As a Sales Leader, I am deeply focused on how to maintain & maximize revenue during the currently unfolding & rapidly changing COVID landscape. I find myself racked with questions around how to think about re-forecasting the business, which product lines would be most impactful to customers in this environment, what special promotions might we offer, and ways we can alter prospecting efforts, to drive maximum yield.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that new business sales will slow to some degree in the immediate term, as prospects come to grips with what this means for their business (directly or indirectly), and delay or halt new buying decisions. For that reason, maintaining revenue in our installed base, and looking for ways to maximize revenue via cross-sell / upsell in the right scenarios is critical. Leaders who can easily access key customer data to help them understand (1) a comprehensive picture of customer health and (2) whitespace opportunity, will have a leg up in this new environment. To that end, I am excited to share with you the key ways I leverage Gainsight, in order to do just that.
1. Maximize Customer Retention
Retaining customers that are already in the base is the first fundamental step in maintaining a solid revenue foundation. To that end, leaders and team members need to be well equipped to work renewals in an efficient fashion and more importantly, have a clear indicator of early signs of potential risk in the customer base. We leverage Gainsight’s Renewal Center application in order to oversee and manage the business in this fashion.
Renewal Center provides me with a streamlined view of renewals by quarter…a consolidated picture which marries renewal opportunities with key Gainsight customer data. In these views, I can assess deal attributes such as forecast category, sales stage, renewal date as well as customer health indicators. I use this view to run renewal meetings and prioritize discussions based on key areas of focus at various points in the quarter.
The view also provides an interactive interface for my team members to work as efficiently as possible, by taking advantage of in-line editing of opportunities, capturing & storing key renewal notes, and quickly accessing more robust customer info / data including customer usage & health scores.
One of my favorite aspects of this rollup is the predictive renewal score. This score leverages data science to rate each customer on numerous dimensions and ultimately provides a 0-100 view of level of risk. I am able to review ‘Risky’ customers in forecast meetings and 1:1s, to (1) have a consolidated picture of the most risky renewals by quarter and then (2) ensure we have an action plan to address & mitigate risky scenarios early, with a goal of retaining the associated revenue.
Lastly, the Reporting Rollup in Renewal Center is a critical component of my oversight of the business. The reports in this dashboard provide me with views to understand GRR & NRR forecasts (including a data science forecasted roll-up), quarter to date performance, and waterfall reporting, so I can track every dollar of revenue and where it sits at any given point in time (for example, how much business is resolved as of this point in the quarter, what is won, what is lost, what is forecasted to come in?). Renewal Center reporting is also hugely helpful in advising my forecasting a couple quarters in advance, through the built in data science projections. I keep this dashboard up at all times to track progress, isolate potential challenges, and share projected GRR results to other leaders in the organization.
2. Map & Navigate Customer Org Structure
When strategizing on how to penetrate accounts more deeply and identify opportunities to expand, it is imperative to have a good understanding of key stakeholders and ways to access them within each organization. For example at Gainsight, it is important for my Account Management team to understand not just Customer Success Leaders (who we work with day to day), but other leaders across the Sales Organization, or Product teams, to whom we can speak with about the value of additional Gainsight products.
Gainsight’s People Maps functionality was released mid 2019, and provides a way for my team to visualize contacts and influencers within customers & prospects in a clear organizational chart structure. By enriching contact cards with customer insights on sentiment (NPS), engagement, and influence, People Maps empowers my team to more easily hunt for new buyers, identify champions to help renew an account, and generally have more strategic conversations with the right individuals. In particular, we have found a ton of value in identifying contacts who influence key buyers, whom we can work with to receive warm introductions.
3. Drive Leads from your Customer Base
In conversations with other Sales & CS Leaders I frequently hear feedback that aligns with the following statement — “I know there is a ton of opportunity within our client base to expand, however, we really struggle with identifying the right customers and the right solutions to offer them.” I love to have the opportunity to share with them, the ways my team leverages Gainsight for Whitespace / Opportunity Spotting.
It starts with a view of Customer Health, that we very easily bubble up to sales team members within both the Account & Opportunity Widgets in SFDC. This provides easy and consumable access to my team members as they work renewals/expansion opportunities or conduct other account research. In particular, we have a clear view on whether a customer is considered healthy on multiple dimensions (including usage & deployment of our products, customer sentiment, and stakeholder alignment). One notable dimension is an upsell “health” score that incorporates user and feature trends in order to indicate likely targets for a new sale. We leverage detailed usage data gathered from Gainsight’s Product Experience Platform (PX) in order to generate these scores. The combination of this information gives team members a great beat on how accounts are trending, and whether they would be healthy & open to engaging in expansion dialogue.
Team members can also leverage an Expansion Spotting Dashboard w/in Gainsight, to mine their entire customer base. This report focuses on bubbling up information in 2 main areas:
- Upsell Potential: This includes signals such as:
- Customers nearing 100% of their License Allocation
- Customers who are nearing or have exceeded their Volume Limits
- Features associated with our Core Platform that a customer does not yet own
- Cross-Sell Potential
- Data to indicate which of our products customers own today (and more importantly, what they have yet to purchase)
- Health Score information, so team members can target healthy customers, to engage in associated cross-sell dialogue
This particular dashboard is one of the most impactful ways my team leverages Gainsight, and a key approach they take in planning / mapping their path to the number each quarter.
We also look for ways to engage our clients directly within our Product, to generate opportunities to explore new paid features. We leverage Paywalls via Gainsight PX to expose portions of new functionality to our clients — we pair that with in-app messages that (1) explain more about the feature via write up or a short video and then (2) prompt customers to click a button in order to request a conversation with their Account Manager. This is a great and scalable way to keep our clients up to date on new capabilities, and also to generate interest and leads for our team to pursue.
I will also note that we want to be particularly sensitive at present to COVID related concerns, including companies who have been hit particularly hard. We have categorized all of our clients into 3 Categories, relative the impact of COVID to their business – feel free to read more about that here. Through Gainsight, we can leverage this categorization data in our reporting, so we flag and avoid contacting customers who are in the most difficult & sensitive of financial situations. After all, while we want to keep the business moving, it is still paramount for us to be respectful and sensitive to the current environment & times.
4. Bubble up opportunities or risks via customer news feed
Staying abreast of customer news & financial reporting is a critical way to understand both risk & growth potential in our customers, however it can be extremely time consuming. Through leveraging Gainsight’s Company Intelligence functionality, my team receives notifications about news activity (e.g. Exec changes, M&A activity, Funding activity, etc) related to customers in their portfolio. It enables them to stay on top of the latest news & public information about their accounts, without having to spend hours each week doing manual research. Through this medium, they can quickly identify a customer that may have a need (based on an expansion signal), and can engage smartly with the client with a goal of learning more and discussing opportunities to add additional value. On the flip side, team members can also identify and flag potential risk indicators, and strategize early on action plans to address those risks.
5. Consider launching trials which can convert to paid offerings
We are considering specific trial offers for prospects & customers, who are struggling with the ability to make buying decisions during the COVID-19 environment. Our goal is to provide as much value as possible to customers to help them weather the current conditions, while also maintaining the opportunity to monetize at the right time.
A critical aspect for us in any free offer, is to clearly understand user behavior associated with the trial period, so we can convert trials to paid offerings. We do this in the following way ….
- Leverage PX to map out what a trial user ‘should’ be doing in order to see the value of our product quickly
- We apply those learnings into the product via In-App guides, which influence user behavior (guiding them down a prescribed path)
- We monitor adoption and track actual user behavior, to understand the value we are generating and to intervene if necessary
Ultimately we are able to leverage these learnings from the trial period to inform and influence an ultimate buying decision / trial conversion.
In closing — while the current situation is providing hurdles to overcome for all of us, my hope is that we use the opportunity to experiment and try new ways of conducting business, and ultimately come out of this stronger & smarter in the end. Getting closer to our clients is a key way for us to advance our learnings and identify ways to grow these partnerships, which can be mutually beneficial for the customer, as well as for your own business, during this time.