13 Do’s and Don’ts of Customer Success from the SaaStr Experts

By February 15, 2017Blog

Pre-SaaStr Annual I had big plans to write a recap blog with a list of 10 or 15 great takeaways from the conference. After reviewing my notes and reflecting on the event, I realized that wasn’t possible. If you attended SaaStr last week you can probably agree with me.

As a first time attendee, I underestimated the content and opportunities that would be available at the event. I realized that unlike so many conferences I have attended, the takeaways I had wouldn’t be applicable to everyone unless they were the head of marketing at a company in the customer success space in the $1.5-$10M ARR range. Usually when I attend a conference I can write a recap based on my sessions and generalize so that all attendees, no matter their role, could find useful information in my summary. That’s definitely not the case for SaaStr.

SaaStr is the most unique conference I’ve attended in that there really are sessions for every team member from marketing, to sales, to CS, to development, to the C-suite. In addition, depending what stage of growth you’re in, you’re going to different sessions ranging from the more strategic to the deeper dive tactical sessions. Basically, the conference is a choose your own adventure.

Instead of the standard, all-encompassing conference recap, I’ve decided to compile some do’s and don’ts that focus on a sweet spot for UserIQ and a key theme of the conference: customer success. There were 9 sessions that were solely focused on customer success and countless other sessions that wrapped the topic into the presentations. In his keynote, Jeff Lawson, CEO at Twilio, even said ‘customer experience is going to be king.’ Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of customer success from SaaStr Annual 2017:

1. Don’t forget that only 5-30% of company revenue comes from the initial sale and that 70-95% of revenue comes from renewals and upsells (see image below). Keep this in mind and build a customer-centric funnel that maps customer business goals, decision criteria and buying processes.

Initial Sale Revenue Pipeline

2. Do find customers that can scale as you scale if you want to reduce the risk of customers churning as your company evolves.

3. Don’t ignore the impact sales has on customer success. Consider factoring churn not only into the customer success compensation plan, but also into the sales compensation plan. Look at how you can tier compensation based on lifetime value (LTV) of customers to align with business goals.

4. Do start by defining what the definition of customer success means to your company and then build out metrics and compensation to support that.

5. Don’t focus on making your customers happy, focus on making your customers successful!

6. Don’t neglect your internal customers. Take your internal customers (the marketing team, the sales team, the development team, etc.) out to lunch or dinner, just like you would your external customers. This helps avoid company silos.

7. Do have empathy for your customer’s lives, not just for how your customers use your product.

8. Don’t forget to value people (customers) over pixels (technology). There’s always humans behind the technology that need to be considered in any decision you make.

9. Do look for natural curiosity when making a customer success hire and make sure they are capable of change management.

  • From ‘Customer Success AMA: Your Burning Questions Answered’ with Nick Mehta of Gainsight

10. Don’t forget to be proactive, listen to your customers and understand how they’re interacting with your product.

11. Do drive value with velocity by being proactive.

12. Don’t let sales do whatever it takes to get a deal done. Focus on what’s best for the customer in the long run so you don’t end up having a bunch of bad fit customers that churn.

13. Do rethink your funnel and determine how to think of it as more of an hourglass to include the full stages of onboarding, retention, expansion and advocacy of the customer journey like David Skok does.

David Skok, Matrix Partners The Full SaaS FunnelWhich do’s and don’ts did I miss? What would you add to the list? If you missed the chance to meet with the UserIQ team at SaaStr, reach out for a demo of UserIQ’s customer growth platform.

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