This post was co-authored by Ganesh Subramanian.
If customers come to you with their problems already crystallized and request your tool, you may have a giant problem. Sound counterintuitive?
Tool vendors are being disrupted by solutions providers. Vendors who help customers identify and prioritize their biggest challenges ultimately get the chance to solve them with their tools and solutions.
At Gainsight, our mission is to carry the torch in the Customer Success industry by solving the most pressing Customer Success challenges. We try to identify the key trends, challenges and opportunities, share our learnings through our blog, publish our thought leadership, host the industry’s leading conference each year, and embed best practices in every client engagement. However, our clients asked us to go a step further: to provide custom-scoped, high-touch consultative engagements to accelerate the value realization of CS transformations.
Enter Gainsight Strategic Advisory Services (GSAS)—high-touch consulting services focused on Customer Success strategy. Today, GSAS is a critical function delivering meaningful results for our clients and serving as an engine of growth for the company.
GSAS helps our clients identify their most pressing challenges and accelerate their deployment of solutions.
Are you considering starting an advisory service to complement your solution delivery? Are you wondering where to start? If so, read on to learn about how we built the practice.
1. Craft the mission statement
The first step was to distill out the mission statement for GSAS.
For customers, GSAS would accomplish three key goals:
- Accelerate our clients’ transformations to more customer-centric proactive organizations.
- Provide deep, custom strategic recommendations to enable greater value realization from Customer Success initiatives.
- Enable our clients to become experts, so they can champion the transformation over the long term.
For Gainsight, the value proposition is simple. If we accomplish these goals, our customers will get more value with Gainsight, realize higher net retention rates, and become avid promoters of our company.
2. Differentiate it from other strategic offerings
In starting advisory at Gainsight, we knew we had to differentiate our offering in two key areas.
First, we aligned our advisory offerings specifically to our expertise—Customer Success. While third-party consulting firms offer services in a variety of areas, we customize our services to clients specifically tackling Customer Success challenges. For instance, we customize projects on broad topics like organizational strategy and change management to accelerate the value of Customer Success initiatives. Further, GSAS is uniquely positioned within the Post-Sales organization and collaborates closely with our technical onboarding team. This allows our clients to have their strategy operationalized in a tool to execute beyond the PowerPoint deck.
Second, we ensured our GSAS offerings were distinct from those of our Client Outcomes team. As a refresher, Client Outcomes represents our customers’ long-term advocate and coach for achieving value with Gainsight. For example, they execute Executive Business Reviews (EBRs), best practice sessions, training, and advocacy coordination within Gainsight. GSAS would be distinct in that our advisors drive custom-scoped projects with fixed timelines and deliverables. On-site workshops, deep-dive projects requiring interviews, and creation of strategy and collateral would be uniquely in scope for GSAS. While the Client Outcomes Manager stays with his or her client over the long haul, the GSAS advisor leaves the client once the engagement is successfully executed.
3. Create the core offerings
Our team receives a lot of inbound questions from our client base when it comes to CS strategy, and generally come in two main flavors: where to start and how to execute. The GSAS packages are aligned accordingly.
Where to start: Clients early in their CS journey and those advancing their model start here.
- How should we define the Customer Success strategy and goals for my organization?
- What is the business impact of making a Customer Success investment?
- What are the gaps in my current model?
- How does my initiative benchmark against comparative CS organizations?
GSAS offers a standard one-day workshop that focuses the leadership team on where to start. The team assesses the current state via pre-workshop interviews, benchmarks the organization against industry comparatives, evaluates the key gaps, and calculates the ROI from the overall investment. For many clients, this helps organize the initiative into a plan of attack for realizing value.
How to execute:
- How should we segment our customers and define the optimal customer journey for each group?
- How do I measure and effectively mitigate risk in my client base?
- What processes should we implement to effectively upsell within our client base?
- How do I implement cross-functional processes that allow our team to realize our goals efficiently?
Once clients are aligned on the strategic intent of their CS initiative, it’s time to execute. At Gainsight, we think about these processes in terms of our 5 Pillars for Customer Success. Each pillar represents a key area that has a material impact on the top and bottom lines for a business.
Similarly, GSAS scopes custom projects aligned to these drivers. Below, for instance, is a snapshot of the common challenges faced and the projects offered under Operationalize the Customer Lifecycle.
4. Train the team and execute!
As with bringing any new service or product to market, it is critical to train the team on how to sell and execute. We were able to grow out our own advisory team with resources that had strong consulting backgrounds and the ability to partner cross-functionally within the organization to generate compelling thought leadership and strategic assets that drive value for our customers.
If you are considering starting an advisory services offering within your organization, hopefully this post helped frame the steps to get to market.
If you are interested in learning more about Gainsight Strategic Advisory Services to help accelerate your Customer Success strategy, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!