Avoid The Risk: Let Customer Success Save You From a Knockout

Did you know your customers are busy justifying the investment in your product? As a B2B company whose success depends on retaining revenue-generating customers, your only chance is Customer Success

By Viktoria de Livron

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Gainsight’s CEO, Nick Mehta, warned:

“Every CEO and CFO right now have a spreadsheet open of existing software spend ranked. Vendors that are below the line, because of poor adoption, experience or outcomes, get cut. Customer Success is key to making sure you stay above the line.”

Nick Mehta

Three years later–as we’re spiraling into an economic downturn, geopolitical instability, and several waves of layoffs–this statement still holds true.

Companies facing financial challenges are hesitant to spend money, making it difficult for B2B vendors to attract new business. To remain operational, many shifted from rapid growth to survival mode, entering into “Default alive” status. Introduced by Paul Graham in 2015, this term describes a company that can survive but can’t achieve significant growth.

Be the gloves

Under enormous pressure to manage finances effectively, CFOs have become powerful opponents. They’re on a mission to cut costs everywhere they can, and one way to do it is by adopting a “default-no” approach with B2B vendors: Behind the scenes, CFOs re-evaluate the ROI of every product or service they pay for, axing those that fail to demonstrate their worth.

Their top priorities are:

  1. Ensuring the revenue stream is sufficient and
  2. any expense has a measurable and significant impact on the former.

In other words, the reason they bought the tool no longer guarantees your spot on the “yes list”. With churn rates increasing, you can’t rely on your initial sale; you must keep selling.

Now, imagine your customers are the boxers fighting in this merciless ring. In survival mode, your point of contact will have to defend the continued investment in your product, proving it’s imperative. You need to be the thing that helps them in the ring–the boxing gloves that could help them win in a knockout.

Your job is to guarantee they can quantify your value and justify your presence. You can only help them survive another round if your solution is essential to their business: Your customers must demonstrate how they can succeed thanks to your product.

Customer Success is your best chance

Think of Customer Success Managers as your customer’s trainers. Standing outside the ring, they understand strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. They anticipate challenges and prepare the customer for success with the tools you provide.

You could have the most incredible product in the market, but it’s worthless if you fail to link its features to the customer’s individual objectives. Customer Success is essential in achieving that.

A Venn diagram showing that Customer Success forms the connection between your customer and your company by aligning the needs and objectives of both sides.
Customer Success aligns customer and company needs by coordinating, building solid relationships, and identifying issues early on

The Customer Success function has a profound understanding of individual customer needs. This unique perspective enables them to prioritize and coordinate all account-based activities across a company, influencing decisions on both sides:

CustomerStrong connection that secures your revenue stream: Customer Success can shift the balance to your benefit. Their ability to enable (knowledge) and motivate (buy-in) helps prioritize your offering.
CompanyPaving the way to success: Customer Success uses data analytics to identify issues early on, influencing the company’s strategy and ensuring it stays on track to success.

Find out on which side of the ropes you are: Win or knockout

In the following article in this series, we’ll share the framework we’ve developed for assessing your current Customer Success maturity and help you determine which elements require further development.

In the meantime, consider every customer important to your business and answer the following questions:

  1. During the fight for survival, will this customer defend your tool?
  2. Can they convince the CFO and everyone else internally?
  3. Are you doing enough to support them to champion your tool?
  4. How successful are your customers, given their success metrics?
  5. How much value are they getting from your tool?

The less confident you are in answering these questions, the more you are at risk.

Your Customer Success organization may not be mature enough, and now’s the time to identify what’s missing.

The championship is approaching fast. Will you win?

Want to share your thoughts on this? Get in touch with Viktoria de Livron, Customer Success Consultant at Project A.

Next up: Introducing Project A’s Customer Success Maturity Framework