As the tech sphere continues its drive towards Industry 4.0, customer engagement is more important than ever. The vast number of enterprises have foregone one-time, on-premise capital expenditures in favor of software and cloud services consumed via the “as a Service” model. Businesses can run the most up-to-date and secure versions of their software – all while having their systems maintained by vendors and not in-house IT teams.
All of these shifts point to great benefits for partners. Cloud solutions generate predictable, recurring revenue, enabling you to build income to cover expenses while providing you the accurate forecasting you need to plan business expansion and investments more confidently.
And while there are many advantages – it’s critical to consider how recurring revenue is tied to customer satisfaction. Unlike a one-time deal, initial income from a cloud solution sale is only a small fraction of the customer’s lifetime value. Your business collects the remainder of customer acquisition costs and begins to see margin from the sale over time as the client renews – and the longer you retain the client, the more you gain.
The concept is powerful. Hubspot has demonstrated that a mere 5% increase in customer retention can increase revenues by 25% to 95%. Furthermore, building a strong relationship with a satisfied customer also increases the likelihood of successful upselling and cross-selling, which can account for 10% or more of new revenues for companies.
Simply put – to find success in the cloud, SAP partners have to shift their focus to prioritize customer engagement.
Who’s Responsible for Customer Engagement?
A sticking point for many SAP partners is determining which resources to assign to customer engagement. Customer engagement requires establishing a schedule of regular communication with clients and becoming an advocate for the client to track down solutions, support, or assistance the client needs. It also includes listening for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell and in turn close those deals.
These tasks are often too much for an account executive or sales team to handle on top of their other responsibilities. As such, SAP partners serious about growth have created distinct customer engagement practices staffed by customer engagement executives (CEEs).
Establishing a CE practice and the CEE role aligns with SAP’s LACE (land, adopt, consume, expand) operating model designed to enhance partners’ success. After the handover from the sales team, the CEE team manages onboarding for the client, laying the groundwork for proficiency with the cloud solution and maximizing user adoption.
The CEE will also monitor the usage and devise a plan for improvement. Additionally, the CEE is integral to the renewal process, upselling and cross-selling, and securing testimonials and references from satisfied customers that help land new business, beginning the cycle again.
Steps Toward Building Your Customer Engagement Practice
For many SAP partners, how to put customer engagement into practice is unfamiliar and, perhaps, a little intimidating. Because the customer engagement executive role emerged in response to the shift to the cloud, it is a relatively new part of SAP partners’ org charts, and many are relying on trial and error to optimize their CE practices.
To help you enhance your customer engagement expertise and, ultimately, help you grow your business, SAP has created the Customer Engagement Partner Academy. The academy offers information, best practices, tools, and coaching to help you build an effective CE practice staffed with best-in-class CEEs. Some of the topics addressed during these sessions include onboarding, preparing for go-live and implementation, consumption strategy, driving innovations, and renewal, upselling and cross-selling strategies. Professionals who complete the Customer Engagement Partner Academy receive validation from SAP as well as recognition with a digital badge. (Learn more here.)
It's apparent that leveraging customer engagement expertise and best practices will help you establish an effective CE practice more quickly. However, what may surprise you is how fast you see returns from skilled and qualified CEEs engaging cloud customers. Within weeks, you could see an uptick in solution adoption, a wider and deeper solution footprint, improved renewal rates, and new references.
Your customer engagement capabilities will become an even more pivotal competitive differentiator as more SAP users transition to the cloud. Position your business for success with customer engagement based on proven practices that give your clients – and your business – the most value from the cloud.