How to leverage customer success insights to boost B2B sales

updated June 20, 2024
Reading time16 minutes
Philipp Wolf
Philipp Wolf
Founder and CEO of Custify.

Sell me this pen.

This iconic request, immortalized in job interviews and Hollywood blockbusters like "The Wolf of Wall Street," has long tormented those uninitiated in the fine art of selling.

Yet, there’s a paradox here. While a natural-born salesman might dazzle interviewers with quick wit and charm, a seasoned pro understands that true salesmanship goes beyond flashy pitches. In the real world, the key to selling that pen lies not in gimmicks but in understanding the customer's needs and desires.

That’s where Customer Success insights come into play, like the glue that holds everything together. That customer-centric approach everyone raves about? Wouldn’t be possible without those insights. Prioritizing product updates based on your buyer’s needs? How else would you do that if not for knowing your audience like the back of your hand?

Did we grab your attention yet? If so, stick around because we’re about to give you a full tour of Customer Success Insights and how they can help you get those sales numbers up-up-up.

Customer Success and Its Role in the B2B Customer Journey

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, Customer Success is a relatively new field in the B2B sales ecosystem. However, there’s a reason why it’s quickly gaining traction. It works. It works because it leverages the power of building relationships—something that’s all too familiar for those in B2B sales and marketing.

So, Customer Success is nothing more than the process of building, nurturing, and managing client relationships. The focus here is 100% on the customer's success. Your goal is to help him achieve his goals easier and faster, with less effort and stress. It’s about showing your customer that you’re an essential clog in their journey toward solving their problems and reaching their objectives.

This is a diametral opposite sales approach to the one where the job was done as soon as one closed a deal. Here, it’s not about making a sale and moving on to the next customer. Customer Success is about cultivating unwavering loyalty through exceptional customer interaction.

Now, you may be thinking, ‘That’s what our Customer Support team is for.,’ but don’t confuse these two animals. While Customer Support is reactive and specific to a customer’s request, Customer Success is proactive and anticipates customer challenges.

In doing so, you’re helping customers get the most value out of your product or service. When done right, your customers will virtually throw themselves at your upsells and cross-sells instead of feeling pressured and annoyed. Revenue will expand. Churn rates will get lower and lower. Your B2B will thrive.

How Customer Success is Reshaping B2B Sales

If your only way of pumping up sales numbers at the end of a quarter is an old-school cold-calling marathon, we’re sorry to break it to you, but this is 2024. It’s the digital era. Customers expect more than just a phone call out of the blue. They want personalized experiences tailored to their needs and preferences.

The first step to delivering such experiences is to abandon the outdated product-centric approach and embrace the illustrious customer-centric approach.

A quick distinction is in order.

As the name suggests, companies that adopt a product-centric approach believe that customers will come as long as they build superior products. Sadly, their idea of a superior product doesn’t often align with their clients’ needs and preferences.

On the other hand, companies that adopt a customer-centric approach make their decisions based on their customers' needs, preferences, and experiences. And they might be on to something.

According to research material published by Consumer Goods Technology, 82% of shoppers prefer to do business with companies that align their brand values with their own, and three-quarters of them will part ways with a brand over a conflict in values.

Looks like customer-centricity is winning both hearts and wallets. And if you’ve been paying attention, you’re probably starting to build a pretty accurate image of how those Customer Success insights are crucial in all this.

What, you’re still a bit skeptical? Hey, it’s only natural. This is why we’ve included Marco Giunta's short tale as further proof of the power of customer success insights.

Text: A real-life story: the turnaround tale

Source: LinkedIn

Not too shabby, Mr. Giunta, not too shabby.

The Essence of Customer Success Insights

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning - Bill Gates

Grandma used to say - we’re given two ears and one mouth for a reason: the ability to listen to those around us is essential. Perhaps even more so if you’re a company.

The ability to listen to your clients, know how they interact with your product, what they like and don’t like about it, the features they use most, and those that hardly get used at all, is what makes the difference between those who merely survive and those who thrive.

If you want your clients to see you as a trusted partner instead of another vendor, you must go beyond simply selling products or services. Customer success insights will be your guiding light.

In essence, customer insight is anything you learn about your customers that allows you to serve them better, improve their customer experience, or make your business more efficient. They can be both qualitative and quantitative.

Once you’ve gathered enough, a whole new universe will unravel. Imagine being able to anticipate your customer’s needs. To unveil their deepest desires and pain points. To deliver tailored solutions that resonate directly with their unique necessities. That’s the power customer success insights can bestow upon your business.

Analyzing Data for Actionable Insights

Firstly, let’s clarify that insights do not equal information or data.

Data consists of raw, unprocessed information, which can be numerical or text. Once you organize that data and give it context, you turn it into information.

Only after you’ve taken that information, analyzed it, and drawn conclusions can you say you’ve gained an insight.

In the image it's written "data different of information different of insights". It shows file icons and 2 lamps.

Secondly, not all insights are actionable. Actionable insights are conclusions drawn from data that can be turned into action. These are the types of insights you’re interested in.

An example is in order. Let’s say you’ve run an NPS survey and discovered your NPS dropped 6%. Is this insight actionable? Think about it for a few seconds before reading on.

If you answered No, you’re right. This is not something actionable because you don’t know why this drop happened. The Why would be your actionable insight in this case.

Now, let’s see what are the sources from which you can get these actionable insights.

Sources of Customer Success Insights

Here’s an alarming statistic related to customer data and insight-gathering: 80% of companies rely solely on customer analytics tools for gathering them. What are they missing out on? Let’s take a look.

Feedback questionnaires, surveys, reviews, and live chat insights

Studying customer reviews and live chat conversations, posting surveys on your website, or using feedback forms can give you a fairly accurate image of your customers’ level of satisfaction with your company. For instance, you could discover that many customers complained about unfriendly customer service.

Armed with that information, you could now take action and transform your customer service approach to prioritize friendliness and responsiveness. Something as simple as this would help build your brand image by showing your user base that you care.

Support tickets and resolution outcomes

Customer support tickets are a goldmine of customer insights. Think about it - these tickets contain information about your product from people who use it.

According to 2020 research, 64% of businesses claimed the actions resulting from customer insights from support requests substantially impacted their future decision-making.

Every ticket paints an image of your customer's world. It holds information about the obstacles they face and the frustrations they endure. You may even find information about product use cases you have never considered. If you’re unaware of them, you’re missing out on a new marketing perspective and potential product improvements.

Behavioral data

How your customers interact with your product or service tells a story. Everything they do—from the frequency with which they use a certain feature to the number of clicks it takes them to complete a specific action—provides invaluable clues about their needs, preferences, and pain points.

At first, analyzing these interactions may feel like reading between the lines of a novel. However, as you gather more data, a treasure trove of insights will unravel before you.

By seeing exactly what your customers do, you will no longer need to play a guessing game regarding their intentions.

Imagine yourself walking into your next sales meeting armed with these insights. Instead of playing a guessing game about that prospect’s needs and intentions, you have a crystal-clear understanding of their motivation, priorities, and results they’re looking to get from using your product or service.

Instead of using those generic sales tactics, you’ll go straight for the gut by offering a solution tailored to their needs.

Instead of getting caught off-guard by their concerns, you’ll address them with pinpoint accuracy.

Instead of following that classic, scripted pitch, you’ll come in offering personalized guidance that builds trust and confidence.

Behold the power of insights!

Constantly monitor your customer sentiment

How likely are your users to recommend your product or service to others? The answer lies in the NPS (short for Net Promoter Score) - one of the fundamental pillars of customer experience management. This indicator tells you exactly how powerful your brand’s reputation is and where its growth potential lies.

To measure your NPS, ask the following question to your user base:

In the image it's written "How likely are you to recommend company x/product y/ service z to a friend or colleague?"

Users will get to pick an answer from 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). Once you’ve gathered your answers, you will start categorizing them.

Your Promoters will be those who answered with a 9 or a 10.

Your Passives will be those who responded with a score of 7 or 8.

Finally, the rest of the respondents will fall in the Detractor category.

To calculate your NPS, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

The image shows how to calculate Net Promoter Score

Even though a score above 0 is considered good, it is also the bare minimum level of progress. We suggest aiming for an NPS north of 50.

Turning Insights Into Sales

Armed with enough actionable insights, it’s time to turn our attention to turning them into sales. This implies getting your sales and customer success teams working together. Bridging the gap between customer experience and sales efforts will lead to enhanced outcomes, such as higher conversion rates, increased average deal sizes, and improved customer loyalty.

Here are some ways you might use your actionable insights to boost your sales.

Personalize your sales approaches

The days when that one-size-fits-all sales tactic reigned supreme are long gone. Nowadays, 90% of US customers find a personalized sales experience more pleasurable.

Today’s customers want to feel understood. During your interaction with them, you need to show them you’ve done your homework and know everything about them. You know their preferences. Their pain points. Their aspirations. You need to make them feel like your product is a match made in heaven for solving their problems.

To achieve this level of personalization, gather insights into how your current customers use your product.

Let’s say you notice that most of your e-commerce clients are hardcore users of a particular feature within your product while everyone else almost never uses it. So, next time you’re pitching an e-commerce client, you’ll know exactly how to tailor your sales approach around this feature.

Boost sales with customer success stories

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. What’s more appealing? Sitting through a 30-min sales presentation where stats and numbers dominate every slide? Or hearing how someone similar to you transformed his business by implementing this solution?

Everybody loves a good story. Stories are relatable. Plain stats and numbers - boooring!

Not only do stories make up for a more memorable experience, but B2B buyers want to hear from other customers - even if they don’t know them.

Just bear in mind that when you present a story, you want to focus on the outcomes, not on your features. Now, we did say that stats and numbers are boring - and they are. However, when included in a story, they help drive your point home and support your pitch.

Uncover upsell and cross-sell opportunities

Cross-selling and upselling are some of the best revenue-boosting techniques. Yet, there’s a bit of a paradox here. Some studies suggest that only 5%-15% of customers are open to these methods. However, upsells and cross-sells are also known to increase customer loyalty.

The problem here may not be with the upsells and cross-sells but more with the bad timing and clumsy techniques used to promote them.

The good thing is that we can leverage insights to help us identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities that users can hardly resist.

One way to do this is by segmenting users based on the data you gathered about them.

For example, with the right tools, such as Customer Success software, you could target those users who frequently use a basic feature of your product to present them with a premium feature that could save time significantly.

By aligning upsells and cross-sells with your customer success insights, you ensure that these offers are timely, relevant, and beneficial for your users. This is likely to enhance your offer take-rate and foster deeper customer relationships. It’s a double win for you and one for the user as well.

Creating Synergy Between Sales and Customer Success Teams

Both Sales and customer success teams are essential for ongoing sales success. This means they need to work together, constantly communicate, and share insights and feedback.

However, the path to working better together is oftentimes rocky. Common obstacles include misaligned goals, competing priorities, working in silos, and potential friction between team leaders. So, how do you navigate past them?

Familiarizing your sales team with key customer success metrics and insights would be a good starting point.

"Getting Sales and CS to dance to the same tune can be tricky, with each stepping on each other's toes quite often. The trick? We started sharing CS's top hits - our key metrics. Suddenly, it's like we're all at the same party, moving in sync towards our shared goal: making our customers the real VIPs."

- Irina Vatafu, Head of CS, Custify

Now, let’s take a quick look at some other synergy-improving strategies for bridging the gap between your sales and customer success teams.

Make sure everyone’s pulling in the same direction

If you think about it, whether it’s sports or business, teams achieve success because they’re motivated by one overarching goal.

Two things you need to pay attention to here. First, the more obvious of the two is ensuring your sales and customer success teams keep their eyes on the same prize. That means sharing KPIs and aligning on common objectives.

The other thing to look out for is equally important - which most will often ignore. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the leading sources of tension between teams. We’re talking about incentives.

When your sales teams receive rewards for one thing and your customer success team for something entirely different, friction occurs.

However, when you align incentives, you create a force that pulls together towards that common goal.

Create regular communication channels

You can’t have collaboration without communication. Even the most well-aligned teams will fail to perform at their best without open and transparent communication channels.

So, it goes without saying that the two teams should meet up regularly, share their findings, and discuss new strategies. These meetings can be either in-person or even as email newsletters - whatever form works to ensure efficient communication. However, we encourage teams to use both.

While email newsletters are great for keeping everyone informed in spite of a hectic schedule, face-to-face meetings help build rapport and unity among team members.

"Maintaining open lines between Sales and CS is key. We keep the pace with brief email updates for quick wins and deep-dive meetings for the big plays. It's like gathering around the water cooler; we share insights, celebrate successes, and strategize together. This mix ensures we're all on the same page, turning plans into action."

- Vicky Kalbande, Head of Sales at Sleek Bill

Collaborative account planning

Until recently, account planning was about maximizing revenue or preventing customer churn. Fast forward to today, account planning has evolved into a collaborative approach that prioritizes customer success and mutual growth. The idea is to help your customer grow and let his growth also fuel yours.

This is a complete shift in how businesses approach their relationship with customers. The old-school way saw sales and customer success teams operate as completely separate entities. Meanwhile, in today’s customer-centric landscape, sales and customer success teams must unite their efforts for growth to happen.

Let’s see how this collaboration happens from both the sales and the customer success perspective:

  • From a sales perspective, collaborative account planning isn’t just about closing deals. Instead, the sales pro looks to understand the customer’s business goals, challenges, and aspirations. He realizes that he cannot identify any opportunities to add value without this information. As a result, the sales team will work closely with its customer success counterpart to gather customer insights and customer feedback.
  • From a customer success perspective, collaborative account planning makes it possible to identify opportunities to help customers reach their goals and maximize the value they get from using the product or service. The focus is on ensuring a smooth sales to customer success handoff and leveraging those insights gathered during the sales process to simplify their onboarding and develop tailored support strategies.

The image shows information about customer success handoff.

Summing It Up

It’s a known fact that we humans aren’t fond of change. However, there’s no denying it - the B2B sales landscape is no longer the same.

The focus has shifted from short-sighted transactional sales-oriented tactics to long-term relationships and mutual growth. In today’s fierce landscape, every client interaction is an opportunity to make your name stand out. And this can only happen with the help of customer insights.

The sooner you use them to your advantage, the sooner you can start reaping those benefits.

The ball’s in your court, and the next move is yours.

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