Ending the Quarter, Beginning a New One
For many companies around the United States, today is a particularly important, and at times particularly stressful, day – end of the month AND end of the quarter (EOM and EOQ, respectively). In the logistics and transportation world, these two days tend to present their own special challenges: inventory, quotas, dock space, truck capacity, quarterly reports…yikes.
And not only are you dealing with your own company’s EOM and EOQ duties, but many of your customers are in the same boat. So how do you help them prepare (and help yourself along the way)?
Burke Alder writes about three techniques you can employ to ensure your customers succeed as they begin a new quarter. But before he even gets into the techniques, he reminds us that having an early game plan in place is crucial to both you and your customers’ success. Don’t get caught at EOM/EOQ being ill-prepared and missing out on important opportunities to move the needle for your company, and help your customers do the same.
Read Alder’s full article here: 3 Techniques to Ensure Customer Success as You Start a Quarter.
1. Review Customer Goals & KPIs for the Next Year
For the first technique, Alder recommends making sure your customer is as prepared for the new quarter as you are – first by understanding their goals and KPIs.
Here are a few questions to ask your customers:
- What changes do you envision happening at your company next quarter? (ie – new product release, surge in hiring, new locations, etc)
- What impact do you think those changes will have on your business?
- What are your personal KPIs for next quarter?
- How will our product or service play a part in meeting those goals?
- What will success mean as it relates to our product/service?
- What major milestones do you see as it relates to our product/service next quarter? For your company in general?
Strive to hit these goals and milestones WITH your customers. How can you assist them in their journey to meet their KPIs?
2. Ensure Your Customer Is Prepared
Help your customers understand where they are situated in regard to their own customer success journey. How far have they come along in their current 2016 plans? What do they need to do to continue completing those plans? How do they relate to their competitors in their industry?
This investigation should include also how your customer is relating to you specifically. Review with your customer how they are currently using your product or service. And as Alder suggests, dig deeper to help customers “identify new and innovative ways to use your product or service to see the most value and return so they are sure to renew when the time comes.” Ask yourself – what do they need from you in order to be exceptionally successful?
3. Plan (Way) Ahead of the Renewal or Upsell
You should always know where your customers are in the buying journey for your company. When you understand where they currently are, you can put together a plan for getting them to where you would like for them to be in a way that speaks to the customer’s current situation. Selling to customers that aren’t ready to buy, limiting communication leading up to upgrades and renewals, or trying to upsell products/services that do not provide real value can be very frustrating to customers and ultimately influence their decisions in a negative way.
Instead, Alder advises creating “engagement plans” for your customers – plans that understand exactly where each customer is in the buying or renewal process and then map out an engagement plan that begins long before it is time to sell/upsell/renew. Alder describes the important pieces of the engagement plan.
This engagement plan should consist of:
- an internal evaluation of the products and services the customer currently uses
- a recommended path forward directly aligned to customer goals, KPIs and KBOs as discussed above
- a plan of when and how you will engage with the customer to present them with your plan
Get to Work
Remember, in order to help customers successfully begin a new quarter, you and your company must be prepared to start a successful quarter as well. This requires early and thorough planning, specific and measurable goals to review and revise each time, and a solid understanding of your own roles with customers, competitors, and your industry.
“Whether your customer success team is in its infancy or more established, it’s important to have a strategy in place to ensure your team’s success as they approach a new quarter.” – Burke Alder
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