The new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road, requiring marketing for brand awareness, cultivating interest, and encouraging taking action. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Marketing Metrics estimates that the probability of selling to an existing customer is as high as 60 to 70 percent (whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 and 20 percent). Customer Success capitalizes on this, and so do the fastest growing companies.
Using research from Shopify’s Ecommerce Growth Benchmark, RJ Metrics observed that a top quartile of new ecommerce companies were growing far faster than their competition within the first six months, bringing in more than $600k in monthly revenue and acquiring new customers 3.5x faster than the other companies.
When they began digging into the reasons for these growth spurts, researchers found that not only were these successful companies acquiring more new customers than their competitors, they also excelled in retaining them. In fact, 20 percent of their revenue came from repeat purchases made from new customers in their first few months of business. By the end of their first three years, the majority of revenue came from repeat buyers.
With so many startups and established companies focused solely on acquisition numbers, realizing the value of retention can result in a real paradigm shift. But the fastest growing companies do one other thing. Once they’ve made a new customer, they lead them to make that second purchase within the first 30 days.
Those first 30 days are the most important. It’s when new customers are most engaged with the product. It’s also when they’re first learning how to use it, and discovering exactly what it can do for them. It’s a steep learning curve, and most customers fall off long before they reach the summit – mostly because businesses forget about them once they’re on the hook. But the companies taking off like wildfire know that one sale is good, but the second sale is better.
It turns out that the likelihood of a customer of one of these top quartile companies to make a second purchase was nearly 30 percent, but once that second purchase was made, the likelihood of a third purchase rose to more than 50 percent. From there, the odds of additional purchases continued to rise.
What is this alchemy?
The million dollar question becomes: What is happening within those first 30 days?
I have a theory. Customer Success is happening. These are the results of a thriving, robust, fully supported Customer Success program that is embraced by the entire company, from the CEO to the mail room.
The definition of Customer Success is:
“Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.” – Lincoln Murphy, Sixteen Ventures
Most people confuse this concept with customer happiness, or customer satisfaction. They aren’t the same thing. Not at all.
Customer happiness and customer satisfaction are good. You want them. But, they’re not nearly as important as creating systems to enable the customer to reach their desired outcomes. Those desired outcomes might not even be inside your product or app. In fact, they probably aren’t.
For example, if you operate an email service like MailChimp, the client’s success doesn’t happen when they send out a mass emailing. Success only happens if they achieve a high open rate. Therefore, your Customer Success team might devise tutorials, blog content, webinars, or even an “academy” to train customers how to write more compelling emails.
This is success.
How to tell if you’re nailing it
If you’re not sure if you’re hitting the mark, there is a very easy test. It’s called the Net Promotor Score, and it’s a single question that holds the key to so much. You can use it to gauge the health of your customer base, sift the most delighted customers from the ones who aren’t really interested, and even help you define your ideal customer. Here it is:
Customers who find success will be far more likely to respond with a 9 or 10 when asked the Net Promotor Score question. This group is called Promoters, or Brand Advocates. Promoters are loyal customers ready and willing to sing your praises. They are also statistically more likely to be repeat buyers, upgrade their accounts, try new offerings, and recommend your company to other interested parties.
These people are not only happy with your product, they are delighted by your service, and most importantly, they are successful in achieving their desired outcomes. Basically, they are the end result of a Customer Success program that really works.
Trade in Acquisition, Trade on Retention
Acquisition is where most sales processes end. But for subscription-based products and services, that’s not where you’ll find the real money, or growth potential.
What if your sales team stopped focusing on the next new client and diverted their considerable energies into checking up on recently-won customers? Ask these customers what their goals are. Set up trackable metrics for them so they can see (and so you can see) their progress towards reaching them. If you notice that they logged in three times in a row, and then stopped, see if they ran into a problem they couldn’t figure out how to solve. And within those first 30 days, take the most successful of these clients, and ask for that next sale.
If you're feeling comfortable with this, now it's time to transform your product managers & content marketers into a dynamic duo for retention & growth. Find out more about this topic in our free eBook, "How to Align SaaS Content Marketing and Product Management."