We analyzed over 1,000 responses by CEOs and Heads of Sales to SBI’s new Revenue Growth Diagnostic. When asked which aspect of the sales strategy was most important to your company’s success, here were their top four categories:
|Head of Sales||CEO|
|Customer Success||Customer Success|
The first three are not surprising, as being in the right markets, and effectively targeting the right accounts via prospecting is a well-known formula for success. Customer Success stands out as a unique capability in this grouping. Is Customer Success a flash in the pan, or is it here to stay?
It’s hard to ignore customer success. It seems that every software vendor you click on has a Customer Success page. Like most buzzwords, there is huge variability into what people say they do and what they are really doing. Many companies, for example, simply re-titled their Account Managers as Customer Success Managers (CSMs). Other companies have taken their customer care resources and re-deployed them as CSMs. Neither of these delivers on the promise of Customer Success. What are the key outcomes a Customer Success teams delivers?
- Proactivity- If there was a Customer Success word cloud, this would be the big one in the center. This is grounded in intimate, customer knowledge. You need to mine your customer data (by industry, geography, persona, and individual) and act on their needs.
- Drive Usage – Proactively monitor user engagement. For example, a lack of support calls likely doesn’t indicate you are operating at a high level. CSMs need to explore whether all users are set up, and if they have accessed the tool.
- Demonstrate Value – Ultimately, this is about delivering on the outcomes you promised during the initial sales campaign. But it’s not enough to simply generate value for the customer. You must engage your buyer personas and help them communicate value in the relevant language and metrics of their organization. Make your buyer(s) the hero of the story, so when next year’s budget rolls around, renewing your product is a non-event.
- Account Management – the CSM is the day to day owner of an account, in most cases (the exception being companies with over $500M in ARR for their largest accounts, where there is sufficient scope (and revenue) to justify an Account Manager, and CSM who divide these responsibilities between them.
- Customer Care – Things will still go wrong. CSMs will need to get involved in customer escalations, but the intent is to minimize these by proactively addressing needs.
It’s notable, that while most of the literature on Customer Success focuses on software companies, the outcomes are necessary in the B2B space. We have worked with, and are engaged with several companies in the business services space. They are using Customer Success principles to win and retain market share from their competitors.
Customer Success has advanced from its infancy, but is going through an awkward adolescence. The companies that mature this function faster will have an advantage as they will be able to retain and expand growth from their existing clients, and develop predictable, recurring revenue. It is vital that your Customer Success capabilities evolve faster than those of your competitors.
Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access emerging best practices for Customer Success. Access the latest to review the Customer Success phase starting on page 411 of the Sales Strategy section.