Managing Buyer Expectations is Key to High SaaS Customer Retention
By Anna Talerico
Mar 26 2019
While I believe high customer retention (and/or low revenue & customer churn, depending how you prefer to frame it) takes a village that touches all aspects of the company…I also believe that sales plays a big role. Particularly when it comes to setting customer expectations.
If you have a sales team that routinely overpromises, you are in for very unhappy customers who are at risk for churning. Where can sales overpromise? Let me count the ways…I can think of 6 just off the top of my head.
- How long it takes to get up and running
- How much work is involved in getting up and running
- How easy it is to use your solution (or not)
- What skills or roles are needed to run your solution
- What other incremental or add-on costs there may be (total cost of ownership)
- What business problems your product actually solves
- What outcomes can actually be achieved by using your product
Want to retain customers? Don’t overpromise
As a sales leader, my approach is to not shy away from any of these things. Buyers want honest answers, especially when it comes to SaaS solutions. They have been burned before with promises of simple, easy and effortless. When you tell your buyer how long it actually takes to get trained, or fully operational they appreciate your candor and honesty. When you tell your buyer the skills they will actually need to set up or run it they feel more confident in their purchase decision.
If I tell a buyer it takes 4 weeks to be up and running, and they say they need it up and running in 4 days, I know they might not be the right buyer for my solution. When a buyer says they have 1 hour a week to devote to working in my platform, and I know my most successful customers work 4-10 hours a week in my platform, I know they might not be the buyer for my solution.
Just be real with your prospects and customers
You don’t need to promise rainbows and puppy dogs to win the deal. Just be candid, honest and real. Have conversations that exchange key information between you and your buyer. You need to educate on why these things are the way they are, and what outcomes and benefits they can expect. You need to be a partner to your buyer, not a slick sales rep.
What I tell my sales reps is this: Don’t overpromise. Trust your product. Trust your buyer. And you will win the right deals.
And what’s the point? Why is setting the right buyer expectations so important? Because this is what leads to customers who accelerate themselves through onboarding, adopt your product and renew when it comes time. When buyers know what to expect they are far more likely to be retained. And retention is how the SaaS game is won.