Developing an Effective Value Realization Strategy

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Your customers are your biggest asset, and one of your top priorities should be retention. It can cost up to five times more to bring in new customers than it takes to retain them, which is why value realization is such an important tool for companies to be leveraging in their customer success strategies.

Value realization is the process of communicating the true value your offering provides to your customers. If a client doesn’t recognize the value you’re providing, it increases the likelihood that they will churn. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of value realization for your business and the steps to develop a value realization strategy.

The Advantages of Value Realization

Value realization has four major benefits for your business. 

  1. Customers can discover quantified, economic value they didn’t previously recognize in your offerings
  2. ‌You can gain a better understanding of your clients’ needs by asking them about their strategic goals and initiatives, and make sure you’re delivering against those KPIs
  3. ‌You can proactively prevent churn by addressing problems, uncovering gaps in value promised vs. value achieved and improving satisfaction
  4. ‌You can reduce customer acquisition costs and increase profits by retaining and expanding customers more effectively

‌To accomplish this, you need an effective value realization strategy. This strategy, or roadmap, will guide you through the process of learning what your customers value, understanding how to measure that value, and demonstrating it to clients. 

Steps to Creating a Value Realization Strategy

steps to creating a value realization strategy

 

1. Design Roadmap (with KPIs and Metrics in mind)

The first step to creating your strategy is to design a roadmap. Any value realization plan should involve the following three fundamentals:

  • Value Discovery: Working with the client to uncover the value they want to receive from your offering and determining how they measure success. In this step, you should identify the metrics and KPIs you’ll use to monitor the value you provide. 
  • Value Delivery: Providing the solutions the client wants and helping them implement your offering effectively in order to achieve their desired outcomes. During this stage, you make sure that you’re monitoring the metrics and meet the KPIs you’ve set.
  • Value Realization: The ongoing process of communicating to the client the value you’ve helped them to realize by your mutual partnership..  In this stage, you’re providing quantified economic value metrics that prove your product has helped them to achieve the goals and KPIs established in the Value Discovery phase. 

Ideally, the value discovery phase takes place during the sales process. Value delivery begins with client onboarding and continues through the client lifecycle. Finally, value realization can take place once the initial KPIs are met and can be managed with both customer success teams, as well as executive sponsors on both sides of the partnership. 

2. Share Your Strategy

Once you’ve created a roadmap, it’s time to share it with all relevant stakeholders, like your key staff working with and supporting the client.

It’s critical that your customer success teams understand the value realization roadmap and how it is a strategic initiative for your business’ growth. Every client may have slightly different definitions of success, so by explaining the strategy and KPIs to your team, they are better able to meet the client’s expectations. 

3. Establish Milestones

Internal stakeholders play a role in establishing milestones, too. Your team can provide estimates on how long it will take to achieve certain client goals, allowing you to start a dialogue with the client about specific milestones.

These milestones are a refinement of the overall strategy. If the value realization roadmap is a collection of destinations, the milestones are pit-stops along the way. While the end-goal is to successfully implement your product or offering, your milestones might be things like onboarding the client’s team, implementing the test phase of the project, and going fully live. 

Milestones should include dates and quantifiable KPIs that can be met. These elements will help your team and your client confirm that the project is still on track and on time. 

4. Execute Your Plans

You can only plan for so long. Once you’ve set milestones and confirmed them with the client, it’s time to act. During this phase, your organization works with the client to execute the plan you’ve developed. 

Even the best laid plans can run into complications. If any surprises pop up during execution, talk to the client immediately to resolve the situation. Proactive responses can help your company refine the roadmap to reflect the actual conditions of the project, or adjust it to your client’s preferences before complications affect the value you provide. By discussing problems as they arise, not only do you gain the trust of your customer, you also increase customer satisfaction and maintain your ability to deliver the value your customer is expecting.

5. Review Progress

Both before and after the project is complete or the deliverable has been provided, review progress with your client. Go over the status of the project, the milestones you’ve met, and the status of the KPIs and metrics you identified at the beginning. 

With a regular cadence, like a Quarterly Value Review (QVR), you establish a regular touchpoint with your customers focused solely around value realization. Executive sponsors from both your company and your customer should be present, as these meetings will revolve around the KPIs that they are responsible for. 

Using a value management tracker in these meetings can help you demonstrate the benefits you’ve already provided. You can prove your impact throughout the execution of your offering, so your clients never doubt the value you deliver. 

6. Keep Going (Wash, Rinse, Repeat)

The true worth of value realization is its ability to help you build trust with your customers, making sure your customers are loyal advocates for your brand and growing your net retention rates in return. It’s much easier to continuously prove the value you provide to present clients than it is to acquire new ones. 

To repeat the cycle,make sure that value realization is a key strategic initiative within your organization. Regularly touch base with your customers, both day to day users and executive sponsors, to ensure that you’re operating under the same understanding of what constitutes success and have clear and open conversations around where you stand relative to what was promised and what has been delivered. If your clients’ needs change, develop a new roadmap with adjusted KPIs, then repeat the refinement and execution process. 

Example of a Value Realization Strategy and Roadmap

Your value realization strategy should be specific and actionable. That means that you should identify what each step entails, who will do it, and how.

example of a value realization roadmap and strategy

For example, a value realization roadmap for your strategy may look like this:

‌Step one: Value Discovery

  • ‌What: Ensure that the client understands company offerings and determine the KPIs that will determine success
  • ‌Who: Sales team
  • ‌How: Sales materials, value hypotheses, business cases and value realization modeling capabilities

‌Step two: Value Delivery

  • ‌What: Implement your solution in a way that effectively delivers what was promised during the pre-sales process and sets your customer up for ultimate success with your products and services 
  • ‌Who: Sales team, implementation services and customer success teams
  • ‌How: Company onboarding and implementation processes

‌Step three: Value Realization

  • ‌What: Client outcomes against their important strategic KPIs are measured, communicated, and improved. If it’s clear that metrics are falling short compared to what was promised, proactively prepare a gap closure plan to ensure that the value promised is delivered to your customers. 
  • ‌Who: Customer success teams
  • ‌How: Value realization solutions that can scale and report on value delivered over time

Get Started

The best way to retain your current customers is to get started on your value realization strategy today. If you’re ready to demonstrate value to your customers, DecisionLink can help. The first-of-its-kind ValueCloud Value Realization Bundle has all the tools you need to identify, quantify and communicate the value delivered to your customers. Get started right away and discover how proving your worth can increase profitability, reduce customer acquisition costs , improve customer satisfaction and drive net retention rates. 

How to Measure Value Realization: Metrics to Focus On

the word value spelled out in scrabble tiles on a blue background being meausred with a measuring tap - how to measure value realization - DecisionLInk

Your company offers your clients unique value. You understand that value, but without a plan to communicate that value regularly, your clients might not be aware of the impact your solutions have on their business. In many cases, customers have a skewed perception of your value because they don’t fully recognize all the factors involved, resulting in low customer satisfaction, and in turn, high customer churn.

You can counteract this by prioritizing value realization and measuring it appropriately. In this article, you’ll learn how value realization can affect your business and how to identify the metrics you can focus on to increase your success.

Understanding Value Realization

At its heart, value realization is simple. The customer starts looking for solutions to a problem with an inherent value expectation in mind. They then try different solutions until they find one that generates a level of value that has a positive impact on their business.

Value realization is much more than just an understanding that a product or service has worth, though. It’s a specific revelation about the value your offering provides to a specific customer based on their strategic goals. It’s when the customer feels validated in their purchase decision, because they clearly understand the economic impact that their decision has had on their organization. 

Value realization is every customer’s goal. It’s satisfying for several reasons.

  • ‌The problem they sought to resolve is solved, satisfying the client and relieving their pai.
  • ‌The client feels validated for making the correct choice.
  • ‌The client receives positive feedback from members of their organization for the effective solution.

‌Measuring how your customers realize value is vital to being able to deliver value realization. Learning how your customers engage with your product and what generates customer satisfaction helps you win and maintain clients more effectively.

Measuring Value Realization

There are multiple ways to measure value realization. Your company needs to define the value realization metrics that it wants to monitor. It’s important to note that a value realization metric is not the same as a key performance indicator (KPI). To appropriately measure your company’s value realization achievements, you need to set both.

In general, metrics are broad measurements, while KPIs are in-depth data that relate to specific goals. Metrics let your business track general performance. KPIs help you track your team or organization’s performance concerning specific, critical business objectives.

For example, a common metric for online businesses is total website traffic during a specific period. Meanwhile, a standard KPI is the amount of traffic on specific landing pages.

Both sets of data are essential. Your KPIs help you monitor the critical elements of your value realization strategy, while your metrics let you follow broader trends that may affect your KPIs.

Defining Your Value Realization Metrics by Customer

To measure your customers’ value realization, you’ll need to define what metrics to track. Unlike other elements of business data analytics, value realization metrics are highly subjective ⁠— the value you provide customers needs to incorporate those customers’ opinions and sentiments about your product, in addition to the quantitative impact your solutions have delivered.

Three important of KPIs to make sure you monitor:

  • Return on Investment (ROI): The amount of value your client receives from implementing your offering.
  • Time to Live (TTL): The time it takes to implement your offering after the client signs the contract
  • Time to Value (TTV): The time it takes your client to receive value from implementing your offering.

measuring value realization: 3 KPIs graphic

It’s important to determine  how you’ll measure value from the start. This definition process should begin before you finalize any sale, and it should stay consistent throughout the client lifecycle.

During the presale process, your sales team works with prospects to understand their needs, sell them on your services’ value, and promise them specific results. This is the perfect time to work with potential customers to identify the metrics and KPIs that you should prioritize. Your sales team can ask four critical questions during the presale period:

  • ‌What are the key milestones the client wants your offering to achieve?
  • ‌What will the client consider a successful implementation of your offering?
  • ‌How does the client’s supervisor define successful performance?
  • ‌What elements of your offering are most important to the client?

‌The answers to these questions will help you identify the metrics and KPIs that matter. For example, suppose the client wants to achieve a specific percentage increase in production. In that case, production speed and performance will be essential metrics. Similarly, you can track the time it takes to implement the features that your client considers most important. 

Since every company’s strategic initiatives are unique, expect their value realization metrics to be unique as well, especially when considering different industries, company sizes, and more.. It’s worthwhile to track various types of value for different segments so you can maintain similar levels of service across your entire customer base. Using a value realization system can help you easily monitor the value of all your offerings in one place.

The Continuous Value Realization Cycle

The value realization process is only just beginning once you’ve identified your initial value metrics. In fact, the process should never really end — it’s an ongoing cycle. The continuous value realization cycle allows you to regularly update your solutions to fit your clients’ needs and maintain their satisfaction with your services. The cycle has five steps:

  • Value Definition: Determining the metrics by which your clients measure success and how you’ll measure the value you provide.
  • Value Delivery: Providing the value your sales team promised during presale by helping the client adopt and use your offering.
  • Value Realization: When the client realizes the quantified economic impact that they are receiving from your product or solution.
  • Value Validation: Confirming with the client that they have received the value they wanted from the product.
  • Value Optimization: Improving the value the client receives, exceeding their expectations and building their loyalty to your business.

value realization cycle graphic

It’s important to note that  your clients’ needs will change over time. As technology and markets change, your clients will begin to measure success by different metrics. Once you start optimizing value, you should also check in with your clients to ensure that you’re still operating under the same shared perceptions of success.

Value Realization Begets Lifetime Customers

Helping your clients understand the value they receive from your offerings is essential to keeping them as clients. When you know the metrics and KPIs to watch, you can show your customers exactly how much your business is helping them. Clients who understand your product or service’s true worth will remain loyal for life.

One method to monitor the value realization metrics that matter is to use a solution like DecisionLink’s Value Realization Tracker. DecisionLink is the industry leader in cloud-based customer value management. You can directly show your current clients how you’ve helped them meet goals and improve performance. Its comprehensive value realization solution can help you build client loyalty, reduce churn, and provide your customers with the service they want. 

Top Takeaways from Gainsight Pulse Everywhere

Gainsight Pulse graphic

DecisionLink was thrilled to be Gold Sponsors of last week’s Gainsight Pulse Everywhere conference. From incredible keynote speakers, to dynamic breakout sessions (and of course the puppy cam), the event proved to be three days of inspiring and actionable content for customer success leaders and practitioners. 

We were honored to host a Pulse Unplugged session with nearly 200 participants, led by Joanne Moretti, Chief Marketing Officer, where we discussed how Customer Success professionals can elevate their relationships with their executive sponsors by speaking the language of business. In our Lightning Talk session, Sterling Cottam, Senior Director of Value Realization, unveiled the Customer for Life Value Maturity Model, tying the maturity of a company’s Value Realization capabilities to the likelihood of expansion within their customer base. 

Check out some of the biggest takeaways from the conference below: 

1. Net Recurring Revenue (NRR) is the North Star metric for organizations.
It would have been hard-pressed to find a session that didn’t stress the importance of NRR in organizations today. Net Revenue Retention, also referred to as Net Recurring Revenue and Net Dollar Revenue, indicates that customers are not only renewing their subscriptions but are expanding in their usage, too. Today, industry-leading companies are realizing NRR of 120-130%, indicating that not only are they churning very few customers, but their customers are seeing so much value in their partnership that they are choosing to spend even more year over year.


2. Growing NRR isn’t just Customer Success’ responsibility—it’s the entire company’s job to drive value across the customer journey.
Many speakers agreed that while customer success teams should be held accountable for net retention with metrics and numbers in terms of usage and churn, growing NRR “is really the whole company’s job,” stressed Rowan Trollope, CEO of Five9. At the end of the day, every single interaction with a customer across the entire organization needs to deliver value to the customer—so putting processes in place to enable every customer-facing role to provide value is critical.

3. Communicating outcomes is the best way to grow Net Recurring Revenue, as companies must earn the right to expand.
One phrase that stood out to us was that NRR Requires Outcomes. Outcomes and Value Realization are what prove you listened to a customer’s goals during the sales process and helped them achieve or exceed them. It goes beyond just tracking adoption to focus on improving the specific metrics that each buyer cares about and proves to your customer that you’ve earned the right to expand.

Without being able to track, quantify and communicate the tangible impact your solution or service is delivering, why on earth would someone spend more with you?

And the flip side of this is that if you’re driving significant, proven, the economic impact to a customer, why on earth wouldn’t they want to spend more with you?!

4. It’s not just company leadership that cares about NRR—investors and the market are paying close attention, too.
In the opening keynote of Gainsight Pulse Everywhere, Nick Mehta, Gainsight CEO, shared a new study that they’ve released that found that NRR is a key indicator for both public companies and their market valuation and early-stage companies and their Series A funding.
In a recent study, Gainsight found a 53% correlation between a company’s valuation and their NRR. For public companies, this proves that companies who are able to retain and grow within their customer base are rewarded by the market with higher multiples.

For early-stage companies, Tomasz Tunguz, a Venture Capitalist from Redpoint, found that expansion was viewed as one of the strongest correlating factors to Series A post-money valuations, outranking revenue, and revenue growth. 

Our Takeaway:
Net Recurring Revenue is going to be increasingly important for companies to track and report on. And while Customer Success organizations have a lot of influence on it, NRR needs to be a metric that every department is keeping top of mind. From marketing to sales, through implementation and into customer success, every touchpoint with a customer is a chance to provide value. Any missed opportunity to do so could impact a company’s right to expand with their customer. 

DecisionLink’s Value Realization Bundle empowers companies to create an end-to-end ValueThread™ from initial pitch to ongoing renewals. With value integrated at every step of the customer journey, you have the power to create a virtuous circle of customer value to build customers for life. 

  • Track Value Proactively monitors the value delivered to customers post-sale so customer success and marketing teams can use this information on renewal and up-sell conversations. 
  • Quantify Value With meaningful value measurements right at your fingertips, you can provide customers clear insights into tangible value to establish a common understanding of impact. 
  • Leverage Value Focus renewal conversations on value delivered to lock competitors out of existing accounts and minimize the need for discounting. Clear ROI simplifies negotiations.

To learn more about getting started with Value Realization, click here.

2 Ways to Stop Churn and Increase NRR

business people entering building

Reflections of the Gainsight Pulse 2021 Conference

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to 168 people at the Gainsight Pulse conference.  We were amazed at the turnout and are grateful to Gainsight for giving us the opportunity to share our point of view on the matter of customer retention and growth strategies.  Overall the conference was very focused on the impact of renewals on things like net recurring revenue and profitability; reducing customer churn and ensuring customers are getting full value from their vendors. 

The objective of my session was to give people the HOW.  My topic was about helping these customer success managers elevate their conversation with executives in order to retain business and grow share of wallet.  I shared a few things with them during the session, but most importantly how to align their respective narratives to business and financial speak in order to gain their attention and engagement. 

During my session, I explained that speaking in the language of business and financial value at any point in the customer journey can create a virtuous cycle of winning.

Here’s why that’s important:

According to ProfitWell and a study of 50K participants they showed the correlation between discounting deals upfront to secure business and what happens after the fact during renewals.  I highlighted from the study, that the more you discount a deal, the higher your chances of reduced NRR are, and worse, the higher your chances of churn.  In other words, when we discount more than 30% we are setting ourselves up for failure when it comes time for renewal. Companies giving 25%-50% discounts see 10%-20% higher churn rates than those not giving discounts, the study found.    

These are terrible numbers for any CRO.  But how do you stop it?

Easy.  2 ways:

  1. Position and differentiate your solution based on the business value and business outcomes you can deliver both in a qualitative and quantitative fashion.  This will elevate your conversations and differentiate you from the competition. They will speak in features and functions while you will command and control the opportunity to win.  There are a number of ways to do this well, value selling methodologies, customer profiling, and analysis, targeted messaging, account-based marketing strategies, but critical to driving this type of selling motion is a “customer value-based mindset” and value selling tools and capabilities.  These typically come from visionary value engineers and/or their visionary CRO or CEO.  
  2. Prove the value you deliver well before your next renewal. Well before your next renewal.  A good customer value management platform that helps you calculate the economic impact, based on a digital, cloud-based platform, should also be able to help meter usage of your solution, leverage the value model built and used in that selling scenario to help you digitally calculate the value a customer is actually receiving every time they execute or automate through your solution.  

Coincidently (well, not really), last week, during the Gainsight Pulse conference, DecisionLink launched the world’s first-ever Value Realization Bundle.  A comprehensive toolset based on the ValueCloud platform that extends the power of value selling, to value-based customer retention and customer success efforts. This powerful platform can now put leverage in the hands of both the sellers and the customer success team, not to mention the marketers, as quantified case studies can automatically be generated and leveraged in marketing campaigns to drive traffic to their website.  And once on the website, the visitor can engage in a value-based ROI simulation through ValueCloud’s Smart Web Calculator.  

Do you see what just happened there?  We created a virtuous cycle activated completely by and through value. To prove this theory out, we shared the Crowdstrike case study that discusses the empowerment their reps and customer success managers are experiencing with the ValueCloud.  

It was a fun session, the chatbox filled up with tons of great questions and comments like “this is awesome”, “how do I get more info”, etc. It was so engaging that at one point one of our users from ServiceNow chimed in to give us a 2-minute testimonial on their use of ValueCloud!  Suffice to say, that was the real highlight of the session for me!

My POV on the matter of retention and growing share of wallet (i.e. NRR):  Marketing and then Selling Value upfront means you WIN.  Proving Value means you win again. And again, and again… 

For more information visit our solution page for more details on any of our offerings.  Or read our customer success stories here.

 

Value Realization. The Ultimate Leverage.

Powerful business lady winning arm wrestling

Joanne Moretti, Chief Marketing Officer, DecisionLink
30+ years of B2B sales, marketing & product experience

For months I’ve been talking about value-based selling, and more recently, value-based marketing. These practices deliver ultimate differentiation because feature/function battles generally end up sounding very “me-too’ish” and leaving prospects underwhelmed, often resulting in price discounting or indecision. I’ve noted that the best way to differentiate yourself is by concisely articulating the business value and outcome that your solution delivers and doing so in the buyer’s terms. Typically, he or she who best clarifies value in the customer’s terms, wins!

 I’ve also suggested that in today’s world, beyond just differentiating and winning deals, you must strive to win customers in order to create profitable growth.  In the case of customer retention and expansion (i.e. “Customers for Life”), I believe, yet again, that value plays a critical role, and he or she who clarifies the value realized during QBR meetings and alike will hold the ultimate leverage during contract renewals and cross-sell/upsell motions.  Let me take you back in time with a quick story and explain why:

I grew up selling perpetual, on-premise software licenses back in the ‘90’s and at that time I was also responsible for renewals as well.  I often wished my software was smarter.

Smarter? “How,” you ask?

Well, I wished that somehow our software would generate true utilization data and the financial impact it delivered – ticker-tape style across an administrator’s screen! I remember being at a user conference and users suggesting this recommendation as well. Users wanted it as much as us salespeople did because it would give us all a sense of confidence.

One example – I wished that our CA Single-Sign-On tool would report this daily:

  •  2,000 help desk calls for password resets avoided in past 24 hours
  • Daily Savings: $30,000
  • YTD Savings $2.7M
  • Over Lifetime of Agreement you have saved $19.8M  

Not sure if you ever dreamt of such things, but I did a lot, especially at renewal time when my customer’s procurement team was breathing down my neck suggesting they were only willing to pay half of my renewal fees because, according to their records, only half the users licensed were actually using my tool – and telling me that my competitors were chomping at the bit and had already submitted unsolicited bids to replace me!

With no leverage in hand, and a merciless sales leader waiting for a contract in New York, the dance began. I would literally sit and wish for a miracle because I had no way to quickly or easily defend my position and gain any leverage in the negotiation.  Users were under strict gag orders and weren’t allowed to talk to me, and even qualitative examples were out of reach.  And of course, the three other deals I was working on with the customer were all put into a holding pattern until we completed the renewal negotiations.  Ultimately, I was at the mercy of the procurement person who had me over a barrel, and my only recourse was to discount, then wrap and roll in some of the new products we had been presenting to them, at the same ridiculous discount level.

This is a true story.  I’ve lived it, breathed it and suffered through it.  That was me, wishing for smarter software that would give me the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

Fast forward to the year 2021, and that daydream of having leverage is no longer a dream.  It is reality.  Everyone is a seller, per Gartner, and I am thrilled to announce that DecisionLink’s ValueCloud® platform now empowers every commercial team member to have value-based engagement, including Value Realization reporting and insights.

DecisionLink believes that Value Realization is an extremely important practice within a broader Customer Value Management program, and if your value tools don’t deliver this type of on-demand intelligence and power, it’s time that you start looking at digital platforms that can empower you in a way that goes beyond a point-in-time ROI report to “always-on, real-time reporting”. A Customer Value Management platform that helps you establish and communicate your value, at any stage in the customer journey – automatically and at scale – is a CRO and CEO’s dream, because it helps from customer acquisition to customer retention to customer expansion.

On top of the field-level benefits of value-based engagement, product managers and marketers FINALLY have a source of benchmark data and intelligence that helps them decipher exactly how much value customers as a whole are realizing. Finally, we can price products and solutions based on the real value being delivered and then position them with confidence.

Value Realization – it’s real, it’s here, and indeed it is the ultimate leverage.