How to Manage the Months Leading to Renewal
So, your customer’s renewal date is in 60 days.
As a customer success manager, this is what it comes down to. Will they churn? Re-up? Expand?
For some CSMs, this is also when it might get a bit awkward. You aren’t a salesperson, after all. But if you took a proactive stance all year — and have customer insights at your disposal — this is your time to prove value and reel them in.
Providing incentives for early renewal
As Irit Eizips, CEO of CSM Practice, said in a recent webinar hosted by UserIQ, the months leading up to renewal make for a perfect time to assess your relationship with a customer. That means demonstrating your value.
“The main thing about the retention process is asking whether you did enough,” Eizips said.
She went on to explain that CS teams should always be looking for opportunities to identify a customer’s likelihood of renewal.
Indicators of renewals — and expansions — include:
- High net promoter score (NPS)
- Platform usage behaviors
- High engagement rates
Eizips also emphasized the value of offering incentives for users who score high for renewal, such as a discounted price or additional feature access.
“If they’ve already made up their mind to renew, they should opt into those early incentives,” Eizips said.
Your product should already be ingrained in your customer’s day-to-day processes by the time renewal rolls around. As Brian Nicholls, VP of Customer Success at UserIQ, sees it, renewal is directly related to the earliest stages of the customer journey.
“Retention, expansion and advocacy are all results driven by your wins during onboarding and adoption,” Nicholls said. “Although expansion can be uncomfortable at times, you can’t be afraid of the word ‘no.’”
So, how can your team prove your value throughout the customer journey without feeling like you’re unnecessarily pushing products on your users? Value-based selling.
Embracing value-based selling
When it comes to existing accounts, you’ve already laid the foundation and put in the work to position yourself as a trusted advisor. Now, it’s up to your team to continuously meet and exceed your users’ pre-purchase expectations.
As Nicholls explained, listening to your customers will be essential to maximizing their post-purchase experience.
“The No. 1 thing for me is how often you ask the customer questions,” said Nicholls. “Are you really listening to what they say?” Nicholls cautioned that too many CSMs get caught up in running down a list of questions and fail to take the time to really listen to what their customers are saying and what they need. “By taking the time to truly listen, you’ll be able to uncover their real need and the solution you can offer.”
Instead of being uncomfortable with the idea of upselling, Eizips sees a different approach for CSMs. Rather than focusing on revenue, she explained that the language surrounding expansion should be based on use cases and the value teams can offer their users.
“Create a very clear path to value,” she said. “Explain the use case and methodology, and then follow up with the success plan that includes all the pieces and widgets a customer needs to invest in to realize their goals.”
To win at customer success and boost your renewal rates, your team should reconsider the way you approach upselling. By staying proactive and uncovering new methods for supporting your users, you’ll quickly find that expansion is no longer an uncomfortable conversation, but, instead, an organic extension of your role as a trusted advisor.