A Sales Primer for Customer Success Managers

Sales is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it worse for yourself by pushing products from the beginning. In a B2B context, there’s a better way of doing it.

Selling products may be the end goal, but if you emphasize products from the beginning you’ll have trouble keeping your client’s attention. Take time to understand your client’s unique situation so you can present them with a solution that fits their needs perfectly.

This is a win-win situation. You won’t be shooting in the dark and they won’t be wasting time with cut-and-paste products that don’t quite do what they need them to.

So, how do you do it? How do you walk into a sales meeting and NOT talk about your products?


Making a First Impression

This method of sales revolves around building a good relationship with your clients. You need to start off on the right foot by working to establish their trust from day one. First impressions are a huge part of it.

Studies have shown the importance of making a good first impression. While you can work to change people’s impression of you over time, the first impression they get will often define your relationship for a long time.

Starting things off with a heavy focus on things that have a direct benefit for you won’t always give a good impression. It may end up being negative or simply neutral and uninspiring. You’d rather leave your clients with the impression that you’re focused on providing value to them. This is a positive way to kick off a relationship and it gets you in the door faster next time.


4 Steps to Pitching without Products

If you’re going to focus on customer value in a meeting, while not talking about your own products, you should make sure you check all the boxes. Having a nice chat with your client is friendly, but not helpful unless you’re learning what you need to know while you’re there.

Ask targeted questions to root out the information you need. These are all questions related to a future partnership between you and the client. When you meet them first, let them do most of the talking. Instead of looking for every opportunity to sell yourself and your company, ask to find out what they really need and how you might be able to help them.

Follow these steps:

1) Find their pain points

Pain points are the areas where they’re struggling. Every company has weaknesses. You’re not looking for areas to exploit, but opportunities to help them solve a problem. To carry on with any sort of win-win relationship, you have to ease a pain point for them.

When you know a client’s pain points, you can base a later product recommendation off of that. If it doesn’t address the pain point or help them in some other way, it’s irrelevant to them.

2) Uncover their goals

Ask your clients about where they are now and where they want to be. Separate that into short-term and long-term goals. Where do they want to be in 3 months? 6 months? 12 months?

Understanding goals is an important part of relational selling. People don’t just buy things because they like the price, quality, or features. They make purchases that feel like the right choice for their existing needs. Sales happen when a client feels like what you’re offering will get them to their goals.

Your job in this initial meeting is to make sure you thoroughly understand where your clients want to be so you can match a product to that need later on. Once you know their pain points, you can combine that with what you learn about their goals to get a good overview of the issue.

3) Learn their history

If your client has been in business for a few years, they’ve likely worked with others before you. Learn about what they’ve tried before and how it worked for them. Ask about other solutions they’ve done before, their track record with those solutions, and why it worked out as it did.

The goal of this line of questions is to make sure you’re not repeating the mistakes of previous sellers. You don’t want to come to your client offering the same things that they already know don’t work. It’s better to understand how their previous attempts to solve a problem or meet a goal ended up and to get their perspective on why.

4) Ask to follow-up

At this point, your information gathering is complete. Now, you need to work on getting a follow-up meeting. You’re looking for buy-in from them. Practically, this looks like an agreement for another meeting where you can discuss a specific set of options.

This follow-up meeting is where you’ll be pitching your product as a solution to a problem they’re facing and as a way to accomplish their goals. Don’t pitch your product at that initial meeting. Ask for a little time to go over their situation and come up with a recommendation based on what you’ve learned.

Emphasize that you want your solutions to be tailored to fit their needs. You want them to leave the initial meeting looking forward to hearing how you plan to help them achieve their goals.


Why This Works

A client-centric view helps you address their actual needs more often. This is very appealing to your clients. They’re not concerned with making sure you’re doing well as a business. They’re more likely to be persuaded if you can demonstrate that you’re in the business of providing as much value to them as possible.

Play the long game. Build a relationship that’s based on mutual understanding first. If you focus on pitching your product initially, you’ll miss the opportunity to learn what they care about most.

Addressing customer pain points and goals directly is the easiest easier way to sell to them. It’s difficult to sell something when you’re not fully aware of the problems a client faces, what they hope to accomplish, or what they’ve already tried before.

Start with a focus on them. When it’s time to follow-up, recommend products that would actually address their needs. You’re more likely to find a good product match if you give yourself some time. You’ll also have a better idea of what your client is looking for and why they should care about your products.



Client value can be tricky to balance. Reserving the first meeting for information gathering helps you kick the relationship off right and solidifies you as a value-focused, intentional partner.

4 Customer Success Tools to Achieve Value-Based Outcomes

Customer success doesn’t come without a fair amount of trepidation all the way around. For the customer, adopting a product or service requires change — sometimes massive change across their entire organization. For customer success teams, it requires constant vigilance, agility, and alignment with others to help customers achieve optimal results over time.


What it really means is that everyone has to be on the same page and moving in the same direction, but how to put that theory into practice is the question.


At KAMCon 2018, Tom Murray, senior engagement director at Pivotal Software, outlined several tools customer success teams can implement to help them continually share, learn, adapt, and measure, on pace and at scale, while pursuing the ultimate reward: value-based customer outcomes.


Three principles in practical terms

Customer success is predicated on three principles: your team has to 1) share the same intent with your customer and account teams, 2) put the customer at the center of all strategy and focus, and 3) consistently orient and drive toward their desired outcomes.


By bearing these principles in mind and utilizing tools that realize them on a practical level, everyone can move faster, collaborate more effectively, and measure success with more confidence. Here’s how:


1) Intent-led

Understanding the intention — why are we all here and what are we really trying to achieve — is the first step to reaching a common goal. Staying intent-led can be done through:


Tool #1: Voice of Customer:

Look through the lens of your customer and speak with their voice by answering these questions: What are the outcomes the customer wants to achieve and by when? Who cares about achieving these outcomes? And how does our proposed solution deliver these outcomes?

Tool #2: Customer journey:

A customer’s journey doesn’t stop with a product launch. Extending and scaling are often next phases of the journey that require their own mapping. For each of your customers, map out their journey from launch through engrainment or regular usage to scalability, and any other phases that may exist for them.


2) Customer-centered

If you’ve heard of the 5 Whys, then you’ll know where this is headed. To develop a truly deep connection to your customer and a shared understanding of their goals, you need to get to the root of what they’re trying to do or solve and why. Only then can you build trust with the customer and become a go-to source of knowledge and support throughout their journey. Staying customer-centered can be done through:


Tool #3: Engagement plan:

To understand your customer’s strategic objective, you need a framework that defines and helps you deliver against it. Start high with the overarching objective, then break it down into smaller goals, milestones, and individual efforts that are each achievable and measurable over time. This can be done with PowerPoint presentations; spreadsheets; graphs, charts, and other visuals; and even customer dashboards — anything that can be shared with the customer to help them see where they’re at during any given point in the engagement.


Tip: Because there are often versioning and history issues with shared documents, a solution like Kapta is one of the best ways to create, update, and share your engagement plan.


3) Outcomes-oriented

In this day and age, outcomes have to be measurable. How is success quantified and how do you know what’s working or what needs to be improved? Staying outcomes-oriented can be done through:


Tool #4: Outcomes framework:

Customer outcomes are directly tied to the ecosystem in which they operate: their organizational structure, industry, competitors, and other factors. Create a framework to understand the external (and internal) forces applying pressure on their organization; the business outcomes that are most important to them; how your product or service impacts the realization of those outcomes; and which aspects of their operations today will require a different approach down the road.


Remember: Anything that shows metrics — health markers, account reviews, value-stream mapping, scorecards — keeps the customer informed of their own forward progress and the value they’re receiving.


When “speed” is the goal

Nearly every customer wants to move faster. But speed can often feel like running around in circles without having achieved much. What customers really mean by speed is velocity, which is comprised of direction and magnitude: moving steadily in a positive direction with a growing body of successes behind them, propelling them forward.


Where customer success teams can excel is in recognizing the difference between speed and velocity, and that alignment with the customer and with other teams and stakeholders is what enables it.


In a world that isn’t going to slow down any time soon, staying intent-led, customer-centered, and outcomes-oriented will help you meet the needs and goals of customers while maximizing your own focus and effectiveness.



How to Use Customer Success Software in a Non-Tech World

Customer Success software is an excellent addition to any business’s sales and CRM systems. It allows users to track their customers’ data which in turn helps the client succeed while retaining them for the long-term. For years, Customer Success software has been marketed as a solution for SaaS companies and startups in the technology sector. While it is a perfect tool for these businesses, Customer Success software can be used by any business seeking to retain customers and expand their profits.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of Customer Success software, how the theories and concepts of Customer Success can benefit any business along with real-world, practical uses for Customer Success software like Kapta.


Benefits of Using Customer Success Software



Before Customer Success software came around, account managers had to do all of the tedious work to build relationships with clients including tracking and managing the customer’s important data. Key Account Management systems like Kapta automate much of the data tracking process so account managers can spend less time working in spreadsheets and more time building personal, successful relationships with clients.


Customer Retention

It’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to convince a new customer to come on board. Customer Success software systems help account managers maintain and strengthen customer relationships by accurately tracking the customer’s data. One of the most critical measures for SaaS companies is the client’s usage of their programs. With this metric, account managers can see who is logging into the app, predict usage trends and forecast churn.

By utilizing this data, account managers can determine which clients love the software and which ones haven’t used it in a while. They can then reach out to the inactive clients to try and correct any problems they may be experiencing as well as reaffirming their commitment to building upon their success.



Renewals, cross and up-sell opportunities contribute significantly to a client’s lifetime value for any firm. Customer Success systems allow account managers to visualize and monitor each account’s long-term goals which make it easier for them to identify products and services the customer will be more likely to purchase. An organized system like this allows account managers to keep tabs on what each customer is looking to accomplish and then identify opportunities to cross-sell more products and services.

 Focusing on this link between the company’s products and services with the client’s goals will create long-term success for not only the customer, but the service provider as well, as the customer, will begin to see the intrinsic value in purchasing from them.


Using Customer Success in a Non-Tech World

 So, what if your company doesn’t specialize in software sales? Or what if your services and products have nothing to do with technology at all? The core-ideas and values of Customer Success still apply to you. Here are some examples:


Be Proactive

One of the key principles of Customer Success is remaining proactive and anticipating what customers might need next. Traditionally, businesses might have chosen to simply wait for customers to come to them, only relying on marketing materials and the occasional sales push.

The key to Customer Success is to consistently stay in contact with key accounts to better understand their goals so you can find ways to help them achieve their success. While SaaS vendors will do this through careful monitoring of the client’s usage data and other metrics, any business that serves clients with ongoing products and services can schedule a call or email once or twice a week to check-in with the client.


Be Strategic

Results-based strategies are another pillar to the success of CS. If you are careless, and just let clients fall to the wayside without creating and following a consistent game plan, the success of your clients and the ultimate success of your relationship will stumble. CS software packages like Kapta include templates and playbooks to ensure your business has a sound CS strategy; however, you can also accomplish this without software, it’s just much more tedious.

Grab a notepad and jot down these three steps:

  1. Identify your customer’s goal
  2. Determine how they will solve their problems
  3. Develop a list of your services or products that will help them achieve success.

Your strategy should be more detailed than that simple list, but breaking it down to those three steps is a simple way to visualize your entire Customer Success strategy. Keep a strategy playbook for each of your clients, and be proactive in your approach.


Build a Win-Win Relationship

If your client achieves success, your business does as well. The goal is to create a link between your services and your customer’s success so they will stay with your company for the long-haul and begin to see your products and services as a primary contributor to achieving their goals.

When speaking with each of these clients, you want to add a personal touch to your products and genuinely listen to their goals. Traditionally, sales were viewed in a negative light where the salesman does the selling and pushes useless products onto a client that isn’t really interested. Customer Success and Key Account Management are shifting this focus, and instead building a win-win relationship with clients where each party benefits from the exchange.


Determine Your KPIs

KPIs are different for every company and every business model, so it’s essential to determine what you’ll be measuring as a form of success. The most common KPIs for many companies are:



If your service is based on a subscription-model, measuring the churn rate is an efficient way to determine how often customers are continuing service and what percentage are canceling.


Expansion Revenue

This will determine if repeat customers are buying more products or services from your than they did the first time. Overall, you want to expand your offerings to customers in the long-run, so their success almost becomes dependent on your services.



Sending a brief email survey after each purchase or asking clients about their satisfaction with the services will give you a beat on the pulse of your accounts and if there is anything that needs to be changed.



So how are you ensuring your customers are successful? Have you given it much thought? Try implementing some Customer Success strategies into your sales and account management teams and see how quickly your retention rates increase as your clients begin to look at your company as the leading proponent of their success.


If you would like to try one of the leading Customer Success software platforms available, download your free demo of Kapta today.

Customer Success for Services Companies

Up until now, Customer Success (CS) strategies have primarily lived in the software and technology fields. As a leading provider of Customer Success software, we’re always looking for new ways that Customer Success strategies can be integrated into any company’s existing customer relationship systems.

In this article, we’ll examine the different ways that service-based companies such as marketing agencies, along with product-based businesses can utilize the scientific theories and ideas of Customer Success to keep their clients happy, while also fostering the growth of their customers to increase profits in the long run.


The Theories Behind Customer Success

For those new to the Customer Success world, here is a quick overview of CS:

The primary goal of implementing a Customer Success software system is to ensure the long-term success of the customer. Traditionally, salespeople were instructed to manage accounts simply to keep the customer, and nothing more. With innovations in Key Account Management systems like Kapta, the goal is now to ensure that the client is more profitable with the ability to thrive in the long-run.

If the client is profitable, the service provider is profitable. Customer Success entails going out of your way to ensure that the client is happy while providing them with a quality service that sets them up for long-term success.


The CS Process for SaaS Vendors

 The structure of Customer Success varies from company to company, but traditionally it follows these steps:

  1. Customer Success is Launched – typically within an hour after a free-trial of software is secured or payment is made. It’s vital to be “on the ball” in a sense and to be proactive in your approach.
  2. Requirements Gathering – A salesperson will contact the client, preferably by phone, and have a brief conversation to determine which problems the client is trying to solve. These issues are collected and saved in a file with the account.
  3. Finding the Decision-Makers – the decision-maker for the company won’t always be the person that purchases the software. Finding the key decision-makers of the client’s organization will help the software spread throughout the company which equals more sales and a stronger connection.
  4. What Are They Doing Now? – Referencing the problems identified in step two, it’s important to know how the client is currently solving their problems to determine how your company can be of help to them.
  5. Help them Learn the Software – this involves sending any training material to them so they can get the most out of the software, additionally scheduling webinar training if possible.
  6. Keep in Touch – checking-in with the client regularly from the start of the relationship will ensure that 1) they are getting the most out of the software and 2) let them know that you care about them and it adds a personal touch.
  7. Survey – typically, SaaS companies will send an NPS survey to evaluate their satisfaction with the service so far and any issues that need to be corrected. It also keeps the door open for future contact.


Using These Steps in Your Service-Based Company

A lot of these steps may seem exclusive to SaaS companies, but they can easily be transferred over to just about any company that wants to implement a Customer Success platform in their sales and account management processes.


Step One:

Instead of contacting them after they’ve purchase software, here you would reach out after you’ve landed a new client in your marketing agency or other service company. As soon as they have started working with you, you want to be in contact with them immediately.


Step Two:

Not much has changed from the traditional SaaS approach in this stage. Here you’ll talk to the client and determine the problems they need help with. They may need to increase their social media engagement, boost their website’s SEO, etc. It’s all about identifying their needs and proposing your company’s solutions.


Step Three:

Finding the decision-makers may be easier as a service-based company because your clients may very well be small businesses simply looking to bring in more customers and more times than not, your initial contact may be the decision-maker. This will vary from client to client, so adjust your techniques accordingly.


Step Four:

This is identical to any company whether providing services or products. Identifying the customer’s needs is the root of the selling process and determining how your product or services can individually solve their problems will seal the deal for your clients.


Step 5:

While you are not selling them a software tool, there is still information that you can give your client. If you are selling a product, provide them with the manual or suggested uses packet. If it’s a service, for example, a marketing agency, provide them with case studies from your most successful projects with real, tangible facts to show how good you are at what you do.


Step 6:

This will be the same for all companies as staying in touch with your new clients is essential to building a healthy and long-lasting relationship with them.


Step 7:

Finally, you should provide them with some form of a follow-up to see how they are enjoying your service or product and keeping the door open for the future.


Automate the Customer Success Process

While a personal touch is nice, wherever you can automate your processes, you should. Kapta features tools for Customer Success including Templates to help streamline the account planning process for your company. Kapta also offers organizational tools, so every client and the key decision-makers are kept in order along with any notes about the specific account.

The goal isn’t to replace your account managers; instead, the goal is to make the process more seamless and efficient so your account managers can spend more time communicating with clients and building a relationship instead of trapped in spreadsheets all day, trying to stay organized.



Putting customer’s success as priority number one pays off in the long-run and implementing a CS system into your enterprise will help your company and clients achieve long-term success. Feel free to read some of our other articles on our website and download a free trial of Kapta today.