• B2B buyers are demanding a new and improved customer experience that enables them to quickly realize value from the solutions they purchase
  • Sales leaders must look beyond closing the initial deal and focus on customer retention, growth and advocacy to grow revenue

  • Sales structures must enable customer-facing teams to deliver a compelling customer experience, and customer success should be viewed as a strategic growth engine

Sales leaders should realize that the new barometer for success in the subscription economy is the number of satisfied customers who actively advocate in the market on behalf of the company — not just how many initial deals have been closed. Buyers are skeptical of company claims and often want to start with a small initial purchase to see if the solution does “what it says on the tin” before they buy more. If they’re not impressed, not only will they not buy more, but they’ll simply leave and go to another provider.

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In the world of recurring revenue, it’s hard to grow revenue as a sales leader when new customer revenue is simply replacing the revenue lost from existing customers churning. What this means is that sales leaders need to pay as much attention to the post-sale close experience as they do on the pre-close experience if they want accelerate revenue growth.

Why Investing in Customer Success Is Critical to Sales Leaders’ Success

Consider these three data points:

  • According to SiriusDecisions’ Command Center®, data companies anticipate that 77% of their future revenue will come from their install base (renewals, upsells and cross-sells).
  • High-performing companies are two times more likely than others to report a “significant” investment in the customer success function.
  • Organizations with a robust customer success function are 54% more likely to report 90% or more retention.

The data is clear — growth from the existing customer base is critical to revenue growth. High-performing companies recognize this importance and invest more in customer success. 

Five Steps Sales Leaders Need to Take

Sales leaders should take the following five key steps during planning season to ensure that they’re set up for success in 2020:

  1. Support investments in customer success. Sales leaders must stop viewing customer success as a cost center and view it as a strategic growth engine. This means supporting investment levels in the customer success function that reflect the important role of that function in retaining and growing customers.
  2. Ensure that customer journey has been mapped. Similar to the buyer’s journey, sales leaders need to ensure that the sales organization collaborates with the go-to-market functions to map out the post-close customer lifecycle. This will ensure that all functions understand how to provide a great customer experience.
  3. Clarify the roles and responsibilities of customer success and the sales team. Once the customer lifecycle has been mapped, the sales leader should clarify the responsibilities and points of alignment between the sales and customer success functions for each phase of the customer journey.
  4. Support customer segmentation. The customer success function should segment accounts into four categories: high touch, medium touch, low touch and, sometimes, fully digital touch. The level of touch dictates how much time and attention is required and how many resources are dedicated to each account.
  5. Encourage development of a customer health scorecard. It’s important to monitor customers’ health across the entire customer lifecycle. A customer health scorecard combines a variety of metrics about a customer account, allowing sales and the customer success team to detect issues with customers as they occur and set priorities for strengthening customer relationships.

Sales leaders need to support investments in customer success as they plan for 2020 and ensure that the sales organization is closing the right types of customers — those that can succeed in using their solutions. The focus on customers is worth it — it’s easier to keep existing revenue than to close new business, and customer advocacy is the most effective form of advertising.