When & Where To Start The Renewal Process?

April 9, 2018 Asra Sarfraz

When and Where to Start The Renewal Process?

For Customer Success Managers, it’s tricky to map out a timeline as to when to start approaching customers to prepare for their upcoming renewal. If you are working towards becoming more proactive, then you’ll know that being surprised and not having enough time to think things through should be avoided at all costs. Remember, you don’t want your customer to have to go through that either.  In short, wait too long before starting the renewal process, and you will see your customer walk away to a competitor’s ring.

In the subscription economy, initial purchase decisions are based on hope, a decision to renew is based on results.

 

Engage Renewals During a QBR

Producing an effective dedicated timeline around renewals depends on a number of factors; one being the fact that your customers will surely be doing a competitive review before the renewal and weighing other options. In this scenario, you don’t want to let your competitors have free reign with your customers. Focus on starting with enough time to instigate and re-establish the value that your customers have received. This can be done by scheduling a “QBR style” check-in, at least 90 days before the renewal, where you remind the stakeholders how much value they have gained since they started using your software. It doesn’t have to be grand; just as long as they remember the positives over the setbacks. Remember, a customer left alone always remembers inconveniences a lot more than successes. Find out specific goals that were met because the customer used your product.. In signing a contract you established a new horizon for the relationship, so start demonstrating what you’ve achieved, and confirm your competitive offering before renewal time. Doing this gives you enough buffer time to head off any competitive attacks.

After the QBR, enter the renewal notice process. Once the QBR takeaways have settled in, let your customer know how long the administrative process around the actual renewal will be. If your renewal process requires renegotiation of contracts, this is when you’ll introduce your Account Manager back into the relationship.

If the contract does not need renegotiation, follow-up from the QBR by sharing the renewal timeline with your customer. Sharing that timeline early enough does a few things:

  • If the customer is having budget issues, they’ll be able to plan ahead and renegotiate with their management team.
  • Getting serious with legalities is when you’ll be able to identify quiet customers who would otherwise surprise you by going MIA when it’s time to re-sign the dotted line.
  • Small roadblocks like planned vacations are easily avoided. There’s nothing worse than missing a renewal for something as small as a key contact being out of office.

 

Leading Up to Renewal Day

There are a number of things you need to keep an eye on, such as:

  • How many meetings do you need?
  • What kinds of meetings do you need?
  • Who needs to be there?

Again, don’t slide into someone’s inbox out of the blue, you never want to present yourself as a burden. Everything leading up to renewal should be planned, documented, and measured. There’s no such thing as an effective ad-hoc renewal process.

In order to do this, write out a renewal playbook to guide you and your team members. At Amity, we designed our renewal playbook backwards, because there’s no better way to achieve a goal than making it the focal point of your process. Design the process beginning with the outcome you want to achieve, and add steps going backwards. Depending on your business model your playbook might look like:

  • A 15 days process, leading to an auto-renewal with credit card on file, enabled through automated messaging.
  • A 3 months process, leading to a contract renegotiation with Account Manager involvement, enabled through a series of meetings starting off at the previous QBRs.

Either way, you need to map it out and iterate on the small, moving parts. Lay out all the pieces and proactively manage the effort you and your team need to dedicate to securing a single renewal.

 

Key takeaways

  • Start demonstrating value to key stakeholders before the renewal process officially starts, ideally at a QBR.
  • Identify key actions you need to take by identifying the outcome you want, and working backwards through the timeline.
  • Give yourself enough time - and some extra buffer time - to achieve all of the actions you’ve identified as necessary leading up to the renewal point.

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About the Author

Asra Sarfraz

Asra Sarfraz is currently the Digital Marketing Intern at Amity. When she is not consuming barrels of coffee, she is busy photographing and designing new projects.

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