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Closed a deal, what’s next?

Closed a deal, what’s next?

Congratulations, Sales Superstar! You’ve closed a SAAS deal. 

What’s next?

You’ve put your best foot forward. Used every strategic technique you were aware of. And then it finally happens! You lock the deal. Hurray!!! You are basking in the warmth of your success.

Take a moment to celebrate but remember your work has only just begun.

Now that you have a new customer, your company has anywhere between a few days to few weeks to successfully onboard the new customer. If this customer uses your product in the right way and they’re engaged at every step along the way, you will be able to build a long-term relationship with them.

What’s the benefit of that? You might ask.

In a SAAS world, a happy and loyal customer is your biggest asset. Happy customers are more than willing to offer referrals. They might want to upgrade to a higher plan with more features or expand to more licenses or geographies. They are your huge drivers of recurring revenue for your business as your company grows.

What if

  • They’re disappointed with your product?
  • Feel cheated because what was promised during the pre-sales conversation couldn’t be delivered by your company?
  • Do not realize the ROI or derive value from your product? Then they’re definitely at high risk of churn.

You not only might lose the customer but there is also a great possibility of them providing a negative review for your company. You could lose potential clients to these negative reviews. 

Now that you know the importance of post-sales engagement and happy customers. Here are some important steps which will help you steer these unknown waters clearly.

The Sales Hand-Off

The Hand-Off could be to someone from Customer Success, Onboarding/Implementation, or Account Management Teams depending on your org structure. If possible get on a call with the internal POC who is responsible for handling the Onboarding and give them a brief about the customer. You could even prepare a standard Sales Hand-Off document and share it with the POC.

The kick-off meet/call should happen as soon as possible after the contract is signed. The Sales Rep should introduce the new customer to their POC to ensure a smooth transition.

Technical Configuration/Implementation

It is time to get technical after the kick-off call. It is your responsibility to communicate clearly the needs of the customer and what motivated them to buy your product? What problems are they trying to solve using your product? 

This will help the configuration to be tailored directly to the customer’s business needs. This ensures that the customer will be getting the full functionality they’re expecting from your product.

Training

Once the product is configured, you have to ensure that the customer gets proper training. During the onboarding phase, it is important that the customers are learning about the product they purchased. 

They should be going through all the necessary training from the beginning. If they know the product well, they will start using it immediately.

Go-live

Is your product up and running with all users? Has the training been successfully completed? The Go-live phase is very critical and your company has to ensure that there are no hiccups faced by any users.

Feedback collection

Feedback collection is important every step of the way but it is most crucial just after the go-live. A lot of users from the customer’s end will be using your product. You need to understand their experience and collect their feedback.

First value realization/Press-Release

What problem did your customer solve after using your product? What ROI did they derive? A press release of this success and happy collaboration can do marketing wonders to both your company and your customer.

Continuous Engagement

Once your customer has become a successful use of your product, it is important not to forget them. You should engage them constantly. Strive to build a real conversation that engages them, helps them achieve their goals. Make sure that they are happy with your product. You think getting married is difficult? Try staying married :). As Ross says, “And what is life without love?”. You need all the customer love you can get!

The article originally appeared in LinkedIN

5 elements to look for in a product support aspirant

5 elements to look for in a product support aspirant

Professional life, personal life – Balanced or Mixed?

Most professions in this world are not oriented with the personal attitude and personality of a person. For example, a civil engineer may be excellent at his job – planning, constructing, and so on. But, in real personal life, he may be liberal, relaxing.

There are a very small number of professions that involve great personality influence also. We can even say it this way, “these professions rely greatly on the real personality, the attitude of the persons being in those professions”. One concrete example of such a profession is “Product Support”. This role needs no personal, professional life balance because it’s already a mix of both.

What we are not talking about in this blog?

So, let’s tell you right here – This blog is not going to have keywords such as empathy, inquisitiveness to learn, problem-solving etcetera, that are used as constant keywords for product support roles.

So, what are we talking about?

This blog is going to encompass 5 elements that a product support person should have in his real life, which has a great impact on his profession. In short, it’s all about understanding the real personality of a person who aspires to become product support.

1) Thirst for winning the game.

Customer support is a game. It’s the game of happiness. An ideal product support person should have the capability to first understand the mindset of the customer, how he is talking. Normally, customers would come frustrated with the support person. This person should make his mind that the frustration is not with him but with the problem in the product. As said, it’s a happiness game. Now, it’s in the hands of the customer support to listen, grasp, find solutions for the customer. At the end of the day, he should make sure that he has turned the frustration into happiness.

So, the recruiters should look for this tendency in a product support aspirant. One who loves to bring happiness in people surrounding them, one who works to change the unhappy mindset of a person to a happy mindset is good to score.

Rating – 20% Done.

2) Lover of the product.

What? Love? Does it sound weird? Then ask these questions to yourselves, “Do we fight for what we love?” , “Do we work hard for a thing we love?”. If the answer is yes, the same ideology applies here – One who loves the product, will support it and play the happiness game for it.

Though it’s not mandatory for the aspirant to be well-versed with the product, it’s important that the recruiter should understand why the person wants to support their product. What are the things he loves about the product? How he heard about those products and so on. It’s one of the very crucial elements that the recruiters should look for in a product support aspirant.

Rating – 40% Done.

3) Being a friend or being friendly?

Would you like to be a friend or friendly to the customers?

This is another question to be asked to a product support aspirant. Though sound similar, there is a big difference to the context. If the support aspirant likes to be a friend of the customer then there is a high chance that they may get hurt during a rough stint, may be biased about picking tickets, apprehensive about giving solutions. Ideal product support should be friendly to all kinds of customers and all types of customers. Asking this question helps the recruiter understand the emotional intelligence of the aspirant and move it forward.

Rating – 60 % Done.

4) Proper/prompt communicator in general.

Normally, product support persons are required to be efficient communicators. Though it’s valid, it’s essential to first know whether they are proper and prompt communicators.

Want us to show real-life examples? How many times would we have got emails saying, “We will update you on this regard” but never would’ve got one?

Remember what we said in the beginning? The professional side of the product support person lies heavily on the personal side of them. Now, coming back here, it’s crucial to study this in the aspirant – “Are they a prompt communicator in their general life?” If this question may trigger the consciousness of the aspirant while answering, we may tweak this to be indirect. “Tell me about any incident where you were the point of contact to perform activities”, “Tell me about any event when you needed to collaborate with your friends/colleagues to complete a task”. Some questions like these will help us find and understand whether they have been a prompt communicator.

Rating – 80 % Done.

5) Affinity toward hearing stories.

Product support person would need to listen to a lot of use-cases, workflows, business models in a day. Forget about working on that. First, they should have big ears to listen to. Now, putting this into account, the recruiters should find the tendency of the support aspirant. Do they like to hear stories? Do they have an interest in knowing more about general stuff? The recruiter may tune the questions like, “Who are your friends?”, “What are their parents doing?” etcetera. This will extract the mindset of the aspirant and help the recruiters move the needle forward.

Rating – 100% Done.

You’ve got complete product support person. Now, score high on customer happiness and satisfaction with the team.

If you have reached here, then you may be also interested to know the “5 key ingredients to become a successful presales engineer”. Check this blog

Keep your customers close.

Keep your customers close.

Keep your customers close: Why customer success is important for business 

The year 2020 – where normalcy is getting redefined.

No one could have imagined that the world would change drastically within a fortnight. COVID-19 Pandemic is something that the world was unprepared for. The outbreak has forced individuals and companies alike to rapidly the change the way they live and work. Many aspects of business and life are being challenged and the next new normal may look way different from what it was a year ago. Companies are doing their best to sail through the economic crisis thus generated by pandemic.

Customer success takes a new definition against the backdrop of this pandemic. Amidst the crisis, customer acquisition will be more challenging than ever before. For the near future, it is time for your business to focus on customer success. “Keeping your customers close” is the only mantra that keeps your business steady and the focus now shifts to strengthening the relationship with your customers. It is essential for your customers to know that you are there for them in the time of economic downturn and the relationship that you build during these times is going to be crucial for the long run. This is where the Customer Success Manager plays a major role.

Understand your customers

If you want to keep your customers close, you need to know them better.

Who are your customers? What is their line of business? Who do they interact with? What issues are they experiencing right now, in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic?

Businesses ought to face serious economic crisis during pandemic situations such as the COVID-19 or the economic slowdown that engulfs the world aftermath. During such times, businesses may be forced to shutdown due to rapid decline in sales, which will lead to chain of other unwarranted consequences like layoffs, discontinuation of service or product and so on. As a result, your customers will no longer need the product or service from you, thereby impacting your business as well. It is imperative that you and your team evaluate the customer impact during such crisis.

Segment your customers by industry, check their revenue pattern, sort them by priority, see who needs your help at first, address them (if not all, but a handful) with increasing business measures

Analyze the situation

Analyze the situation

The time is ideal for you to come up with the best solutions for your customer’s problem. But you should know where to begin. Start by performing an analysis. Brainstorm with managers and customer success representatives in your organization and evaluate the following.

  • Will your customers be able to continue normal operations, like before?
  • If not, how will that impact their business and their collaboration with you?
  • How long can you sustain with added benefits for your customers?
  • What is the likelihood your customer will go out of business as a result of this slowdown?
  • How has the slowdown impacted their cashflow?

The path becomes clearer once you have answers to these questions. As a customer success manager, use this opportunity to show that you care for your customers. Deliver amazing value and build strong relationships that will last long.

The Solution – Retention is the key

Customers will be willing to ward off all those unnecessary expenditures, may let go of temporary or extra staff, stop services and software purchases, and so on. This is where you can lend an extra arm to offer them assistance by extending your services. Your customers will appreciate the support and work that you did to help them when they needed the most. You will be remembered for a longer period.

Be proactive. Reach out to your customers in need, and let them know that you are together with them to overcome this crisis.

  1. Offer discounts, if you can, to customers who are in deep financial crisis, until the situation improves.
  2. Add more features free of charge, which you think is essential to run or retain the service.
  3. Offer them a sustainable upgrade plan that will give them added financial advantages
  4. Provide extra support through various communication channels.

A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-100% increase in profiles for your company (through referrals, upsell, upgrade or new purchase) – Source – Fred Reichheld, author of Loyalty Effect.

Retaining existing customers is the only way to keep your business afloat during crisis such as these.

Give your customers short-term free access to key modules or services to help them overcome the crisis. By doing so, they get a preview of these features and will see first-hand how it benefits them. There is a long-term benefit for you in terms of loyalty – they will be more inclined towards your business once the crisis is over.

Let your customers know that You are there for them, be it any time – either during the global financial crisis or the new normal world, that is getting redefined in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Promoters” engagement strategy

“Promoters” engagement strategy

In customer success, NPS (Net Promoter Score) is one of the very important metrics that give you a heads up about the customers who could possibly churn out or become brand loyalists. Before deep-diving into the Promoters engagement strategy, know the calculation behind NPS.

There are 3 kinds of customers who contribute towards calculating the NPS.

  • Promoters
  • Passive Customers
  • Detractors

On a scale of 10,

  1. The supremely happy customers are those who give your product and service a rating of 9 or 10. They are your Promoters.
  2. Passive Customers are the ones who are neither unhappy nor very happy with your product or service. They are the ones who would rate it as 7 or 8.
  3. Customers who rate your product and service between 0 and 6 are the Detractors. I call them the unhappy ones.
NPS = (Promoters — Detractors) / Total responses

It goes without saying that the detractors are the ones with the most attention, as the probability of them to churn out is very high. On the other hand, the passive customers and the promoters should not be ignored. Many times CSM’s assume that they would remain happy forever using your product or service.

A strategy designed to address the concerns of the detractors ignoring the promoters and passive customers can cost you a fortune as it won’t take them much of a time to become a detractor.

It is absolutely necessary that as a CSM, you do have a promoter engagement strategy to keep your happy customers engaged. So what are some of the ways through which you can keep them engaged? Come, let’s see them one by one.

Testimonials

Pitch your Promoters for a written or a video testimonial that can be published on the website. This is actually a win-win situation as it is a promotion for your brand and marketing for their business.

Market your Promoters and build the brand by publishing it across various mediums. By engaging them in this promotional activity, your customers would feel elated.

A few may not engage as much as you expected. In that case, request them to review your product on external apps like G2crowd, Capterra, etc.

Make them feel like family

Grab the opportunity when a new product or feature is ready for release.

Organizations may offer early access build for all its Promoters to join them in their testing and requesting for their opinion. For their feedbacks, appreciate their time and effort. If required you can go a step ahead to give some gifts.

Felicitate brand loyalists in user conferences, trade shows, etc. If willing, invite them to be a speaker for conferences and events.

Drive product value

As a CSM, you would be aware of the customer requirement and would have also been keeping a tab on their product usage. Based on that, you can ask the customers to try implementing other features of the product that they are not currently using which might add value to the current process they follow.

Reach out to the customers, when their expected feature made it to the release. Be genuinely happy and educate them about the feature. Make them feel valued.

Look for opportunities

Customers who are happy using your product are termed “Promoters” for a reason. They will be more than happy to spread the word about your product/service. You can identify opportunities within the customer’s organization where you can see your product solving a problem or adding value. Just identify the opportunity and position your product as to how it is going to solve the problem, your customers will take care of the rest.

All the efforts taken to keep a happy customer, happier, shouldn’t go unnoticed. It is important that you list out all the promoter engagement strategies and showcase their impact during the business reviews. This will let the customer know about the value you have added to them.

These are some of the plans that you can come up with to keep your Promoters engaged. If you can think of any other ways through which your customers can be made happier, please do drop them in the comments section.

Written By
Karthik Sheshadri 
Handsome  :P | Young | Introvert | Music Enthusiast | Budding Writer | Budding  Photographer | Cricket Fanatic | Fashion Admirer | Thamizhan | தாய்  பாசம் கொண்டவன்  
The original article was published in Medium
The 30-60-90 Day guide for CSM Aspirants

The 30-60-90 Day guide for CSM Aspirants

The 30-60-90 Day guide

Landing a new job will give you both excitement and anxiety. The learning curve and the zeal to create a lasting impression will be pressurizing. Organizing your time and prioritizing tasks is imperative, and a 30 – 60 – 90 Day plan will help you do just that.

It will help you absorb the core job responsibilities and plan your activities accordingly. Think of the 30 60 90-day plan as the magical compass of “CAPTAIN” Jack Sparrow, it’ll show what you want the most and guide you and your team towards success. 

The plan consists of three phases

1. Understand

2. Analyze and Plan

3. Execute.

Each phase is divided into 30 days and each of them has its own priorities.

Hari Kishore, a customer success enthusiast, has willingly contributed a guide for CSM aspirants. This guide will walk you through his vision of product success and growth as a new joiner in the organization. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

If you are a self-motivated aspirant in your stream of business, feel free to share your plan for the benefit of the larger audience. You can reach me at [email protected]