I receive requests regularly from readers for tips on Customer Success execution.
The most recent one from Clare from the UK asks how to drive adoption across multiple stakeholders.
Clare • Hi Kia, I'd be keen to know if you have any opinions and clear tactics on how to work on adoption of software when you sell to one department (i.e. marketing) but the adoption issues are with the sales team who use it. Just doing training isn't working in my experience. Maybe an article idea? :)
Selling to one department (or an executive) and having the product used by another department (or roles within the executive’s team) is certainly common.
The challenge in this scenario is that successful use of the technology depends on the adoption and buy-in from a group that did not select the product in the first place.
It is therefore important that all customer stakeholders are aligned on the desired outcomes to be realized from the software and understand what that means for the organization as a whole in terms of responsibilities and various roles.
In this case, a holistic approach to driving adoption across the whole team is required to ensure the buyer and end users are aligned on the goal(s).
This means product adoption is not simply a matter of product training alone.
The customer’s adoption and usage of the product also consists of change management across the organization and multiple stakeholders.
Successfully adopting and leveraging technology is thus dependent on the customer’s ability to change how they do things internally – their workflows, role responsibilities, as well as the commitment amongst the various stakeholders and users to implement and use the technology – to realize the value they are looking to achieve when they bought the software.
Vendors therefore need to understand how the entire customer (i.e. aggregated stakeholders) best learn, use and leverage technology within their organizations and across multiple users and departments.
Vendors need to understand why customers buy, what the business objectives and outcomes they wish to achieve are, and how best to drive seamless change within a company in order to build the technology’s use within their environment.
That is, the customer journey should outline completely what customers need to be successful in order to properly “ingest” the software into their organizations.
And that doesn’t stop at product training.
It can also involve new business processes, new role responsibilities, an understanding of the organization’s learning and business process culture to provide insight into how best to create a seamless and easy experience of product adoption within the company, as well as getting senior leadership’s commitment to drive change internally from the top down in addition to bottoms up.
This is why I so ardently advise companies to understand their customer journey.
Understanding, from the customer’s perspective, how the technology fits into the larger customer context (i.e. their business) highlights how and with whom Customer Success should interact to drive success.
In this case then, where the buyer and user are different stakeholders, Customer Success should consider adding to its (methodology) playbook steps prior to product training that aligns marketing and sales expectations for the technology, as well as their commitment to making the company successful through the leverage of the technology.
Perhaps onboarding needs to include a joint meeting between the two departments to agree upon process, accountability and metrics to ensure the change happens.
Ensure that this joint meeting (or kick-off) covers objectives alignment and change management and outlines what that means for all stakeholders and users.
Or the sales organization needs to understand how their involvement is key to realizing the outcomes the business is looking to achieve (i.e. speaking to the “why should they care?”).
Or, as a possible best practice, the sales organization’s compensation structure needs to be altered to incorporate compensating the behaviours required to drive adoption in this case.
Essentially, Customer Success’ responsibility as it relates to driving adoption is to align the interests of all customer stakeholder groups so they successfully adopt and use the technology, and then manage them proactively to achieve the goals.
99% of the time, this involves more than product training alone.
Thanks Clare for your question! If any of you have questions regarding Customer Success that you would like me to address, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.