When we think about why our customers are our customers, we can likely come to a consensus that our company offers a product or service that our customers value enough to pay for. A need was identified and a solution delivered, helping drive both businesses forward. In many cases, that initial product or service is one of many ways a company can provide value to their customers and today, I want to talk about ways to approach new product roll-outs that reach beyond the initial use case, revenue-generating upsells and leverage client feedback to drive the product roadmap. Each aspect is important to the long-term success of the client as well as your job as a Customer Success Manager.
New products!? Awesome! Working for a technology provider, internal excitement goes through the roof when our product team rolls out the red carpet for new features and capabilities. Many times, requests for these enhancements come straight from our mouths (or our customers, as a proxy) and we can see a direct and immediate impact to our book of business. Advocating on behalf of your clients is a great way to grow an existing relationship but not every product or feature will directly fit a client’s use case, so how do we know when it makes sense to put new offerings on display?
Know Your Audience
More directly, know your stakeholders and what they care about. In many cases, technology partnerships form out of necessity, filling a major gap in a business process. One gap is indicative of many and by understanding the major initiatives and responsibilities that are important to our stakeholders, we can strategically place new products or services when the timing is right. You never want to demo a product for the sake of demoing a product. Make sure you understand the value, how it benefits your clients, and approach them as a resource not as a salesperson.
Do Your Research
Staying current on a client’s business – whether that’s current news in the media, conversations with your stakeholders, market research, etc. – can help you uncover needs in other departments or lines of business within the organization. Recent funding, acquisitions, new ventures or strategies – there are many ways to find a fit for your new product offerings within your client base.
A product rollout, if there is alignment with a client’s needs or initiative, is a great opportunity to drive revenue and strengthen your base. Knowing your audience and having a foundational understanding of their business, will make asking for money much easier once you’ve developed a business case and will easily help them quantify the value. As Success Managers, it can be awkward or uncomfortable putting on our Sales hat, especially if we are retention driven and not revenue-driven. Don’t be. If you can justify the price tag with additional value, the budget will make itself available.
Product Roadmap & Customer Advocacy
As mentioned before, many new products or services are a direct result of customer feedback. These are major wins for a business, especially if multiple customers are asking for the same thing. This tells us that there is an addressable need and that if we can solve for it, we will not only grow our existing relationships but cast a wider net in the market.
In order to advocate on behalf of the customer, we need to give them a platform to provide feedback. Some customers will nitpick every little thing to death while others may never say a word. The key to providing constructive feedback to your Product Team is to understand the underlying business problem that can be solved with an enhancement to your solution. Taking time to talk with clients about what they do or do not like about the product, creating product-focused customer advocacy panels, or documenting common concerns for similar stakeholders across your book, are all great ways to drive your product roadmap. Proactive feedback minimizes the burden of approaching a client with a new product, feature, service or upsell, especially if they are asking for it directly. Even if they aren’t asking you for it, involvement in product feedback will help you tease out the early adopters that love to stay on top of new, cutting-edge technology that can benefit their organization.