There’s been a transition for how businesses, especially SaaS companies, now manage their leads, prospects, and customers.
A lot has changed, but really, the underlying philosophy remains the same. It’s a different way to accomplish it.
In this post, you’ll see why SaaS companies are moving away from the typical sales roles to customer success.
A Bit of Sales History…
In the grand scheme of things, running a business has a pretty straightforward goal. You really only have to do one thing: make money.
However, this is where things get complicated. This is also where we start talking about uncomfortable topics such as churn prediction and customer retention.
Generally, when these conversations come around, leaders turn to their sales team. These are the folks in the trenches day in and day out. They qualify your leads and they bring them in sometimes before they even knew they needed you. These people are incredibly important and their worth should never be understated.
Sales fills the profit bucket. So if we are in a tight spot all we need to do is fill it faster, right? Sometimes this is a pretty bad answer. Sometimes it is devastating.
So if our sales team isn’t the answer, what is? Well, we need to start looking inward, not outward.
If sales is filling the bucket, what happens when our bucket starts to crack? What do we do when it is finally falling apart?
Sales only fills the bucket, but they don’t maintain it. In the same way, you have a maintenance person who fixes your pipes when they are leaky, your company must have someone who is maintaining your product and client
Beyond Account Managers to Customer Success
Now, a lot of people are familiar with account managers and they have done a good job for a very long time. But now? Now it is time for something completely different. Now it’s time for Customer Success.
Customer Success has been a buzzword among software Co’s for quite a while now. It was piloted by Salesforce and later refined by Gainsight.
In essence, it was created to fix the leaky buckets, but what is Customer Success?
Maximizing the lifetime value of each client.
Sales got them here and filled the bucket, but what makes them stay?
One of the universal truths I have run into is that there is always another potential software solution. Especially in today’s over-saturated markets, clients have so many options!
How To Make Customer Success Work
1. Relationships matter
I pay a lot of money for my cell phone. It is honestly not fair, but you know what? I never even think about it because it always works and I have never had a problem that I can’t fix with a ten-minute call. I know that sounds crazy for support but it’s true. Now I trust this company with my cellular needs and they have exceeded all expectations so far. What these folks have done is implemented a very robust retention program.
My relationship with my cell phone company makes me stay and overcomes the friction it would take for me to switch.
Most products are pretty close so why not just go back and forth as it suits you? The short answer: relationships matter and make a difference.
2. Customer Success Needs to Be Tailor-Made
Now, unfortunately, it is not just as cut and dry as being there for people. Customer Success is a very ambiguous field because at its core it needs to be tailor-made to the industry and company it is helping grow.
For instance, many medical CRMs require clients to pay based on the number of patients the establishment has. Other companies, such as my cell phone carrier, live and die by add-ons and upsells. If you try to take the same strategy and apply it to both cases you are going to have some very uncomfortable situations.
3. Retention Starts Earlier Than You Think
I think another misconception is when retention starts. For a lot of people, that answer is when you start showing churn. There are a ton of ways to do this and whether you use AI predictors or wait for someone to ask to be canceled, it’s probably too late.
Truthfully retention starts the first time they hear your name. In fact, your website is probably the first level of your retention with impact. If they see a nice and professional page they will continue to check you out. If you are running what looks like a forum from the nineties you are not even in the conversation anymore.
This is true at every step of the way. With sales, customer support, marketing, and even engineering. Everyone contributes to your retention, but it never hurts to have a specialist.
Devise an easy to implement a strategy for continuous training and communication with your current client base. You will never be worried about your numbers if no one is leaving. With that being said there is such a thing as overdoing it. If maximizing their LTV requires you to attempt an upsell every time they contact you, then by all means. If it does not, you are only damaging your relationship with your clients.
Ultimately this is about the way you make customers feel while using your services. The cost, your UI, and the features can definitely help, or hurt, but ultimately it will take a side seat to the relationship you have built with your clients.
We do not want users; we want advocates.
We don’t want clients; we want experts.
I want my clients to be so good at ClickUp that our support team is bored.
All of this is something that we have taken to heart at ClickUp. We don’t just want to be there for you- we want to be there with you.
The end goal for ClickUp is not to build a project management tool. It is to change how people feel about having to do their jobs.