Why Settle for Satisfied when you can have Success



You are working on your Quarterly Business Review agenda topics, what should you include?  In our Business Review Best Practices article we discussed the things to cover and today we will cover the last of these items in more detail.   In Part 1 of this series we covered the topic of the relationship and relationship health, In Part 2 we covered roadmaps, in Part 3 we covered current activities and today we will focus on Whats Next.

What is Next?

As I have coached with customers, employees and other Customer Success Managers, it seems that this agenda topic gets the least preparation work of all the topics to cover at a Business Review.

Many people tend to just have it on the last slide in a PowerPoint with some large logo or background and something that says “Next Steps” or “Questions?”  It becomes a throwaway slide for most people delivering an EBR, but I would argue it is one of the most important components of the business review.

I am always a fan of analogies to illustrate a point and  I would be interested in yours as well.  I see this like meeting with a contractor to renovate your kitchen.  You spend a few hours with them, talk about all the goals and objectives, and then 30 minutes before the end of the discussion, you hear nothing else.  Essentially you missed who is doing what and in this example, how much it is going to cost.  🙂

The Business Review is no different.  This ‘Wrap up’ is where we gain an agreement and understanding of what each party is doing in pursuit of the customers business objectives and outcomes, or action items to remove roadblocks preventing progress toward it.

confusedI recommend ending every meeting with a quick recap (2 or 3 bullets) of each of the key topics, followed by the action items that have emerged from the discussion.  This is where a healthy understanding of project management is helpful but not required.  When we need to accomplish a task by getting the input or action of others, the first step is to clearly articulate each person’s role and responsibilities AND gain their agreement on their ownership of such.  I worked for someone many years ago who used to say, “A goal without a date isn’t a plan, it is a pipe dream.”

So my wrap up and next steps summarize the key action items and owners along with a recommended and agreed upon date for the completion of that item.  If the person responsible for the deliverable is not part of the meeting, the person communicating it to them is the person that I summarize as having the action item so that they can be accountable for it until such time that individual takes on the responsibility of the task.

The “Whats next” stage of the business review is also a great time to give some thought to what requests you may have for your client.  I recommend always having 2-3 suggested requests from the client along with criteria that will have you modify your approach.  For example, in planning a business review for a client who has recently added a module or upgraded the product features, I may go into the Business review hoping for the following items to request.

  • Advocacy – Agreement to be a reference for other clients
  • Advocacy – Agreement to be a name drop/reference for a specific module or experience
  • Additional Services Work – An offering to optimize the customer’s use of the solution would benefit them and I would like to see them get the benefit of this.

These are fluid ideas with a path and decision to discuss based on the path and dialogue during the Business Review.

For example, if the customer had some suite-wide challenges with the solution they may not be open to being a general reference for other clients.  I recommend if advocacy is a goal, the diligent CSM has some alternate options available when that discussion occurs.  For example, the CSM may ask the customer for one of their more positive experiences.  From that, you can determine the product or engagement that is worth asking for a reference on even if this is a one-off basis related to that topic.

Remember, never skimp on the simple “What’s next” slide in your business review.  Have some accomplishments you want to achieve after this meeting and before the next one.  These are the things that should drive your discussion topics and requests of the customer.  I like to always remember that every meeting I have with a customer is an opportunity to bring more success to their business.  But it doesn’t end there, it is also to understand how the customer can help me to advance the use of our products and services, whether that is directly or through advocacy to have others start to use it.


Additional Suggested Reading

Below are some resources on Customer Success and Relationship building in Business that you may find interesting.

How do you cover Next Steps with your client?  What surprises have you had when you concentrated on this important topics and discussed it with the leadership team.  Feel free to share this article with others.  To make it easy there are sharing buttons below.

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