I got into an interesting discussion recently with Dan Steinman of Gainsight. We’d met up after I’d seen him talk at an event about the power of Customer Success and its crucial role in the successful growth of subscription businesses. Turns out we share a lot of common ground.
We are both passionate about helping tech businesses (especially SaaS based businesses) accelerate their growth. Our chosen tools are named differently – and often pursued by different parts of the org chart – but they play incredibly well together.
In fact, I see Customer Success as a vital component of an effective Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. In keeping with Patrick Campbell’s excellent blog about our addiction to acquisition, the value from a new client often doesn’t really help the P&L until the relationship has been alive for a while. Our approach to ABM is as much about maximising the value from a client contract as it is about securing that agreement in the first place.
Dan’s literally (co-)written the book on Customer Success, so I won’t try to define it here beyond the following, taken from his company’s website:
“The success of your business is inherently intertwined with the success of your customer. If customers succeed using your product, they’ll continue using your product, and thus, your business will succeed.”
Without wishing to do spoilers, his book offers ten laws of customer success. And the first one is “Sell to the Right Customer”.
Now any ABM / B2B marketer worth their salt will recognise that, echoing one of the cornerstone benefits of an ABM strategy. In a good ABM program, your first step will be to define the Ideal Customer Profile. And then design your marketing efforts to focus on a tightly defined audience of organisations (and the people within them) who fit that profile.
And in a world where your marketing is doing its job, that means your sales effort is largely going to be delivering new business that fits the bill of Dan’s Law 1: Sell to the Right Customer.
Of course, this is something well managed sales organisations do naturally in successful organisations. If we get the right customers in to begin with, the chance of that translating to successful use of our product is substantially increased. Which means that they will continue using our produce. Which means that our business will succeed.
I’ll put to one side the niggling feeling that we’re beginning to talk about our ability to ‘pick the winners’ as much as about the quality of our sales and marketing efforts, but if it’s delivering success, that’s not such a bad niggle to have. After all, our goal is successful growth for our clients – and therefore for our own business.
So perhaps we need to expand the way we measure of the value delivered by ABM strategy: not only will it help you increase your new business success, it will play a strong hand in getting your Customer Success efforts off to a perfect start… bringing our own success with it.