3 Ways to Position Customer Success At Your 2017 Sales Kickoff

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist


Customer success is one of the most important—if not the most important—function in a SaaS business. But more often than not, new business sales is given the spotlight. Typically, companies focus on highlighting new customer wins, new logos, and giving sales reps recognition for crushing their quotas. And while certainly nothing is wrong with that, customer success should be right alongside its new business counterpart, sharing customer success stories, battle wounds from the front lines, and touting renewals and upsells from all their hard work.

Many companies are in the midst of holding their 2017 sales kickoff to drive alignment around revenue goals. How do you ensure that customer success is also part of your kickoff?

3 Ways to Effectively Position Customer Success at Your Company’s 2017 Sales Kickoff:

1. Share Battle Wounds & Victory Stories

It’s often the case that sales kickoffs turn into pep rallies for sales reps to get excited about their new quotas. However, there were likely many lessons learned in 2016 that should be given the spotlight so all can learn together heading into the new year.

Consider having sales reps and CSMs share the stage to talk about how they overcame challenges during the sales process and the renewal process. Also have CSMs and customer success leaders share battle wounds about customer implementations, upsells, or other parts of the journey that weren’t as smooth. Discussing real factors like churn, and sharing problem areas that customers encounter throughout their journey can help bring to light challenges that all across the sales organization can rally around and work to solve in the coming year together.

Plus as your company matures, your customer success team may be carrying a bigger revenue quota then sales.

2. Recognize Success of CSMs

Sales reps that are focused on new business and new logos are often the ones that earn their way to the President’s Club, get the awards and recognition, and earn the big-time perks. And while their role shouldn’t be minimized in the least, it’s equally important to recognize successful CSMs who also work hard to reach their quota, prevent customers from churning, and make their customers look like heroes.

At your 2017 kickoff, recognize and reward your CSMs and customer success leaders for going above and beyond in various areas of responsibility. We’ve seen some companies award a “Customer Hero Maker”, a “Renewal Crusher”, an “Upsell Queen or King”, a “Cross-Organizational Connector”, and an “Unsung Superhero”. While the title or award isn’t the important thing, it is key to ensure your CSMs are given just as much attention for their results as their new business counterparts. Afterall, those new logos soon become renewals and upsells.

3. Invite The Entire Company To Join The Customer Journey

There’s nothing better than an organization that comes together for the good of its customers, and starting the year off right by instituting “Customer Success as a Culture” is absolutely key in helping all employees—regardless of their role—feel like they contribute to and own part of the customer journey.

Like anything important that a company wants its employees to adopt, customer success strategies must start at the top and be driven by the example of leaders across the company. This means that executives should regularly spend time with customers, whether face-to-face with customers in their city, on the phone with customers and their respective CSM, while traveling to events or speaking engagements, or with CSMs or other customer success leaders at customer offices. When executives demonstrate this and share how other employees can get involved, then it becomes apparent and also emphasized how it takes an entire organization to make customers successful.

How Will Customer Success Be Positioned At Your 2017 Sales Kickoff?

The health of a SaaS business is directly tied to its ability to retain its customers and prevent churn. That means making sure CSMs and customers alike are set up to be successful in 2017 and beyond. So along with gearing up for a big year of new business sales and new logos, be sure that customer success is an integral part of the sales kickoff.


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Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Blog Posts:

Customer Success in the C-Suite—Aligning the Board and Exec Team

The Four Fold Mission of Customer Success

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