Congratulations, you’ve successfully closed a deal!
But what happens after the papers have been signed and your prospect becomes a customer?
Making sure your product delivers the value you promised it would.
But this doesn’t happen by chance. You’ll need a proactive and data-driven customer success process.
The right customer success (CS) strategy helps companies identify and address customer pain points so they can achieve their business goals. In today's competitive B2B market, where job turnover is high and buyers have limited budgets, it's crucial for companies to focus on customer success to prevent churn and increase renewals.
Learn four of the most impactful customer success strategies we practice here at UserGems to build strong relationships with customers, help them to thrive, and keep your product on their renewal list.
What is customer success in B2B sales?
Customer success is made up of proactive communication strategies that ensure your product enables customers to achieve their desired business goals.
In B2B sales, the key to customer success is understanding that your work isn’t done after you’ve closed a deal. If you really want your customers to be repeat buyers — and possibly expand their budget with your company — you need to bring value to their business.
For example, follow-ups are a classic customer success strategy that many organizations use, but they’re difficult to stay on top of. Mimecast’s Gar Smyth shares how tweaking their strategy by incorporating advice from their customer success manager (CSM) on automation took their pipeline generation results to the next level.
Just because a sale has been closed doesn’t mean a customer doesn’t need your support or guidance anymore. In Mimecast’s testimonial, following the CSM’s advice helped them generate $18M in new business pipeline and increased product adoption rate in the sales team.
Customer success programs show customers you care about their success, and that it’s not just about closing a sale. This all works to reduce your churn rate, increase customer loyalty, and extend your customer lifecycle.
4 customer success strategies that work
Happy customers are more likely to renew, provide referrals, leave positive reviews, and be open to upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
But customer success is made up of more than just automated check-ins and occasional outreach via email or social media. The strategies you use need to be tailored to your business, customers, and goals.
Take a look at what our in-house customer success champions think you should focus on.
1. Build relationships with your customers
A strong relationship with your customer base is the hallmark of a great customer-success-to-client partnership. It sets the tone for your brand’s customer experience. But it can be overwhelming when trying to build relationships with new stakeholders.
Jasmine Reynolds, former Sr. CSM at UserGems, recommends sticking to customer relationship management basics.
“Don't lose your new relationship in the chaos. Instead, make sure you’re checking in with your CSM basics to keep you on track,” says Jasmine.
Keeping things simple helps you build valuable relationships with your customers, and it doesn’t have to be super complicated. Jasmine recommends developing these essential qualities as a CSM trying to develop a relationship with your customer:
- Be responsive and attentive
“As a Customer Success Manager, your stakeholders rely on you for support and guidance,” explains Jasmine. “Being responsive and attentive to their needs can help build trust and strengthen your relationship.”
Getting customer feedback shows your customers are engaged, and it can be a channel for valuable insights to provide better service.
Jasmine says, “When a stakeholder reaches out to you with a question or concern, respond promptly and provide them with a clear and concise answer. Sometimes the best way to do this is to schedule a 15-minute call and ask your subject matter expert to join.”
Tony Bulgarella, Senior CSM at UserGems, adds, “I try to respond to all of my emails the same day, even if it’s to confirm receipt and let them know you’re working on it. Never leave a customer hanging.”
- Provide value
“Providing value to your new stakeholders is an excellent way to build strong relationships,” says Jasmine. “Offering relevant resources, sharing industry knowledge, and providing best practices can position you as a valuable partner.”
“If a new stakeholder is in their ‘ramping up’ stage and a new feature is available, create a quick Loom video covering highlights and how they can personally benefit from the enhancement.”
Tony advises that CSMs should see themselves as facilitators. “If you can’t get something the customer wants done yourself, know who you need to go through to make it happen!”
- Understand their goals and objectives
Successful customers have achieved their desired outcome with your product.
“Understanding your stakeholders' goals and objectives is crucial in providing them with the support and resources they need to be successful,” says Jasmine. “By understanding their goals, you can tailor your approach and offerings to meet their specific needs.”
She continues, “If a new stakeholder's main goal is to increase revenue, offer them resources and support that can help them achieve this goal, such as training on upselling techniques or insights on market trends.”
“A customer may ask for something, but don’t always be a ‘yes’ person,” says Tony. “Ask ‘Why do you want this’ and make the judgment on if it will really solve their problem/is beneficial.”
You want your customers to reach their moment of value realization sooner than later, increasing your retention rate and driving referrals.
- Build rapport and show empathy
“You’ll need to be able to feel what your champions are feeling, good or bad,” says Tony.
Jasmine explains, “Showing empathy and understanding towards their challenges can help build trust and show that you are invested in their success.”
She adds, “Build all relationships with these basics in mind, and you’ll set a foundation for trust. And remember: your customer relationships are YOUR BRAND. Handle them with care.”
Your customer satisfaction rate influences your net promoter score (NPS). Every touchpoint in the customer journey is an opportunity to create a delightful user experience and ensure your support team is meeting (or even exceeding) customer expectations.
2. Stay flexible and provide support based on their needs
“Customer Success is pretty similar to plant caretaking,” says Caroline Irby, Senior CSM at UserGems. “I have multiple houseplants, and they don’t all need my care every single day. However, I have a system to ensure I am at least doing a high-level check-in every few days for all of them. They’re all on different care schedules.”
“It’s the same for my customer accounts,” Caroline explains. “My orchids require a bit more attention than my pothos, just like my customers in implementation or who are facing challenges require more specialized attention than my customers on auto-pilot who understand the product and are seeing clear ROI.”
To manage this, Caroline recommends meeting the customer where they're at.
“For some, this looks like meeting every other week to ensure we're staying the course to hit our goals,” says Caroline. “For others, this could look like a Slack check-in or our standard monthly status calls. Being flexible and providing support based on that specific customer's needs is imperative to keep them thriving.”
She adds, “Taking care of house plants, like working in Customer Success, is challenging. But half the fun is figuring out what worked well with one, what you want to try differently with another, and continuing to iterate so that you get better and better with each new customer interaction. Doing this leads to the ultimate reward: Your customers thrive.”
3. Be proactive about renewals
“For many CSMs working in SaaS, we are experiencing renewals in a bear market for the first time,” says Jordan Kilmer, Sr. CSM at UserGems.
“No longer can you renew a customer on remaining potential still unrealized or on the strength of your personal relationship. In fact, even customers with clear success attributable to your partnership are not the slam dunk renewal they once were.”
Jordan explains that the current market conditions have created completely different evaluation criteria by customers, making it necessary to revise how CSMs approach the renewal conversation.
Here’s how Jordan recommends approaching renewals.
- Ask early, ask directly
Renewal conversations might be stressful, but they need to be had. Start the conversation by asking:
- How are other vendor renewals going at [customer]?
- What does the process look like in our new environment for you and the team?
- Align on priorities and customer success metrics
Find out what their priorities are so you can align on what needs to be done to provide value to their business. Get this information by asking:
- What metrics need to be hit for us to have a successful renewal?
- Where do we stand on those from your perspective right now?
- Work backward on timing
Don’t wait until the last minute to start a conversation about renewals. Reach out to customers early on with messages such as:
- With your renewal coming up in X months and A, B, and C in mind that we just discussed, let’s focus our efforts on driving those results.
- I recommend we set up a detailed action plan to get us to the spot where this renewal is secured because we’re delivering the value needed from our partnership.
“I’ve found customers are willing and even relieved to discuss this directly because our new environment is so unique, and they’re happy their partners understand this dynamic,” says Jordan.
He adds, “As a word of caution: you may hear scarier updates than you anticipate, but you’ll at least get the opportunity to align with their priorities and to help them hit their goals so they can renew with you.”
“More valuable relationships within customer accounts lead to stickiness,” says Justine Wares, former CSM at UserGems. “Unfortunately, this stickiness is often compromised when the relationship is siloed during the initial purchase or onboarding process.”
Justine explains, “As a CSM, it’s our responsibility to find and build new relationships (aka multithread) within customer accounts to showcase our product’s value and increase stickiness.”
But how do you do this? Steven Farina, Director, Customer Success at UserGems, points to one solution — multithreading.
“Multithreading is retention insurance, and right now, it should be the hottest insurance on the block,” says Steven.
“It's easy to overlook: You have a kick-ass champion. They're engaged, efficient, and hitting on all the key metrics you aligned on. The stuff green accounts are made of, except:
- Your last email failed when sent to an invalid recipient
- Renewal is coming up in just a few months
- And you're at square one because your champ left and nobody else at the company has been engaged with you or your product.”
Steven explains, “With what's happening in tech right now, the brutal reality is if you haven't already come up against this, you absolutely will.”
Multithreading is your best bet, and here’s how to get it done:
- Identify your decision-makers from the outset
List the typical roles and titles required to drive a successful program and ask your customers to bring these folks to the first call.
- Glorify your champ
How can we bubble up some of these wins to the team? Who else should be invested in the success of this program?
- Suggest a few common roles you work with
For example, ask questions like: I often also work with folks in XYZ roles. Anyone come to mind that we should loop in to take some of the work off your plate?
- Proactively reach out to other interesting titles (without skipping over your champ)
Justine advises reaching out to these contacts once you find them. “Reference the work you’ve been doing with their colleagues, provide actual metrics that your product has accomplished that impact the company, and offer to include them on the next call or chat for 15 minutes about their initiatives at the company,”
Here’s a template from Steven that you can use to start the conversation:
Hey X, I'm your CSM at [company]. We're currently helping your company with [insert value prop]. Given your title as [title], I thought it might make sense to loop you in. I'm working with [insert champion], who has done a stellar job standing the program up so far. Would it make sense for us to all link up?
If you're a UserGems 💎 customer, we can help you surface these titles in your CRM automatically and continuously. Either way, it's well worth the time and effort.
“After learning about some of their initiatives, it could make sense to add additional use cases for your product,” says Justine. “And if it doesn’t, you’ve still added another (potential) champion which is a huge win.”
Using customer success to boost pipeline generation
Providing ongoing support and guidance to help customers get the most out of your product or service protects and grows your revenue, reducing pipeline anxiety.
Happy customers are less likely to churn and they come with the added benefits of providing revenue expansion opportunities and championing your products internally. And when your previous champions move to new companies, they provide a warm path into new accounts,increasing your chances of closing a deal by 114%.
An effective customer success strategy helps you:
- Build relationships with new stakeholders
- Provide support based on their needs
- Start renewal conversations early
- Multithread to have multiple champions
This all comes together to help you continue to deliver value to your customers. And, if you’re looking for a tool that automates champion tracking and surfaces key contacts in your accounts, try a self-guided UserGems demo today.
UserGems is pipeline generation software that helps revenue teams generate and protect revenue efficiently. With UserGems, companies can track and automate outreach when their champions change their jobs and capture the buying groups to find the warmest path into every account.
Companies like Mimecast, Greenhouse, and Medallia use UserGems to reach their revenue goals quickly and efficiently.