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3 Strategies Customer Success Managers Need to Keep Customers From Switching to Competitors

Your sales team just won a competitive deal. It was a taxing evaluation: multiple demos, a trial period, extensive pricing conversations—the works. Until the account executive on your sales team got that long-awaited email, they really had no idea which solution the buyer would select.

Thankfully, the buyer selected yours. But make no mistake: They loved what your competitor had to offer. And the AE on your competitor’s sales team? They really wanted to win this one.

So they’ll call your brand new customer. And email them. And message them on LinkedIn. Whatever it takes to convince this customer that they chose the inferior solution.

But guess what—your competitor, despite their best efforts, is going to fail. Your team is going to retain this customer.

How do I know that?

Because you’re going to give your customer success managers the 3 things they need to keep customers from switching to competitors:

  1. Competitive references
  2. Warning signs
  3. Trap questions

Let’s dig in.

Competitive references

Two can play at this game. Nothing spotlights your differentiators better than the story of a customer that previously used your competitor’s solution and subsequently switched to yours.

Finding these customers should be easy, as they almost certainly mentioned their previous usage of your competitor’s solution during the onboarding process.

Ideally, you’ll get a few of them to agree to serve as references. Keep this reference list handy and take it one step further by grouping references by the reason they made the switch (e.g., pricing, a specific feature didn’t work, etc.). So now when a CSM on your team gets that dreaded email—”We’re going to do our due diligence and evaluate whether Competitor XYZ is a better fit for our needs”—they can calmly respond with: “Let me put you in touch with someone who used to use their solution and decided to switch to ours.”

Warning signs

If a customer decides to re-evaluate that other solution that caught their eye not so long ago, they might be courteous enough to immediately notify the CSM on your team.

Or they might not. But that doesn’t mean your CSM can’t figure it out on their own and nip it in the bud. They just need to know what to listen for.

What they need to listen for are warning signs—keywords that indicate interest in your competitor’s solution. For example, if one of your competitor’s differentiators is a proprietary integration with HubSpot, and your customer abruptly asks for help connecting your tool to HubSpot, the CSM on that account should work very quickly to uncover—and address—the need underlying the request.

And they should keep a close eye on that customer, as they’re a potential churn risk.

Trap questions

If a customer is transparent about their evaluation of your competitor’s solution, the CSM on your team is by no means powerless. In fact, assuming they’ve earned some level of trust from this customer, they’re actually quite powerful.

How so? Two words: trap questions—questions that your CSM tells the customer to ask your competitor with the goal of revealing their shortcomings.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say your customer tells their CSM that they have a demo with your competitor next week. Let’s also say that, unlike your solution, your competitor’s solution is unable to translate content into different languages.

This is a golden opportunity for the CSM to plant a trap question: “All I ask is that when they show you their content management system, you ask them, ‘Can you show me how to translate this content into different languages?’”

Put all this revenue-saving knowledge at your CSMs’ fingertips

Now that you know what to give your CSMs, the natural next question is—how?

Again, two words: Crayon battlecards. Easy to embed in Salesforce, HubSpot, and any other CRM your team may use, Crayon battlecards are the best way to arm your CSMs with all the competitive references, warning signs, and trap questions they need to keep customers from churning to competitors.

Schedule your demo of Crayon today to learn how we can help you retain more revenue.

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Conor Bond
Conor Bond is a member of the content team at Crayon, where he fervently talks all things competition. If, for whatever reason, you were to rip his headphones off his head and put them on yourself, you’d probably hear The Strokes or Charli XCX.
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