Building relationships is the bread and butter of customer success. Customer success managers (CSMs) spend countless hours shaping relationships and building rapport with customers via phone, slack, dinners, events, conferences, and more. While customer success’ north star at many companies is net retention, the value of these relationships is more than just retaining the business of an existing opportunity. In addition to being your last line of defense against churn, CSMs are critical components to identifying cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
As the role of a CSM has evolved, there are new savvy solutions to enable a more data-driven approach to customer success (check out Catalyst or Gainsight). These types of tools allow CSMs to build workflows based on certain triggers (think: upcoming renewal date, increase in usage, etc.). One tool to add to the CSM tech stack is an integrated champion tracking solution, or a tool that monitors job changes associated with your primary stakeholders at an account. These are the individuals who your CSMs interface with tactically day-to-day and strategically during QBRs.
Champion tracking is critical in protecting revenue. It provides CSMs with alerts to understand when a current stakeholder leaves their role, and it also providers triggers for potential expansion or upsell revenue when a prior stakeholder from another company joins their account. Lets walk through how CSMs can set up tactical plays to protect and expand revenue using these triggers.
One of the more frustrating parts of being a CSM is when you receive a bounced email message from a stakeholder; in addition to increased churn risk, a departure jeopardizes other aspects of the relationship. Sometimes you don’t receive a heads up from a customer that this change is coming, sometimes in the case of layoffs, the customer might not even know. To work on a renewal, partner on an expansion, or push through requests from your own company, you need a relevant stakeholder.
Instead of waiting weeks for the reactive notice that a primary contact departed an account, you can use a champion tracking tool like Champify to trigger a workflow.
When a key contact leaves their current role it can put your revenue at risk:
Relationships with customers are valuable whether or not they are at an existing customer. Who knows – they may be evaluating your tool as a buyer in the future or you may one day even become their coworker. You can help retain the value of the time and effort by:
This is a lower priority workflow.
A second upside of tracking champions is having visibility into when a past champion joins a new company that happens to also be a customer. All the hard work of another CSM (or potentially yourself) is now the gift that keeps on giving - here are some ways to engage with these “returning champions” and create expansion opportunities.
In my experience, a past user, buyer, or champion rarely proactively reaches out to me (as the CSM) to introduce themself unless I am directly tied to their set of responsibilities. Slightly more common, though still rare, is having another CSM notify me that a stakeholder is moving companies. Both of these practices help forge deeper relationships with your customer base. These new stakeholders are familiar with your company, your product, and have had a great experience in the past, allowing them to open doors to great new sales opportunities and expand your product’s impact at your customers’ company.
To capture this opportunity you should use this alert to set up a workflow that includes:
Connect with the returning champion’s prior CSM. They’ll have context on what role they played, preferred communication styles, strengths, and any weaknesses. Feel free to expand your research to the AEs and solutions engineers to see what other relevant context can be gleaned before reaching out.
2. Reach out
Email them with your congratulations, and grow the relationship. If your email bounces or you don’t receive a response, shoot them a LinkedIn note introducing yourself, mention the prior CSM / relationship, and, of course, share your congratulations on their new role (if they don’t respond to your prior note, don’t back down! They are at a new job and very busy; leverage the LinkedIn channel - it works).
3. Schedule an introductory call
Coordinate with the prior CSM or AE (if best practice) to set up an introductory conversation. Do some discovery to build that relationship and offer to share insight into the company’s current use case. On this call you should make sure to capture: where they sit in the new business, what their new team is responsible for, and common pain points for that role / industry.
4. Explore expansion opportunities
There’s a very real chance this “returning champion” does not work on a team that’s directly related to where your company provides impact. Therefore, they aren’t immediately a stakeholder, but you can create a playbook to make them one.
Loop in Sales to your introductory call (if this falls within the best practices) so you have all the right people on a call when you hear a pain point that is directly linked to what your company works on. Door opened.
5. Continue Connecting
Finally, make sure to maintain and grow the relationship; don’t waste the work of the prior CSM. Initially, ensure you connect via phone or Zoom, and then adopt your company’s best practice around recurring meetings, emails, etc.
Champion tracking can also help to identify accounts that are heating up, or accounts that have a groundswell of end users joining. Product users can be just as valuable as champions or buyers when trying to build momentum towards an expansion opportunity or when trying to find additional potential stakeholders in the case of a departure. At the very least you will likely gain deeper product adoption.
When you see many new end users join a company: