Often, CSMs get into the customer success space because they like the excitement of working with customers or the challenge of helping users through their day-to-day problems. One area in the customer success lifecycle where some CSMs tend to get nervous is renewal conversations. This makes sense because, after all, CSMs are not in sales for a reason.
Regardless of your comfort level around having these (sometimes difficult) conversations with customers, these conversations will happen eventually. CSMs are becoming more and more involved in the customer renewal and/or upsell process alongside sales team members because they are intimately familiar with how the customer is using a product and the value they see from the solution.
One way to make the customer renewal process even more manageable is to set up a renewal survey. With crucial questions – and responses to customer answers – outlined and prepared, CSMs can provide precisely what a customer is looking for – and know going in if a renewal conversation is even in the cards for the account at this time.
Here is the winning CSM renewal survey strategy to use with your customers:
Q: Is it your intention to renew your subscription with [product and/or brand]?
Asking your customers straight out if they intend to renew with your organization can help set the stage for next steps, requirements, and the conversation moving forward. Just keep in mind that a ‘No’ answer doesn’t really mean the door is entirely closed on the renewal conversation.
Great! If a customer already tends to renew their business with your brand, you’re in a good place. Without pushing the issue, now it is time to feel out if there is any growth (upsell) potential with the customer.
Q: Is there growth potential?
Way to go! If a customer realizes there is growth potential with your brand, if they see the value of your product, or if you have discussed a clear next step in your project plan, you’re good to sail on through to renewal success.
This means that something may be missing from their solution. Granted, they may be willing to renew as-is, but if your product cannot scale with their solution, then something could be wrong.
Q: Do you need to modify?
If a customer wants to make changes to their current solution or needs to modify it in any way, this could lead to revenue churn instead of a renewal.
Even if there is no growth/upsell potential, if a customer is happy with their solution as-is, you can be confident in the renewal success. Just make sure to keep an eye on how users are engaging with your product to identify any areas of growth down the road.
Difficult but not impossible to overcome. Be open with the customer, ask them what is on their mind, and dig into the reasoning behind their lack of interest in a renewal.
Q: Let’s discuss, can we overcome?
Outlining what is standing in the way of a renewal can help open up potential areas for correction and re-alignment. Just make sure you’re completely transparent with your customer about what is and isn’t possible.
Q: Are we clear on objections?
Asking about objections ensures there is no grey area – either on your side or with your customer – around what they are actually looking for and what is holding them back from any renewal possibilities.
A ‘yes’ answer means that both sides understand the blockers standing in the way of a renewal and are clear on why a customer cannot move forward with a renewal with the product in its current state.
Q: Have we addressed them?
One of the biggest reasons renewal conversations and surveys like this are critical is to uncover gaps or areas of improvement in a product or service. By identifying objections in the last question and then addressing them here, your team is putting everything you have into keeping your customers happen (and around).
Woohoo! Your team was able to take a customer who was set on not renewing, talk them through the different steps of decision making, and turn that answer into a ‘yes’ – resulting in renewal success!
If the vendor team cannot address product objections or issues, the customer will most likely not move forward with the renewal, and the deal will result in revenue churn.
If your team and your customer cannot identify what is missing from the solution, what the objections are, and what can be done to overcome them, then this deal may result in revenue churn.
This is a final nail in the coffin. If a customer is adamant that their objections cannot be overcome and that changes cannot be made, the deal will most likely end in revenue churn.