By Julie Weill Persofsky

Editor’s note: Julie Weill Persofsky is a guest contributor. She’s a Managing Director and the Practice Lead Customer Success at Winning by Design, a premier strategy consulting and coaching provider for SaaS sales, customer success, and other B2B sales organizations.

While customer success has long been viewed as a necessary function for fast-growing SaaS companies, until recently, it wasn’t considered a revenue driver. Yet as many companies struggle to hit their sales targets as a result of the global pandemic, they’re increasingly realizing the important role that customer success can play in contributing to their bottom line.

In a recent Espresso workshop, we discussed how companies can return to profitability by adopting a scientific approach to customer success. The basic premise is that the way most companies measure customer success doesn’t drive true profitability. That’s because when we think about customer success, it’s often in terms of its three main functions — onboarding customers, getting them to use the product and be successful with it, and then getting them to renew and expand. But we make the mistake of thinking of those functions as being additive, when really they are multiplicative and can drive exponential impact. That’s an important distinction.

Using customer success to drive profitability

The concept of exponential or compound growth is a hard one to comprehend. You can get all the details, math formulas, and real-life examples by watching the full workshop, but for the purposes of this post, the takeaway is simple: Small improvements over an increased number of periods can make a huge impact on your company’s profitability

Wait, did I just say profitability? That’s a word that hardly gets talked about in SaaS, but that’s becoming increasingly important as the idea of growing at all costs falls out of favor. To be clear, the SaaS industry was already shifting toward sustainable growth and driving profitability prior to COVID. But in the wake of the pandemic, with sales numbers slowing and new logo revenue screeching to a halt, companies quickly began looking for new ways to drive revenue. Suddenly, many realized the critical role that customer success could play. 

What they’re discovering is that customer success is an untapped source of revenue. And not just new revenue from upsell and cross-sell opportunities. They’re realizing that keeping a customer longer can drive critical metrics that ultimately influence the bottom line.  

3 tips to get better customer success results

Practically speaking, to unlock this potential source of revenue, customer success teams need to change their approach. It’s not just about herding customers through your system, it’s about getting them to renew for longer periods of time and continuously upselling and cross-selling to them in the process. 

To help you do that, here are three tips for you to keep in mind:

1. Become more effective at using online tools

In today’s remote world, you’ve got to use online tools to make up for the fact that you’re not always able to meet people face to face. One tool that I particularly like is CrystalKnows, which allows you to access personality insights about the people you’re engaging with on LinkedIn. For example, it will tell you how a particular person likes to be spoken to (do they want details, do they want you to get straight to the point, etc.) when you’re sending them an email, making a sales pitch, or making a cold call. The insights this tool can provide are incredible and can make a real difference in terms of helping you personalize your outreach.

2. Focus on upleveling skills

Your sales team is probably investing a lot on training and tools and the fact is that your customer success team should be spending just as much. One great investment for customer success teams are call reporting tools like Gong or Chorus. Every month, bring your team together and focus on analyzing one type of call. Identify the problems that team members encounter, talk about how to solve them, and practice role playing to help hone their skills. This will upskill everyone on the team and lead to better overall results.

3. Find ways to be more efficient 

While we’ve all adapted to Zoom meetings, the reality is that everyone is suffering from Zoom fatigue. Rather than wait for or insist on a call, why not find a more efficient way to communicate key ideas? For example, try recording a 90-second video that conveys your key messages and send it along for an executive to watch at his or her convenience. These kinds of asynchronous meetings are very powerful because they allow you to relay important information to decision makers in a way that’s fast, efficient, and respectful of their time. Then, once you have their attention, you can schedule that Zoom meeting to get into more detail.

To learn more about how to drive revenue with customer success, watch the webinar

Customer success has to adapt to meet the challenges of the world we live in and to become a true revenue driver. To do so, it’s important to adopt a scientific approach to customer success and to work on making your team as efficient and effective as possible. To learn more about how you can use customer success to return your business back to profitability, check out the full workshop.