6 Things I Learned at the TSIA Conference

As has become my tradition after the May TSIA conference, I gathered 6 ideas I hope will be useful to you.

1. Work on a unified service portfolio

Customers really don’t want to have separate and apparently contradictory portfolios for training, support, and professional services. (We can help you get there!)

2. Customer health measurement is (still) messy

VMware presented a model with 60 (yes, 60!) data points across 3 pillars. They started with 400 so this is progress, but it suggests that measurement is complex. One thought (from a talk by IBM): if you cannot measure a particular aspect, weigh it less in the overall score.

3. Think about technical specialists for large Customer Success teams

I loved this idea from SAP. For complex products, we are completely used to having systems engineers working jointly with sales reps. It’s really not that different for Customer Success. SAP offers dozens of products, making it pretty much impossible for the CSMs to master them all, so they created a corps of “functional specialists” that provide on-demand technical expertise to the CSMs, who are more focused on the relationship. Simple, brilliant.

4. Millennials are just like us.

From a panel, artfully questioned by John Ragsdale, millennials want:

  • opportunities to collaborate
  • fewer hierarchical barriers
  • more feedback, more often
  • professional development and career plans
  • work with a purpose
  • flexible schedules

If you have been thinking of millennials as alien creatures, stop. All those “demands” are just good management, and team members of all ages will appreciate them.

5. Attrition decreases as reps are asked to do higher-value work

This is something we know intuitively, but it’s good to have a benchmark (per Microsoft).

6. Service team members can identify (good) leads

No, this is not the return of the failed “support reps can be sales reps” idea. It’s a much more nuanced approach.

  • Make the program voluntary (or you will get garbage leads). Expect 40% participation, with 6-12 leads per year per participant, with half accepted by sales and a 20-30% conversion rate.
  • Expect small deals, mostly focused on services. The average volume ranges from $14k for support leads to $42k for PS leads.
  • Make it simple to input a lead (the standard CRM lead screen is probably way too complicated!) and to use them (the leads should reach the sales team through the same channels as other leads).
  • Use big data to generate leads alongside having team members generate them.


Have you implemented any of these ideas? Please share in the comments!

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