How your SaaS business can drive growth through customer success

4 Aug 2016

Alex Theuma explores how Lincoln Murphy’s customer success-driven growth model can be applied to SaaS businesses.

According to Lincoln Murphy, growth architect and customer success strategist, the best SaaS companies model their operations around customer success. These companies are deliberate about the customer journey. They succeed by prioritising customer success.

The best of the best can generate 150pc net revenue retention through expanding their relationships with existing, successful customers. Again: that’s 150pc net revenue without acquiring any new customers. Sounds great, right?

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What is customer success-driven growth?

Customer success is when customers achieve their desired outcome through interaction with your company. Customer success-driven growth is growth that happens because your customers succeed, upgrade, buy more, and tell their friends.

Companies that embrace customer success as an operating model organise everything from acquisition to first use to company-wide roll-out in a way that makes customers accomplish their goals.

These companies are deliberate about the customer journey, know what’s happening at each stop, and can move customers quickly from milestone to milestone. Nothing is left to chance.

Why focus on customer success?

Customer success is growth-generating, appeals to investors, and increases company value. In Murphy’s words, “When you focus on your own success, you might get there; when you focus on customer success, you’re definitely getting there.”

Customer success makes you money. When customers get their desired outcome, they:

  • Stick with the product
  • Roll it out to other parts of the company
  • Advocate for it through reviews and word of mouth

None of these happen when customers are disappointed. Indeed, the opposite can be true: they stagnate, churn out, and leave bad reviews.

Second, investors love efficient growth. It’s more efficient to spend money acquiring successful customers that stay than on unsuccessful customers that leave. With deliberate action, you can land and keep customers who spend more, faster – upping your ROI.

Lastly, customer success has a huge, direct impact on company value. Consider the value equation: ‘value = revenue x multiplier’, where the multiplier is some mix of things like ability to acquire talent, customer lifetime value, customer acquisition cost and growth efficiency. In addition to boosting revenue, customer success increases the multiplier by increasing efficiency, decreasing customer acquisition cost and improving talent retention.

How to adopt this model

When it comes to adopting customer success as the guiding principle of your operations, remember: this is a whole operational model.

To start, get deliberate with acquisition of the right customers. This means not scrambling for loads of customers at any cost in the smallest amount of time. Rather, look for customers with high success potential who are likely to achieve their desired outcomes through their interactions with your company. Wisely use your resources landing them.

Create a framework by setting a target number (customers or revenue) and a timeframe. Then, think about what customer profile will be easiest to land and keep inside that timeframe.


  • Are they ready, willing and able to buy?
  • Will they be quick to close?
  • Do they have a high potential for success?

In evaluating customer success potential, consider: Does the customer have the technology they need for your product to be useful? The experience? Can you provide all the features the customer needs? The support?

Use the knowledge of your ideal customer profile to target the right people and position your product for them.

Not being deliberate in your go-to-market approach is one of the biggest hurdles to success. People who fail to be deliberate end up with ‘bad fit customers’. You might get lucky and succeed anyway, but that’s success in spite of your efforts, not because of them. That’s a waste of your money and brains.

So, to recap, customer success should drive your operational philosophy. It can help you succeed through deliberate action and it makes and saves you money.

By Alex Theuma

Alex is the founder and editor-in-chief of SaaScribe, an online publication for the SaaS start-up community. He’s also the creator of SaaStock, the B2B SaaS conference, and, in his spare time, he runs a SaaS meet-up series in Europe.

Lincoln Murphy will discuss the customer success-driven growth model as a speaker at SaaStock in Dublin this September.

Business growth image via Shutterstock