It’s not about your software or solution. When a customer decides to buy your product, it’s not because your software or solution is amazing (even if it is). Customers purchase because they believe your solution can help them solve a specific business challenge or problem more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than they could on their own.
Everything post-sale must be focused on helping your customers solve the business challenge they hired you to solve. While onboarding, training, and ongoing support are important activities designed to help our customers find value, it’s essential we go beyond this checklist of activities and ensure we are helping our customers achieve their business goals.
Practical Tip – Use a consultative approach
One effective way I have found to ensure that my post-sale efforts are focused on the customer’s business challenge is to approach each customer with a consultative approach. By approaching each customer with an open mind and seeking to understand the problem they hired you to solve, you can gain clarity on their goals and how they define value. This understanding enables you to align your onboarding, training, and ongoing customer success efforts accordingly, improving the value you deliver.
While we should not overlook the excellent customer discovery work completed during the sales cycle, scheduling a call with the executive sponsor helps ensure we completely understand their goals and priorities once a prospect becomes a customer. For products with long sales cycles, it is not uncommon for the customer’s goals to shift over time. Post-sale discovery work can uncover new details. Moreover, customers will often be more open about their business goals once the friction of the initial sale is behind them.
Practical Tip – Leverage continuous discovery
Here are a few helpful tips for a successful customer discovery call. Knowing the customer’s business is foundational. While customers do not expect you to be an expert on their company, gaining a general understanding of the company, its industry, market trends, and how they generate revenue is a good starting point. From there, create a set of open-ended questions that align with what you have learned and the product or service you provide. For example, when I worked with financial services companies, I understood that industry and knew customer acquisition was why they purchased our software. From there, I drafted questions to understand better how improving customer acquisition would impact their business. For example, how will improving customer acquisition impact their business, what metrics will they use to measure success, what challenges may arise, which stakeholders are involved, necessary implementation support, anticipated outcomes, and potential impacts of failure, and so on.
This approach also applies to customers that have been with you for a while. By approaching them with a curious mind, you can uncover new shifts in business strategy and goals you’ll want to align with. As we have witnessed over the past few months, priorities can quickly change, and staying attuned to your customers’ evolving needs is vital for long-term success.
Going Beyond Features and Benefits
It’s easy to get caught up in discussing the features and benefits of your software or solution. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time learning the features of your product and use cases. However, to truly help our customers succeed, it’s crucial to clearly understand their goals. By doing so, you can work towards the right set of outcomes and establish a common language of what success looks like for your customers. Remember, your customers hired you to help them achieve their desired results, and that should always be at the forefront of your customer success efforts.
Chris Menard is a Customer Success Leader who is looking for his next opportunity. Chris is experienced in building revenue-focused customer success programs and teams, primarily with start-ups. I love the complexity of the problems we need to solve and the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding customers to ensure they find value in the software they purchase. There is never a dull moment in Customer Success.