In the middle of an onsite Periodic Business Review (“PBR” – not to be confused with Pabst Blue Ribbon, hipsters), one of our more difficult executive clients suddenly blurted out,
“You guys just came out to review our data and show us where we can get better?”
Both my CSM-trainee and I were not sure how to take his comment. Was his incredulity good? I went on to explain that we partner with our clients to ensure they are not only attaining their expected value from sign-up, but that they continue to get incremental value throughout their life on the platform. After we reviewed his data, calculated his ROI and teased upcoming features, we engaged in a frank and meaningful conversation around his business needs and challenges. By then end of the meeting, we had changed a skeptical executive into an enthusiastic sponsor.
But don’t think a periodic onsite will solve all of your customer ills…
For the purposes of this post, I will ignore the 1:M customer marketing activities that promote brand, features and customer successes and focus on the 1:1 interactions that are pivotal to long-term customer success.
Periodic Business Reviews
It amazes me when fellow customer success practitioners are not proactively defending the value of their platform. Many vendors believe their software’s value will speak for itself and believe their customers will always see this “intrinsic” value. It gets worse when your CSMs cannot clearly and distinctly verbalize your platform’s value proposition.
The number one reason to have PBRs with your customer base is to proactively defend the value promised. That means showing the real world results of your value proposition and then demonstrating ways to get even more value. PBR success depends upon your data and preparation. Are they using the platform? How much? When? Which features? Are they using best practices or have a unique use case that requires deviation? Are they properly trained? Are the end-users of the platform happy? What needs are not being met? Knowing answers to these types of questions prior to the PBR will ensure a targeted conversation that will enhance their value and usage of your platform.
Have you ever been blind-sided by a customer cancellation when health was “green?” Your CSM is dumbfounded: “We just got back from an onsite and everyone loved us! I don’t understand why they just cancelled their renewal!”
More than likely, you have neglected the executive relationship post-sale and only focused on the end-users. When contract renewal time comes around, the executive sees a large expense item and decides to cut it. To guard against this, continually provide them with an objective ROI calculation, and also focus on being a good partner by continually probing for short and mid-term needs.
A key difference with Executive Communication is in the cadence. While a PBR may only occur quarterly, semi-annually or yearly, your executive cadence must be as frequent as you can get on the decision maker’s schedule while providing them with value. Their needs and goals will likely shift from month to month and pro-actively partnering with them on these changing priorities will solidify you as a trust partner and advocate.
By implementing this bi-modal, 1:1 communication plan, you can drastically reduce churn, and develop lifetime, loyal customers. I’d drink a PBR to that.