While a great deal can be said for the well-rounded workforce, cross-trained and capable of filling in for one another, Renewals Sales Management may be one area where a dedicated specialist is the best way to ensure your company's interests are always where you need them: front and center.
Scientific Management: What 20th Century Time Management can teach us about Subscription/Renewals Workflow
Last century Frederick W. Taylor, considered the world's first efficiency expert, advanced a theory that named him the Father of Scientific Management. Taylorism, as it is still called today, espouses the belief (and practice) that there is only one Best Way of Doing Anything (1).
Taylor encouraged his followers—including Henry Ford I, the Father of the Modern Assembly Line—to first study and understand how things are best done well, then to design an automated system that does so regularly at the lowest human cost, managing and controlling employees throughout that process.
While much of Taylor's work has been challenged, its heart—the observation that business must study its workflow and workers to determine the most cost- and time-effective business processes and staffing—remains sacrosanct. It is not only a road to efficiency, but it also allowed for the predictable flow of product, practice and profit.
What does Taylorism have to do with my Renewal Sales Organization?
The entire push of modern workplace automation, like technological automation, is to eliminate the waste, errors and unintended duplication inherent in human effort. If you're running your Renewals business through a hand-entered and analyzed spreadsheet, filtered through one or several on-staff employees and/or Channel Partners, the opportunities for loss and error are rampant. If this is your process, you are definatley losing revenue and possibly even customers whilst you are reading this very blog.
Your General Sales Team and Channel Partners have one thing on their mind: Net New Sales. Make the sale, move on to the next, and let the back office handle the rest. If renewals are lost, it's unfortunate, but commissions are made in—and contribute to—obviously more expensive new Customer Sales.
Their focus is external, expecting your Specialist Sales Team to focus internally at the same time (in effect becoming a Generalist). This leaves rife opportunity for lost income in the form of less time spent in pursuit of new prospects on top of existing customer renewals and upgrades/upsells.
When properly or even liberally incentivized, your Direct and Channel Sales Teams aren't inputting the required data, nor are they doing the data hunt for upcoming subscription, license end-terms or possible upgrade events.
If you are lucky, that thankless job may fall to one or more of your internal admin people—who most likely are doing several other things in a true Generalist capacity. The chance to analyse the process and see what they do as a science, tied to One Best Way of Doing, doesn't exist.
Hence the very logical step of creating a Renewals Specialist to ensure those easy, highly affordable continuing contracts continue. Taylor's One Best Way.
Can one person—even a Specialist—do it all?
Harking back to Taylor, yes. That is, provided they are armed with the latest in workflow automation and a smart business process to show them the way.
Instead of one person cherry-picking clients from a spreadsheet, then targeting them for email blasts or personal reminders, a computerized system can take the information the Renewals Specialist feeds it and organize and prioritize. It can automatically send reminders to channel partners and/or customers about product refreshes, functionality upgrades, legacy rollovers and of course, simple Renewals reminders.
All this for a fraction of the cost spent by your Direct Sales Team and Channel Partners to generate Net New Sales.
You gain the ability to program your system to forecast predictable revenue streams via today's contemporary Renewals technology. You know when a contract is going to expire. Your automated system—in the best Tayloresque practice—generates business seamlessly and efficiently, minimizing errors.
EOFY (End of Fiscal Year) expirations clogging your system?
High volume renewals, whether at the end of the fiscal year or the anniversary of your last new product launch, means the workload must be actively managed. This is a tricky task if you're relying on an otherwise focused Sales Team. Their priority will always be Net New, even though it is well-known that it's more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one.
If Renewals aren't a priority, customer churn increases and can potentially spin out of control. The pressure to bring new contracts onboard increases. All of this makes your Renewals Specialist all the more valuable, cost-effective and profitable.
Where did Taylor fail? Where today's automated processes shine
Efficiency is always seated in volume and repetition. But repetition breeds boredom. Boredom kills efficiencies gained. Unfortunately for Taylor, human attention spans and job fulfillment weren't factored into his thinking.
Fortunately for you, today's digital Renewals Data Management Platforms render them moot. Today's technology solutions can automate the boring, catch what might be overlooked, and generate reminders and reports to be analyzed by your Renewals Specialists within the context of your current product offerings and upgrades.
The Jack of All Trades? Gone with the advent of specialized technology and specialized personnel to get the most from it. The Jack or Jill of All Trades is still a valuable asset today, but it's the Renewals Specialist who knows where—and when—the worm will emerge thanks to modern technology determined to make sure it doesn't get away.
Want more on Renewals, Renewals Specialists and Best Renewals Practices? Look for iasset's upcoming blogs and publications.
(1) The Principles of Scientific Management, Copyright © 1911 by Frederick W. Taylor