Dear Growth Molecules: How Do I Elevate Our Renewals with Action Plans?
Customer Success as a profession has matured at an exponential rate since I wrote my first customer success article in 2016. While the principles I learned in my first six months as a CSM are still pertinent, We now live in an evolving world of “financial efficiency.” What does this mean? Companies are hyper-focused on (among other areas) profitability and growth, cost control, scalability, and data-driven decision-making. Even our most successful and engaged customers seek financial efficiency as they navigate this uncertain economic environment.
Though more challenging, we can continue to drive outcomes and deepen relationships with the help of dedicated strategies like success and mutual action plans. Both have greatly influenced and benefited my work as a CSM; it’s empowering to establish clear conversation and communication throughout the lifecycle! In light of our economic environment, I’ve created a similar customer-facing renewal action plan to improve the complexities of my book of business.
What Is A Renewal Action Plan
A renewal action plan (RAP) is essentially a mutual action plan dedicated to renewals. It’s a document created in partnership between you and your customer that outlines the steps, milestones, and deadlines required to complete a renewal. Just like success and mutual action plans, RAPs help bring visibility and alignment to the priorities and timelines.
While there are many approaches, these guidelines for enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have elevated my renewals from administrative tasks into opportunities for meaningful collaboration that lead to stronger relationships, sustainable forecasting, and revenue growth.
1. Confirm Stakeholders
Damian Howley wrote in his book Control Your Customer, “…[y]our ability to retain and grow a contract is dependent upon the success of the customers organization at-large.” He directs us to understand, map and engage all decision-makers. Do you know who’s at the table discussing your renewal?
Similarly, it’s essential to understand which stakeholders are involved in processing renewals.
- Are there procurement/legal requirements?
- Does an executive need to review anything before the renewal?
- Is there specific timing to be aware of?
Align with your customer on these items for a more seamless renewal.
2. Make It Easy for Stakeholders to Engage With You
While it’s certainly not the golden bullet, I include my contact information in the renewal action plan so additional stakeholders can engage with me as needed (schedule a meeting, send me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn, etc.). This doesn’t mean forgoing higher and wider relationships. It simply provides easier access to you as you continue to establish yourself as a trusted advisor and partner.
3. (Re)Establish Success Criteria
Well-defined success criteria can be likened to embarking on a journey with a destination or a map; you begin with an idea of where you’re headed and how to get there. The journey needs to have a purpose! You’re otherwise stuck drifting aimlessly without achieving anything meaningful.
To maintain long-term partnerships, we need to work relentlessly to (re)establish clear frameworks that measure and evaluate effectiveness or value. Use your renewal plan to define the challenges your customer faces, their ideal results, and what’s needed to achieve them. Keep the momentum going through this milestone and into the new term.
4. Create Visibility and Accountability Into Action Items
A good renewal experience requires a well-thought-out process. A better renewal experience goes beyond transactional interactions. The best renewal experience creates visibility and accountability.
When working with customers through the renewal plan to:
- Confirm stakeholders and ensure the list of approvals is in order,
- Review and confirm renewal proposals,
- Confirm additional agreement information (contract-specific details), and
- Create and send the renewal agreement for signature. Be specific and align with your customers on their anticipated timeline to ensure timely renewals!
5. Collaborate On A Renewal Overview
Your customers have different requirements for getting renewals across the finish line. Customers appreciate and notice when you take the time to understand how they work and what makes them successful.
Briefly explain what needs to happen before the renewal date. How do you work together to get the renewal approved? As required, work with your customers to provide greater context around organizational changes, budget limitations, and other pertinent information.
Continuous Improvement: The Path Forward
In the dynamic world of customer success, adaptability to the changing economy, the maturity of your product, and the needs of customers is critical. Regularly review, gather feedback, and iterate your action plans accordingly. By implementing a dedicated renewal strategy, customizing your approach, measuring outcomes, and maintaining a commitment to improvement, you can elevate the renewal process into a pivotal milestone for sustainable forecasting and revenue growth.
You can download an example of the Account Plan that Sam Leverages to guide his clients. Fill in the form and download the file immediately!
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About The Author:
Sam Feil is a customer-centric Customer Success professional with eight years of start-up experience at companies like ClientSuccess, Lob and Loom. He has a track record of managing customer relationships from new to renew and a passion for delivering exceptional results and driving customer outcomes. As a strategic thinker, he has developed a deep understanding to help teams define and execute their strategies. Sam holds level I & II Customer Success and Account Management Certifications from The Growth Molecules Success Academy.
About The Editor:
Emilia D’Anzica is the founder and managing director of Growth Molecules™, a management consulting firm focused on protecting and growing revenue. The company aims to help organizations increase profit while maximizing customer value. Emilia is also on several advisory boards globally and an active contributor of the Forbes Council. She is a part-time Adjunct MBA Marketing Metrics Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.