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Building Go-To-Market Strategies Led by Customer Success

Justin Newhall June 14 2022
Building Go-To-Market Strategies Led by Customer Success by Justin Newhall, Fractional CRO at House of Revenue

Traditional Go-To-Market (GTM) strategies are all about finding the right audience for the right product. Organizations test market fit, refining either the target market or the details of the product along the way.

But the interactions don't (and shouldn't) stop at getting a customer to purchase the product. Instead, modern Go-To-Market strategies should have a Customer Success (CS) strategy built into every stage. Providing support and education, substantively addressing consumer concerns, and ensuring every interaction between your target market and any element of your brand is positive are all core requirements in going to market.

When over 85% of buyers want a great customer experience so much they're willing to pay more for it, creating that great customer experience isn't just a perk; it's the only financially responsible business strategy. 

What if instead of viewing Customer Success as a tertiary concern, you led with it from the beginning of your Go-To-Market strategy? In this guide, we'll explore why Customer Success is so important and how to create a GTM strategy led by Customer Success in six steps.

Customer Success is Vital to GTM

The sales pipeline doesn't end when the customer signs the dotted line or walks away with a product. Even when your business model is built on individual sales and not renewable contracts or subscription services, focusing on customer retention can make your company a powerhouse. Keep these three time-tested facts and trends in mind when you're assessing your GTM strategy:

1. Customer retention is much more cost-effective than customer acquisition. 

In today's market, retaining a customer costs 20% as much as acquiring a new customer. All of those paid campaigns, targeted ads, and paid sponsorships require dozens of touchpoints with new-to-you consumers before you land a sale, but retaining your current customers takes a small fraction of that time, money, and effort.

Not only is that good news for revenue teams that need to create predictable models and forecasts, but it's also good for your company's bottom line. Even if you just increase customer retention by 5%, that single factor can generate a 25-95% increase in profits.

2. Big businesses are seeing big profits on short timelines.

Let's talk dollars, not percentages. The Temkin Group says that enterprise companies earning over $1 billion in revenue each year can expect to see another $700 million in three years or less. That's a steep profit growth, and it's without the long timelines or risky ventures of other profit-focused strategies. 

In markets predisposed to cyclical or recurring customer purchases, the value of prioritizing customer experiences is even greater. After all, even great service won't make customers buy a second standalone product if they don't need it. But when you provide SaaS or similar subscription services, creating a great reputation locks customers into your pipeline. Even better, you can start to pull customers in from competitors who aren't prioritizing CS.

3. Companies are shifting from sales to Customer Success.

More and more businesses are shifting to incorporate Customer Success teams that handle retention. In fact, 83% of Customer Success teams saw some degree of growth in 2021 as they became a bigger part of revenue departments. The early adopters and early majority are starting to see real returns on investment for shifting their focus, and they're putting even more money into Customer Success strategies in turn.

But what does all this have to do with your Go-To-Market strategies? We recommend that you backward design your GTM strategy. Start with customer advocacy, and start working in reverse.

Build Your GTM Strategy with CS First

In 2019, Salesforce started uncovering how customers prioritize experience within the buying process, and they discovered that 84% of customers give customer experience equal weight as the product itself. Use this six-step process to ensure you aren't alienating that 84% when you're going to market.

1. Define Customer Evangelism

Customer evangelism is real, voluntary, and spontaneous support for your products and services. It's a positive style of word-of-mouth marketing in which customers freely praise or support your products and services without your direct prompting. Customers might happily tell family and friends about your services, mention you during a professional conference, or place you as their go-to solution when making recommendations to others.

When customer evangelists are clearly passionate about your brand, that says far more than any paid promotion or ad. No matter what market you're in, this is the behavior you want. Make sure everyone in your organization understands the importance of customer evangelism and crafts every step and interaction with it in mind.

2. Map the Success Org

Start organizing what your business structure needs to look like to get that strong customer evangelism. What teams do you need within the greater revenue team? What's the chain of command, or vertical organization, across every department and for every customer-facing role? Who is responsible for retaining (or even growing) the Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of customer contracts so your book of business grows over time?

When you're building out a Customer Success team for the first time, it's important to put a lot of thought into your reporting structures, commission or incentive structures, and other infrastructural elements for incentivizing the internal behaviors you need to drive Customer Success.

3. Build Your Onboarding/ Implementation Map

Now it's time to build out your workflows and resources that your customer support team can use to interact with, support, and wow customers. You need repeatable onboarding, troubleshooting, and account management processes so Customer Success Managers (CSMs) can clearly and consistently communicate information to your customers.

You can't have strong processes without tools to measure and improve those processes. Create metrics that assess onboarding and implementation success, user adoption rates, customer satisfaction scores, and more. 

4. How Do You Define Success for CSMs?

Just like salespeople define success by customer acquisition, CSMs will define success based on customer retention. But what does that mean, and what does that look like? Develop individualized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that hold CSMs accountable, identify success, and provide data for addressing weak points. Develop these two types of KPIs:

  1. Success Org KPIs:
    1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
    2. Churn Rate
    3. Net Dollar Retention
  2. Expansion Revenue Target KPIs (if applicable):
    1. Customer Success Qualified Leads (CSQLs)
    2. Revenue Increases

5. How Are Customers Rotated to Success From Sales?

Don't let gaps in The Customer's Journey negatively impact retention. Automated tools can shift customers from the 'completed' stage in a sales deal to a new Account Manager (AM) or CSM's list of accounts. This should be frictionless to both eliminate work on the customer's part and create a seamless onboarding and implementation stage.

Incorporating software and clear processes also ensures CS teams have access to the same customer-specific information (contact details, goals, and needs) that sales teams learned over time.

6. Create Feedback Loops

Customer feedback loops are all about good customer communication. Through frequent touchpoints and interactions, CSMs can learn more about customers, resolve potential pain points, and ensure your organization is providing more value over time. When organizations care only about acquisitions, this stage never develops.

Create Your Customer Success Strategy With House of Revenue

A strong Customer Success infrastructure sets the foundation for better customer retention, more profits, and less turbulent customer experiences. At House of Revenue, we specialize in helping companies transform to meet the needs of their markets and current B2B trends.

We'll help you go to market with a customer-centric mindset so you can capture the growing majority of customers who value the experience so highly. Contact us today to get started!