Big Customer Conversation? Here’s How CSMs Can NAIL a Strategic Meeting
As the importance of customer success – and the role of customer success managers – has grown over the past few years, more and more responsibility is falling into the laps of CSMs. Managing customer accounts is no longer contained to spearheading implementation and being on call to help customers through issues.
Modern CSMs are now responsible for the full spectrum of customer conversations, including those trickier ones that may center around strategic initiatives such as renewals, upsells, expansion opportunities, or, in some cases, executive concerns.
Preparing for a strategic customer conversation may seem daunting at first, but all it takes is the proper planning and execution to get it right. Here are four steps to ensure you and your CSM team nail your strategic customer meetings:
- Be prepared for anything. If there is ever a time to over-prepare, a strategic customer conversation is it. After all, you never know the direction a conversation will take, so it’s a best practice to be prepared for all options, just in case. Before the meeting, provide an agenda to all participants to keep everyone on track. Also, don’t be afraid to come to the meeting with your notes, answers, and questions ready to go!
- Remember that a conversation is a two-way street. It’s important to realize that a strategic customer conversation is not a place to stand on your soapbox and drone on to your customers. Instead, open up a two-way street of conversation. Listen to your counterpart’s feedback and input. Digging into their questions and concerns can help both sides come to an agreement.
- Hold your ground – to a point. Your team has a goal in mind when entering a strategic conversation with a customer, as does the customer team. While it’s essential not to lose sight of these goals and push towards the desired outcome, don’t dig your feet in the ground too hard. Instead, know when to be flexible on your requests and when to come to a compromise.
- Capture and share the next steps, and then take action. When going into a strategic meeting, both sides have results in mind they’d like to achieve. Were these goals met? What action items came out of the conversation? Who is responsible for which next steps? Taking detailed notes, documenting the outcomes and decisions made, and sharing these action items with both sides is critical. Then, don’t wait to take action – start on your team’s items immediately to show you’re invested in ensuring customer satisfaction however possible.
Looking for more resources on having strategic conversations with customers?
Getting comfortable with the nuances and eccentricities of customer conversations is something that even the most experienced CSM can continually improve on. If you’re a customer success department leader, make coaching and preparing your CSMs for these types of conversations part of your regularly scheduled training and development plans.
You can find more resources on having strategic conversations with customers here: