Cement Your Customer Relationships by Acing the First 3 Months
A wise mentor once asked me, “What is sales?”
Endeavoring to impress, I responded with a thesis fit for publishing by Harvard Business Review.
As I sensed his growing discomfort, I hurriedly finished my answer.
With palpable disdain, he looked at me and said:
“Sales is trust.”
Customers trust us and our organizations to solve a problem for them.
A year ago, Salesforce reported that 73% of companies reported that trust in companies matters more than just the year prior.
An arduous B2B buying journey success usually lands on highly celebrated shores.
For many selling organizations, the landing usually includes all company messages, congratulatory calls, slack channels lighting up with memes and some kind of noise (bell ringing) or physical exaltation (perhaps a fist pump in a socially distanced world). A momentous moment.
For every buying organization, the landing usually includes high anticipation, fraught with expectations of business outcomes for a nagging problem. A moment seeking momentum.
A “moment seeking momentum” speaks to the real beginning of a relationship for customers, and the need for improvement quickly, as evidenced by recent B2B research findings.
What happens when the relationship ends at the win:
- High risk of customer dissatisfaction. 90 percent of customers discuss business goals and objectives with solution providers. Nearly 50 percent say that purchased solutions only partially deliver the desired outcomes.
- Losing customers faster than gaining them. A study by Gallup based on 108,989 respondents and 19,093 businesses revealed that B2B companies are at risk of losing 71% of their customer base.
- Ignoring an opportunity to outshine your competitors. In a pre-pandemic world, it was a well-established fact that 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition vs. 18% that focus on customer retention and growth.
Trust?! A mere 25 percent of customers today consider solution providers to be their trusted advisers.
And yet, in a year with nearly every convention challenged, there is hope.
Recent Altus research revealed that the most popular strategy of 100 CROs in building a resilient organization was doubling down on customer engagement and success.
"The root cause to any problem is the key to a lasting solution.”
While there are no shortcuts to building trust or easily solving the magnitude of business risk, there is a better way to more quickly engender trust with new customers.
A high-performing customer retention and growth program starts at the beginning: with deliberate design and execution of a new client's first 3 months.
There are roughly 60 business days in any 3-month period.
It’s such a finite period of time.
For any new client, it’s a crucial time of expectations surrounding a new initiative and investment they’ve made in your company to solve their problem. It’s the first impression.
When designed and executed well, your customer is well on a path to achieving the business outcomes they had of your solution.
You also have made an indelible impression more likely leading to expansion, referral, and the lifetime value of a customer that may even exceed the assumptions your finance team has made!
As we at Altus have learned and improved new client onboarding, we’ve spotted a few easier wins to establishing a new client onboarding program that makes success much more likely.
- Know and meet customer expectations. Create a simple plan with a timeline of successful milestones, based on their expected business outcomes. It gives you another chance to ensure you understand their expectations and timeline.
- Prioritize and include new client success metrics in your KPIs. Celebrate executions of these metrics, similarly to how you venerate new business.
- Onboard all to client onboarding. Make client onboarding at least a small part of everybody’s job. Bigger or more important clients should have executive sponsorship for involvement with clients and in the lifeblood of your organization.
- Personalize processes for your clients. Use your process and your account management team in your pre-sales motions. You will demonstrate to your prospect how and who will be working with them while differentiating yourself from competition.
- Invest some thought in the experience. Put some creative minds in a room to brainstorm how you create as much of an experience as possible of onboarding new clients. McKinsey reports that companies investing in customer experiences see 20% more employee engagement.
- Include self-service options. Consider over time, how technology may help desiring customers to serve themselves. 75% of customers are willing to use new technology and 62% are willing to consider using AI solutions.
- Inform future plans with the right people. Finally, be transparent and inclusive of some of your best customers in everything you are thinking of doing.
Customer retention and growth, built with customers, will help you in building a brand created through trust with business outcomes.
Start now with determining the most critical customer success-centric KPIs. Setting those KPIs will lead to the implementation of the processes needed to meet them, changing the tone, and duration, of your customer relationships.