Apr 14, 2016

Read Time 5 min

Veto Power, Customer Success Stories, Upselling Tricks and CABs


We always knew you had good taste! We’re delighted to announce that ChurnZero’s blog, “Fighting Churn,” was named as one of the Top 50 Customer Churn Resources by NGDATA. This is a stellar list of thought leaders and customer churn experts who are sharing their knowledge about slowing customer attrition through their blogs, eBooks, guides, and other handy resources. Definitely worth bookmarking for easy access to great resources about customer churn and how to all but eliminate it.

Veto power for Customer Success Teams – yay or nay?

In the rising age of Customer Success, one question is at the forefront of the minds of CSM teams, both small and large: what if Marketing leads are ready to buy and Sales can close the deal easily but’s it’s not a good customer fit? Should the Customer Success team be able to veto a customer?

The ‘Yay’ sides argument is solid: The CSM team talks to more customers in one day than many people in your company talk to all year, so you know better than most what’s working or not for your customers. And there’s only so much that the CSM team can do on the front line: work-arounds, apologies, escalations and joint-account planning only go so far before you need the rest of the company to prioritize the right improvements. So if CSM teams can’t stop bad sales, it’s inevitable that those poor fits will soon become a casualty of churn and affect the CSM team’s perceived performance.

But despite this compelling argument, the debate continues. So how do you convince everyone else? In a word: DATA. Customer feedback can be your most powerful ally. When tied to revenue, it becomes indisputable evidence of where “leakage” (wasteful problems that cost the business money) is occurring. The key is to make sure it represents the business, which means that the key is to make sure you are hearing from enough of the right people, in the right accounts, at the right time.

Telling truly connective stories well

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, may have put it best: “Good content is not about storytelling; it’s about telling a truly connective story well.”

Customer stories, testimonials and case studies can come in a variety of formats. And variety is the key word, because depending on who the audience is and what their preferences are make the difference between the story being fully heard, just glanced at, or skipped entirely. Some popular formats for telling customer stories include:

  • Text-based case study: A more classic type that is very effective and useful for prospects to read in detail about real examples.
  • Video testimonials: As Cisco has predicted that by 2017 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, it’s no surprise to see customer video testimonials becoming more and more popular on websites. Using this format allows your prospects to see and hear straight from another customer on how they were successful.
  • Combination video and case study: Of course you can always combine the two above formats for an integrated mix, ultimately providing viewers the choice of reading or watching.
  • Social media: While social is always a good vehicle for promotion, you can also re-purpose larger case studies into smaller infographics and have them live on your Instagram or Pinterest channel. Making the content more bite-sized can really highlight the standout KPIs and increase traffic to your site.

The most successful success stories, however, feature interactive content and are able to consistently impact important business goals like leads and sales. Blackbaud University recently used interactive content to great effect to showcase their customer’s successes and generate more leads and close more sales; the case study on their efforts is definitely worth checking out.

Want to see even more successful customer stories in action? Check out these awesome examples from Skype, GE, Kickstarter and more!

Tricks to upsell & cross-sell like a pro

Fact: the probability of selling to an existing customer, either through upselling or cross-selling, is 60-70% versus a 5-20% probability of selling to a new prospect.

Translation: Upselling and cross-selling could be the key to keeping your customers happy and your revenue high. Here are five tricks to kick-start your upselling and cross-selling efforts:

  • Silence is golden: Listen to your customers; you will actually learn a lot about who they are what they need and how they purchase. Scheduling routine client calls to monitor their satisfaction will allow you to gauge what will be beneficial to them. Only after listening to what they have to say, will you be able to expand their knowledge and interest in your company’s products and services.
  • Slow and steady: Instead of trying to sell all relevant products at once, allow the customer to acclimate to your product before introducing them to additional features that will also benefit them. Once they see you are truly aware and concerned with their needs, they will listen to your suggestions and happily try new and more costly features.
  • Comfort and familiarity: The more familiar your customer is with the added feature at hand, the more comfortable they will be to buy. When up-selling and cross-selling you should not introduce a brand new product. The nuance lies in highlighting complementary features that will increase their satisfaction by making their job easier and more efficient.
  • Team training is a must: To avoid losing the sale, your team should be well-versed in the products and services at hand and how each of these items answers different needs. Develop sale skills that allow introducing the topic with ease and practice presenting product advantages in order to close the sale and get your customer on board.
  • Invest for the best: Upselling and cross-selling take time and energy. Invest properly in your customers so that the sales go smoothly. Take the time to measure your performance to know what yields profitability and where your plan may be defective.

Kicking off a Customer Advisory Board

When your team is struggling to figure out what feature or product to build next, how to position your next service offering, or how to price out the next version of your software, a Customer Advisory Board can be invaluable. Here some important guidelines to keep in mind as you are forming a CAB:

  • Make sure it has the right mix of customers: Getting the right mix of individuals is incredibly important when building your CAB. You should strive to have a group of approximately 10-12 individuals that represent a mix of various characteristics including tenure with your company, size & type of brand and individuals at all levels, from executive to end users.
  • Allow it to change over time: Even when your company is just starting out, it’s important to have a group of customers who you can rely on to give you true, honest to goodness feedback about their experience and your product and services. Over time, it’s okay if your CAB changes and some customers leave and others step in – in fact, that’s perfectly natural. Most likely, over time the size of the organizations you’ll work with will be large as you gain more expertise and can service them appropriately, so it’s equally important to add enterprise customers so you have a full perspective.
  • Think about your CAB’s Charter: According to a recent UserVoice article, one way to get organizational alignment on this topic is to create an official charter, not only will a charter help your company be on the same page regarding the purpose of your CAB, but it will also serve as a resource to share with potential members. The mission statement in Oracle’s BI Customer Advisory Board Charter is a great example.

Word to the Wise


This week’s wisdom is about better understanding the budding industry of Customer Success that we all inhabit. In this inforgraphic about surprising stats about CSM Teams we learn:

  • 60% of people say their company has had a customer success organization for 2 years or less. So we are just at the beginning of the evolution of customer success.
  • Most CSMs make $50-75k a year. CSMs are not cost centers, they are revenue protectors. They should pay for themselves.
  • It’s common for Customer Success to roll up to Sales.
  • Churn still rules as the best way to judge CSM performance.


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