Social media is giving your client a voice that can be heard across the world. It is because of that voice, customer success can no longer be an empty promise, it has to be a solidified program in every company. Of equal importance is that because of the SaaS business model, revenue generation has shifted, most revenue is earned way after the deal is closed, with a higher profit, and more visibility.
With this really BIG carrot and a really LONG stick Customer Success is rapidly becoming the change agent within B2B companies. But if you were thinking to setup a customer success group in a stand-alone silo, simply to have them deliver on the promises the acquisition sales team made to get the deal – you better think again.
Five examples of where Customer Success will drive cross-silo alignment
- Sales to be compensated on Client Success – A buyer is held responsible for buying the right solution and today’s competitive business environment is very unforgiving in case a mistake is made. On the other hand a sales individual is rewarded and applauded for being able to sell ‘Ice to an Eskimo’. Common sense tells me that in order for clients to be successful we must hold sales teams (not just individuals) accountable for diagnosing a client’s problem and recommending the right solution, and that means we must consider to compensate against it.
- Problem Diagnosis as a Qualifier – In sales we generally qualify an opportunity based on budget, time, and compelling reason. Many go further and add both decision maker, and decision process. But rarely is there an opportunity qualifier along the lines of ‘problem diagnosis established’. Customer Success requires that we add “Problem Diagnosis” as a key qualifier and will drive the acquisition sales process.
- Curiosity over Closing - We persistently have trained our sales teams to hunt and close deals. Right now, throughout the world, sales coaches are preaching to sales teams, large and small on the ABC of Sales – Always Be Closing. Companies that pursue true client success MUST provide the sales team with a fresh take on the ABC of Sales - Always Be Curious to drive the awareness and importance of researching, provoking and inquiring to diagnose what the client needs to be successful (add healthy dose of Challenger Selling).
- Self Qualification over Lead/Demand-Gen – Prospective clients can be expected to self-qualify if a product/service applies to them. What is missing is that most companies do not give prospective clients the ability to self-qualify, even just with a simple 60-90 second video pitch. WHAT problem does a company solve, HOW was it solved, and WHY are you motivated to do so. Simon Sinek has proven, that successful companies start with the Why, then How, then What. Customer Success requires your marketing department to re-direct resources from low efficiency DG/LG campaigns to a new set of high-efficiency self-qualification tools that give a simple/correct impression of what problem your company solves.
- Show you Care – Most companies see clients as a means to an end to meet quarterly targets. This is becoming very visible on social media. On LinkedIn for example, most sales people state how well they performed against quota, the gross margin/profits they created, and the awards they received as a result. Marketing professionals outline the great Lead-Gen/Demand-Gen programs they run, and the % of opening rate they achieved. Your future client(s) will find you on LinkedIn (and twitter), and if you appear not to care about helping a client but rather the numbers then why should they care about you and your company? Customer Success can provide great customer insights to the company on why they should care.
Customer Success as the Big Differentiator
In a world where most products look and feel the same, and with ‘unique’ cloud based services a dime a dozen, Customer Success is the next Big Differentiator for your company. As a leader you will have to establish alignment between Marketing, Sales and your Customer Success teams. The consequence for not realizing the importance is simple (see below).