Four Simple Steps to Sell Customer Success to Organizations
How do you sell a solution to a perceived problem? How do you convince an organizational leader that you have the product that they need to grow the business and make them a hero in the story? That’s what customer success is all about. But it can be challenging when the consumers are empowered with multiple subscription options that allow them to say “no” well before they match the lifetime value benchmarks.
Before software-as-a-service (SaaS), there was just one goal: acquiring new customers. But now, we need to enable the customer throughout their journey to maximize the relationship.
From my perspective, the most significant shift in the market has been the role of customer success in purchasing decisions. Customers have minimal time at hand to listen to lengthy sales spiels. Customer success leaders have to convince the C-suite about their purchasing decisions. Additionally, they’ll likely include their team experience in the sales process, so you should be prepared to listen to their needs and address them through the journey.
Think “a day in the life of a customer success manager.” Team needs are what leaders care about addressing when purchasing technology for their teams.
What challenge is your application going to solve? Will it:
- Increase their efficiency so they can spend time on customer relationships?
- Provide reporting to help prioritize customers?
- Provide insights that leaders can leverage to report up and to help coach the customer success team?
As a sales manager, focus on being curious about the customer’s need instead of selling, and you will be poised well ahead of your competitors.
So, how do we do that? By changing the way we sell. Let the customer be the revenue generator, not the product or service. Ensure you understand the use cases relevant to your prospect before showing them your product.
Here are four simple steps to get started:
1. Sell Through Storytelling, Not Features.
Before you approach a customer success leader with your product or service, you need to research your audience. Scour LinkedIn, the prospective customer’s company website, your customer relationship manager (CRM) and business databases before getting on the first call or sending that first email. Understand how you can help the customer.
Once you have the prospect’s attention, ask relevant questions based on what you discovered, so they know you did your homework first. Understand their pain points to create a story around their needs — not your product. Once you know the challenges, share a case study about a customer similar in size, geography and with common pain points. Then, leverage storytelling to bring your product to life.
Stories allow the audience to put themselves in the hero’s shoes. Connecting on a personal level is half of the sales job. After all, humans buy with emotion first.
2. Use Visual Data to Seal the Deal.
With competing organizational commitments at hand, leaders want data to help sell the investment internally. Opt for visual elements when presenting rich data and technical information. Our brains are wired for graphic elements and can process data significantly faster than text alone. The client will remember the success metrics to validate their purchase, so present it in a memorable way.
Help your client quickly gauge how a partnership with your company will help resolve their pain points. Include at-a-glance metrics and reports, return on investment (ROI) and more so they can easily share with their colleagues.
3. Build A Relationship and Gain Trust.
Next comes the demo — that short time you have to convince the client you are the best partner for their needs. Avoid monologuing and, instead, create dialogue throughout the session. This can be achieved by asking questions like, “Can you visualize how your team will be able to have more meaningful conversations with customers by having this data in front of them?” Asking questions and listening are essential sales skills.
If you are unable to meet in person, turn on your camera, let the customer see your interest in their success. Create the scenario, anticipate and answer the questions that may arise at the leadership and user level. By addressing relevant use cases and user needs, you will foster trust. You need to know you have a clear strategy to help customers visualize their desired outcomes with your product and relationship.
4. Value Their Time and Be Efficient.
The complexity of your product and the number of decision makers involved in the buying process will determine how much time you will be investing in the customer journey. People dislike waiting for answers, meetings, demos and additional information. Follow up with your customers within one business day and keep them updated on any outstanding questions. Be on time for meetings with a clear goal for the discussion and with the right resources. Without having the right people on the call, your credibility is weakened.
You must also leverage rich analytics and data to make a compelling case. After all, data drives decisions. Be stingy with the time you take for the presentation, and give ample time to listen to and answer their questions.
Ready To Engage with Your Next Customer?
As someone who has been in the customer success purchasing and selling hot seat in SaaS, these tips are based on my many experiences over the past 20 years. I can tell immediately if someone is genuinely curious about my needs or if they are just interested in closing the deal.
Selling is a science and continues to evolve as consumers become more sophisticated via independent research and fluency with their technical requirements. Do your part: Value the customer experience and make them feel heard. Humanize your product by demonstrating how it can enable their needs and, above all, instead of seeing your potential customer as a dollar sign, get to know the customer as a person. By building relationships that go beyond the product you are selling, you’re more likely to have a customer for life.
You can also read this article at Forbes Council.
About the Author:
Emilia D’Anzica, Founder, Author, Growth Molecules™
Emilia has personally onboarded 1000s of customers in her 20+ year career and is an early Customer Success Manager in SaaS. She has held every title in customer success ranging from Support Manager to Chief Customer Officer. She believes that customer onboarding sets the trajectory for churn or growth. After helping companies like WalkMe experience exponential growth, she is now helping companies build teams, processes, and systems to scale. Emilia holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California and a dual BA from the University of British Columbia. She is also PMP, and Scrum certified. She is the co-author of Pressing ON as a Tech Mom.