What would you do differently if you only got paid if a customer succeeds?
Over the years I’ve seen business coaches, gurus, and experts ask different versions of this question, always in the form of a thought experiment. But I’m here to tell you this isn’t a thought experiment; it isn’t just a fun question to ask your team at an offsite, only to leave the answers behind when you get back to the office.
This is reality. You only get paid — increasingly, over the long term — if your customers are successful. You can only unlock the value potential in a customer if you make sure that they are able to unlock the value potential in their relationship with you.
You may get some money up front from a customer, or complete a few billing cycles before the customer achieves first value, but the vast majority of the customer lifetime value — a lifetime that could last many years — doesn’t just come after they’re successful, it is 100% because of that success.
Account expansion (upsells, cross-sells, etc.), are a core driver of your company’s valuation, but it only happens on a predictable and consistent basis when your customer succeeds. Advocacy — when your customers spread the word about you — also only happens because a customer succeeds.
So what would you do differently if you only get paid when a customer succeeds? Well, since that’s how it actually works, you should:
- Develop an ideal customer profile (ICP) because you don’t want to waste your time and resources going after customers that aren’t going to work out
- Figure out what “success” is for that ICP by understanding their desired outcome (what they need to achieve and how they need to achieve it)
- Only acquire customers with success potential
- Create a plan to get the customer from where they are to success
- Get super-granular on the steps required to execute that plan
- Share that plan with the customer to ensure they know what they need to do to be successful
- Ensure they do what they need to do, and you do what you need to do in order to make sure they’re successful
- Intervene when they aren’t making the progress they should be making
- Intervene when other signals indicate that they aren’t on a positive success vector
- Actively seek out and bridge any success gaps that may exist
- Proactively share insights gleaned from successful customers to your teams to ensure this cycle continues
- Proactively share insights from customers that haven’t been successful to your teams to ensure you won’t make those same mistakes again
In short, because you really do only get paid — the real, long-term kind of paid — after customers are successful, what you should do differently is adopt customer success as your operating model.
You might be able to get customers and generate revenue; but if you really want to have high-value, long-term customers you have to understand that you get paid when they succeed. If you can help your customers succeed, your success will follow.