How to Score Customer Health Image

How to Score Customer Health

How to score Customer Health is a subject near and dear to my heart and also critical to the long-term success of any Customer Success team.  In fact, it’s really just an extrapolation of what you’ve all been doing for years by coding customers as red, yellow, or green.  As you all know, that model is better than nothing but it has severe limitations: It’s almost always manually updated The criteria tends to be very subjective As you grow, there tends to be LOTS of unscored customers Without digging, it’s hard to tell why a customer is whatever color they are Most CFOs would probably not trust it to drive an accurate renewal forecast Having said all that, the stoplight scoring metaphor does move us in the right direction, which is to apply a health score to every customer.  If you could do this consistently and automatically, the results would be extremely valuable and everyone knows it.  I’ll talk about the value proposition later but, for now, let’s assume that there’s a way to do this (and there is) and talk about what you need to do to get there in case you ever do own an application that can […]

7 min readJanuary 28, 2014
Turning Your Revenue Funnel into an Hourglass Image

Turning Your Revenue Funnel into an Hourglass

I recently gave the below talk at a CEO conference on Sales and Marketing on Customer Success. My goal was to convince them that Customer Success, when done correctly, can be a major driver of growth. It was very well-received (I was pretty much mobbed afterward 🙂 ). I made points including: 1. The fastest-growing subscription businesses have renewal rates far greater than 100%. So they can grow multi-dimensionally (through new clients and through additional spend from existing clients). 2. Conversely, churn can be a major detractor to growth. Hidden churn (e.g., discounts upon renewal) is a subtle example of this. 3. Finally, the savviest vendors are using their Customer Success strategies in their sales process – by talking about how they don’t just sell technology – how they are setup to make sure customers get value. Turning Your Revenue Funnel into an Hourglass from Gainsight What do you think? Can we convince the broader business community that Customer Success is a key ingredient to growth?

1 min readJanuary 27, 2014

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Dynamics of Four CSM Org Models Image

Dynamics of Four CSM Org Models

Some of you may have heard this story. Boy walks into a store, puts a coin in the telephone, makes a phone call, trying to convince the person on the other end to buy his grass cutting services. He talks about why his services are the best, what he can do, the wonderful recommendations that he can provide to this prospect if they hire him. Person on the other end says, “Sorry, I am happy with who I have.” The storekeeper hears the conversation, gives the boys some tips on prospects and the boy says, “she is already my customer.”  I was just checking up on her to see how happy she is with my service’ “When a brand connects with their customer, that in some ways is the easy part, the hard part is keeping the customer at the center after the success/profits comes flooding in. Success can breed complacency, success can breed arrogance.”  I was intrigued by the Gainsight article by Nick Mehta on the Five Organizational Models of Customer Success. Particularly, it left me with the question- what are the dynamics created in each of the models described? Often in early stage companies, the Firefighter CSM model […]

5 min readJanuary 23, 2014
5 Things to Consider in the Handoff from Onboarding to Customer Success Image

5 Things to Consider in the Handoff from Onboarding to Customer Success

I think everyone understands that a Customer Success team never stands alone in its quest to improve retention.  In fact, it’s my claim that Customer Success requires more cooperation with, and assistance from, every other organization in the enterprise than any other group.  Think about it and I believe you’ll come to the same conclusion – every single organization in your company has a direct impact on the retention rate. Some of these are obvious such as Product/Engineering and Customer Support.  Some are not as obvious like Finance – don’t tell me that customers aren’t affected by the quality of their invoices.  But, of all the organizations in the company, probably none has the impact on Customer Success that your OnBoarding team/function does. Let’s take a step back just to get on the same page organizationally.  In general, I’m talking here from the perspective that Customer Success and OnBoarding (by whatever name you call it), are two different groups of people and that there is a handoff from one to the other when the initial product implementation is complete for new customers. Even in the situation where the Customer Success Managers do customer OnBoarding, the quality of that onboarding process […]

6 min readJanuary 22, 2014
6 things to remember in your first 90 days on the job Image

6 things to remember in your first 90 days on the job

Often people may not want to move to a new job out of fear. My life is comfortable, I have worked hard to gain trust from my colleagues, my life is too full as it is, I am having fun and do I really want to move into another field? Not to mention these questions: How will a promotion or career change affect my personal life? Will I have to prove myself again? What if my boss and I don’t get along? With five and a half years under my belt at a start-up and two children later, these are the questions that crossed my mind when BrightEdge approached me about an exciting new role they were creating at the fast growing company–Director of Client Services. For many reasons, I overcame the questions and I am thankful for taking the incredible risk that I did. I have to admit that if I didn’t have a supportive partner and trust-worthy childcare, I likely would have stayed put at my previous employer regardless of whether I was being challenged or happy. Leaving wasn’t really something I was looking to do. With the preface above, these are the six conclusions I have come to […]

5 min readJanuary 16, 2014
Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Sales Image

Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Sales

Get the Free “Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales” eBook and Learn How These Ideas Led to Over $1 Billion in Added Revenue for and… Grew EchoSign from $0 in revenue in 2006 to $144 million in revenue in 2013. Is helping Acquia (the #1 fastest growing software co.) add an extra $30 million. Grew Responsys 10x from $20 million to $200 million within 5 years. ​ By signing up for this free Predictable Revenue download: You’ll receive the Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales eBook, featuring several chapters from the forthcoming full sequel to the #1 best-seller Predictable Revenue. “Customer Success is not free help. It isn’t glorified customer support. And like sales, it should be a revenue driver, not cost center. Customer Success begins as a mindset, at the CEO level, on targeting, creating product for and servicing the kinds of customers that need your product.” -Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin, Predictable Revenue Guide

1 min read
So you signed your CSM offer letter, now what? Image

So you signed your CSM offer letter, now what?

Congratulations!  Customer Success positions can be some of the most rewarding and challenging positions at any company.  After companies spend all that money to acquire customers, keeping them delighted, renewing and wanting to buy more is absolutely critical to long-term success.  So how can you hit the ground running in your new CSM position?  Well – I suspect that you have experience drinking from a fire hose so jump right in and start learning the product, the people, and the processes that will help you drive business value as quickly as possible. A few things to remember: The good news is that when you’re new to an organization any questions are fair game.   You come to the team with the freshest set of eyes on everything.  Use that “new-ness” to your advantage! On the flip side, you basically know next-to-nothing at this point.  But keep in mind that everyone goes through a similar ramp up period so there’s no point in beating yourself up.  Identifying priorities and setting short-term goals are very important to keeping your sanity. If you thought the interview process was the hard part, think again.  Remember that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  And the […]

4 min readJanuary 14, 2014
Business Reviews and Solution Reviews – Demonstrating Value and Impact to the Right Audience Image

Business Reviews and Solution Reviews – Demonstrating Value and Impact to the Right Audience

Solution Reviews and Business Reviews? They are not the same thing? Nope. Conducting a quarterly or annual review is critical to the ongoing development of a partnership, but the content must be relevant and important to the audience. Over the past couple of years, I have seen many templates floating around and admittedly, looked for that perfect template myself. Relationships can be incredibly complex to navigate, as we often have to work with an executive, steering committee, IT, process owners, procurement and others when selling and servicing a customer. We need to shift our mindset around what gets communicated to the customer during these meetings. Let me define two different conversations – the business conversation and the solution conversation. I don’t want to get too hung up on the titles, but want to outline that there is the potential for doing two different types of reviews/conversations. For some companies doing one may make sense, but as you scale your Customer Success initiatives and build out a relationship map or framework, you can distill the content of a business/solution review into two buckets and then adjust the frequency of delivery. The “Business” Conversation and the “Business” Review Frequency: Divide your contract length into […]

4 min readJanuary 9, 2014
Quarterly Business Reviews – Value or Fluff? Image

Quarterly Business Reviews – Value or Fluff?

This is a topic that always gets a lot of attention when I talk about it.  Invariably, when I mention the phrase “Quarterly Business Review (QBR)”, I’ll get requests for a QBR template or get asked a number of questions.  It’s a classic case of something that sounds really good and often gets mandated by management, but is not always done in a consistent or purposeful way. First of all, to answer the question in the title, I think there is real value in doing these, assuming, of course, that they are done well and with a clear purpose.  If they are simply another conversation with a customer asking them how they are doing, then please don’t waste your time or theirs. Before I go on, I’ll just mention that we’ve recently renamed our QBRs to EBRs.  That stands for Executive Business Reviews.  We do them quarterly but changed the name because we really truly want the executive sponsor at the customer to participate in the meeting and the process.  It’s a subtle change but it helps. How about if we start with some do’s and don’ts: DO Get the executive sponsor at the customer to attend and participate Make sure […]

5 min readJanuary 7, 2014
The March of the Friend Image

The March of the Friend

I have been in Customer Success for many years.   During that time I have seen many changes and my role has morphed in many directions.   One thing is common with all the variations of the Customer Success position: the slow approach of your CEO with his/her eyes focused on yours.  This walk is usually followed by a variation of the words “I have a friend at one of our customers that is having challenges.”  It sounds like fingers on a chalkboard and sends a shrill up my spine. I call this walk the March of the Friend. A while ago I saw my CEO doing the March of the Friend; I contemplated doing a George Costanza and hide under my desk, but instead I listened.   My CEO heard from a CEO friend that had a challenge with our product.  Of course, I knew of the challenge, in fact the notes about the challenge were buried in our CRM. The issue was being addressed and we had the entire team working on a solution.  The customer’s CEO was using our product because we were driving adoption.  I would contend that if your customer’s CEO is speaking with your CEO about your […]

3 min readDecember 30, 2013
Aligning Customer Success and Services Image

Aligning Customer Success and Services

As companies mature, organizations that were at one time encompassed in one person, become separate and distinct.  Early on at many software companies, one person might be responsible for training, implementation, Customer Support, Professional Services, and Customer Success and perhaps even renewals and upsell.  Over time, each of those will likely become a separate organization.  And, along the way, it will make sense to start charging customers for some types of value-added services, too.  If you end up with both a Customer Success and Professional Services organization, it will be important to define and differentiate them. There are no hard and fast rules here, but, in most cases, Customer Success will not be separately charged-for but will be embedded in the contract cost while your Professional Services team will aspire to become a profit center.  Interestingly, many of the skills in these two groups are overlapping and you may even find that the people are semi-interchangeable, too.  But ultimately, the organizations will grow up to look very different and be measured in totally different ways. It’s a unique challenge to align two organizations that are filled with people who share many of the same skills and are working with the same set of […]

3 min readDecember 27, 2013