CSM from the Trenches – 5 LinkedIn Best Practices to Build, Grow, and Improve Client Relationships
For those just joining my blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. This series, now a community for frontline Customer Success Managers (CSMs), discusses trends, best practices, and advice that can help the frontline.
We’re lucky to have this week’s frontline CSM best practice come from Erica Newell – a CSM from the Trenches veteran – of Marketware. Erica has been a CSM for Marketware since February 2017 and became the Lead CSM shortly after joining the team. She brings with her nearly 10 years of customer success, coaching, and other customer-facing experience!
CSM from the Trenches Best Practice – 5 LinkedIn Best Practices That Build, Grow, and Improve Client Relationships
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
From: Erica Newell, Lead Client Success Manager
LinkedIn – Not Just a Sales or Recruiting Platform
Though Linkedin is primarily thought of as a platform for sales, job-seekers, and recruiters, it can be equally as powerful for customer success professionals. My strategic use of the tool has enabled me to help build client confidence, form strong relationships, reduce churn, and even increase revenue – results that come from balancing professionalism and authenticity. While I by no means consider myself a LinkedIn guru, I have learned quite a bit through research and utilizing the features available to me in the platform.
The following Linkedin best practices can help us foster deeper connections and more sincere, authentic relationships.
Five LinkedIn Best Practices to Build, Grow, and Improve Client Relationships
1. Write a LinkedIn Recommendation or Endorsement
In my experience, there are always client partners who go above and beyond average expectations through their dedication or time spent as champions or advocates. A handwritten “thank you” is always meaningful, but LinkedIn can help you take it to the next level by writing a recommendation.
There was a situation where I chose to write a recommendation for a particularly dedicated partner as their hard work in implementing our solution was deserving of the recognition. A few weeks later, I learned that my recommendation and the contact’s work ethic had earned them a promotion. In many ways, this came as a win-win for the entire relationship; the contact who was promoted became an even greater advocate and invested more money into the partnership the following year. The key here was making a genuine recommendation for one who had put in the required effort to make a partnership successful.
Another option available are endorsements. Endorsing a contact or partner for certain skills only takes a few seconds and can be a nice, simpler way to say “thank you”.
2. Utilize LinkedIn Activity History to Start Better Conversations
Struggling to start a conversation or bring additional value to a client engagement? LinkedIn offers unique opportunities for communication not available in other tools.
A client’s LinkedIn activity can be particularly useful. For example, if we notice a contact has recently been engaged with an article on Customer Success compensation plans, we can contribute to the same conversation with additional thoughts or resources.
Be aware of client’s interests and tag them in other articles or posts. This type of relationship-building brings authentic value to a client relationship for both parties. Adding to the conversation allows us to better understand our client’s goals and motivators. Keeping in touch with clients, outside of regular cadence calls, shows we value them and are actively working as their strategic partner.
Clients partner with us and our business to solve a problem. Applying this practice can support client partners in working with our solution. By training those we work with to become contributors in the larger LinkedIn community, we begin to establish a deeper relationship than simply meeting with them on scheduled cadence calls. Clients will start to rely on our expertise and involve us in other conversations they find or start themselves.
3. Foster Relationships and Activate Your “Ghosts”
In Customer Success, we often (more than we’d like to experience) have contacts that suddenly disappear or stop communicating. This can be particularly detrimental for the health of client, especially if the contact who’s not communicating is a key sponsor, executive or advocate.
Regardless of the reason for inactivity, LinkedIn can be a great way to reconnect. The same tips discussed in best practice #2 apply here; keep it professional and be authentic.
4. Connect “High and Wide”
In my last article on how to avoid surprise client breakups, I wrote about a concept Dave Blake, Founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, strongly advocates called “High and Wide”.
As we engage with our clients, we need to be sure to identify who other stakeholders in the relationship are and, where possible, foster connections that extend “High and Wide”. Identifying as many of these types of connections as possible can solidify the partnership in the long run, should we experience any sponsor turnover.
Keep in mind that simply connecting on LinkedIn will not save a relationship; we can use LinkedIn to make a connection beyond simply capturing someone’s email address, but it’s crucial to cultivate genuine relationships and provide value in order to build strong “High and Wide” connections.
5. Stay Up-to-Date on Relevant Industries, Companies, Organizations, and Individuals
As CSMs, we need to be aware of our client’s needs, objectives and challenges to deliver value. LinkedIn allows us to customize our feeds, which can help us become more aware of organizational changes our clients experience and popular topics within relevant industries.
Thanks to LinkedIn, I’ve received news of mergers and other organizational changes prior to a conversation with a client. This kind of knowledge helps CSMs act proactively. In many situations, having early knowledge can help us retain clients that may have otherwise been lost.
Linkedin is a powerful tool for CSMs. These best practices, if used professionally and authentically, can increase our success and overall engagement with our clients.
Marketware is the leader in providing relationship management and data analytics technology to ensure organizations have the insight to strengthen their competitive advantage and generate new growth opportunities.
Join the CSM from the Trenches Community
You can become involved in two ways:
Guest blog posts: Have a frontline CSM best practice you’d like to share? I want to hear from you! This is a great way to share your unique perspective and thought-leadership. Example – this post is a good example
CSM shout-outs: Do you know a CSM who goes above and beyond the call of duty? Have a team member you’d like to give a special shout-out? This is what CSM from the Trenches is all about – celebrating the frontline CSM. Example here
Here are other customer success resources:
Customer Success eBooks:
Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition
Ultimate Guide to SaaS Customer Success Metrics
Other CSM from the Trenches Posts:
Erica Newell, Marketware – 5 Fundamentals to Avoid Surprise Client Breakups
3 Key Learnings from Taking a Customer Success Industry Expert Out for Lunch
Mieke Maes, Intuo – 5 Keys to an Effective Customer Apology
Priscilla Zorrilla, 15Five – Asking the Right Questions to Challenge Customers
4 Segmentation Strategies for Frontline CSMs
Why Product Usage Isn’t Always King & 3 Lessons Worth Learning Early
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong customer success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.