October 28, 2022

Customer-Facing Reps: Don't fall into the aaService hole

The business world continues to shift from a product-driven environment to a services-driven environment (SaaS, PaaS...anything "as a Service"(aaS)), but customer-facing reps have not changed how they engage with their customers, and this results in lower close rates and higher churn.

Here are two examples from one SaaS company:

  • A Customer Success Rep (CSR) updates her client on progress - performance metrics, successes stats, etc. Data, data, data. The information is fine but neither the CSR nor the client seem all that energized by the findings.
  • A similar lack of enthusiasm is happening down the hall with a sales rep as he talks with a prospect. Stats, stats, stats. Features, benefits, more stats. The sales rep asks a few solid qualifying questions but the information he's sharing doesn't spark a lot of excitement. The call ends with the prospect deciding to "think it over" and anyone in sales knows what that means.

Today, prospects and customers have more information and don't need to be taken down the rabbit hole of past statistics they already know or have access to. We are now in the "as a Service (aaS)" economy and the focus should be on using learnings to drive future performance. Yes, customers want information, but they want insightful information that adds value.

Whether you are a sales rep or a customer success rep or any client facing role, be prepared to go deeper by interpreting relevant data and showing how it enhances results. Don't fall into the "as a service" hole of reciting past performance. Instead focus on future guidance. (Can I say, "don't fall into the aaS hole"? Too late.)

To avoid falling into this aaS hole, ask this question before meeting a customer/prospect:

What information can I provide that will help this customer in the near future?

Consider these additional questions before your next customer / prospect meeting:

  • What are other companies in your prospect/client's space experiencing? (what do you know that the client doesn't and how can this information help them moving forward?)
  • How does this client/prospect compare to their competition and why?
  • What examples do you have where your solution helped someone in a similar space?
  • If you are in Customer Success, how will the recent updates you provided help them in the near future? What else can they do with the benefits your solution provides?
  • What are other clients doing with your solution that your customer could consider?
  • What other innovative ideas are in the market currently?

The questions will vary between Sales Reps and Customer Success Reps, but the underlying concept is the same: In the services economy, use data to help drive the future rather than re-tell the past. In other words, be an advisor, not a vendor.

Customer facing roles in an "as a Service" economy must shift towards these types of value-added conversations and avoid the aaService hole of showing product-focused information. If this doesn't happen, expect lower close rates and higher customer churn.

To understand this shift towards the "as a Service" economy, Tien Tzuo's great book, Subscribed is a must read.

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