How we use our CRM for customer success
“Customer success” may have started as a buzzword, but it’s quickly become an essential part of a recurring revenue business. In fact, it's a guiding principle at Close.
At our most recent team retreat in Berlin, we decided that two simple questions will direct our decisions in all areas of the business:
- "Is this going to make our customers more successful?"
- "Is this going to get us more successful customers?”
Answering “yes” to these questions now controls where we invest time, effort, and resources, as well as empowers us to make decisions that speak to customer happiness and retention.
In our eyes, “success” is both a noun and a verb. We want our customers to achieve their sales goals, and we actively work towards helping them do so. We work with our customers to optimize how they use Close and we document the creative solutions we’ve developed to help them achieve their goals. We want our customers to succeed and we’re using Close to do it.
We knew that when we began our success efforts, we needed to keep it simple. From our own experience in sales and working with customers who sell, we’ve seen a tendency among salespeople and businesses to create complex processes when simple instructions and systems would suffice.
With this in mind, here are the steps we’ve taken internally to create our Customer Success process and the Close tools we use to do it.
1. Identify the right customers (the 80-20 rule)
We knew we couldn’t help all of our customers succeed at once. We first needed a strategic plan. We looked at our entire user base to see where we could have the biggest impact for the growth of our business and create the most value for existing customers.
We discovered that 30 percent of our customers were responsible for 70 percent of our revenue. Not quite 80-20, but close enough. We also found that the same 30 percent typically join Close at a certain user count—at least four users—and grow over time to over 100.
As these customers grow with us, they also struggle to scale their sales operations. We found that these types of customers were a huge growth opportunity for us, allowing us to gain significant expansion revenue.
Bingo. We had found our sweet spot.
When we created the Smart View, we first selected our “Customer” lead status, then added custom field criteria. This criteria limited the results to show only those with at least four seats and who paid a certain amount per month. We then used our sales team’s phone call notes and contact information in Close to find the head of sales or original Close purchaser to reach out to first.
2. Show your customers the value of success
Once we had a list of customers who met our criteria, we began calling them. First, we tried to engage the customers on a cold call with questions about their sales process and where they were struggling.
However, we quickly realized we needed more quality time than what a cold call provides. These quick calls were only scratching the surface, and we knew to truly have an impact, we needed more time to really dive deep with our customers and their sales processes.
We changed our strategy and created a success campaign, calling our customers to schedule an hourlong account review for a date in the future. If we didn’t reach the customer on the first call, we sent follow-up emails using email templates.
The main message we wanted to get across in our phone calls and emails? Our experience in sales gives us something to offer. We could, in a few simple steps, optimize how our customers were using Close, making their salespeople more efficient and, ultimately, making their company more successful. And isn’t that every business’s goal?
Below are the most recent iterations of our phone conversation and email template. We’re constantly playing with this text, tweaking and testing how it performs, since success doesn’t always have one path.
“Hey <first name>, this is ___________. I’m your customer success rep with Close. How’s it going?
We track a few key indicators of our customers, and I noticed one or two things I think could be corrected for maximum use of the product. Do you have time now to take a look at that? If not, we can schedule some time later this week to optimize how you’re using Close.”
We’ve had a lot of positive response to these templates. The template above has a 67% open rate and over 40% of those who received the email booked an account review with us.
Occasionally we do have customers who are skeptical of the time commitment and what they’ll get out of it. For these folks, we give examples of the work we’ve done for others and what we’ve been able to accomplish for them. If this still doesn’t land, we offer to start the account review with a customized suggestion list by email. It’s vital to us to meet each customer where they want to be met.
3. Don’t just tell, DO
Understanding our customers’ sales flow is essential to helping them succeed. But telling them our suggested changes based on those understandings isn’t enough, nor is simply showing customers new features and explaining how they work.
Instead, we need to implement those changes for the customer and demonstrate the benefits.
For example, we’ve seen many customers misuse opportunity and lead statuses to keep track of information that’s better managed by a search and Smart View. (Check out this FAQ that was written based on our Success experiences.)
Catching these mistakes is easy. Changing product habits? Not so much.
We ask a lot of questions on the front end to learn each customer’s sales process before sharing our suggestions and gently leading the customer to adopt a better approach. Here are a few examples:
- Are there specific sales goals you need to accomplish in the next three to six months?
- Tell me about your sales process: What are the steps from trial to purchase?
- What does your sales workflow look like? (Ask specific next step questions here, such as, “OK, after you make the first call, then what’s the next step?”)
- How are you getting your leads into Close? Are they inbound or outbound leads?
- How do you assign leads, and what are the rules for which salesperson touches which lead?
- How is sales activity measured? What does a successful salesperson’s activity look like?
- What reporting do you need?
Our next step often involves deleting, cleaning up, renaming and reorganizing their sales funnel, and then creating a better flow using Smart Views.
Our goal isn’t simply to increase customer usage or happiness. If that was the only goal, a quick training call or check-in email might do the trick. It’s important to us to help make each customer’s business more successful, knowing usage and happiness come along with increased business success.
4. Follow up and follow through
Our success team’s job doesn’t end with understanding the customer’s needs and optimizing how they use Close. We follow up to make sure that the changes we made both work and are being used.
Here’s what we do to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and accurately measure our team’s impact:
- We take notes on each phone call and send follow-up emails detailing the changes we made on each account.
- We use our own Success custom fields to mark the date we had the Success call, and we create Smart Views based on those dates to make sure every account gets a follow-up. Example: call(user:me duration > "10 minutes") "custom.Success Account Review" > 2016-05-01 sort:"Success Account Review"
- We use the customer’s own Close reports to show how call volume, email volume, and opportunities have increased since our work together. By tracking these metrics, we can show a solid return on their investment.
At the time of writing this, we’ve completed more than 180 account reviews and countless follow-ups. We’ve connected with our customers to measure the success of our work and show them how the time spent with us created a positive rate of return.
We can now share these numbers with other customers to show how we can create success for them. A few of our favorite stats include:
- A 51 percent increase in call volume due to revamping Smart Views
- A 28 percent increase in sales reps' efficiency in contacting new accounts due to a new lead assignment system
- Doubling the amount of opportunities in the sales pipeline by finding 300+ untouched leads
- A step-by-step opportunity sales process using custom fields to manage a complicated sales checklist
- Savings 45 minutes each week by creating an automated way of running custom reports.
We’ve found creative solutions for our customers that have made a real impact on their business. We’re taking this information and using it to influence our product, our support, our FAQs, and our webinars. These solutions will trickle down to a more agile onboarding experience for future customers and will continue to create success for our current customers.
If you have questions, want more information on how to set up your team in Close, or would like an account review to improve your sales workflow, send us an email at email@example.com.
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