Updated: Oct 8, 2020
This is Jane. Jane gave you a reference site visit in 2018 and as a result, your teams landed a huge new deal. You like Jane. You treat Jane well by giving pricing discounts and other 'free' stuff. She continues to provide references but she's starting to resist and your sales team has nowhere else to go. What happens when Jane retires? Or just stops taking your calls? How much more 'free' are you going to have to give her to keep her? More importantly, how are you going to expand into Jane's account as well as expand into the new deal she helped you land to make them a reference too?
New customer business is exciting. It's a chance to create new buzz with a press release, and add a new logo to the website but it's rare to make a 'huge' new sale without some reference collateral - a phone call, a site visit (even if virtual), client logo branded success stories.
Your New Client Sales teams already know they need references, published client success stories and site visits. What are each of these client activities worth to your company? But more importantly, what is the allocated budget in your company, beyond salary, for client development including retention and existing client growth? If the answer is zero, we need to have a conversation.
Jane's technology partner had exactly $0 dollars budgeted for client retention so it's not surprising they only have only Jane as a reference but frankly, without a budget, they have little opportunity to develop more clients. #nomoneynomission
Setting up the land and expand mission starts during acquisition and identifies the key players by role. If the CFO signs the deal and will be stepping out of the project, know and identify (by position, not necessarily name) who the client team is post deployment and how to contact them. Then, make sure you have commitment for client leadership (VP and above) to attend the QBRs that will start shortly after the Go Live or launch. Or consider having the first executive check point right before go live. Set the expectation of a partnership from the start because a mutually satisfying journey includes two key foundational principles:
1. "This" is what success looks like for each of us
2. "This" is how we're going to work together as partners
It's the Client helping you understand their long term strategic plans. It's also you as a technology partner bringing best practices, industry trends and KPI performance as well as bringing them closer to your Service, Solution and Support teams. Do this phase badly and your Client Success teams working at the end-user Manager level will spend their days managing issue lists/open tickets and never meet the CFO. You can recover but it's uphill with your teams carrying the heavy pack while trying to get to the 'right' people. And you still won't have a reference site.
Once you have the leadership structure in place with your clients, you can make sure that little is given away for "free" by allocating a portion of the Annual Contract Value and making the Client Success team the P&L leader on each of their assigned accounts with guardrails. If you're new to this concept, start with allocating just 1.5% of the ACV to Client Success activities. That's $750/year on a $50k ACV and for a three year contract, that's $2250. Wouldn't it be great if when the client calls and asks for 'more training', a new report, help with a new workflow, your teams can just say 'yes' and EARN the right to ask for references, success stories, and site visits? The goal is always to create stickiness/affinity along with value outcomes the client needs without having to do a lot of negotiating/haggling that equals irritating client effort.
Helping you Land and Expand is work we love. We evaluate teams, processes, job descriptions, policies, and budgets. Then, we build a foundation and launch the mission in your organization to grow and retain ARR. Call or email to get started.