The Red-headed Step Brother of Sales … Client Success; we don’t pay attention to it. But, we should.
There were times, growing up in Jamaica, when we would have issues with getting water into our house. The pressure wouldn’t be strong enough or a pipe would burst, and we would have to take buckets down to the community water source and haul them back home.
Imagine me, Little Donald, carrying a bucket of water a quarter mile each way …and I’m sure I filled that bucket to the very top.
Naturally, some will spill out as you walk along, but imagine my surprise to see the bucket only half-full when I got home … A small crack in the bucket caused me to lose most of it.
What incentive would I have to go back for more? I needed to fix that bucket.
Client success is the same way. Nobody pays attention to it but it is critical to the organization’s success.
Client success is the function of a company responsible for maintaining the relationship between the client and you, the vendor. The goal of client success is very simple: to make sure your clients are as successful as possible. This, in turn, improves your relationship with the client and the lifetime value of that client.
It helps the organization in many ways. As with my bucket example, client success is the source that helps to make sure the holes in the bucket are sealed. We don’t lose water – we don’t lose customers. [02:17]
Compare the lifetime value of your client to my bucket of water. The last thing you want to do is lose your customers after working so hard to get them. It would be such a waste to work for a year and a half to land an amazing client only for them to move on after only a year.
Multiply that scenario across multiple clients and you’ll find yourself in a whole heap of trouble: you need to fix that bucket. You need to address client success. [03:26]
I read a statistic in an article published by the Precision Marketing Group which states that 86% of buyers will pay more for a product if they receive a better customer experience.
This may not occur immediately but imagine a client does come on board who has an opportunity to purchase more of the licenses, or services, that you offer.
Let’s use furniture sales as an example. You sold a nice desk and chair to your client. In the future, what prevents him from going elsewhere if he needs another chair? [04:11]
What if your client success team was able to actively work that account and learn the goals of the client? If you knew the client was planning to expand in six months, for example, would it not make sense for you to create an opportunity to help them reach that goal?
In some companies, sales takes care of this but it spreads the sales force thin. They are asked to find new people, build value, close deals, AND actively farm the account, fix problems, and keep the client happy.
You need new business to come in but you also need to maintain relationships with your current clients so they will return to you over and over again.
It is virtually impossible to do it all. Something has to give and, in all likelihood, new business will stop coming in. [04:58]
Again, 86% of buyers would pay more for a product or service if they receive a better customer experience.
Let’s say your product is at premium value and a buyer could go somewhere else next time to get it for less. If the buyer perceives a value in the sales experience he has with you, however, he will stay with you. [05:48]
Client support, on the other hand, is basically a range of client services to assist clients in making cost effective and correct use of a product. This includes assisting in planning, training, troubleshooting, maintaining, updating, etc.
Using the office furniture example again, the client support team helps install and assemble the desk. The client success team does not.
In smaller organizations, however, sellers often do it all. Solving problems while also maintaining accounts can certainly be overwhelming. You can see how this could affect new net revenue. [06:32]
The emphasis on new business causes client support and client success to be pushed to the side: they become the red-headed step children of sales.
Another statistic from the Precision Marketing Group states that the companies who prioritize customer experience generate 60% higher profits.
Instead of hiring three new salespeople, would it not make more sense to hire two sales individuals and one client success individual instead? Hire a client success person to ensure that everyone brought on board by the sales team stays on board.
Instead of losing new clients each year, keep them for five or six years – even longer. Give them an amazing experience. Help them. Guide them and fix any problems they might have so they don’t feel neglected. [07:29]
It has been said that the client success team is just an appendage of customer support and it is not as important as sales. But we all know that it is much easier, and cheaper, to keep a client than to find a new one.
If you give your client a great experience, he will give to you in return with referrals and repeats sales.
The client success team can then create more opportunities for more sales.
The Pod Approach
A ‘pod’ is a term some companies are now using to refer to a three-system approach: one person from sales, one person from customer support, and a third person from client success working as a team. Together, they create a cohesive relationship that keeps new business coming in, solves issues, and works toward the success of the clients.
It makes a huge difference. [09:30]
Finally, I previously shared a story about my experience working for a software company where I didn’t really know what to do. I learned, however, from working with client success (known as customer support back then) the type of clients not to pursue, which helped me to recognize the type of clients I did want.
I was able to retain those types of clients, build stronger relationships with them, and close more deals.
Customer support helped the clients be successful. If they recognized a problem that I could fix for the client, they would bring me in. It worked amazingly.
I suggest considering such a system in your organization. If you already have one in place, be sure to evaluate its effectiveness. What is the lifetime value of a client right now? How much money can you expect from that client? Is there a process for upselling or cross-selling? [10:07]
Don’t waste your time and energy on a client only to have him fall through the cracks.
Don’t go home with a half-empty bucket.
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