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Obsessively Improve Time-to-Value

By Dan Steinman

I think everyone who’s in this business gets it – there’s no rocket science here – in Customer Success, we must Obsessively Improve Time-to-Value; sometimes we say Time to First Value or TTFV. Whatever you call it, the important part of that sentence is “obsessively.”

We have to have the same attitude in the post-sales world around time-to-value as a sales person has with regard to trying to close his deals.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of a good Sales person. They’re driving home on Friday night at 5:30 looking forward to a cold beer or nice glass of wine. While they’re driving, the phone rings and it’s one of their prospects. It could turn into a long conversation and they know it. But they don’t hesitate to answer it because they know that every day, every minute, is critical.

Every Salesperson in the world has a story about the deal they almost had closed and then something out of their control happened and it was lost. But, if they could have closed it the day before, it would have stuck. They live with the constant thought that today is THE ONLY day to close my deal.

Every single day that a deal is delayed a million things can happen. A champion can leave, budgets change, layoffs happen, whatever. These things happen all the time, so every single day is important. Shouldn’t the same principle apply in the post-Sales world, too? Of course it should. Especially in a world where there’s really no such thing as “post-Sales”. In a recurring revenue business, everything is pre-Sales. Everything.

Every single day is important because, for those who are in a business where there’s a renewal happening every 12 months or every 24 months or whatever, you know that the shorter the period of time that a customer is live, the less likely they are to renew their contracts.

Consider this, if you sell a 12 month contract to a customer and it takes 11 months to get them deployed, the odds of them renewing that contract are significantly lower than if you got that to happen in three or four months. Every single day is important in that cycle.

If a company does month-to-month contracts, this challenge is exacerbated because there is no commitment on the part of the customer at all. If you take three months and they thought it should be completed in two, they can just walk away at no cost.

The other part of customer success is growing the install base by empowering sales to sell more to the existing install base. Every single day is important because every day that a customer is in onboarding, or not getting value out of your product, is a day that they’re not available to buy more product from you.

This is something that is often missed so let’s discuss it further.

What if you have 100, 200, 300 customers and you improve their time-to-value by a week. Suddenly, across 300 customers, that 5-day improvement yields 1,500 additional days that you have available to sell additional product to those customers. What can a good Sales Rep do with 1,500 selling days? Lots!

To obsessively improve time-to-value, we have to have it in our heads that every day matters in the post-Sales world just like it does if you’re a Sales person.

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  1. Sarah E. Brown
    Apr 23rd, 2015Reply

    Great post, Dan! Very helpful insights into why TtV is becoming increasingly paramount for software co’s.

    I wrote a little bit about this topic and how it relates to Training, in case it’s of interest: