Account Managers Are Playing a New Game--and It's Called Customer Success By: In

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Offline doha

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Account Managers Are Playing a New Game--and It's Called Customer Success By: Insite View

Not long ago, account managers and customer service associates were hired to maintain accounts. But now, companies who still see retention as the main goal for those groups are starting to lose market share. Why?

The account management program that drives revenue has changed. As Software as a Service (cloud) businesses continue to soar, sales teams have realized that they must keep pace with Agile product launches and feature releases, or risk losing clients to one of their many competitors.

It’s no longer enough to retain your customers, merely reaching out when it’s time to renew their service. Your friendly customer service team is now your strategic customer success team, and their goal is growth.
80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers (Source: Forbes).

Customer Success Enters the Chasm

After hearing Geoffrey Moore (author of Crossing the Chasm) speak at an event last month, we were compelled to ask him about two common themes in his talk: customer success management and the trusted advisor relationship. The truth is, Moore says, “virtually everyone has some small number of trusted advisors, but the number of slots, and the people applying for those positions is like trying to get into Harvard.”

So, using Crossing the Chasm phases as a backdrop, how can high-tech CSMs use their business savvy to grow their accounts rather than just maintain them?

In the outline below, Moore not only defines the four actionable phases (aka engagement opportunities) of market development for customer success management, but he also maps each opportunity to the land-and-expand model widely used in SaaS selling. Viewing your customer relationships through the lens of the technology lifecycle will help you assess which opportunity to take.

Engagement Opportunity #1

Phase: Early Market / Landing
Trusted Adviser Relationship: Minimal
Customer Mindset: The person or organization who takes the bait in this instance is willing to experiment and exercise technology to the maximum. They like to be heroes, and they like to go ahead of the herd. Their goal is to differentiate their business in the market.
Your Charge: Continually associate the opportunity for growth with things that are visionary in this customer’s world. Do whatever you can to reinforce that spirit, while illuminating the match between the customer’s needs and your solution. Capture their imagination, and make your customer relationship (and your account strategy pitch) fun and adventurous.
How to Grow: Remember, this is not a one-size-fits-all customer. Focus on the bigger picture (and think outside of the box) in this relationship. Not only should you understand their business, but you should also be knowledgeable about their industry and competitive landscape. If done correctly, you can effectively close the gap between the customer’s vision and the business opportunity at hand.

The rest of the engagement opportunities Moore offers take place after the “chasm” (see diagram).