CSM Retention Clinics - Internal hackathons that help mitigate risks
The following article comes from Filipe Rufino, a GGR Member and Lead CSM and Mentor at Gartner, Inc. Filipe shares how his team leverages CSM Retention Clinics to help mitigate risk prior to renewal and encourage team collaboration.
CSM Retention Clinics
What are they
An internal hackathon where CSMs discuss the following:
1) Upcoming renewals where risk has been identified.
2) Recent wins.
This forum is only for individual contributor CSMs in the same team – the team manager does not participate in the meeting.
I created this forum in my team in Gartner to facilitate sharing of risk mitigation ideas.
We have another internal forum where CSMs, sales, product management and service regularly meet to discuss risky renewals. Due to the sheer amount of different stakeholders involved and their different agendas, I saw a need for CSMs to have their own forum as well.
A monthly 60 minutes meeting for CSMs on the same team facilitated by a Senior CSM/Lead CSM.
To encourage a free discussion the meeting is not recorded and the CSM team manager does not attend.
CSMs nominate accounts they want to discuss in advance. These can be either accounts where there is risk or big wins.
The ‘at risk’ accounts are categorised in three buckets:
- Accounts with low usage/engagement/adoption/penetration.
- Accounts with low value statements/lack of client testimonials/lack of use cases/lack of advocates. Accounts with low NPS would fit here too.
- Accounts with other types of risk. These typically include company mergers and acquisitions, decision makers in transition, and sectors heavily impacted by the pandemic.
The group discusses up to 4-6 accounts per clinic. A CSM might ask the group:
Hi team I am concerned about this account in my territory, and its because of XYZ. What would you do?
Everyone in the room is encouraged to brainstorm, offer ideas and share tips.
The meeting chair compiles the best risk mitigation ideas/best practices surfaced in the meeting, emails them to the team after the meeting, and records them in the team’s ‘ideas bank’.
Based on my experience running retention clinics over the past two years in two CSM teams in Gartner, these are the benefits my peers and managers have identified:
- A YoY increase to the teams’ client retention rate of up to 5% when combined with training initiatives and individual coaching from manager.
- CSMs delivering consistent messages in internal meetings to educate our stakeholders on how to best work with us.
- Each CSM receives on average 1-3 new and valuable ideas from their peers per session.
- Creation of a ‘bank’ of the team’s best ideas. Getting CSMs in the habit of searching the minutes of previous retention clinics before asking for help.
- Accelerates learning curve for new hires, especially in a remote environment.
First, secure sponsorship from your team manager. This should be easy because it is in your manager’s interest to have a knowledge sharing culture in his team.
Then, introduce the concept to your team members in of your team meetings (you can share this article with them and ask for their commitment. Ahead of this meeting your manager will do the same in his 101s with your team members to pave the way for you.
Send a recurrent diary invite to the team to create consistently and send the meeting notes to the team within 24 hours of each meeting.
Note: if your company stack ranks CSMs this can get in the way of them collaborating in retention clinics. In this situation I advise asking a CSM that is both amiable and high performing to lead this initiative. This person would be leading by example and using his or her personal influence to get the other team members to share more (over time they will). You can also ask your manager to suggest your colleagues with lower retentions scores to give retention clinics a try.
A couple of examples of value received by CMS from recent clinics:
- A CSM learned in a clinic that we had a consultant in our company who had previously worked at one of his client orgs. The CSM then met with this consultant who helped him understand the personalities of the individuals involved in the renewal decision and the culture of the organization. The two individuals would probably never have had this conversation/knowledge transfer if it were not for the clinic as they did not work together.
- Another CSM heard about a little used deliverable in a retention clinic that was a great fit for one of her accounts. She then suggested it to her account team and they agreed to position it to the client. The client bought into it right away and was able to see the additional value that Gartner could bring to them.
I would like to thank my current and my former managers and my current and former CSM teams for making this project a success.
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