The Ultimate Renewal Playbook
Every SaaS firm, irrespective of the model- B2B or B2C, drives its revenue through renewals, upsells, etc. However, when it comes to the B2B business model, the process is more complicated and the incoming stream of recurring revenue is what keeps the firms afloat!
This is because we’re living in a subscription economy where your customers are not buyers but subscribers and they can decide to leave your services anytime.
In such a situation, retaining existing subscribers and earning revenue through them is the best strategy that makes sense economically. High renewal rates provide a stable revenue source every month which helps you to focus on upsells, advocacy, and acquiring new customers.
As we know, a playbook is a series of time-bound activities to achieve the desired goal. It’s a set of rules which is to be followed-what needs to be done, when, how, etc.
Now, many customer success professionals, all around the world, want to know if there’s a magical “renewal playbook” that, if implemented, can level up their entire CX game.
Is there a renewal playbook?
Truth be told, there is none!
There is NO renewal playbook as such because, if there was one, everyone would need only that one. None of the customer success or onboarding or support would’ve been there in the first place if you could renew your customers without much effort.
Renewal is an event, a transaction that reflects what you’ve done for your customer, what value has been delivered, through the entire period when s/he was with you. There’s no magic bullet that can help you with renewals in the last 30 days. You need to look at the renewal goal from the day when the customer signs up with you.
When should the customer success team start looking at renewal?
The Customer Success team should start looking at it, as mentioned earlier, from the very first day when the customer signs up. If you want to know what it takes to renew an account, it is this- are you delivering value? You need to figure out if they’ve been onboarded right? Have they started getting value?
The entire customer journey- from signing up to onboarding to getting the promised value- would have several points where you can pitch in to help your customers and increase the chances of renewal.
In a perfect world, the renewal should be a non-event. It’s the ideal state that you want to achieve!
Check out the SaaS customer retention best practices to maximize renewals!
How should you be constantly delivering value to your customers?
One approach to this is a timeline-driven cadence- when should you intervene to help the customer, when should you make sure that they’re getting value, etc.-then let’s say 90 days before the anniversary date. However, that’s a shallow answer. Waiting for the anniversary or X amount of days before intervening to help won’t work out because by that time your customers might have already decided to migrate if s/he is not receiving the desired value.
The right approach is that you’re always ensuring that value is getting delivered which is best handled by monitoring the account in real-time, using AI, measuring 360-degree account health, with the Customer Success tools like CustomerSuccessBox.
This is what will trigger true renewal enablement.
Yes, there are a truckload of things that you can do in the last 90 days till the contract renewal date and can fix up issues that are broken and essentially that will constitute the renewal playbook that we’re talking about.
Bonus tip: Renewal Playbook- What magic can it do?
What sort of activities that a Customer Success Manager should be tracking over time lead to that moment of value?
Every customer will want to renew as there’s a huge overhead of switching platforms. The decision to not renew is generally not taken in a hurry. Have you enabled your customers to renew? This would be a better question to answer.
What’s the value that your sales promised? What’s your marketing promising? That’s the value your customers came seeking from your technology. The current state of your customer is something you need to track.
The best way to do that is to pick up the phone, call up your sponsor and ask them if you’ve received the value which was promised to you. We need to look at 4 different ways of tracking health.
- Product adoption health– This is the best proxy for identifying if they’re getting value.
- Service quality health – Are the SLAs being met for the support tickets raised?
- Financial health- Have they upgraded or downgraded the number of seats?
- Relationship health- How many touchpoints are they having with you?
- Suggested Read: Customer Health score Guide
How do you include customer feedback in the product roadmap and your renewal conversations?
Let’s assume that we are in the last 90 days till the contract renewal date. Now is the time to kick off any formal process like this, the last attempt to fix if there’s something that is broken.
Assume that you start with evergreen or recurring contract. Basically, the contract language should say the contract is renewed automatically until canceled.
The first step, for the Customer Success Manager, would be to analyze all those accounts which are up for renewal in the next 90 days. Based on the analysis, categorize your accounts into 3 buckets-
- At-risk accounts
- Going to renew accounts
- Accounts with upsell opportunities
Once these accounts are identified, then we go ahead and set up a meeting and we call it a QBR (Quarterly Business Review). This is the time and place where we discuss the current state in which both us and our customers are in, and where we can take you. That is where you incorporate the roadmap and stitch it back with the feedback received.
For example- 6 months ago if your customer asked you for feature enablement, then this is the time to show that you’ve worked on it and the same has been done.
It will put you in a powerful position as there’s no reason why your customers should not renew!
Pro tip– Check out our Renewal Template which will be helpful in tracking the renewal process at your firm.
What is the best way to address every stakeholder or the champion in the renewals process?
It’s never between two individuals, it’s always a team that is involved in the renewal process which is why you should always cultivate the relationships- with multiple individuals at multiple levels- through the customer lifecycle.
Identifying those relationships can happen when you start engaging with them from the onboarding stage, never drop the relationship that your sales have developed and cultivate them by inviting them to different communities that you might be managing by giving them a platform to amplify their voice. That’s the best form of advocacy that you can get.
Interestingly, communities (for example- inSided) can also help in identifying champions for your business. Passionate customers will use the platform and talk about the value that they’re receiving from your technology. It’s good to have relationships with multiple champions as you’d not know when your current champion leaves.
How do you identify multiple champions?
The first thing which you need to look at is that your product is being consumed by different personas. Once you identify those personas, ideally you want to have at least one champion at all those person levels.
At CustomerSuccessBox, we identify those personas which use our technology. Our AI (Sheldon) identifies different potential champions for each persona within each account. Then you can get them to the next level to let them be your voice in the community.
Renewal is a transactional process. A contract, if renewed, reflects everything which your customer achieved during the entire journey. Thus, it makes sense to start looking at it from the very first day when the customer signs up with the goal to “renew the contract”.
Ensure that the value promised by your sales and marketing team is getting delivered. Include the feedback in the product roadmap and invite them to communities to elevate their voice. Build relationships with multiple stakeholders and champions so that they become the best advocates for your business.