New customers can hold great opportunity, but don’t neglect the old accounts because they hold hidden gold that can maximize revenue through expansion. That seemed to be the main message Jeff Newton, CSAP, global strategic alliance manager at Cisco Systems, and his colleague, Manoj Bhatia, CSAP, worldwide sales and business development manager at Cisco, conveyed to the audience during their session “Accelerate Partner Sales through a Customer Success Methodology.” Then they explained how to do it. The talk took place at the recent 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise,” Feb. 28–March 2, at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. Newton shared some thoughts from the session during an interview about his customer sales methodology.
How is the partner ecosystem changing/expanding to address new buying patterns?
From Cisco’s perspective, we are moving into lines of business where finance and marketing teams are making a lot of the decisions. It takes an ecosystem to deliver the right solution to the right customer. We need to ask how the changing ecosystem is impacting partners. We need to partner with the right people with the right technology. It’s really hard for one company to deliver the entire outcome.
Different people are making the decisions now. In the past, we would go into the IT department, find out the budget, and see how much product could be delivered. We have evolved to understanding what their pains are. To understand customers better, how can technology solve that problem? So it’s not really about selling product, it’s about selling solutions to business problems that the people in lines of business are having.
What is the role of alliance management in managing the customer?
It is good to understand what the customer is after. Ask yourself, what business problems are we solving? From an alliance management perspective, we need to put together the right ecosystem for the problem and solve the specific problem for each industry and vertical.
Please sum up your “customer success” methodology to drive an alliance to land, adopt, expand, and renew opportunities.
It’s about what the cost is to acquire a new customer. Companies spend a lot of time landing the new customer. Businesses forget to go back to that customer and find news ways to generate revenue with that customer. If you are adopting technology, you will be a lot more open. If you are helping a client build a data center, you may want to get into different lines of business to expand your sale. Also, we often don’t pay attention to sales teams, don’t focus enough on new opportunities, and we need to change our alliances to not only go after new business, but also expand together within the customer arena.
How can we measure our progress with customers?
There are some very different types of metrics we can look at. One thing I look at is the renewal rate for our support services. The industry average is about 90 percent, so if you go below 90 percent, you have an opportunity. It’s a compelling event to expand. The technology you have in your partner ecosystem will also help expand the sales and grow your footprint inside of a customer.
What are the best ways for alliance teams to lead this business transition and implement a customer success approach?
First, you really need to understand this methodology. Start looking at customers together in the same fashion. Ask how can we educate our sales teams on the ability to expand the opportunity and prepare for the renewal of the opportunity? How do we get our sales teams to think differently to engage with the customer? Look at the customer journey. Explore what they want to buy, and then evaluate it through a demonstration or something else, then the purchase, renewal opportunity, and then they can become your advocate inside the company.