If you work in a B2B SaaS company, you know that across the board, Q4 is always the biggest sales quarter of the year. Q4 is where the magic happens – prospects are geared up and ready to buy, to capitalize on extra end of year budget and set themselves and their teams up to have the right tools moving into the new year.
With the end of year being the busiest buying season, it then also in turn becomes the heaviest renewal period for Customer Success teams. This can be a stressful time, but if you’re prepared for it ahead of time, and have a plan of action, you can blow Q4 out of the water.
Here’s six things Customer Success Managers should start doing today to make Q4 their strongest quarter yet and close out the year strong.
1.) Set A Goal for the Quarter
If you fail to set a goal regarding your Q4 renewal efforts, it’s going to be a lot harder to make it a great quarter. You should be very clear about what you want to achieve. If you decide you want to hit 98% renewed revenue and a certain revenue amount in upsells, commit to doing the necessary activities to reach that number. In order to be pushing towards these goals you will want to diligently track your progress against these metrics throughout the quarter.
2.) Know Your Accounts’ Budgeting Timeline
For accounts that are up for renewal in Q4, you should have a good understanding of their budgeting process and timeline. Timing is everything. If you are trying to grow an account and reach out to them after their budgeting period is complete it will be a lot harder to get those additional dollars approved. Most companies do their annual budgeting at the end of the year (EOY) or the beginning of their next fiscal year, but this might not always be the case.
Be sure to make a note in your CS management platform with your account’s budgeting timeframe so you can be alerted when it’s timely to reach out about the renewal.
3.) Reach Out to Acknowledge the Renewal
Ideally it would be best to start your outreach process 90 days out from the renewal date. Never hesitate to bring up the renewal early on. The more time you give yourself to work through negotiations and approvals the better.
At a minimum you should have a renewal conversation with your customer at least 60 days out from their subscription expiration date. You will want to make sure you have done your preliminary research before reaching out to the customer. Check their product usage, their customer health score, and their NPS scores. Overall you want to understand where there might have been gaps in value and also how they measure up to their goals.
You might also want to consider offering an incentive to encourage your customers to renew early, which can help decrease the pressure on you at the end of the period.
4.) Conduct a Quarterly Business Review (QBR)
Hopefully you are already conducting QBRs with your accounts, but for those that line up with a Q4 renewal, you have the opportunity to place more emphasis on their annual goals and the progress they’ve made within the past year. It’s vital that you are able to demonstrate the value of the partnership, as that will go a long way in helping your customers make the decision to stick with you and continue to work together.
You will also want to be sure all the key players are present for this meeting, including departments managers and executive sponsors. It might also be a good idea to bring back in the sales rep that originally sold the account to reinforce the business case that was outlined from the start.
5.) Put Forward Upsell Opportunities
In QBRs with your customers make sure to listen and learn as much as you can around what areas they are struggling and their goals, to get a better understanding of how your product might be able to help them with their challenges as well as support their business objectives.
Instead of just trying to sell all of your new or available products at once, make your upsell/cross-sell proposals relevant to them and their needs. This will go a long way in terms of you being seen as their trusted advisor. Once they see you are truly aware and concerned with their needs, they will listen to your suggestions and happily try new and more costly features.
6.) Make the Process Clear
Make the renewal process easy on your customer by making it known exactly what they need to do (if anything at all) to renew. They might renew automatically, via self-service, or by manually singing a new contract. You just have to make all the options clear and help customers choose the most appropriate renewal method for them.
Also, if you are offering any discounts, make sure you spell out those terms and put in a signing deadline in order to take advantage of that offer.
Even though a lot is riding on Q4 performance as it can make a huge impact on a company’s bottom line for the year, it doesn’t have to be overly stressful if you set out your game plan a execute on it. Now lets go out and blow Q4 out of the water!
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