The Rise of Revenue Innovators • Oct 12

Get Tickets  

London Virtual
Revenue Operations

How We Use Activity-based Sequences to Reduce Churn

Good retention relies on your ability to get in front of the problem. At Outreach, we’re using activity-based customer health warnings to catch and solve problems early.

Luke Ferrel, Sr Director of Customer Success's Avatar

Luke Ferrel, Sr Director of Customer Success

This article is part of our Outreach on Outreach content series, where we showcase our own revenue team’s use of the Outreach Sales Engagement Platform to help you drive success at your own company. We share workflows and strategies, backed by original research and data from the results of our own experiments and customer base.

If you’re lucky, customers tell you when they’re unhappy.

But most of them don’t. Instead, they hold onto problems until they're ready to churn.

By then it’s too late to win them back. They’re already gone.

Good retention relies on your ability to get in front of the problem. At Outreach, we’re using activity-based customer health warnings to catch and solve problems early.

With effective triggers and a proven retention workflow, I’ve seen companies increase their retention rates from 85 to 90%, saving tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

Want to know how it works?

Read on.

The 2x2 driving our customer success

At the heart of our customer success process is a simple two-by-two grid. On one axis is the likelihood of churn. On the other is whitespace or the potential for expansion in an account.

We use customer activity, specifically seat saturation, as a proxy for customer health. If a contract provides for 50 seats but the customer only uses 45, that’s 90% seat saturation. But if only 10 users are logging on, that’s 20% seat saturation and it’s a sign something has gone wrong.

Put another way: high saturation indicates a low risk of churning. Low seat saturation means an account is at risk.

For our whitespace model, we created an industry similarity score. By comparing a customer’s spend to the average among their peers, we can quickly assess whether there’s room for expansion.

If Acme Corp is spending $20,000 and companies like it are spending $100,000, we know there’s room for growth in the account.

By combining whitespace and churn scores, we can categorize all customers on a 2x2. Where they fall dictates how we approach their retention.

  • Low churn/Low whitespace: This quadrant covers happy customers who have no room for upsell. We run our normal low-touch renewal and leave them to keep doing great work.
  • High churn/Low whitespace: Something has gone wrong, as these customers aren’t getting the most out of the product. We’ll try our best to support them through automated education and retention sequences.
  • Low churn/High whitespace: These accounts could harness Outreach more widely. Our account management team steps in to see how we can help.
  • High churn/High whitespace: The final quadrant includes great potential customers, where something’s gone wrong. My team helps improve their experience and gets them satisfied.

    The activity-based sequences we’re talking about play solely in the high whitespace/high churn segment. What do we do when a great potential customer is at risk?

    Activity-based warnings and sequences

    You can track customer health in a bunch of different ways. What metric you choose—feature usage, account growth, support conversations—depends on your data, how clean it is, and how smooth your pipeline is.

    For Outreach, seat saturation made sense, because we accurately track individual seat activity and generate that data in real time.

    After some experimentation, we set the at-risk threshold at 80%. (Conversely, sales will use a four-week average of >80% as an expansion indicator.) When a customer’s seat saturation dips below that figure, we automatically highlight them as at-risk and assign a Customer Success Manager (CSM) a task to investigate.

    Our CSM audits the account to work out what’s up. Maybe the customer’s sequences aren’t set up perfectly or they’re not yet utilizing powerful features like Insights or Kaia. Depending on what they find, the CSM customizes our basic six-step sequence tailored to improvement or education opportunities.

    The first email is a personalized introduction to why we're reaching out, what the customer can expect, and what they can get out of it. Here’s an example of our opening template in action:

    Hi {{first_name}},

    Hello from the CS Advisors Team! We’re reaching out because we’ve recently taken a peek at your Outreach set-up, and believe there may be an area of opportunity when it comes to improving how things are organized.

    We’ve found that when our customers’ Outreach content, Prospect/Account records, and platform access aren’t well organized, it causes their reps to:

    1. Waste time

    2. Become discouraged

    3. Go rogue

    This negatively affects KPIs such as meeting rates, response times, and ultimately, Closed-Won Opportunities.

    Ensuring that the right Prospects are added to the right Sequences at the right time comes down to having a solid organizational strategy. We’re excited to share some of our best practices & steps that will help drive:

    • Better over all platform adoption and efficiency

    • Faster rep response times and smoother workflows

    • Higher-quality communications w/ high-priority Prospects

    • Easier reporting by category

    Stay tuned for some great step-by-step emails from us to learn and implement these awesome changes in your org.

    Best,

    CS Advisors

    The next four emails address a specific topic like building content collections or creating naming conventions. We’ll also touch on the why behind each topic and outline two to four optimization tips. Each email also offers a public calendar link so the customer can book a call to discuss things more in depth.

    Here’s an example email on assigning content to teams:

    Hi {{first_name}},

    As we mentioned in our email earlier, we want to help you maximize the value you’re getting from Outreach by guiding you step-by-step through implementing some of our top organizational best-practices.

    Organizing Content

    Today we’re going to walk through setting up Teams and Content Collections in Outreach.

    Collections are an absolute necessity when it comes to implementing a solid organizational strategy. The proper set-up of Collections can save your reps hours of valuable selling time per week; reduce new user ramp time; and increase Prospect conversion rates.

    Here are the four steps to follow to nail your set-up:

    • Step 1: Organize your users into Teams. Before you can fully take advantage of your Content Collections, you must create your teams in Outreach. Having Teams set up also opens the door to better reporting.

    • Step 2: Develop a naming convention. While simply having a foldering system is important for ensuring the right content is easy to find, having naming conventions applied to individual content pieces ensures reps know what content should ultimately be used. Here’s a great article that has a guide for developing a naming convention strategy.

    • Step 3: Create Collections and assign them to Teams. When creating your Collections, be sure to give each Collection a name and assign the folder to the Team(s) intended to utilize the content. Try to align the name of each Collection to the naming convention of the individual content pieces to be assigned to that Collection. For example: "SDR - Outbound".

    • Step 4: Assign content to the Collections. Assign your best pieces of content to the newly created Collections. With content now assigned, Teams will have quick access to the right content at the right time.

    Have your Collections set-up?

    Great. Next steps are then to make sure that your teams are enabled on how to use them. Also, be sure to check out these other resources for tips and tricks to help you level-up your content organization game even further:

    Want to talk?

    Interested in discussing the above four steps and strategy behind Collections further? Email us at [email protected], or click to BOOK A CALL.

    Best,

    CS Advisors Team

    Our last email summarizes the topic and closes things out.

    With this sequence, our goal is to help customers get the most out of Outreach. We position our sequences as advisory, rather than corrective. If someone’s content is jumbled, we’ll send them thought leadership on content organization, and then encourage them to set up a time to chat with us.

    This sort of white glove service is the expectation for large customers—it’s built into their contract. But we want everyone to receive this level of service. We’ve been working on a way to automate the account review and educational support processes. We’re getting close to being able to deliver the same granular support across our entire customer base. It works by tapping into feature-specific data.

    Tapping into feature usage

    During the account audit, our CSMs investigate features and functionality. For example, they’ll check whether Merge and Delete is set up for Salesforce records and whether users have Local Dial turned on.

    There’s a ton of value in having a human perform the audit. They can review setup against best practice, analyze content, and check performance. While we’ll never be able to automate the audit process to that level, we can get close.

    Right now, we’re investigating how to layer feature usage data over activity data to create a more nuanced picture of customer health. When we implement this, we’ll know, not just that an account is at risk of churning, but also why that is.

    We can harness that data to trigger automated educational sequences for our smaller customers and accounts with low white space. For example, if we see that a customer isn’t using snippets and is sending generic emails to all their prospects, we know that’s a huge mistake—and we can fix it with an automated educational sequence.

    Make your customers happy

    Peter Drucker once said: “Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”

    And it’s true.

    Although we’ve spent seven years building one of the best sales engagement platforms in the game, it doesn’t mean anything if our customers aren’t generating pipeline, closing deals, and optimizing revenue lift.

    That’s where our Customer Success team really comes into its own.

    Everything we do is about helping our customers get the most out of Outreach to achieve their goals.

    If they’re using the platform effectively and there’s room for growth, we can help them explore their options. If they’re underutilizing features and functionality, we’re there to help them learn and improve.

    Ultimately, what’s good for our customers is good for us. Because when customers use Outreach, they’re happy—and happy customers stick with us for the long haul.

    Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for first dibs on new and exclusive Outreach on Outreach content. Check back in two weeks when Ryan Jander shares how Mutual Action Plans accelerate deals by telling buyers how and when to buy.

    Recent Posts

    The Content Review Process Powering Our 98% PSAT Score

    Learn how we used a repeatable content process to achieve a 98% PSAT Score!

    You Know They Aren’t Right and You Run Them Anyway

    How we improved data accuracy and built lead reporting people actually trust.

    How We Use Activity-based Sequences to Reduce Churn

    Good retention relies on your ability to get in front of the problem. At Outreach, we’re using activity-based customer health warnings to catch and solve problems early.

    Woman on video call

    Dive into Outreach

    Get a Live Demo

    Enable your sales team to convert more pipeline to revenue today.

    Request a Demo