Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Ahhhhh.....technical debt. The sweet, sweet smell of spaghetti code.
Officially, technical debt is the implied cost of rework caused by choosing an easy (faulty) solution now instead of a better approach that would take longer. While long noodles predict long life in some cultures, this approach in technical (mis?) management can significantly impact growth opportunities by creating relationship debt.
Relationship debt can be a result of utter vaporware where the only conversation the client (not necessarily the Buyer) wants to have is about the open issues list and roadmaps. Or maybe there is a misalignment between your Sales relationships and everything that comes after (Deployment, Pro Services and Support teams). It could even be as simple as nobody in your company owns the client outcomes/relationships. As Milton Friedman said, "if everyone owns it, nobody owns it."
Ok, so......now what?
First, we have to figure out the Sales process. Specifically, hunting and farming which are two VERY different skill sets. Hunters have to learn how to qualify a net new Client early on and 'sell' the platform to solve for X and hopefully, they're good enough to expose a problem the client doesn't yet know they have. Farmers, on the other hand, already have an implemented client using product on which the client is probably now an expert and they're bringing their most pressing problems right to your doorstep. I've lost count of how many times I've seen clients who are more expert on the product than the Delivery teams, particularly in a cross-selling opportunity. This means that Farmers must be industry, as well as platform, experts. I have yet to see a hunter who wants to delve that deep into a system's capabilities yet we still ask them to deliver quota on up-sell.
To fix Relationship Debt, you have to deliver value beyond what the client can do for themselves. It means understanding the industry, the workflows, and the best practices for a technical solution. It means taking a consultative approach, exposing the flaws in the client's current practice and potentially their thinking to help them further transform their business. It means taking a pro-active approach to avoid upcoming landmines/pitfalls.
You may have to earn back trust to become a Trusted Advisor to your client. You'll have to understand their business from the inside out and how your platform 'plays' in their overall environment. Then, you'll have to understand each touch point and integration of your platform and how it impacts workflows and outcomes. That means if you haven't set up the ongoing relationship well through the original Sales cycle, you have a load of work to do to pay off that relationship debt.
What you can do right now is introduce the Trusted Advisor during the Sales cycle. This person becomes the Client advocate, the internal Voice of the Client, the Consultant who knows how to hold the Client and your teams accountable for great results. Do you want your Sales team focused on pro-actively managing outcomes and being the primary POC for existing client issue lists OR would you rather have them finding your next raving fan client? Make the Trusted Advisor your farmer.
Upturn Consultants has developed a great process to get started on your land and expand strategies to achieve the growth you need. Schedule a free 30 min conversation here: https://calendly.com/linda-upturn/30min