Have you ever had a client ask for Best Practices?
My final push over the cliff into entrepreneurship came as I was managing an Account Management team and sat in the board room of one of our largest clients to discuss how things were going with our software.
“Overall we like the software Nigel, but the one thing we feel is missing is a real understanding of Best Practices – we want to know what our peers are doing and how we can make the best use possible out of your platform,” is what our client said.
While I spit out some answer, this sent me on a path of reflection: What really were Best Practices? Did I actually know? If I didn’t, who did? Who would I ask to find these? Where do we track these? What clients are actually using Best Practices?
Now I had been at the business longer – and thus interacted with more clients – than 95% of the company but my own understanding was still purely anecdotal. I thought I knew and certainly had opinions on Best Practices but, if I was being honest with myself, I only knew what I thought they were best based on the clients I had interacted with. There was a whole world out there I had never been exposed to and that would surely shape my understanding of what Best Practice truly looked like.
Why Does it Matter?
So clients clearly wanted this but where else did Best Practices stand to make a difference? Scenarios kept surfacing just in thinking through my prior few weeks:
- Onboarded 3 new hires and spent dozens of hours meeting with them to talk through how different clients used our platform
- New Sales reps asked for a “client reference of someone who is happy with XYZ”
- Spent time with Marketing discussing strategy for Case Study targets
- Worked with Product to talk through platform areas we had been receiving complaints about
- Reported to senior leadership on what drove some clients to be happier / more successful than others
While these initiatives were ultimately completed, it was only due to significant manual effort: reaching out to ask people questions, looking through old emails / CRM notes, etc. It was slow, painful, inefficient, and ultimately held us back from generating more revenue.
Of all possible information that our business could track, the intel that touched every team and stood to drive the most impact in our growth was the thing we had the least clarity and data on.
What You Can Do
My journey to better understanding, tracking, and promoting Best Practices ultimately led to starting Foresight but for every client facing team out there, here are some simple steps to take to better prepare you next time a client asks for Best Practices:
1. Create a Framework
You cannot understand Best Practices without a framework to look at each account: What business areas can your platform support? How happy is a given client in managing these different areas? What are the top performers doing differently?
2. Benchmark Your Clients
Once a framework is in place, use this to assess clients and document your findings: Best Practices are inherently relative – you must understand both what they are using your platform for and how satisfied they are. A satisfied client who only uses a fraction of your platform’s full capabilities needs to be viewed differently than a client who is using the full extent of capabilities.
3. Proactively Communicate
After benchmarking, there is a key opportunity to solidify your position as a market expert by publishing, promoting, and pushing these Best Practices to your market: don’t wait for a client to ask for best practices, pre-emptively offer them up. This is, after all, Software as a Service!
We will dig into these steps in more detail – and look into how technology can help automate this – in future posts but I like to think of these as the foundations to a successful Account Management strategy.
Thanks and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!