It is my assumption that in the next 6 months, there will be very few business travels. Would you postpone the next (executive) business review until in-person visits are an option again? Per CSM Practice COVID-19 Survey results, customers are now more used to having video conferences with vendors and a remote business review should be appropriate. The challenge is to plan and execute an effective and valuable business review under different conditions. This should be a major objective for CS teams in 2020 considering the travel restrictions and other limitations on local/international travelers.
First, With COVID-19, vendors find it difficult to get sufficient attention from their stakeholders.
Let’s focus on two challenges we all have when planning the next business review:
- Executive availability and attention are limited. A short and focused business review sends a clear message to your stakeholders: You are respectful of their time.
- Promoting the vendor’s value during/after COVID-19 is not easy, and your mission (should you decide to take it…) is to stay in the game. If the game requires remote call/VC, then you must adapt to the new rules.
And yes – there are new rules. Maybe no one wrote them yet on a piece of paper, but you will need to learn them quickly. Conducting a remote business review now requires certain adjustments to make it a success. I cannot assume that “yesterday’s” best practices will win it for me. It’s time to bring new ideas and take steps to implement them.
The second step is to ask yourself whether the business review’s objectives have changed.
It goes without saying that you still want to articulate your value as a vendor while supporting the stakeholder/s and their organization to meet their own objectives.
But there is more…
- You want them to appreciate a short, concise, and focused business review.
- You want them to benefit from a business review that will not focus only on the value delivered so far, but on the potential value, you can provide while helping them to resume business during troubled times.
- You want them to rely on your expertise – now probably more than ever.
- Finally, you want them to value your presence the next time you have a business review in person.
These new rules beg the question: “What can you do to meet these additional objectives?” Let us review a few familiar aspects of business reviews with suggested twists and adjustments.
o Revisit the reports and slides you presented so far. Can you introduce a few changes and present KPIs differently than you did before? (taking into consideration you are not present in the room).
o Highlight KPIs that help your customer to address specific challenges (especially if they are related to COVID-19 impact).
o Add more visuals about KPI trends that can lead the customer to a new conclusion / change that they need to make.
o Send the KPIs/ reports before and address the highlights and questions during the business review.
o Generally, customers appreciate benchmarks, let alone when their entire competitive landscape must deal with COVID-19 impact.
o Is there a way for you to benchmark your customer vs. the market and/or similar organizations? (assuming you have the underline data that will enable this analysis)
o Even if you don’t have benchmarks, then think about the changes you need to implement to present it in the future.
- Lessons learned
o Share a few lessons learned based on your engagement with other customers.
o Unusual times and a lack of confidence in the “old ways of working” call for new ways of thinking.
o You can help your customer think differently and avoid mistakes that others have already made.
o Providing the right advice to your customer should maintain or even improve your position as a trusted advisor.
- Future challenges
o Think about the future challenges of your customer and assess their readiness to address them.
o Can you offer certain adjustments, or improvements to your product/service that will mitigate risks and support their business?
o I recommend refraining from leveraging the business review to initiate an upsell conversation, but instead help the customer to frame their new challenges and for you to qualify the additional value you can bring down the road.
This is the time to be more judgmental about business review methods and practices that used to work for us. This is one area in Customer Success that can lead the way as we have the technology and the data to make it a success. However, we need to take a fresh view on the situation knowing we must develop new ideas and methods. Not only to keep our customers engaged, but also offer a fresh view on their challenges while helping them to find new solutions.
Enjoy reading and stay safe.