In today's competitive business landscape, customer success is paramount for organizations aiming to thrive, and yet, so many companies are celebrating too early. If you are a SaaS business, or a do any up-sell/renewal work with customers, this post is for you.
I worked with Company X (not their real name) and they celebrated big time when they made a sale. There were company-wide slack announcements and the name of the Sales Person up on the big screen (they even had their custom walk-up song). High-five's all around (and don't get me wrong, I want to celebrate too!), but there was next to nothing for the Customer Success team to go off of.
Each week at the executive meetings we'd go over new sales, pipeline, and marketing metrics, and conclude with our churn figures which just got worse and worse... After a sale, the next step was for the customer support team to introduce them to the platform, customize it specifically for them, and then answer any questions that they'd have. What we found out was that they didn't have anything to go off of!
Here are the 4 strategies we implemented which decreased churn rate, and created communication between the Sales and CS teams. All of these were required before a deal could be processed and a Sales Person to be paid.
Require the Decision Making Unit
For all the reasons you should do this earlier in the process - think Marketing Attribution - it's imperative that the Customer Success team knows who the decision makers are, and who would be in charge of implementation from every angle. Depending on what you're selling, this could be 1 person, or 10, but the important thing is that this is in Salesforce for the Customer Success team to reference.
We did this the standard way (as those players were involved in the Sales Process as well) using the Opportunity Contact Roles. This is not something that you can REQUIRE, this is something you need to MANAGE TO, but it's worth it. We found that the deals that closed with a full set of Contact Roles had a decreased chance of churning after a year, as the Customer Success team knew exactly who needed to be engaged and how.
Customer Goal Alignment
This will be different for every company, of course...
The VP of Customer Success drilled into my head that you need to understand the WHY that prompted them to buy. Was it the lost revenue they were hoping to recapture or a new channel they were looking to grow? What was the time period they were hoping to see results and how was that communicated to the client?
We did this through a custom field on the Opportunity (low-fi) as there was no reason to over complicated the implementation of it. It was a required field but again needed to be managed to as Sales Reps left un-checked would just fill this in with junk.
Risk Identification in Salesforce
How are you going to get from A to Z without a road map? In the same sense, you should help the Customer Success Team to drive the clearest and fastest route to success knowing the hurdles they will have to jump through. Was it hard to get internal buy-in? Was there an additional budget for a necessary part of the project that hadn't been confirmed yet?
Likewise, we did this with an Opportunity field, but I could easily see this becoming a custom related object in Salesforce to create a hit list for the CS team to address and resolve.
Clear Next Steps with SLA
This part won't require the AE to enter information, but instead for the teams to align on what the next steps are and who is responsible for what.
The VP's got together and wrote a script for the Customer to hear post 16-digits which made them comfortable with the level of support we were offering and allowed us to schedule time with them for the hand-off call. Having a defined road-map (again with the driving analogy) helped immensely to ensure that we were all on the same page with responsibilities and actions to kick off what was a big commitment by the customer.
There is nothing worse than losing a client after you've sold them on a future with your business. Well, scratch that, there is... Not doing something that is completely in your power to resolve the lagging indicator before it is too late. At The Sales Nerd, I help companies think about Salesforce as a tool to efficiently funnel Revenue through the handoffs your customers will go through. If you'd like to have a conversation about what it takes to do that well, or a fun project, please reach out!