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All sales and marketing teams want to talk to their customers more and understand them better. Meanwhile, companies are having hundreds (or even thousands) of fruitful conversations with those same customers every day through service. So why aren’t we leveraging all those insights?

Few organizations are connecting the dots to share data between sales and service. It doesn’t take much to do it — the opportunity already exists within a company’s own four walls, thanks to the data they’ve gathered over time. It’s a matter of bringing it together in an actionable way. The data is a greenfield business opportunity that just needs to be unlocked. No one else has that data, including your competitors. It’s up to you to unlock it and leverage it.

With fast-moving advances in data mining, visualization, and especially artificial intelligence (AI), customer data is powering organizations forward, growing their top line and internal efficiencies. We can now build incredibly detailed profiles of customers to better market to them, sell to them, and provide amazing service. Let’s take a look at some of the ways the integration of sales and service creates new opportunities all around. (Hint: It’s not just sales.)

Of course many service calls take place when customers have problems. And, for sales, aren’t those the ultimate insights to uncover? We always want to find out the challenges facing customers or prospects. With access to service information, it literally lands right in your lap. You can know their open issues, where they are having (or have had) trouble, questions they asked, and more. Perhaps they are ready for an upgrade or need to access a new feature in the latest version of your solution, but just don’t know about it yet.

Knowing what the customer has asked about is so important because many service conversations aren’t, just because something broke. Maybe a customer has inquired about adjacent products, the next level of a product, or simply how your product can be configured to work better.

Service is also becoming an integral part of the sales process and data creation, too. A customer could be on your website looking for a product or how to make a return and may click on the chat button to ask questions. If a product is sold via trials, the service someone receives during that period is extremely vital in determining if the customer completes the sale. This is how sales and service are working hand in hand; it’s not a “sales first and then service later” type of scenario. Service is permeating the whole lifecycle and empowering sales with its data; that’s all for the better.

With advances in matching incoming cases or calls with specific personnel and service, the service team needs to leverage more and more detailed information about customers and their status as well. For example, if you have a customer who has a very high lifetime value, you could route that case differently. Maybe that customer always skips to your most tenured agent. Or if the customer has a huge current open opportunity or an upcoming renewal, you may handle those in another way for a potential sale. But service can’t know any of this without access to the sales data.

One of the big trends in service is that automation, self-service, and AI are peeling off some of the easiest work to be done. An agent’s work is becoming more complex day in and day out. All the “easy” things are going to be done for the customer by the system. If it’s as simple as finding an answer to a common question, then the system should have done that already.

Now agents will be dealing with multistep problem-solving issues that will often need more than just one person to solve. In some cases, that means swarming with the sales teams and their data because they have different insights on the customer. Sales can provide other perspectives on making the customer happy, too. In more complex cases, sales and service will have to work side by side to solve these in-depth challenges.

Organizations are gathering data everywhere. More and more companies are going down the Internet of Things (IoT) path with their business, and the data usually comes into an organization on the service side of things. That’s because some of those IoT signals will need to trigger service activities. Perhaps a company sells very expensive water pumps to a maintenance facility. If it sends signals that the pump is having problems or needs service, those signals go through the service department in order to address it.

But that usage data is also incredibly valuable to sales because it indicates where there may be an opportunity for upsell, cross-sell, or a different service model. And it really gives them insights of what the customer is doing. Don’t overlook the new ways data can bring your sales and service departments even closer together and provide new opportunities not only for potential sales — but for even better service all around.

Data is a greenfield business opportunity that just needs to be unlocked.”

Patrick Beyries | VP of Product, Service Cloud, Salesforce