Startup Library

Sales: Manage customer success

So you have made your first sale.

Congratulations! Your first (and second, and third,…) closed sales is indeed an important milestone in getting to “product market fit” and a viable business.

The second important milestone is managing the successful implementation of that sale with your customers. Your job now is to make sure that that sale sticks — and to understand why.

Customer retention is the goal.png

It’s easier to accelerate growth with world class retention than fix retention while maintaining rapid growth.

Mark Roberge, Former CRO Hubspot

There are a few key elements to put in place to make sure you set up your post-sale customer experience to be a success:

1. Be ready to get feedback and respond

Set up some kind of “ticketing system” to capture the feedback that comes in. Feedback can range from “this feature doesn’t work” to “I don’t need/like this feature” to “I would like you to add this feature”.

You will need to prioritize and respond to this feedback to ensure customer satisfaction. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The key is to set clear expectations about how the feedback system will work: the mechanics (could be as simple as a dedicated email address for the customer and a spreadsheet for you!), categories of feedback, and estimated response times.

Also, don’t just wait for reactive feedback, include in your system a predefined moment where you send out surveys to collect specific feedback.

Note: Within your feedback loop, don’t forget to include the important job of sharing back the customer feedback with your own startup — as this important data will inform both strategic decisions and operational decisions for both the product dev groups and sales and marketing teams.

2. Set them up for success

Figure out if and when and what kind of training or onboarding they need. This training could include both users and administrators who have different training needs.

And then figure out how you want to provide customer support, and again set expectations for how that is served up. You might consider creating the MVP for customer support documentation — an FAQ — if you can guess the FAQs in advance, you create a first step of self serve support.

3. Set up a dashboard to track engagement KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Just because the customer has signed the agreement and made their first payment, doesn’t mean they are actually getting the value from your solution. They have to use it first!

Define usage that you would consider to be a meaningful engagement. If your solution is a report: How many reports are being downloaded per period? How often? By how many users? On which topics? Define the engagement levels you think will drive the value you want to deliver — and then track. (Make sure to consider how easy it will be to collect the data for a KPI before you put it in your dashboard!)

Set up regular check-ins as part of your contract with the customer to discuss engagement. Treat those check-ins as discovery interviews and try and discover what engagement the customer is finding the most interesting and valuable. You can then modify your dashboard accordingly.

Ultimately you will start to hone in on one KPI that emerges as the best indicator of an engaged and happy customer — your “customer lead indicator”. This will become the one metric that matters — and will lead you to understand better who your ideal customer is, as those customers will be the ones who most quickly start engaging with your product and extracting the value you deliver.

And you now have a clear pathway to being able to assert with data that you have Product Market Fit!

Tracking customer lead indicator.png

Check out this video from Mark Roberge, former CRO of Hubspot at around the 20:57 mark where he explains how this customer lead indicator is the measure for Product Market Fit.

Check out this article from hubspot all about setting yourself up for customer success.

You jumped the first hurdle when you made the sale — don’t forget to set yourself up for customer success post-sale, and for the huge opportunity for in-depth learning about your true value proposition to your target customers, that that sale provides.

Author: Jane Somerville