When we think about helping customer success managers (CSMs) better connect with customers, we’re used to talking in traditional terms (influencers, decision makers, blockers), but are we overlooking a critical stakeholder, the power user? We often rely on the account executive’s understanding of the business to define these roles and include them in Salesforce.com (or better still, a tool like PROLIFIQ). However, power users are rarely at the trade show booth or front and center when a deal is signed, and not knowing who they are, or ignoring them altogether, could be a big mistake.
The power user is someone the CSM should be identifying over the course of their relationship by reviewing usage data to find the user who logs the most hours or logs in from the most distinct IP addresses (supporting on someone else’s machine).
The power user is the best ally you may not even realize you have: they address support needs before a ticket is ever created, localize solutions with context that’s relevant to their companies and stand up for your offerings in meetings you don’t even know are taking place.
While the power user is usually an indispensable part of the customer’s internal team, the disruptions in team chemistry and cutting of hours and positions during the COVID-19 pandemic may have eliminated the power user from day-to-day conversations. CSM organizations need to pay special attention to power users and give them proper support, or groom a new power user if the existing one has departed.
Here’s a three-step power user support plan to add to your 2021 planning agenda:
- Identify power users: Ask your revenue operations team to find out who the power users are and how they’re behaving: a quick green light/red light view of the top three users at an account by usage or login count is a good first step. For your key accounts, go a step further and have the CSM coordinate with sales and support. One or both of those functions have likely gotten several e-mails from the power user, and a key account relationship map absolutely needs to include a spot for the power user.
- Reinforce their loyalty: Make the power user proud to be a champion for your solution. A few ideas I’ve seen work well include:
- Build their profile and credentials. Connect on LinkedIn and give them skill endorsements, or take it a step farther by creating short learning programs to give them certifications. You likely already have internal product training that could easily become a small certification program through an LMS platform.
- Amplify their voice internally to their leadership team. During your next quarterly business review, have the power user demonstrate your newest product features to their own leadership team. No one will do a better job of putting your solution into the customer’s context.
- Create local user groups. Who better to give feedback on current bugs and upcoming features than power users? Create user groups and attend them with a willingness to share and listen. The COVID-19 work from home situation has made this easier than ever – you don’t even need to travel to start a group. Being part of a community of fellow practitioners will up the power user’s game even further and reinforce their loyalty. And don’t forget to be generous with gifts. I won an iPad 2 in a 30-person raffle at the Tableau Chicago user group’s first meeting and brought that iPad and Tableau to several internal teams at that organization, and then on to my next job. The $500 prize was paid back 10 times in the licenses it yielded in two years!
- Keep tabs on them when they leave: If a power user leaves their current company, tell your acquisition team so you’ll have a strong champion at a new company. This is another area where a user group pays dividends, since there’s still a venue where they’re connected.