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GROWS: Mastering Post-Sale Customer Relationships with Realized Value Storytelling

GROWS Realized Value Storytelling Framework

The world of B2B solutions is rife with obstacles, especially when it comes to renewing customer contracts. An increasing number of customers are either downgrading their contracts or opting for full cancellation. 

Many customers have regrets over their purchases and believe that too few of their buying decisions are of “high quality”. According to Gartner’s research, a high quality purchase is defined as one where expectations have been met and the buyer didn’t settle for something “less-than”. According to Hank Barnes from Gartner, a high quality deal (HQD) is “good for the customer and good for the vendor. It should be something we all aspire to”.

The Decline of Quality in Purchase Decisions

Unfortunately, the number of perceived high quality purchases has declined almost 40% over the past three years. In 2019 buyers were already indicating disappointment in their purchase decisions, with only one in four (27%) being perceived as high quality and a “win-win”. This has declined dramatically to now being less than one in five (17%).

A whopping 60% of buyers indicated to Gartner  that “We regret nearly every purchase we make after the subscription agreement is finalized.” 

Renewals, already under budget pressure, will not be helped by a sea of buyer remorse and regret. And forget about growth altogether in a client with buyer regret.

The Post-Sale Value Imperative

When customer account executives and success managers engage with customers today, discussions are typically centered around the rollout – centered around open issues to be resolved, and how well adoption and usage is going. And although adoption is certainly important to realizing value promised, it isn’t a proxy for actually tallying and articulating the value achieved to your customers, and certainly won’t be enough to justify retention and growth.

After implementation, it is vital to engage customers around the value that has been realized, and provide your buyers with the justification and story that will help them not only justify the renewal, but promote growth. Gartner analyst Hank Barnes advises, “If you’re facing expansion and retention challenges, it’s likely time to up your value game.” 

And what does this entail? The research pinpoints that regular value reviews significantly eased the renewal and expansion motions. Helping customers measure, document, and communicate the value to their executives can help insure smooth renewals and open the door to account growth.

A Post-Sale Storytelling Framework

What’s frequently lacking in customer success engagements and quarterly business reviews (QBRs) is a structured framework to facilitate effective value conversations. Here’s where the power of storytelling, a proven medium for deeper engagement and inspiration, comes into play.

To help sellers pre-sale in prospect engagements, we developed and promoted the use of the PIVOT storytelling framework (as in pivoting from pitching products to a value-based approach). 

This acronym PIVOT helps to shape content marketing and prospect sales engagements with story, evolving the conversation to include, in order across the storytellers arc: 

      1. Problem and Impact – the emotional motivators and amplification, necessary to break the status quo and inspire change, to
      2. Vision and Outcomes – delivering the logical tally of proposed benefits: the financial justification for the proposed solution, to
      3. Trust – cementing the confidence and certainty in the decision.

    This method works great pre-sale, helping to better attract, engage and sell using storytelling to press the three-buy-buttons in the prospect brain – emotion (pathos) and the reptilian brain, logic (logos) and the new brain, and trust (ethos) and the limbic brain. Although the PIVOT story format is powerful pre-sale, it doesn’t align with what is needed for post-sale engagements. Unlike pre-sale, helping break the status-quo and inspiring prospect change, you need a story to reinforce and grow the customer relationship.

    Encouraged by members of the Enterprise Value Collective, a new and growing community of sales and value leaders, leveraging their best post-sale engagement methods, we set out to codify a new value storytelling framework for retaining and expanding customers post-sale – one that follows the storytellers arc AND presses all three buy buttons in the customers brain.

    The post-sale value storytelling framework is defined by the apt acronym GROWS. The GROWS realized value storytelling framework is composed of the following:

        • G – Goals: A recap of the initial starting point, particularly the pains to be solved by the proposed solution, the strategic objectives to be realized, and the process and people to be improved and benefited (the original emotional motivations).

          • R – Rollout: – An on-going assessment of the solution implementation and roll-out including the scope of deployment, adoption and utilization, and any issues or challenges experienced (the logical assessment of relationship progress).

            • O – Outcomes: A comprehensive review of the benefits achieved so far versus the goals, including the strategic objectives addressed, pains overcome, the KPIs impacted and the business value realized (the logical assessment of value realization).

              • W – Wins: A collection of important anecdotes and quotes from key stakeholders and users on the value of the solution, providing on-the record color commentary regarding the benefits acheived, and the suggestion of additional needs. (the trust in the results).

              • S – Strategy: The go-forward plan for obtaining additional value from the current licensed scope and use cases, and the business case for potential expansion to additional user groups and use cases.

            The elements of the GROWS post-sale value storytelling framework are used to guide realized value discovery, outlining the exact content needed to validate success, drive effective QBR engagements, articulate realized value in the most effective way possible, and drive even more value for the futuree.

            Presentations developed and delivered using the GROWS framework, leveraging the power of storytelling and the three-buy-buttons, will help you to better engage and inform customers on vital value outcomes, significantly boosting retention rates and driving expansions.

            The Bottom-Line

            Both account executives and customer success managers need to be skilled in articulating realized value to overcome customer regret and facilitate renewals and expansions.

            Storytelling stands as a potent communication method, leveraged when you need to engage customers post-sale to reinforce why your solution was selected and justify the significant value that has been realized. The GROWS framework serves as a powerful, easy to remember and implement tool, aligning perfectly with the storytelling arc and targeting the three-buy-buttons to garner renewal and inspire expansion: emotion (pathos and the reptilian brain), logic (logos and the new brain), and trust (ethos and the limbic brain).

            Our advice: Incorporate the GROWS realized value storytelling framework into your post-sale customer conversations to create more compelling QBRs and to add much-needed structure to your success and value realization efforts.

            Sources:
            The Continued Decline of High Quality Deals – https://blogs.gartner.com/hank-barnes/2023/04/04/the-continued-decline-of-high-quality-deals/

            The Pessimism Problem Continues to Grow – https://blogs.gartner.com/hank-barnes/2023/05/16/the-pessimism-problem-continues-to-grow/

            The PIVOT and GROWS value storytelling frameworks are copyrighted material of Genius Drive, LLC. (c) 2023. All rights reserved.

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