Where’s this Relationship Going, Anyway? It’s Complicated.

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We’ve all asked or been asked this question before. It’s either spoken or thought at some point in the lifecycle of every important relationship. In the B2B world, strategic account relationships carry special importance. You might call them enterprise, named or just large. In any case, because of their size, they can really build your business up or break your heart.

Take for example the recent break-up of American Express and wholesale retail giant Costco. Finding themselves at an impasse during contract pricing term renegotiations, Costco chose to part ways with the credit card company after a solid 16-year relationship, and build a new partnership with AmEx competitor Citigroup. Costco represented 8 percent of total global card spending for American Express and after the split, AmEx stock prices took a visible hit. That’s what I call a heartbreaker.

Many similar stories exist in today’s increasingly competitive business landscape where organizations often overlook the current and potential revenue, as well as the risk, represented by these customers. Like any meaningful relationship, things get complicated—fueled by a complex tapestry of existing contracts, orders and deal documentation.

How well you understand the history and current relationship structure behind that large, complex account makes the difference between continued mutual growth and happiness or a costly separation.

In case you missed it, our recent webinar with special guest SiriusDecisions dove into this topic headfirst.

Steven Silver, a Research Director at SiriusDecisions, and I explored how best-in-class organizations retain and grow strategic account revenue by mapping the customer lifecycle, digitizing important contract information, and effectively integrating that info into downstream sales, finance and operational processes.

One organization we spotlighted—a $20B telecom company—knew they had significant revenue, and potential risk, locked up in over 300,000 complex customer contracts. Working with Pramata, they were able to quickly derive new intelligence from contracts combined with CRM and billing data to drive retention, price change, and order management actions, including $11M in recurring revenue opportunities.

In the case of strategic account management, knowledge truly is power. When you understand complex relationships and nurture them proactively across your organization, information quickly transforms into revenue retention and growth. I encourage you to check out the recorded webinar and learn how to head-off your own relationship drama.

The Truth is Out There

Search for customer truth

Are your customer relationships working for you or against you? Or to put it another way, when it comes to your customer agreements, there’s what you know, what you think you know and the truth.

Say you’ve contracted pricing for Customer X at a discounted introductory rate for nine months. It’s in the signed contract. But your new account manager thinks the pricing agreement is for 12 months. Because that’s what the billing system has (mistakenly) indicated. So your most recent invoice to Customer X still reflects the reduced rate instead of the correct price—a loss of $400K in revenue for a single month. That’s significant. And it’s unacceptable, wouldn’t you say?

And this is just one example of these missed opportunities each quarter, millions of dollars in price increases go unnoticed, renewal opportunities go un-worked and minimum commits are not met. That adds up fast.

It seems like this should be an easy case of reconciling one contract with one billing system. But the problem we discovered at Pramata in talking to countless large-scale B2B companies is that customer data is much more diverse and complex than that. And historically, if you want the truth, it takes a concerted all-hands-on-deck kind of effort that you and your staff just don’t have the time and bandwidth for and your current internal systems aren’t made to do.

This is where we come in. Pramata Customer Relationship Intelligence (CRI) bridges the information gap inside your current IT infrastructure. It mines the valuable hidden data within your B2B customer contracts, synthesizes that data with relevant information from your billing systems and CRM applications and delivers it in the most meaningful context for your finance, sales and legal teams. Mine, synthesize, deliver, repeat. That’s our process mantra.

You might be wondering why you can’t accomplish this with your business intelligence, CRM and contract lifecycle management tools. Those systems have their purpose, but they lack the unique connective tissue that pairs hands-on expertise with expert automation—then keeps that process in constant motion.

With this complete digital view of actionable customer insight, it becomes routine to capitalize on pricing increases, discount expirations, cost pass-throughs and many more untapped opportunities within your most valuable customer relationships.

No more millions in quarterly revenue left on the table. And best of all what you know to be true, really is.

Let us show you How it Works.

Congrats to our friends at Volition Capital!

Larry Cheng, Volition Capital

$250 million in capital commitments is no small feat. But we’d expect nothing less from our friends and colleagues at Volition Capital who just closed that truly impressive amount on their third fund in an amazingly short period of time—six weeks!

When Volition led the charge in Pramata’s Series A funding round last year, we knew we were working with a growth equity firm with a distinct collaborative philosophy that aligned very well with how myself and the Pramata management team looked at our business.

As Larry Cheng, Volition Capital managing partner and Pramata board member, has written in his illuminating blog post on the new fund, Volition is both a “conservative and aggressive firm.” At Pramata, we view ourselves in the same way—we are aggressive in creating a powerful and path-breaking suite of Customer Relationship Intelligence solutions. But at the same time, we are conservative in that we deliver what we say (no vaporware!) and we like to run our company as a healthy and profitable business.

With the support of Volition and our other valuable investors, Pramata is hitting its stride in a very big way. We’re digitizing valuable untapped customer data from contracts, billing systems, and CRM systems for some of the largest companies in the world. By partnering with us, they’re leveraging digital customer intelligence to unlock significant revenue opportunities within their most valuable customer relationships and establishing Pramata Customer Relationship Intelligence™ as a fundamental solution to drive results for finance, sales, operations and legal teams alike.

Entrepreneurs need more financial partnership options of the caliber Volition offers. It has been a wonderful partnership so far, and we look forward to becoming one of their market-leading home runs … adding to their outstanding track record. I’m also very excited to see the next class of Volition-funded companies and follow their own stories of success.

My hearty congratulations to Larry, Roger, Sean, and the rest of the Volition team. Cheers!

5 keys to making your sales team customer relationship intelligent

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There’s a ton of information, tools and resources being pushed to sales professionals. Yet I’m seeing five key factors that impact the success of customer 360 initiatives and the customer relationship IQ of sales pros:

1.) Data has to live where reps live
That means inside CRM, because asking reps to learn a new system is asking for trouble. This may seem simple, but having customer information where they need it, such as at the Accounts and Opportunity objects, means they won’t have to spend time chasing it down and are more likely to use it.
2.) And it has to be correct and consistent
Multiple and often overlapping contracts and related sources makes it very difficult to count on just query tools to get reliable customer data. Yet the technology becomes especially powerful when it’s embedded with domain and contracts expertise – the human touch that drives accuracy and delivers meaning to the people who will convert it into sales and revenue.
3.) Customer information has to be meaningful and relevant
Raw information from the contracts that define enterprise relationships will only take you so far. If you’re a sales user, it’s not far enough. Sales reps can take action with customers when legal text and billing data is translated into business meaning.
4.) Timing, and time, are everything
Sales teams need to know ‘how does my customer relationship exist today?”
And they don’t want to have to wait forever to find out.
5.) Customer-centric is better than document-centric
MSAs, SOWs, exhibits and amendments are each important in their own right. Yet the customer relationship is best understood in the context of how they relate to each other.

Getting to a true and accurate understanding of the customer relationship is the Holy Grail at a many companies. But the path is clear and the results make the journey more than worth it.

Are you spending too much time chasing customer data, too little time selling?

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Getting more and better intelligence about your customer relationship is the Holy Grail for sales and sales operations.  Sometimes they resort to manually intensive methods to get it.  Yet asking a sales person to decipher all the pages in contracts and associated documents, and to reconcile them with data from billing and CRM solutions, is an incredibly inefficient use of highly skilled resources.

Spend 1:47 of your time checking out this quick video interview with Pramata co-founder and CEO, Praful Saklani, to find out how to solve the problem efficiently, and to improve the effectiveness of sales teams in the process.