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How do you manage, maintain and engage *individuals* within your account?

July 6, 2020

SMB: How can we focus on getting outside of single-thread relationships? 

Thank you to Willow Moellering and Jay Nathan for hosting this week’s SMB break out. 

Getting past POC gatekeepers

❓ QUESTION ❓ Regan Hinchcliffe finds that his typical points of contact (Marketing Managers) proactively keep him and his team at a distance from their bosses, and wonders how to solve that.

Sonciary Honnoll has found some tactical ways past this. She puts those other key stakeholders specifically on email reports, so they’re able to see the dashboard activity. That works, because they are sent out infrequently enough that they resulted in the additional contact showing enthusiasm. 

Kathleen suggests it's easier at the beginning… “Make the kick-off meeting mandatory for all your stakeholders. Frame it like: I want to know you all as best as possible so I can help you in the best way.”

Jeremy recommends using the psychology of people’s desire to help, by reaching out to additional contacts for their support or guidance on a challenge.

In Nathan Pearson’s team, Sales immediately tells CS who the relevant decision-makers are prior to a handover—but the CS team also puts a lot of onus on customers to add any additional users… and CS and Support are also actively asking discovery questions during almost every contact.

Amanda Wachendorf mentioned that they’ve had success approaching the C-Suite further into the relationship when you have a successful project under your belt and you can already show ROI. 

Top Tip from Matt Timmins: Providing insight into peer benchmarking really helps to engage the C-suite / exec level—especially if you can connect these peers to each other.    

Measuring relationships

❓ QUESTION ❓Matt Timmins asks: how do you measure the relationship strength, after you’ve managed to get those initial relationships started with additional stakeholders?

Gabriel Vallas performs both qualitative analysis of the relationship alongside measurement and analysis of Zendesk ticket types. 

Daniel Reese’s team have formulated a standardized set of stakes in the ground: usage, activity, correspondence, and spending patterns to measure relationships. 

Sana Farooq is using SFDC and ChurnZero for measurement, documentation, follow-up and consistent communication cadences. 

Top Tip from Joran Hofman: Don’t trust only the numbers! 

When there’s a new customer champion

❓ QUESTION ❓Steve Schwartz finds it more difficult to identify who in his SMB customer companies can derive value from the product, as opposed to when he’s previously worked with Enterprise clients, where organizational structure was often clearer.  

In Lauren’s experience, one of the biggest mistakes SaaS CS practitioners make is not effectively “re-onboarding” new customer champions when a previous POC leaves the business or moves into a different role. Often, that internal handover is limited to the bare bones, and the new POC isn’t aware of the added value of the tool. She recommends really taking the time to ensure proactively that new contacts are shown the value and how to achieve what they need. Developing a custom program for high-touch accounts would be a good way to do this, and ensuring materials are available for tech-touch or low-touch segments. 

ENTERPRISE: Relationship Mapping

David Ellin joined Alex Hornbuckle to facilitate the Enterprise breakout group. 

Creating strong relationships post-onboarding

❓ QUESTION ❓ A great first question from Michael Buccellato: What are the key components that come into building an engagement model with the goal of moving relationships forward post-onboarding?

Ziv Peled suggests that the implementation phase and the onboarding is really a crucial part of building the relationship.  He usually calls it the “honeymoon phase” and whatever you do there is what the customer remembers and what defines the relationship.

In Rika Tsitsinia’s experience, during the onboarding process, there was a lot of development and custom work, but they still had product ‘debt’. So we find it very important to capture that accurately and go ahead and deliver that.

Andeas Knoefel uses an org chart type model to map the relationships, in a similar way to how sales might approach ABM. From there, they have a ‘political influence’ map, and identify the influencers, the detractors, and those with the buying power.

Shane Reid uses Lucidchart for a more visual approach to this, along with its integration with SFDC. 

Kristi Faltorusso pulls across other data around customer engagement, too, to add to this map—making sure to capture customer engagement activity. She’s trying out a tool called DemandFarm to do this. 

Top Tip from Scott Morgan: Make sure you understand who within the organization really has the social influence! 

Executive sponsor relationships

❓ QUESTION ❓On to our second question. Manan Joshi asks: How do you align executives on both sides?

Chris Mitchell suggests you stay fluid—in some instances, the exec sponsor you’ve pulled in from your side might not be the right fit. Who should you align the customer contact with right now? Is it really the CCO or does a conversation with your CFO make more sense given the current challenges?  

Michelle Novak pairs up executive stakeholders from both the vendor- and the client-side for their top 30 accounts, to ensure regular, high-level communication—this typically takes place quarterly. 

Staying updated with tech

❓ QUESTION ❓Josh asks for recommendations on the best tech for scraping LinkedIn or aggregating 3rd party resources that can help CSMs identify when executive sponsors or other key stakeholders have left customer organizations? 

Adam Houghton recommends a new tool called The Org—it’s a Sequoia funded outfit on a mission to democratize org charts. You can sign up for notifications and as users must be registered on an organization’s domain to make any edits, the data is reliable. Sounds like a game changer; let us know what you think! 

Jeremy Donaldson is using Gainsight alerts to keep data up-to-date in both Salesforce and Gainsight as soon as anything changes. But Ziv makes a good point in the chat: “I feel that knowing someone left from LinkedIn is too late—a good CSM with a good relationship should know before.”


  • If you’re assigning one of your executives to be a sponsor for a customer, you need to help them understand what that means.  Too often, this is an RFP checkbox item and isn’t truly delivered on. Avoid situations where the exec sponsor isn’t able to add value to the customer and causes frustration. 
  • A communication plan that runs alongside your customer relationship map is a useful way to create consistent and defined accountability when it comes to working with the customers.
  • Integrating engagement score, survey and objective data (like EBR participation) adds some objective metrics to help you more accurately measure relationship strength. 


Shout out to Chris Mitchell for his advice and suggestions on how best to position executive sponsors in order to add value—watch the full replay for the whole scoop. Also thanks to Matt Timmins and Sonciary Honnoll for awesome tips and tricks. 


Here are some of the great relationship mapping tools and resources you guys shared this week:

  • People.ai — for actionable insights on customer activity
  • Lucidchart — for visual relationship mapping
  • TheOrg — for up-to-the-minute org structure changes
  • DemandFarm — integrated account planning 
  • Altify — customer revenue optimization

Until next time—let’s Gain, Grow, Retain!

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