“For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don’t get a lead within the first 48 hours.“
This line kicks off the television show The First 48, a crime documentary show focused on detectives solving difficult homicide cases.
The corollary to this in the B2B space is the customer onboarding process. Read David Blakes recent blog post on plotting out customer success through a journey map and you can understand why. David points out: The first 90 days of a customer relationship can determine the outcome whether good or bad. Wed agree. The transition from a perfect sales cycle to the real world of getting the product to do what the customer wants isnt as providing a username and password.
Consider the age-old comparison of retention cost vs. acquisition cost. As weve heard throughout our business lives, retention is a more cost-effective strategy in maintaining financial solvency for your organization. As noted in this HubSpot blog article, it costs about 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to generate new business from an existing customer. There are revenue implications too. In the same article, its stated that 20% of new sales come from existing customers!
So, where does that leave us? Lets put together the pieces. If were to believe that retention is at least as important(at least) asacquisition (for SaaS companies in particular) and the most critical phase of a customers journey is the first 90 days post-sale, than the most important role one can play at a company would be … who?
The marketer has already raised awareness around solving the customer problem. The seller has most likely moved onto the next deal in the pipeline. The support team is waiting for the phone to ring.
The most critical role at any B2B organization is the onboarder. I use the generic and not-so-appealing term onboarder because different companies manage this function in different ways. In some organizations, sales engineers continue the transition from the pre-sale proof of concept. At some companies, dedicated customer success managers guide the customer onto the product. For larger enterprises, professional service teams fulfill this responsibility. Of course, theres a good chunk of companies who leave thisrole vacant and leave it to the customer to embrace the product.
So, what is the lesson? Understand the first 90 days through journey mapping. Staff a success team to ensure early customer success. Incentivize the sales team to extend their engagement through the transition period. Do whatever it takes to close the deal, because the deal wasnt in fact closed when the customer paid you. Its closedwhen a customer is satisfied with their investment.