What Should Salesforce Consulting Partners Do to Expand Services Revenue With Existing Customers?
If you’ve been focusing all your attention on new lead acquisition instead of solidifying your relationship with existing clients, you might want to reconsider your strategy. The secret to increased revenue retention is fostering trusting relationships with your existing customers. In this article, we will discuss:
The path to customer success
The Zipper Retention Connection method
How you can’t manage what you can’t measure
And mastering your delivery excellence
The Path to Customer Success
Increased revenue retention is every Salesforce partner’s goal. As a matter of fact, it should be every consultant’s goal, regardless of the industry they operate in. The path to having a great customer success rate starts with your PMOP (project management office process) and how fluid your implementation process is.
Prioritizing your customers' experience will directly affect your revenue strategy. So instead of having one linear approach, aka, consistent new lead acquisition, invest your time and efforts in building relationships with your existing customers and become their go to resources.
The Zipper Retention Connection Method
If there is one thing you would hear me preach to my partners over and over again, is that at least 50% of their total revenue should come from existing customers. How do you ensure that you ask? Well, let me introduce you to a Gary Lam original, the Zipper Retention Connection method.
And while we all contemplate the unusual name and try to guess what it stands for, let me break it down for you.
We can all agree that a successful lead generation process demands a certain amount of effort on your part. There hasn't been a single partner I have met that isn’t willing to put the time and resources needed to convert prospects into paying clients. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the value these partners provide and their client communication approach. And I am not talking about onboarding meetings, or informative email exchanges, I am referring to the relationship-building aspect of the communication approach.
The Zipper Retention Connection method stands for the consistent communication you implement between you and your clients, which leads to fostering a trusting relationship to the point of you becoming their go-to person.
Case Study # 1
One of my clients was working towards building a large portfolio for their business. They reached out to me to help lead the initiative, and after doing some research I recommended a strategy that targeted the top 20 customers for executive personal touch. In an effort to use the Zipper Retention Connection method, the Partner CEO plans to start connecting with the customer point of contact in the C Suite and building a relationship with them. The plan also includes the Partner VP Delivery to connect with the customer CIO.
They will connect on a quarterly basis with the customer using impactful messaging. This strategy will position them to become THE preferred service provider and first to be called upon when the client needs their services. The communication will be fluid so that they are able to frequently share information about new services that they're offering to their vertical.
Case Study # 2
A different client of mine had more than 100 past customers, and lacked the strategy to grow revenue within existing clientele. When they brought me on board, I did an analysis and identified $1.4M with a 50% probability to close. It turned out that this client was not only leaving money on the table, but was also spending time and resources chasing new opportunities that may or may not work, in order to meet annual revenue goals.
Realistically speaking, we can all agree that it is much easier and efficient to grow revenue from an existing customer than to get a new one. So why do we ignore existing customers?
The answer resides in the sales team. My theory is that because salespeople are compensated accordingly with the number of new customers and revenue they bring in, they tend to prioritize bringing new lead generation. So in the end, no one is tasked with creating revenue retention and growing existing clients. It turns out to be an opportunistic sale.
You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure
So let’s say that after reading this article, you’ve decided to give it a try and implement the Zipper Retention Connection method. How exactly can you tell that it’s working?
The answer is, tracking your results. Peter Drucker is not only known for being a management guru, he is also known for his famous quote: “You can't manage what you can't measure.”.
And this is true for any initiative that you implement. If you don’t have a defined strategy and a team assigned to a particular task tracking its progress, then you can’t know how much money you are leaving on the table. Here’s how you proceed:
1. Build Your PMO for Success
Develop an effective PMO program that delivers customer success for every project. The value you bring needs to be relevant and consistent. If you overlook this step, what happens is that while you are growing fast, you will lack the time to deliver consistently.
Worst case scenario, one of your existing clients turns into a red account and Salesforce customer success group gets involved. This will inevitably be the start of downgrading your “credit score” with the Salesforce ecosystem. Let me be very clear, you CANNOT afford to have a bad reputation within the Salesforce ecosystem.
2. Monitor Your Credit Score
Your Salesforce credit score to be exact. This may not be the official terminology for it but I do like to use the term credit score. It encompasses the urgency of maintaining your reputation within the Salesforce ecosystem.
If one of your clients turns into a red account that has been registered with Salesforce customer success. The account representatives will know about your misstep. Word travels fast and Account Executives start to recommend other SI Partners. This all happens without you knowing that your credibility has been compromised. The pipeline from the Salesforce ecosystem slowly decreases, and your revenue gets drastically affected.
Master Your Delivery Excellence
Theresa Wislon is the Founder & CEO of KloundLaunch, a consultancy firm operated by Salesforce project professionals. The focus of her work revolves around project management and business transformation. I recently sat down with Theresa to discuss her methodology in ensuring impeccable customer experience. She introduced me to the concept of Salesforce Delivery Excellence and its 9 pillars.
When I asked her how partners can achieve Delivery Excellence she said: “Do not have a cookie-cutter template that you send out to customers. Partners should have a well-articulated and explicit approach for requirements creation, solution design, quality assurance, solution deployment, stakeholder management and communications. Being upfront about that and getting better alignment with their client will lead to greater chances of having a happy client and a successful deployment.”.
Theresa believes that the reason why partners fail is that they don’t take the time to plan the work and communicate with their clients. They lack clarity on the real scope of priorities for the client and need to be in alignment with the timeline and deliverables.
So what should partners do then?
Communicate with the client as early and as often as you can
Get clarity on the scope of work, timeline, priorities and deliverables
Always have a contingency plan if the workflow doesn’t go as planned
The never-ending chase of new customers is not always the answer. If your goal is to have a robust revenue generation strategy, focus on your existing clients. Among many of the retention sales activities, the main area to focus on is improving your communication with your clients. You want to not only become their go-to resource, but also be able to share with them any new products or services that you’re offering.
With that being said, if you are thinking about developing a new product or service, stay tuned for my upcoming article where I will be starting a new series focusing on Salesforce ISV Partners.