How Nearbound Can Help Keep and Win Back Customers

How Nearbound Can Help Keep and Win Back Customers

Delphine Le Person & ISAAC MOREHOUSE 12 min

What is nearbound?

Nearbound is a Go-To-Market strategy that prioritizes partnering with individuals and companies your buyers already trust, rather than trying to reach them cold (outbound), or get them to come directly to you (inbound).

 

Nearbound is also a strategy for serving and retaining customers with the help of partners.

 

Trust is low, expectations are high

The market is always changing, but some shifts are bigger and faster than others. We’re smack dab in the middle of a rapid transition away from playbooks that have worked for winning and keeping customers for the last decade or so.

 

There are over 30,000 SaaS companies today. Customers are overwhelmed with information, ads, spammy emails, manufactured social proof, identical 4.7-star ratings, and grandiose claims. They don’t want you to sell them, and they don’t trust the content they find from Google like they once did.

 

Increasingly, people are looking to nodes of trust in their networks to make buying and renewal decisions. Those are the influencers you should be partnering with.

 

The partnerships flywheel

 

Customers need to be surrounded by partners at every step of the life cycle. Co-marketing, co-selling, integrations, and service partnerships are crucial components to gaining and retaining customers. Leveraging those relationships is the Nearbound play.

 

“Your product is one thing that will make you stand out from your competition. But the key factors that will help you are the relationships and experiences that you deliver to your customers.”–Jeff Reekers, CEO and Co-Founder of Champion

 

A few stats to drive the point home

  • Deals that involve partners have a 41% higher win rate and 43% larger deal size. [Source: Reveal, “The Nearbound Manifesto”]

     

  • Companies that partner have a 28% higher compound annual growth, attributed to the fact that partnering improves retention and expands customer base. [Source: Forrester, "The Partner Channel Imperative"]

     

  • B2B SaaS companies that have a strong partner program have a 15% higher renewal rate and 20% increase in upsell revenue. [Source: Canalys, "State of the Channel 2021: Partnering in the Recovery"]

     

  • Companies with partner programs had a 10.3% higher average customer lifetime value and a 13.6% lower churn rate than those without partner programs. [Source: Forrester Consulting, "Partner Relationship Management Is Critical To Success," 2016]

     

  • Customers who worked with partners were 57% more likely to renew their contracts than those who didn’t. [Source: Breezy HR, "How Partnering Helped Breezy HR Achieve 99% Customer Satisfaction"]

     

  • Customers who worked with partners were more likely to refer new business to the company. [Source: Breezy HR, "How Partnering Helped Breezy HR Achieve 99% Customer Satisfaction"]

     

The retention advantages of nearbound

A product that is surrounded by partners at every stage is stickier. Here are several advantages:

 

Woven into the stack

If your product isn’t yet core to your customer’s business, it’s on the chopping block. But the more you integrate with products that are core to the business, the less likely you are to get nixed.

 

“To identify which integration to build first focus on market share, the readiness of the market, but mainly focus on your customer: who is using your product, how are they using it, what do they want and what they need.”—Karen Ng and Kelly Sarabyn. 

 

More advocates around your customer

If the only relationship you have with the customer is direct, it’s not hard to say goodbye to you. You’ve got one AE or CSM fighting to convince the customer to keep you or come back to you. They may not have a longstanding relationship. They have a thousand demands on their time, and they’ll decide what to give deep consideration to based on input from those they already trust.

 

If you are partnering with communities, service providers, tech partners, and influencers who have sway and rapport within your customer’s company, saying goodbye to you is harder. You’ve got multiple backstops in the decision-making process to make the case for sticking with you.

 

It’s easy to leave a vendor, it’s nearly impossible to leave an ecosystem.

 

“Your customer is at the center. Your ecosystem should surround your customers with the people they are already working with, trusting, and learning. You win when you make your customers successful.”—Jill Rowley, Strategy & Evangelism at nearbound.com

 

Harder to compete with

If your product is your only moat, it won’t last. Competitors can introduce more and better features, or undercut you on price.

 

If your product is surrounded by a robust ecosystem of partners, that’s much harder for competitors to replicate. A product team can’t just build that complex web of relationships and interdependencies.

 

“You have to focus on customer impact, not on your own sales. If you don’t focus on customer impact, you will lose the battle. The more focused you are in your customers’ needs, the better partnerships you build and the more revenue you drive.”—Pete Caputa, CEO of Databox

 

Piggyback deeper into the org

The most recently added tools are often the first to get cut in a budget squeeze. Why? Because they haven’t had time to penetrate deep into the organization and gain institutional inertia.

 

Products and processes that are deeply embedded into the workflows of the organization are much harder to cut. If that’s not you, you can partner with other products and service providers who do have those deep ties.

 

“In today’s market there are thousands of different solutions, and the best way to differentiate yourself in the market comes down on how are you branding yourself, what is your maturity, the types of companies you’re partnering with, and your joint value proposition”—Katie Landaal, SVP Global Alliances & Ecosystem at Zoominfo

 

Faster time to value

Keeping customers means delivering maximum value to them ASAP.

 

Most products aren’t self-serve and are unable to do this out of the box. They require mindset shifts, internal buy-in, ops changes, etc. A great CSM team can help, but to really accelerate time to value, you’ve got to tap into an ecosystem—and the people who’ve been to the places your customer is trying to go.

 

Customers who are connected to communities around your product and who can get good answers from the right people quickly are less likely to leave.

 

“The most productive communities rally around a singular purpose. The key to making this work is to align both the individuals and the collective around the value we bring to each other and to the market. When you build trust with the individuals who make up your ecosystem by delivering consistently, you create an unstoppable community.”—Rasheité  Calhoun, Director of Channel Partnerships at Axios HQ

 

Subject matter experts who have been to the promised land your customer wants to get to and can show them how to implement your solution for quick wins. These are the people you need to tap for support, webinars, trainings, implementations, enablement, and every other step of the customer journey.

 

Bottom line, when your product is surrounded by partners at every step, you’ll retain more customers.

 

Don’t be reactive, pre-empt churn with these nearbound tactics

If you haven’t done a good job to date on building nearbound into your motion, it’s not too late!

 

Don’t wait until customers start to churn. Go look for early indicators and get the jump on them by bringing in partners.

 

“Being able to partner and integrate with providers who your customers also partner with, also work with, then that can give you a great advantage in the way you deliver your product and service to your customers.” –Henry Schuck, Founder, and CEO at Zoominfo

 

Tactic #1: Chase down integration usage dips

Retention begins before closed won. Ideally, you’re looking at which integrations are needed before sending an account to the Success team (based on account mapping data from your integration partners), the onboarding plan includes their tech stack, and you’re pulling integration data into your CRM.

 

If that wasn’t part of the sales and onboarding process, you can still do it after the fact. It’s key to have integration data on hand to see which they are actively using, and what’s being ignored. It’s not directly causal, but the correlation between inactive integrations and churn is strong enough that you’ve got to monitor it.

 

If you have a customer with 6 integrations but only 2 are active, that’s your bat signal. Help is needed!

 

Get your joint value statement about the integrations they’re not using. Message the customer:

 

“Hey John!

 

I’m looking into ways to help you drive more [outcome they care about] and I saw a few things. You have [integration] and [integration] and there might be a few things for us to talk about to help get those activated. Open to a call?”

If they don’t want a call, it may be an indicator that the integration isn’t good (feedback for your product team), or that they are a churn risk for your tech partner’s product. Either way, it’s good intel!
 

Additionally, here are a couple of things you can do in Reveal to improve stickiness through integrations:

 

1. Find new joint customers with integrated partners, receive timely notifications about them, and sync this information to your CRM or Slack for automating email sequences demonstrating product integration. 

Find who has your integration active in your partner’s account mapping.

 

2. Measure the impact of your integrations on retention by correlating the renewal rate and your ARR to identify which partners impact your retention rates most, those who provide more value to your customers. 

 


Tactic #2: Give partners a heads-up and offer to help

Maybe you discover through the above process that they are in the middle of a review and are considering leaving your integration partner’s product. Ask them to tell you more and get all the info you can.

 

Then go to that partner and tell them they have a churn risk, and you’re happy to help save the customer with them. For example, some things that you can do to help are: 

 

  1. Create an action plan to convince your customer to work with your partner.

  2. Introduce them to your champion.

  3. Recommend your partner to your customer.

 

When you give to your partners, they will give back! You’ve now set the precedent and when roles are reversed, your partner is likely to help you.

 

Tactic #3: Look for product switches

You partner with two companies in the same product category, A and B. You have a customer who is using your integration with partner A. Suddenly, this customer becomes a customer of partner B, which you can see with your account overlap data in Reveal.

 

This is an important sign and likely means they are churning from partner A. Or maybe they’re keeping partner A and adding partner B for a different division. Maybe there’s a new hire. Whatever the case, it’s a change indicator and a big red flashing light telling you to get on it and find out!

 

You may need to ensure partner B’s integration is connected (or built if you don’t have one). If the new integration breaks, they might leave you behind with partner A. If you get out in front of it, you not only increase your chances of keeping them, but you may be able to upsell them while optimizing for their new stack.

 

Tactic #4: Get the answers to the test from partners

Identify common accounts with your partners and get your CSM data synced. If you see churn risk indicators, reach out to your partner’s CSM.

 

“Retain my Customers” view in Reveal’s 360° Goals dashboard

 

At a minimum, you’ll get good intel from them. By reaching out to your partners, you can gain a deeper understanding of your customer’s challenges, pain points, and specific needs. 

 

Better yet, you may be able to run a co-retention play together. Creating a joint value proposition to secure renewals involves working together to combine your strengths and resources to showcase the continued value and benefits of your solution to your customer. 

 

Best of all, there could be an upsell opportunity. Collaborating with partners expands your reach into new territories or market segments, uncovering shared customers’ needs for upsell opportunities and mutual growth.

 

 

But none of this happens unless you proactively share data and get the jump on any changes by talking with your partners.

 

Tactic #5: Reports, dashboards, and alerts

 

The above tactics are needed in your current workflows… You can’t expect CSMs to log into more platforms to check more data. You’ve got to pull everything into your current environment.

 

Whether it’s Slack messages, emails, reports used in weekly CSM meetings, or CSM dashboards, integration data, and partner data need to be part of overall customer health indicators, and changes should trigger automatic alerts.

 

Reveal’s 360° Goals dashboard in the Retain Customers view

 

The future is nearbound and you can’t afford to retain alone

There is knowledge and trust already living in your ecosystem that is crucial to retaining and winning back customers. Ignore it at your peril. Embrace it and win. 

 

And if you need a little bit of help here are a couple of decks with best practices on how to keep and win back customers: 

 

If you use Salesforce, leverage this deck. 

 

If you use HubSpot, leverage this deck.

 

—------------------

 

For more information about nearbound GTM strategies reach out to our team of experts at Reveal, or hit us up at [email protected]

 

Delphine Le Person & ISAAC MOREHOUSE 12 min

How Nearbound Can Help Keep and Win Back Customers


Learn why partnering with trusted individuals and companies is key, and explore actionable tactics for preempting churn and maximizing customer lifetime value.


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