Navigating Client Retention: Scaling in any business environment
Part 2: Setting your team up for success
Client retention actually starts before you make the sale. The market, until now, has allowed companies to be a bit sloppy on client retention. But now, every leader at every company needs to be thinking about it. As your team acquires new business, set your future goals up for success with these best practices:
Before a client signs up for your product/service, set the tone and expectations for the pending relationship.
Define short & long term expectations - What do you and your client want to accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days? What about the first year? Start at the end and work backwards to set these expectations.
If you have only one point of contact in your client’s organization, consider that client at risk. This is one of the most common mistakes companies make. Map out the organizational structure of your client and create a coalition of internal advocates. Find ways to loop in more people. Send regular reports or recaps to keep everyone informed.
If you’re working with a non-executive level employee, send a note to their executive leadership highlighting the great work your point of contact is doing and how much you appreciate working with them. Get in the door, get noticed and stay visible.
Create a step-by-step guide. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first, but get a draft out the door and test it until it is. Similar to your sales playbook, this will evolve as you bring on more business.
Having a thorough onboarding process is key to successful client retention. It’s important for the client to have a positive first experience and to understand the value that your product or service is bringing to the table.
At scale, you will likely have a sales team tasked with bringing on new business and a customer success team tasked with managing, renewing and upselling business.
A lot of issues pop up with this handoff of a client from one department to another. A few simple rules to follow:
The sales team should document everything and share it with their Customer Success counterparts
Have an internal meeting to review this documentation
The sales team needs to be responsible for setting up a dedicated meeting to introduce their Customer Success partner and recap all expectations as a group
Setting up recurring meetings
Create a meeting/documentation format for every client, so you’re not customizing this meeting every time. For more frequent meetings, the cadence depends on your solution. In some cases, weekly check-ins make sense, while in others, semi-monthly or monthly works best.
Quarterly business reviews are a must. They allow you to get more in-depth than a check-in while getting leadership involved, and allowing you to plan out the next few quarterly goals together. If you have tons of clients with a very small total contract value, work to create an automated report, send it out regularly and reference it in conversations next time your client success team has a touchpoint with the client.
Ask for business
It’s important to remember that in order to have a successful relationship, you need to be up front about what the client is getting in return for the money they are investing. If the value is there, they should be willing to invest in your product and services.
If things are going well, ask for more business. Some account teams don’t want to mix service delivery and contracts. By not asking for the business at high points in the partnership, the team misses an opportunity.
Here’s a question for your monthly/quarterly meetings. “On the topic of being able to continue to deliver a great product, the renewal of our partnership is coming up in about X months. If it happened to be up today, would you renew your services with us?”
This will allow you to extract future objections and deal with them promptly before the renewal date comes up.
Trust is the lifeblood of any partnership, and transparency goes a long way in creating long-term relationships. Be open with stakeholders and you’ll be rewarded over time.