SalesTech Star

Beyond the Swag Bag: How to Really Show Customer Appreciation

By Latané Conant, Chief Revenue Officer at 6sense

Customer appreciation. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Another branded travel mug? An occasional social media shout-out?

Don’t get me wrong, I love swag and kudos as much as the next person, but true customer appreciation goes much deeper. It means:

  • Empowering and enabling customers’ success
  • Saving them unnecessary effort and expense
  • Reducing their time to value
  • Maximizing their ROI — ensuring they get every drop of value out of their investment with us

Unfortunately, many B2B investments don’t deliver the potential customers expect — not because the product isn’t all it claimed to be but because they never figure out how to fully adopt it.

That’s certainly true in B2B technology, the field I’m in. Gartner found that in 2023, marketing technology utilization had plummeted to a mere 33%. That’s a lot of wasted investment for B2B tech customers.

As revenue leaders, it’s our job to appreciate our customers by changing that. With a deep dive into why customers aren’t getting the value they expected out of our products, we can design the support and resources they need to right the ship.

To know them is to love them

Beyond engaging in a deep dive into your ideal customer profile, I recommend an exercise that gets into the nitty gritty of what your customers do so you can be ultra-specific about where you can help:

  • Delineate your customers’ “jobs to be done” as they relate to your product or service.
  • Create a clear roadmap to show what they need to achieve at each stage of their journey, and explicitly tie that to how you help.

You won’t be able to help at each stage or with every job, but getting clear about where and when you can help will ensure your customers can eke the most value from your offering.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Jean Tali, Executive Vice President of Sales at CaliberMind

Support from all sides

Next up: a multidimensional framework for success to give your customers the tools they need to maximize their investment. Here’s what ours looks like, but yours will vary based on what you uncovered in your “jobs to be done” roadmap.

Customer success.

Your customer success team needs to be appropriately resourced to deliver top-notch enablement. Importantly, customer success needs to be data-driven so they can offer services and recommendations specific to each customer’s needs. By tracking renewal, upsell, and cross-sell rates, the team can stay on top of indicators of engagement and then create a mutual success plan to enhance adoption and ROI.

Self-service enablement.

In an age of instant gratification, B2B needs are no exception. Forrester tells us that 77% of B2B marketing decision-makers agree that buyers expect immediate responses. Meeting these needs requires a robust customer enablement approach. At 6sense, we created an online community called RevCity, where customers get support not only from our team, but also from their peers. Most questions have a one-hour response time. And RevCity offers countless opportunities for customers to up their game. For instance, they can participate in “Ask a BDR,” where business-development reps sit shoulder-to-shoulder with them to guide them through their toughest challenges. Or they can get expert feedback on their marketing campaigns — within a day. This type of self-service enablement gives customers the backup they need, when they need it.

Training + professional development.

We all want our customers to be the heroes of the story — the ones who can prove success to their managers, their CEOs, their boards. With that in mind, it’s essential to equip them to not only achieve business objectives, but to excel in their careers. That’s where certifications and trainings come in. Bonus: When you help individuals find personal ROI, they tend to become brand advocates.

Peer-to-peer community.

Success breeds success, so getting customers together to share, network, and grow is invaluable. You might consider face-to-face get-togethers, user conferences, or virtual meetings, depending on what your customers prefer. However you accomplish it, getting customers in the same “room” to learn from each other is a great way to promote enthusiasm and adoption.

Partner ecosystem.

As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly important to have a partner network to provide complementary services. Forrester agrees, linking it to a company’s competitive success: “Competitive prowess requires an expanded partner ecosystem that ignites demand, orchestrates engagement, and co-innovates customer value.” But that doesn’t mean you should overwhelm your customers with huge partner lists. By deeply understanding each customer’s needs, you can curate a handful of recommendations who will help them shine.

Tailored services.

Through a combination of internal resources and your partner ecosystem, you can tailor services to a customer’s unique needs and improve time to value. Whether it’s change management, coaching, or “hands on keyboards,” setting your customers up with the services they need is key to success. When we rolled out a one-on-one consulting for BDRs to 40 clients, 37 of them upsold and renewed. That’s pretty solid proof that they’re getting considerable value from their relationship with us.

The business case for customer-obsession

It’s not easy or cheap to invest in your customers’ success, but it’s worth it — not only because it’s the best way to show true appreciation, but also because it makes business sense.

I admit it does take a mindset shift, though. If your organization is accustomed to tracking pipeline as the be-all-end-all success metric, you probably won’t place as much value on customer success as net new acquisition. I recommend shifting some focus and investment toward retention metrics — such as product usage and engagement — and tying those to your business success.

In our case, we know that when we see engagement in things like our community groups and certifications, customer success goes up — and so does retention.

It’s clear that going to great lengths to ensure our customers’ success is a win-win. Our customers’ investment in us results in the transformation we promised when we closed the deal — and to me, that’s way more valuable than any swag bag our marketing team can put together.

Read More: Unlocking the Secret to Emails that Convert

Also catch: Episode 198 of The SalesStar Podcast: MarTech and AI with Jeff Samuels, COO of Iterable

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