Customer Success Starts with Pre-Sales
Here, we’ll provide you with tactical tips and insight that you can implement and use to run an effective customer success strategy that unifies pre- and post-sales.
In part 1 of this 2 part series, we defined the role of pre-sales in prescribing successful outcomes and solutions for customers. Yet the link between pre-sales strategy and customer success strategy is all too often overlooked by companies.
Companies are adopting subscription revenue models and realizing that renewal and expansion of existing customers are equally as crucial as the initial sale. For these reasons and others, we’ve seen an overwhelming amount of marketing around the need for a customer success strategy. Yet 99% of this marketing positions customer success as a strategy and organization that begins post-sale.
We believe that that it’s increasingly important to have a clear understanding on how your pre-sales strategy and organization directly impacts a customer’s long-term success.
Do You Have A Customer Success Strategy Today?
Implementing a customer success strategy is critical in today’s fast-paced and competitive world of building and selling technology. If you don’t have a formal “Customer Success” strategy with functional roles like Customer Success Manager or Client Success Manager, don’t worry about it. Companies that don’t have a “Customer Success” function, as it’s defined by companies like Gainsight, can still implement and run an effective customer success plan for driving retention and expansion.
In fact, most companies had variations of a customer success strategy long before it was the trending topic. It was, and still is, the combined effort of pre-sales, renewal, support, professional services, and account management teams working in-sync.
Many companies who install a Chief Revenue Officer, or the equivalent, to be accountable for the entire revenue lifecycle, have teams that specialize in hunting and farming respectively and make a heavy investment in support and education, are seeing lower churn rates and an increase in upsell/renewals.
Whether you realize it or not, you probably already have some semblance of a customer success strategy and we’re going to dig into how you can further integrate pre- and post-sales teams to more effectively manage your customers’ entire lifecycle.
Aligning pre- and post-sales strategies is perhaps the single most important way to increase revenue retention and expansion. It begins with how you prescribe Value-Based Outcomes to your prospects and whether those ‘outcomes’:
- Contribute to the achievement of the customer’s strategic goals
- Map to a set of actions the customer is willing to follow
- Are quantitative variables within the customer’s control through the adoption of your software product.
Should the pre-sales organization fail to qualify the above, then the likelihood of the customer renewing or expanding decreases exponentially, immediately upon their purchase of your solution.
Let’s explore how you can prescribe outcomes and nail a success plan in the pre-sales phase of the customer’s lifecycle.
Using Value-Based Outcomes to Build a Great Success Plan
For the purposes of this section and throughout the remainder of the piece we’ll use ‘Outcomes’ and ‘Success Plan’ somewhat interchangeably as the former is the current buzzword with roots in the more traditional ‘Success Plan’ or ‘Test Plan’ in the case of trials and POCs.
We’ll start by stating that when your pre-sales (or sales) team are prescribing ‘outcomes’ or building a great ‘success/test plan’ for your customer you want to:
- Deliver measurable value to your ideal customer
- Collaborate internally with your team and externally with the customer to surface the achievement(s) of your ideal customer’s strategic goal or vision
- Design a scalable and efficient adoption strategy
These goals are encompassed in what we define as ‘Value-Based Outcomes’ — prescriptive and measurable adoption milestones that represent the customer’s achievement and value realization.
One thing to note here is that as a B2B SaaS company, Value-based Outcomes are what your customer must achieve for you to optimize the retention and expansion of the MRR/ARR for that customer.
Due to the significance of these ‘Outcomes’, pre-sales should spend enough time with the customer during the evaluation process to nail these down so that they’re quantifiable. This is information that should then be shared with the rest of the organization to be measured and iterated on.
**Mergeable’s Customer Lifecycle solution automates and streamlines this process for you, increasing transparency, improving analytics, eliminating data silos, and accelerating the sales process.
If you’re an established business with enough data on your existing customer base and some grasp of what your ‘Success/Test Plans’ have consisted of historically, you can compile a standardized list of outcomes to use as a library of prescriptions during the sales process.
If you’re new to the game and feel completely lost, start by identifying the commonalities — what are your customers consistently looking to achieve through the jobs they perform and how does that map to your platform.
**Valuize Consulting specializes in helping B2B SaaS companies drive sustainable growth by unifying customer acquisition, adoption and expansion strategies with the design of Value-based Outcomes at the core of the Valuize methodology.
Once you have this list of outcomes formalized and a repeatable plan that enables users to achieve success, you can easily disqualify prospects that don’t want to follow the steps you’ve defined or have asks/goals that fall way outside of the set of outcomes you know your company can deliver on.
Making this process of discovery, qualification, and prescription repeatable and accessible for existing and new pre-sales employees is imperative. Once implemented you can begin to iterate and modify based on feedback from prospective customers and your pre- and post-sales teams.
If there is one thing that we’d like to leave you with it’s the following. Don’t get hung up on all of the customer success nomenclature and marketing. The priority is to ensure your pre-sales strategy and team is unified with your post-sales strategy and teams. This is how you will ensure the success of your customers and, therefore, business.
We look forward to hearing from you!