Helping Customer Success Managers drive business value for their clients via collaborative success plans.
How do you prove the value your SaaS product generates for your clients?
This is the ultimate question Retentional addresses.
To understand the above question and why we've built Retentional , it's important to look at the macro-environment of the B2B SaaS industry first.
The economic landscape B2B SaaS companies find themselves in is one that's not friendly anymore. Growth is largely slowing, VC funding is harder to secure, the global banking system is under strain (see recent bank collapses) and winning new business is harder than it's ever been before.
As dire as the situation may look, there's hope. From a holistic point of view, B2B SaaS is not impacted as much as consumer SaaS. There is a different source of growth to fill the gap. This growth comes from none other than existing customers. Upgrades and expansion revenue has become the most important source of growth for B2B SaaS orgs in 2023.
In other words, the focus now is on value. As end-user businesses evaluate their vendors and axe ‘nice-to-have’ non-value driving providers, there’s a new focus on ‘proving’ to clients how your product is one that drives core business metrics and is a utility product vs a ‘nice-to-have’.
This brings us to the question again, how do you prove the value your SaaS products generate for your clients?
Value in essence is difficult to quantify. Customers may see the value in a product, but they may not be able to put a dollar value on it. This can make it challenging to justify the cost and to convince customers to continue using it.
In most Mid-Market and Enterprise SaaS orgs the function who’s responsible for driving value conversations with clients (retention, product adoption and expansion) is Customer Success. It’s no longer just about making sure the client renews. It’s now all about making sure the client wins (renewals are a byproduct of client success).
But how do you ensure this outcome, if you’re not easily able to communicate value?
One way to address this problem is to focus on delivering tangible outcomes that customers can measure. For example, if a SaaS product helps a business save time or money, the customer can track those savings and see the direct impact of the product on their bottom line. Align to your clients value stream.
This is where Success plans come in.
A success plan is a roadmap that outlines the steps a customer needs to take to achieve their desired outcomes using a product. By creating a success plan, SaaS orgs can help customers see the value in their products and increase the likelihood that they will continue using it and renew their contracts.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by Gainsight , 79% of respondents use some form of success planning with their customers. The same survey also found that companies that use success plans are more likely to achieve their customer success goals and to see increased customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Not everyone is implementing success plans properly. From our research and speaking to CS leaders, we’ve found that there are a number of organizations who are misusing success plans. Here’s a short summary of how success plans can be misused:
1. Treating success plans as a one-size-fits-all solution: Success plans should be customized to each customer's unique needs and goals. However, some organizations may use a standardised success plan template or process for all customers, which can result in a lack of personalization and decreased effectiveness.
2. Using success plans as a substitute for customer support: Success plans are meant to be used in conjunction or adjacent with customer support, not as a replacement for it. If a customer is struggling to achieve their desired outcomes, the success plan should be used to guide and inform the customer success process, not as a way to deflect responsibility onto the customer (i.e. an excuse for poor customer success).
3. Focusing too much on metrics and not enough on customer experience: Success plans often include specific metrics or success criteria that the customer must achieve. However, it's important to remember that customer success is ultimately about creating a positive customer experience, not just hitting a specific metric. If the success plan is too focused on metrics and not enough on the customer experience, it can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
4. Allowing the success plan to become rigid and inflexible: Success plans should be living documents that are regularly reviewed and updated based on the customer's evolving needs and goals. If the success plan becomes rigid and inflexible, it can limit the customer's ability to adapt to changing circumstances and ultimately hinder their success.
5. Creating success plans just once: Success plans are not a one-time use process. It’s meant to be agile and fluid. Many use success plans as a set once and forget mechanism at the time of onboarding , completely missing the opportunity to remain aligned and drive tangible results for the customer.
It’s vital that success plans are used as a tool to guide and inform the customer on how best to utilize your product to reach their intended business goals whilst maintaining a customer-centric client experience that prioritises the customer’s needs and goals.
At Retentional, we’ve taken success plans and turned them into a value driving collaborative platform that drives business value for clients everyday. With game design at the heart of our user experience, we’ve built a beautiful success planning tool that emphasizes the clients needs and goals thus creating an engaging, easy to use and satisfying experience for both clients and customer success managers.