Strategic Advisory Team for Expansion and Retention

Peter Lyon
Peter Lyon Member Posts: 5 Seeker
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
Hi All,

I'm researching in-house Strategic Advisory teams within our organization. To be clear, these are not product advisors rather people that have worked in the industry that we sell to - i.e. customers. The reason behind this is that although we have brilliant CSMs, they are not from our customer base and therefore they can only take the "strategic conversation" so far. These in-house advisors would work alongside the CSMs doing high level workshops and staying very much on the business outcome level rather than product and features.  We do with with partners that have the skills but we have now reached a stage whereby we want to build our own in-house capability. 

in terms of cost recovery of such advisors, I am mindful of different approaches  - Full cost recovery from fees, full cost recovery from expansion, sunken cost but assumed in moving the needle on retention upwards, etc etc .

Keen to talk to anyone that has built such a team up and any lessons learnt. In particular where such a team sits in the organization (and how did you stop Sales wanting them all the 



  • Ben Coffman
    Ben Coffman Member Posts: 4 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited August 2021
    Hi Peter,

    We went down this path a few years ago, and the role has evolved over time.  We had expert practitioners with decades of industry experience we called Customer Success Strategists that were part of the Customer Success team.  They were similar to CSMs, with a focus on deep engagement via workshops to develop plans to ensure success and lead to expansion.  They were aligned to specific customers.  We also added Industry Principles as part of the Sales and Marketing organization with a similar skillset and background, but who focused on publishing content and worked more on the net new side with Sales.  We rarely charged for the services of either team.  We invested in these capabilities in the hopes of improving gross and net retention and in winning bigger net new deals.  We were acquired late last year, and we admittedly have lost several people in this area.  I'm happy to speak with you about it to provide more details if you'd like.


  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    edited August 2021
    Hi @Peter Lyon,

    We did something very similar at HP many years ago. We offered manufacturing, engineering, and test process consulting services in conjunction with integrated test solutions we sold. These were veteran HP R&D and Manufacturing executives who had great credibility with the executives we worked with. They performed process and financial analysis, and besides sharing HP best practices, they also helped demonstrate the specific benefits our solutions provided, showing the "before" and "after" process improvements and the financial impacts. This was a paid consulting service, and many of our customers were willing to buy it. 

    Happy to connect you with a friend of mine that ran the HP practice for several years if you'd like to compare notes. Send me a note and I can set it up. 

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Expert
    Photogenic First Anniversary 5 Insightfuls 5 Likes
    edited August 2021
    Peter, we have quite a robust Strategic Services team at Higher Logic. There are several keys to getting the model right, some of which we're still perfecting:
    • Build engagement packages
    • Clearly delineate the RACI model between Services, Customer Success, and other roles (I promise there will be confusion)
    • Consider both strategic advisory options as well as "hands on keyboard" managed services options
    • Consider bundling other value-added services into these engagement packages so that they become viable recurring revenue services (you will be your CFO's hero):
      • Premium support
      • Quarterly exclusive product round tables
      • Quarterly thought leadership / best practices round tables
    In general, create a more exclusive club that customers can join beyond just paying hourly fees for an expert. 

    Happy to chat about this more any time (and it's been quite a while since we caught up!).

  • Peter Lyon
    Peter Lyon Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    edited August 2021
    Hi Ed, 

    Many thanks for getting back to me and hope all is well with you. 

    I'd love to take you up on the offer and connect me with your contact. I will DM you .

    Thanks again,
  • Rachel Blackmon
    Rachel Blackmon Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    First Comment First Anniversary

    I just found this discussion when looking for anyone who has a strategic advisor as part of their team. I would love to hear any updates on your program and get advise as we are adding this service. Here's a few questions I have:

    • Is your Strategic advisor (or what ever you call them!) part of your CS team or in their own Strategic division?
    • If the Strategic Advisor develops a business transformation plan, who manages the plan? In other words, how is your strategic team working with the CSM?

    Two big questions we are discussing! Thanks for your input!