Creating Premium Support Offers That Sell

Support marketing is not a black art

If done well, it is indeed impressive and magical, but if you use a structured process. Mine looks like this:

  • customer needs analysis: figure out what customers expect and what’s missing from your current offer
  • market analysis: study competitors and also other vendors that your customers use
  • plan creation: this is where you build your feature set. You can refer to this handy cheat sheet.
  • testing: you would not roll out a product without a beta test, right? So do test your support offers, and revise as needed.
  • enablement: as always in support, implementation is what determines whether your good ideas will actually succeed.
  • go-live: get everyone trained and ready to execute the transition plan.

Build a portfolio, not just individual plans

You want to end up with a coherent set of plans that can be easily articulated to customers, and therefore they need to be understandable to the sales team. I highly recommend using block diagrams to represent the various offerings. For instance, the illustration above shows 3 support plans (in blue) with 2 options, one (in purple) available for the two higher plans and the other (in green) available only for the top plan . If you simply cannot lay out your plans in a block diagram, your portfolio is too complicated and needs revising.

Map out the customer experience

If you do not already have customer personas and journeys defined, now is a good time to do it. Think about the customers who only use self-service, think about support contacts, and map out what you can do for their managers and executives, who may not be hands-on with the product or support, but will need to approve the purchase. How can you demonstrate value to them?

It’s ok to imitate

There are only so many ways to set up support plans, so feel free to copy what other vendors with similar products and customer bases are doing. don’t limit yourself to your competitors: find out what other vendors your customers are using and research them. Information on support portfolios is readily available on vendor websites.

Test, test, test

You want to test both the features and the financial impact. For the features, getting (the right segment of customers) to review them is a great start. You may want to go all the way to a full-fledged realistic pilot for more complex deliverables.

Run a financial analysis contrasting before and after, especially if you have a large install base. You need to preserve your revenue stream!

Sweat the implementation

Because support is “forever”, you want to make sure that all parts of the organization are ready to go. This includes:

  • Defining how to match prospects with the correct support plan. If you did a good job of mapping personas and journeys to features, this task should be easy.
  • Enshrining the offers into contracts
  • Planning for customer migration, including upsell
  • Training everyone who touches the customer or works behind the scenes. Seriously consider creating role plays for salespeople, CSMs, and renewal specialists on how to present the new offer and how to help customers with migration questions.

If you’d like the full slide deck from the presentation on this topic I presented at the TSIA conference in October 2022, please ask.  And if you want to revamp your support offers with someone who’s done it many times before, let’s talk.