By: Shabri Lakhani
SaaS companies have been discussing the importance of building and maintaining a strong sales team to the success of their organization for years. It’s only recently that sales leaders have begun to truly understand the value of customer success to revenue retention and generation. Churn is an inevitable part of the industry, but it is every SaaS leader’s objective to keep churn as low as possible and generate repeat revenue from loyal customers.
In this blog, we’ll discuss why a customer success team is so important, particularly in the SaaS industry, and how training is critical to arming your customer success team with the skills and tools they need to succeed.
What Is Customer Success?
The essence of customer success is ensuring that your customers have a great experience with your solution and are getting the most value possible. A customer success team begins by onboarding the client and making sure they know how to use the product properly. Ideally, these team members are delivering on the promises made during the sales process, and ensuring that the software solves the pain points that led to the purchase.
Your salespeople are the face of your brand because they serve as the first representation of the company. But, after the sales process ends, they fade away. The customer success team becomes the face of your software, and will interact with your customers for months (or years) to come. It is therefore critically important to invest in this staff and ensure they are armed with the tools and skills they need to delight customers and address issues.
Why Is Customer Success Particularly Important For SaaS?
In the SaaS industry, net retention is a critical metric that determines whether businesses sink or swim. When you’re dealing with contracts that are predicated on monthly or annual recurring revenue, it’s not just about acquiring customers, it's about keeping them. Maximizing the lifetime value of a customer is of utmost importance, and although some churn is inevitable, you need to ensure your business maintains a strong and loyal customer base.
That’s where customer success comes in. These reps are tasked with not only keeping customers happy, but ensuring they renew and even upgrade in order to continue generating revenue from the same company. A big part of customer retention is ensuring a high level of adoption and engagement to keep building a use case in the customer’s mind, particularly when the contract is coming up for renewal.
Research by Standish recently found that only 20% of software features are actually used, while 50% are never used, and 30% are used infrequently. If you are not continuously demonstrating the functionality and value of your product, especially during the early days of the engagement, you’re not likely to hit your customer lifetime value targets.
Beyond revenue retention, most best-in-class customer success teams are compensated for their ability to upsell and cross-sell. Most SaaS organizations have a modular solution that benefits from a “land and expand” approach and are therefore dependent on customer success for its success.
How Do You Build The Best Customer Success Team?
Many organizations put customer success teams through feature training only, ensuring team members are well prepared to answer product-specific questions. While this training is certainly necessary, few organizations invest in sales training for their customer success teams, which is a terrible mistake. After all, these reps are responsible for continually selling the value of your solution and extracting more dollars from your customers.
As we outlined earlier, only 20% of software features are actually used, which means that proper onboarding and success planning is a rarity. If people aren’t seeing the true value of your software solution, this will inevitably lead to churn and missed opportunities. Your reps need to be trained correctly on the proper way to onboard customers, interact with them frequently and meaningfully, and approach renewal conversations. However, this is not all. Reps must also be able to discuss potential cross-sell and upsell opportunities, how to re-engage disengaged users, and how to generate additional business through referrals. The very best customer success teams are constantly watching for disengagement, and multithreading the account so they have relationships beyond their main point of contact These are all soft and tactical sales skills that organizations cannot expect customer success reps to develop on their own. We recommend investing in a customer success training programme upon onboarding that provides the rep with the foundation they need to confidently approach customer interactions.
If you’re struggling to get your customer success team up to snuff, we can help. SalesWorks has helped hundreds of companies build best-in-class sales programs, from demand generation through to customer service. Request a consultation today to learn more about how we can empower your sales team and help your firm maximize its growth potential.