Last week I got a call from a long time client excitedly telling me about the biggest deal in his company’s history that his team had just closed. It really was a remarkable feat given the size and complexity of the deal, the intensity of the competition, and the length of the sales cycle (it was very short) and I wholeheartedly congratulated him and the team. But there was a potential troubling, if not fatal, problem that I felt needed to be discussed. At the risk of raining on his parade, I began probing the issue I saw.

You see, my client’s business model is a subscription model (which I happen to love) and this deal was for a three year period. On top of that, the customer insisted on paying for the full three year period upfront! What’s not to love about this you’re probably wondering? Most account teams would be counting their blessings and cashing their commission checks. And that is the problem I was concerned about.

From the customer’s perspective, closing the deal was never the end game. It was simply a step in the process of achieving what the customer really wanted and that was the outcome or future state the deal would enable. The deal was simply the agreement that defined how business would be conducted. What I wanted to know was how would the customer measure success? Which is how the customer would measure value. And how would the account team ensure they would get credit for delivering that value?

To my relief, this was exactly what my client was working on with their customer. Before any services were provided, they were working together to define the success metrics (value) and establishing the regular cadence of business reviews (CBRs) to report on the value actually delivered. My client told me this was extremely important to the key decision makers at the customer. They did not want to run the political risk of being “second guessed” at some point in the future. If questioned about why they were spending so much money with my client, they wanted to have clear answers as to what value this contract was delivering.

From my client’s perspective, delivering this value and getting credit for delivering it, would certainly give them a valuable reference account. More importantly, it would dramatically increase the probability of a successful and uneventful renewal three years down the road – and that is key to making any subscription model work!