Anyone who knows me knows that Customer Success driving value is incredibly close to my heart.
It’s what I expect from my team and hope for the whole CS community - and why I started ValueCSwithEmily.com.
Value is a word often used but not always defined. As a CSM and customer advocate, you want to drive and deliver value for your customers, but you may be unclear on how or what that looks like.
While not exhaustive, I’ve included some examples below to provide guidance on adding value to your customer.
First, let’s acknowledge that value is defined in the eye of the beholder.
Have you read the story where someone tried to sell an old car and received an offer for pennies on the dollar from the dealership, but a huge offer from a buyer at the car club?
People’s perspective and expectations drive how and where they see value and this can evolve as situations change.
When I think about value, I look at providing information that provides insight or an opportunity that provides access the person may not have without you.
An area that often gets confusing around the value conversation is the conflation of the value-driven activity and the delivery method.
It isn’t fair to say universally “QBRs are valuable” (or not valuable). Quarterly business reviews are a method of communicating and delivering information. The determination of value is based on what information is shared and how relevant it is to your contact’s needs and goals.
(Do you have a contact pushing back against having a business review? It is a good indication that they haven’t seen value from them.)
To best align, a value conversation should be held upfront. Ideally, this happens during the sales cycle (either with the seller or seller+CSM) and the CSM confirms it during onboarding or transition.
A good salesperson will want to make sure the value a person seeks is something the company can support. This means truly understanding the business challenge they are looking to solve and confirming the solution you offer will meet those needs.
The CSM needs to align expectations around timing and participation to achieve that value, as well as continually understanding value drivers and when they change.
Ready to show value, but not sure where to start? Here are some ways my team has driven customer value.
Providing a comprehensive (and collaboratively designed) ROI calculation specific to the customer’s use case
Being able to tie the impact your offering has had to a core business driver or KPI (think: increasing revenue, decreasing expenses, improving efficiency, etc) helps showcase that the investment of money and time in working with you is warranted.
Work with your main contact to gather the internal details or data and share with the executive buyer. If done right, this also puts your contact in a positive light with their leadership.
Sharing industry trends or comparisons that they individually don’t have access to
Companies often want to know how they stack up against their peer group.
Even if you can’t share direct comparisons for confidentiality reasons, being able to give insight into trends or additional use cases to consider can be viewed as helpful.
By understanding your customer’s industry and comparative group, the information shared can be much more tailored and impactful.
Aligning roadmaps to allow your company and theirs to build together
Reviewing the product roadmap is a common action during business reviews.
While you can’t do it with every customer, being able to share roadmaps from both companies’ perspectives and determine intersection points to build towards can be extremely powerful.
If you are able to identify core business projects that your customer has on the horizon that an upcoming product build could integrate with, your relationship could become much more strategic.
Clearly understanding product need and impact to communicate to product and get built
Even if you can’t strategically integrate, understanding your customer deeply to be able to advocate for specific feature enhancements internally can be valuable.
If a new feature could unlock additional capabilities for your customer’s projects, helping to get this on the roadmap (or delivered sooner), could impact their business.
Connecting various business units across the customer
In large corporations, sometimes business units operate in silos and aren’t clear of other group’s initiatives.
As the CSM, you are responsible for creating relationships across the company.
If you see commonalities in goals or initiatives in different organizations, you can broker an internal introduction within your account to share ideas and learnings.
Connecting your contact with a peer contact to discuss common challenges
While LinkedIn has lowered the barriers to networking and connecting, sometimes having a personalized introduction creates a stronger connection.
If you have contacts at different companies who are working to solve a similar problem, you can connect them to brainstorm and share.
Similarly, if you have a contact who has gone through a process and one who is looking to embark on that effort, you can connect for mentorship and guidance (assuming both parties are interested and willing).
Providing a conference speaking opportunity for someone trying to build their brand
If you have a company conference, webinar or other speaking opportunity, this could provide an opportunity for visibility for a company or contact.
If a contact is trying to build their personal brand or a company is looking to promote a new innovation they’ve been working on by using your product, this opportunity for ‘free public relations’ could be extremely beneficial.
Driving Customer Value: Final Thoughts
While value means different things given the scenario, the best Customer Success Managers are constantly seeking ways to create value opportunities for their accounts.
Look for opportunities that align both at an individual contact level and at a company level.
By providing business value, you help solidify your offering as one that continues to get renewed (and grown) over time.