You are in SaaS. You are a CSM, Account Manager, or CS Account Executive and you are measured on churn. Gross Revenue Retention (also known as Gross churn/GRR) and/or Net Revenue Retention (also known as Net churn/NRR).
You are trying to figure out how to consistently hit (crush) your quota. But, it is a challenge. After all, you are probably not only measured on churn – even if that is your main target/quota. You likely have a lot of KPIs and goals to juggle – activity, adoption, NPS, bookings, logo churn etc etc.
It’s OK…you are not alone. Read on to learn how you start becoming a CS superstar (hint: no shortcuts, quick fixes or “do this and boom!” offered).
CS is complex and it is easy to get de-focused or prioritize the wrong things.
So let’s start here. Why all these KPIs and how does it all connect?
First, let us get this out of the way: the truth is that every KPI and activity you do is geared towards one thing: improving retention (Gross and particularly Net). Many with old-school CS mindsets (reactive, support, “stop the leaky bucket” mindset) will not articulate that reality, but it is one nonetheless. For example, you have activity goals, measure NPS or focus on product adoption to make your clients happier…so they will want to renew, stay longer and grow (expand) with your company. You do that to secure more revenue for a longer period of time (client lifetime value, CLV).
So remember that everything you spend time on should ultimately help you get closer to renewal and expansion (and thus your NRR target). If it doesn’t, or if a different activity will move the needle more, then prioritize differently.
Here are a few areas that will help you further.
Working ahead, while focusing on the now, is hard in CS. Most of your incentives and KPIs are likely tied to results today, so that is where you spend your time. Do the following and you will see the impact down the line and overall. It will pay off in spades.
- Look at and evaluate your portfolio/renewal base 6-12 months out.
- Group, and work each part of that portfolio (e.g. clients 9-12mo from renewal) based on what they need at that particular stage to move towards renewal and expansion down the line.
- Map out your key accounts and create clear plans for success – do not just focus on churning/red flag accounts. Spend equal time on High Potential and Key accounts.
- Project what your Gross Retention (GRR) will be – you will typically know that with some certainty a few months in advance. Then calculate what you will need to close in upsells and cross-sales to hitt your NRR target. Knowing that months out vs as the quota period starts, will help you be much more proactive in your CS Growth approach.
- Be proactive and transparent. Ask if your customer would renew today even if they have 6 more months to go. Ask discovery questions to find growth opportunities. Learn something on every client interaction.
Plan for the month/quarter:
Planning and staying consistent with that plan and approach is key for success. And maintaining high standards and a high-degree of accountability to those standards, goals and plans is equally important. If you have a good plan, with clear goals, that you execute on consistently – period in, period out – you will be successful.
- Plan for your quota period (weather it is month or quarter).
- Where is your starting point, and where do you need to finish?
- Set a plan with clear, smaller steps to get there.
- Set weekly goals that will pace you towards your target. And break down your week in activities that will move the needle.
- Don’t be generic “I’ll do 25 % of quota each week”. Think about your true renewal and growth motion (likely most of your deals will not be generated and closed in the same week) and how that typically plays out throughout the quota period.
- Think about what leading indicators and KPIs move you towards renewal and growth, prioritize those at the right time (e.g. more prospecting/activity goals in week one, more booking & closing deals goals in week 3-4)
Make it happen:
Consistent success is not a coincidence in CS. You need to make it happen and you need to be proactive to do so. Not settle. not be afraid of asking questions, digging deeper or going outside of your comfort zone.
- Set a prospecting goal for yourself. Great leads will not consistently and magically find you in CS. You need to prospect and be proactive.
- Get on the phone (or in the room!) with your clients! Stop using email as a shield between you and your clients. As a comfortable buffer. Trust, relationships, opportunities happen in those conversations, not in long email threads.
- Turn reactive/support to proactive/growth. Have you ever gotten an email from a key client asking for help with something in your platform, e.g. “Hey, I need help setting up this new user.”? Odds are you replied back with a “sure thing!” and set up that user. That is a wasted opportunity. Call instead! (p.s. they will pick up since they are waiting to hear back on their question) Confirm that the user is now set up…and ask who this new user is, if they need training…maybe it is a new VP or decision maker that you would have otherwise missed. And worst case, you get a few minutes on the phone with your contact.
- Understand the decision tree and talk to the decision maker(s) often. Don’t get stuck too low on the decision tree, losing leverage and perception. You want to be on the decision makers level and on their radar as a resource and partner.
- Be uncomfortable. As often as you can. Outside of your comfort zone is where growth happens. This is the wonderful zone where you will ask the tough questions, cold call new contacts, turn tough cases around, close huge deals…and strike gold.
There are a million methodologies and truths that will be more or less important for you, your team and the business you are in. But the areas above – understanding the why & how of CS, working ahead, planning, and making it happen – applies across the CS spectrum. They will help you accelerate your development and improve your results. And they will help you level up in your role today and the one you will have tomorrow. For more questions, ideas or resources, feel free to reach out to me directly (Haydar.email@example.com), follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for a free trial of RevSetter.