GGR Podcast - CSMs Should Not Learn to Talk to CFOs

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Heather Wendt
Heather Wendt HLAdmin, Member Posts: 286 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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Excited to let you know that today starts the 2-per-week schedule of podcasts from GGR! This Thursday podcast (The 10-minute Trumpet) is a short topical discussion by Jeff or Jay that takes a deeper look at some of the conversations happening in GGR or on LinkedIn.

We kick off this new series addition with @Jeff Breunsbach taking a look at how your CSMs can help your customer champion become the hero as you help them learn how to talk to their finance partners in a way that resonates with them.

Jeff takes a look at 3 things you can do to help equip them:

  1. Prepare them to defend the ROI of your product
  2. Understand the downside of not using your tool or product
  3. Highlight areas of impact beyond your product (the bigger ecosystem)

It is very likely that a CSM will struggle to gain an audience directly with the CFO to help them see the value of your product, so focusing on helping your CSM to do this makes them look good and ensures that when it is time to look at budgets, there is a strong story about why your product shouldn't be on the chopping block.

Listen to the podcast here

What are some other areas that you can help strengthen your champion for this vital conversation?

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  • ianwelles
    ianwelles Member Posts: 17 Navigator
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    "help your customer champion become the hero"

    This point really stands out to me here. I think this is essential and could be expanded to "make every user who interacts with your software/tool/service the hero." I will expand on this in a bit.

    In the podcast you mentioned that a company might be using 35 - 50 saas products. I have heard even higher numbers brought up in different conversations - usually when talking about wether or not your customer really wants to attend another QBR. Imagine you are a CFO who's various stakeholders and responsible for 50 saas products. Do you know what each of those products are and do you care about feature adoption? I can say from my own experience getting CFOs involved in renewal discussions that that answer is a solid NO. These ROI points will stand out though.

    CFOs are relying on input from VPs about there business results, usually in financial terms. That is the F in CFO. If you're lucky a VP is your CSM's champion and you can work through points 1 - 3 in the original post. If your VP Champion can confidently communicate those points, the CFO is going to approve budget.

    I work with a small CS team responsible for a high volume of customers. My CSMs are talking to developers, architects, and sometimes a mid level manager or director. It is rare that the conversation started by a CSM in this type of scaled team gets elevated to VP or C level. So we focus on enabling all customer stakeholders - developers and architects with great documentation and any available enablement resources, and then these ROI data points that the managers or directors need to demonstrate success to their leaders.

    With this multi level approach we hope to ensure that as many people as possible in the customer org are able to confidently talk about how our software has helped them to be successful. This eliminates the risk of THE Champion moving on - and our team starting form zero. It also makes the renewal and upsell budget approvals easier, because the CFO will already know the value of our software and head about it from more than one source.

    If we really want to talk to a CFO, we bring along a Regional VP or Managing Director from Sales to talk money. The CSM can provide supporting information for that conversation.

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