- New hires at the decision-making level – Turnover of key contacts or internal decision-makers sets up a good opportunity to reach out and discuss any changes or additions to a customer’s account. (Note: It’s also best-practice for the support team to reach out to this new contact regardless of install-base opportunity in order to begin fostering a relationship with them.)
Close Working Relationships Between Sales and Support Pave the Way for Better Customer Experiences
By simply being involved with the sales team and the sales process, your support team will be more aware of the unique needs of each new client as they begin the onboarding process. It’s helpful for your support staff to be aware of all historical knowledge — the pain points that brought the customer to your product, which features and functionalities they were most drawn to in the sales process and any questions or feedback they had about your product during the sales process.
That knowledge will help the support team deliver the best, tailored experience as well as get ahead of any problems that might arise during onboarding and early support. As far as processes, it is crucial that you ensure sales, marketing and support are enabled to share information quickly and effectively. Some companies might choose a messaging app. While others might set up a formal recurring stand-up meeting.
Even casual conversations between sales and support teams can get this info across quickly and easily so that everyone is on the same page.
It also helps if both the sales and support teams are working with the same tools and data. Everyone should be able to see the same notes on customer accounts, for example.
Support Can Help Optimize Offers and Pricing Structures
Support teams may also have a lot of helpful input on how the sales team should structure pricing and optimize their offers to customers.
Your support staff has a deep understanding of how customers’ needs tend to change over time as their businesses grow. This gives them helpful insights into which prices will appeal to clients as they start out, and which will optimize revenue for the company over time.
We all know that SaaS pricing is complex, so these pricing insights can go well beyond the “typical” pricing offers that SaaS companies list on their pricing page.
From offering one-time promotions to new clients to coming up with completely customized pricing plans for enterprise clients, many offers need to be made from scratch. Sales can benefit from insights from support as they prepare to make these offers.
For example, support might suggest pricing by user or even a la carte for certain features. They know the typical sizes of the clients you’re trying to attract, so they can advise how to structure tiers based on the number of users or seats.
Of course, it’s important to choose pricing that can scale over time and won’t be a problem for reporting.
It helps if you have an industry-leading pricing and subscription platform for your business. That’s where Chargify can help.
Want to learn more? Talk to one of our billing experts.