How to be Proactive in Renewals and Preventing Churn 

Subject: End contract 

Dear Jill,  

Please consider this my notice of the termination of our agreement. Is there anything else you need from my end?  


You thought we were friends 

What’s your least favorite part of your job, and why is it when customers churn? It is the WORST. It makes you feel defeated, betrayed and just plain and down. (There are ways to deal with it if that does happen.) 

Nobody wants to be caught off guard. You should not be caught off guard. Ideally, you can identify unhappy clients proactively, well in advance of potential renewals, and turn that frown upside down. You also have options to consider in building a client base and pipeline to help you ride out times when a customer parts way.  

Define “At-Risk”  

You should have a clear definition of when constitutes at-risk. You should consider their general engagement, use of the product, and how they measure up internally and against industry standards.  Creating clear guidelines and metrics is critical because it will save time and might allow for automation. 

Create a Process for Flagging and Addressing At-Risk Clients.  

Ideally, you want to automate this process. If specific milestones are missed, have your CRM flag them for you. To catch whatever cannot be automated, schedule monthly or quarterly sessions to ensure that your clients are on track. Going this route allows you to stay on the offense rather than the defense.  

“Preventing churn starts at the beginning with the sales experience. Most sales people consider the sales cycle closed at signature, when really they should be involved until the prospect starts to receive the benefit of the solution being sold to them. Insuring a quality experience in that sensitive time between signing and  going live with a solution will directly correlate with the chance of renewal.”

Matt Firestone, founding account executive at noble

Don’t Hesitate to Act.  

Sometimes we want to “unsee” red flags. If your head or gut is telling you that something seems wrong. It may be the tone of their email, or they seem to conveniently keep missing your call. If you think that something is up, it probably is. OR maybe it isn’t. Get this- the best way to find out is to ask! Open communication and transparency is your best friend. Be proactive so that you can alleviate whatever friction they may be experiencing, even if it really isn’t you. 

Be Honest and Upfront.  

You know what is worse than your company being offline for an hour for your customer? Your customer finds out that you are offline when they try to log on at 2am their time. That is b-a-d bad news.  

All businesses hit challenges. Those who address challenges head on and give customers a heads up are in better shape. In doing so you build trust and authentic relationships. If a delivery is going to be late, a glitch needs to be repaired, or you need time for stock to arrive, that is okay! We are all human. If you communicate with your customers, what could have been a negative experience can turn into one that bonds you even greater.  

Not Feeling It?  

Do you not “gel” well with your customer? If it is just you, you’ll have to figure it out. However, if you have the possibility of switching with a colleague go for it. You don’t want to play this card often, but if you think that all parties would be better off, go for it.  

If you are the manager and notice that the match doesn’t seem to work, find out if you are correct. Jim Bork, Investor and Advisor at Upflow, urges managers to ask, “how well do you know your customers? How well do you know your people? If you are going to match the people to the Customer and know each well, this is relatively straightforward. However, I would caution on a few things:

  • Most people do not really know their people or their customers the way they think they do because they are looking at company metrics – relationships are between people. 
  • If you are going to match at the people level, what happens when someone leaves? 
  • Have you asked the Customers, in a meaningful way, what is important to them in an Account Manager?

There is nothing worse than committing an unforced error with a happy Customer by taking away an AM they really like for the sake of organizational change.”

That Client Seems Like They Are Your Only Client:  

If a client is too much of a drain on your resources—you may want to be the one to call it or if possible, suggest a product switch. 

You Know What They Say About Those Who Assume?  

You never have it in the bag. Life is a rollercoaster and no matter how confident you are, a client is never fully secure. You should regularly check in. You should keep an eye on all your clients and nurture those relationships. Invite your manager or team to bimonthly renewal conversations to discuss your strategic plan for each client’s renewal. Proactively approach the renewal process. 

Churn is inevitable, but your rate will be lower if you proactively address it. The suggestions above are meant to encourage you to get to know your customer! Doing so will not only prevent churn (fingers crossed!) but also open possibilities for upselling and cross-selling. You’re demonstrating your client knowledge, expertise, and, most importantly, that you care.  

Want to easily tag in your teammates before, after and throughout all quarters to prevent churn as a team? Collabria recently launched our design partner program. It makes it possible for you to follow through on promises made to clients, with collaboration as needed, quickly and efficiently, so that you maintain long-lasting relationships.

Want in? Become a Collabria Design Partner. You gain free access AND we will send you some swag.