How to Become an Influencer (Business Version)

person with a megaphoneThere are many occasions when we need to influence other organizations to change their ways so that we can provide a better customer experience. Here are some examples:

  • The Sales team is selling into accounts with use cases that tend to bomb–and you know which other use cases pretty much guarantee success.
  • The product has some serious bugs that make customers very frustrated–and your team busy with escalations
  • The Support team is delivering the same level of service to every customer but you (the CSM) would like to see a premium level for large customers
  • The Customer Success team is onboarding customers too quickly, creating lots of work for the Support team right afterwards

What can you do to convince another organization to take action?

Use data

Support and Customer Success have tons of data about customer habits, complaints, and requests. Use it: the Engineering team will make better decisions if they know that bug X is affecting 25 customers with a combined ARR of $23 million while bug Y affects 3 customers with a combined ARR of $12 million. (Think about this one: the answer is not obvious!)

Similarly, if you can show the Sales team that customers with use case A renew at 153% of ARR and customers with use case B renew at 87%, reconsidering use case B will likely follow.

Avoid using anecdotes by themselves: “Customer ABC is threatening to cancel” works best to illustrate your analysis of why bug X needs fixing, not as a standalone whine.

Tend to relationships

Well-disposed ears hear better. Create positive relationships at all levels, from executives to individual contributors. We are well-positioned to do well here because, well, it’s our job and special talent!

  • Understand other organizations’ goals and objectives. For instance, the Engineering team is usually targeted solely on pushing releases on time, not solving quality issues.
  • Unite behind common causes: customer satisfaction, revenue expansion, fewer escalations.
  • Celebrate victories publicly.

Implement a repeatable process

It’s best to look at your requests as part of a repeatable process, not as one-time favors.

  • Create a methodology for ranking requests that makes sense for both organizations. For instance, justify requests for bug fixes by using ARRs.
  • Institute a cadence that matches the needs. For instance, a quarterly meeting to review sales use cases is usually enough but bug reviews may need daily attention.
  • Designate an owner from your side and talk your counterpart into providing one on their side.


What have you done to be a better influencer? Tell us in the comments.