Christian Kletzl, CEO at UserGems.
In recent years, we have seen the B2B purchasing process evolve in the following ways.
• Purchase commissions grow, often between 6 to 10 decision makers at the same time.
• Being professionals change jobs faster.
• Revenue teams are asked to achieve better results with fewer resources.
One thing has remained clear: business-to-business is about people-to-people relationships. Forward-thinking companies are considering how to re-prioritize their efforts to put the individual first.
Just as we talk about and follow the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), we should be equally obsessive about Champion LTV, the estimated dollar worth of individuals in your CRM. Your business relationships are with people and people are moving.
Here’s how I prioritize past clients at my growing startup — and how you can do the same.
Past customers are your future opportunities.
Can previous customers contribute to pipeline generation? Absolute. One user of your software can open doors for your sales force several times in their career.
Relationships have been central to the way business is done for centuries. In the modern business world, with all automation at our fingertips, we have neglected this very human aspect in our sales and marketing scope.
But as the saying goes, everything old is new again. Buyers appreciate being treated like people and not just “decision makers” in a CRM. So how do we leverage relationships to seize new opportunities?
With 20% to 40% of people switching jobs every year, your clients are a great source of qualified pipeline.
After all, previous customers already know your company and product – these leads are literally pre-sold on whatever your product brings to the table. Do you treat these ‘old’ customers as opportunities for new business?
Who are your champions?
Many B2B companies use the word “champion” to describe a key player in closing a deal and an advocate for your solution. But often revenue teams are too prescriptive about who their champions might be. They are tempted to go after individuals in traditional decision-maker roles: directors, vice presidents, and C-suite executives.
That approach is too narrow. Your greatest champions aren’t just at the top of the org chart. They are the people who can talk about the value of your products and services: administrators, power users and end users. By locating the direct and indirect relationships your company has with prospects in your target accounts, you can create a more targeted reach.
Three types of champions every B2B revenue team should followhow do you narrow down a long list of individual users to identify your most valuable champions?
Here are three types of champions to keep an eye on.
Key contacts within your CRMthat is, the (known) purchasing commission.
Chances are, your first instinct is to identify your primary contacts, decision-makers, and key influencers as your most likely champions. Good instincts! These individuals were primarily helpful in getting your product on board and have already built relationships with your salespeople. These contacts can indicate whether their company has a need for your product or solution.
Find them in your CRM, calendar invites with sales and customer success teams, and messages in your email inbox.
Product usersincluding administrators, power users and regular end users, i.e. the (unknown) purchasing commission
Users are a precious commodity, but their information may not be readily available in your CRM. You may not even think that users are influential in purchasing decisions, but your users know your product like no other (sometimes even the original decision maker) and can defend your product from their own experience.
Find them in your product database. Review your usage data to segment and rank these users before contacting.
Previous users of churned bills.
Churn doesn’t indicate it’s time to give up! When these users move to a new business, they may have different needs and budgets that better suit them.
If the churn is due to product reasons and there’s been a major product update since then, there’s a good reason to rejoin. Churned users are just as aware of how the product works and the value it brings – and keeping up with them will help you forge new relationships as they make career moves.
Find them in your CRM. Look for past contacts and previous users who recently changed jobs, as they may now be with one of your target accounts.
Follow champion in actionThere are several ways to surface your most valuable champions, but before adopting any of these tactics, make sure you have identified the types of champions. most relevant to your growth goals. Once you have that figured out, you can operationalize your champion tracking efforts.
These triggers are signs to reach your most valuable champions.
You need to determine which triggers to use to surface and interact with these individuals. This is essential for maintaining lasting relationships with your champions.
Use these four triggers as opportunities to tap into your champion relationships to make meaningful connections.
1. A new executive will start working at one of your target accounts.
2. Your current contact/champion is starting a new job.
3. A company within your account list creates new strategic positions.
4. Companies on your target account list undergo significant changes in hiring or firing.
These trigger events indicate that a company may be evaluating new solutions – and you don’t want to miss this opportunity. By combining the information you gather from your champion list with the right sales triggers, you can generate a hot pipeline, accelerate deals, and even kickstart stalled opportunities.
Individuals, not corporations, are your best champions.
Companies buy and renew contracts, but individuals refer, advocate for your solution and make purchasing decisions. B2B is increasingly becoming a human-to-human playing field and leveraging relationships is the best, most sustainable playbook you can use.