If you sold sales software to sales people, and the software promised a specific outcome, how would you help customers achieve that outcome? You might publish that outcome on a dashboard in your product and place it in a highly visible location so your customers can see it every day. You might also overlay a target on the dashboard so customers know the number they need to achieve and the gap between current state and goal state. You might also color code the dashboard to make it even easier to understand current state. This is just what Adam Honig, founder and CEO of Spiro.ai does in his CRM product. The outcome Spiro is designed to help customers achieve is having more meaningful conversations with customers. Sales people spend 40% of their time doing administrative work in CRMs when they should be spending more of that time on high value tasks, like talking to prospects. While conversations with prospects does not necessarily lead directly to new sales, it does put sales people in a position to succeed. So Adam's goal is to help customers have more of those conversations and help them track towards that outcome.
Learn more about Adam Honig:
Here's the problem with consulting. An expert comes in, advises, and leaves. OR. If more than advise is needed, a consultant is hired for a long term engagement to actually do the work. Months and months of billable work occurs. Call it staff augmentation that is very expensive. Eventually the consultants leaves, the engagement is over and very little of the capability remains with the client. This is a good short term solution to a problem. Andrew Marks and Todd Eby, co-founders of SuccessHacker don't think is approach is good for the consulting firm or good for the client. They don't consider a client engagement successful unless they teach a client what they need to know so they can continue to do it themselves. "We don't want to be there for a long time. We want to come in, teach clients what they need to know, and help then get on the journey." SuccessHacker approaches consulting with an education mindset. How do you approach engagements with your clients?
Learn more about Andrew and Todd and SuccessHacker:
-Outcomes Community: https://www.customersuccess.community
-Andrew Marks on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewmarks/
Andrew Marks on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CSuccessHacker
-Todd Eby on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddceby/
-Todd Eby on Twitter: https://twitter.com/toddceby
Customer Success has taken the world by storm. And customer education is a pillar of customer success, says Dave Derington, Director of User Enablement of Azuqua and Adam Avramescu, head of customer education and training at Checkr. Think about it. Customer success is all about figuring out how to keep customers happy and get them to use more of our products. If that is customer success in a nutshell, then Dave and Adam argue that customer education is the answer to those questions. Said another way. Education sells more product. It brings more customers back. It fosters loyalty. It gets customers excited about your product and your company. It builds community. Customer education cannot solve all of your problems, but it can set customers up for success.
We also talked about Dave and Adam's new podcast CELab: Customer Education Labs. It focuses on customer education and their first episode is about how to get started with customer education.
Here is a link to the first episode:
Sue Duris, director of marketing and customer experience at M4 Communications, comes into the studio to talk about the similarity and differences between customer experience, customer success, and marketing. We started with customer experience. Sue says her favorite definition of customer experience comes from Forrester, which says that it's every interaction or touchpoint a customer has with your brand. Every. Interaction. Bill had to ask, "Doesn't that include the experience our customers have when we send them invoices? What if the invoice looks like we created it manually. What if it was sent from a "no-reply" email address? What if the customer has a question about the invoice and no one gets back to her? Does the accounts receivable manager need a promotion to customer experience manager?" These are the kinds of questions we talk about with Sue on this episode of Helping Sells Radio.
Helping Sells Radio reaches across the pond to speak to David Jackson, CEO of TheCustomer.co following his recent talk at Gainsight's Pulse Europe 2018 titled, How to Construct a Predictive Health Score With or Without Usage Data. David gave that talk with Charli Rogers, Vice President, Client Success at Yext. The subject alone is more than enough reason to have David on the show. But digging further, David has a unique perspective on product-led customer success, which is timely with Gainsight's acquisition of Aptrinsic, and his views on simplifying customer are music to our ears.
Learn more about David:
We talk about the customer journey. But the term journey implies there is a path, and customers take the path. If customers are unique, and most of us think they are, then wouldn't they take their own path? And if each customer takes a unique path, then how are WE (software companies) supposed to manage that? The answer is: We aren't. That's why I like that Ellie Wu talked about moments. Ellie Wu, Senior Director of Customer Success at SAP Concur and a top 100 Customer Success Influencer, joins Helping Radio to talk about owning moments (not the customer). WE talk about a lot of other things too, including fawning over her Linkedin videos, whether to hire a customer success executive or a customer success manager first, and we even talked briefly about Olympic skeleton racer, Noelle Pikus Pace and how she overcame the possible destruction of her Olympic dreams with one statement from her doctor in her darkest moment.
Learn more about Ellie:
What would you do, if you could split off a small team of developers and could direct them on changes to the product that customers hound you about every day? This new team, your team, would work in parallel to the product development team, unencumbered by the restrictions of the product roadmap. No more begging the product team to listen to you. No more making the case that this customer is special and this feature is important. No more explaining to customers, "I promise, I'll pass that along to our product team." What if you could make those changes happen? What if you could be a true voice of the customer? This is what Mel Bilge, customer experience led at Learndot by ServiceRocket can do. Jealous? In disbelief? Well, we talk to her about how it works, why she did it, and why Mel thinks this could be the future of the product / customer experience mashup.
Learn more about Mel:
Jay Gibb is the founder and CEO of a B2B SaaS company called CloudSponge and a partner at a distributed software engineering consulting agency called Arizona Bay. Arizona Bay builds software products for its clients, usually SaaS products. Roughly 10-20% of Arizona Bay's customers are "ideal customers." An ideal customers in this case is defined by someone who comes to Jay and already has pre-sold an unbuilt software product. Think about that. Jay's customer has sold, to their customer, a software product....then they go to Jay and ask his firm to help them build it. Jay, his customer, and the customer's customer get together and start making it happen. But this isn't even the best part of the story.
The next level of customer that Arizona Bay gets is someone who wants to build a software product, knows what they want, but they do not have pre-sales. Jay helps them get pre-sales, so they can become an ideal customers. "I'll give them a bunch of mentoring and advice, and I'll send them down the path of getting pre-orders, and I'll help them do that, at no charge, because I'm trying to be helpful," says Gibb.
Strangely enough. Some customers reject that help. They already know what they want and are perfectly happy to say, no thank you to that help. Jay tells them, "Thanks but no thanks." That is not going to create an ideal customers, and these arrangements can lead to headaches for both parties.
Some prospects love Gibb's helpful approach and very often turn into customers. "The sales process is fun for me," says Gibb. "And when the customer is ready to get started, there is no competition. There are no bids. We are do deep into this relationship that we are just going to get the project."
We talked about many more things with Jay. But that was my favorite part.
My question for you is this, "How you do help your prospects become ideal customers?"
Learn more about Jay Gibb:
If you are a regular listener of Helping Sells Radio, you know that whenever we have a guest on the show to talk about customer success, we challenge them (I'm putting that nicely here in the show notes) on the idea that customer success is really not yet about customer success and more about "our" success. I ask, "When are we going to change that and actually start talking about customer success?" I'm still waiting for the right answer. Well, we have two customer success guests on this episode, and they have an answer to the question. And the answer is: business outcome management. Dave Duke, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at MetaCX, and James Scott, General Partner of the Customer Success Practice at SuccessHacker explain that business outcome management is a core customer success competency (or should be) that provides a team a methodology for helping customers achieve business outcomes.
We are one step closer to living up to the promise of customer success as a discipline.
Learn more about Dave Duke:
Sarah E. Brown, author of Power to the Startup People: How to Grow Your Startup Career When You're Not the Founder, wants to help people evaluate whether and how to build a career in startups. As we talk about on the show, most of what is written about startups is for the founder. Little-to-none has been written to help employees. Until now. Working at a startup can be fun and exciting and enriching and lucrative. Working at a startup can also be stressful and purposeless and cliche and unprofitable. To make matters worse, one startup might be a perfect fit for you, but a terrible match for your best friend, who you think is so much like you. In other words, working at startups is not for everyone. The point is to evaluate what you want out of your career and see how that matches up with what startups can offering. You need to look for a fit.
The most valuable part of Sarah's book is that it helps you think about this evaluation process. You quite literally could use Sarah's book to make a check-list of criteria and use it to evaluate your current role and possible next opportunity to determine the right fit build the right startup career.
Learn more about Sarah:
Chris Yeh joined Helping Sells Radio to talk about his new book, Blitzscaling: The Lightening-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies, which he co-authored with Reid Hoffman. Blitzscaling is written for entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies to massive sizes and understand how to navigate the transitions from small company to medium company to large company. It's not all roses. As Chris explains, "You start off building a company and dream about a day when you've got it all figured out, and it's all going to be smooth from there. It turns out that time never arrives." What happens instead is that once you do have it figured out, you almost have to start again from scratch because your company is entering a new stage of its lifecycle and the new stage requires a new set of beliefs, operating principles, and processes, and sometimes even people.
Companies go through stages. At each stage the company is completely different. And the company should be treated differently. This means founders and executive teams and even employees, need to make certain transitions so that the company can continue to grow and succeed into the next stage.
Peter Thiel helped us go from Zero to One. Reid and Chris helps us go from Zero to One Billion.
Learn more about Chris:
Chris's website: https://chrisyeh.com/
Chris on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisyeh
Chris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrisyeh
The Masters of Scale podcast and Chris's cameo appearance: https://mastersofscale.com/#/arianna-huffington-what-great-founders-do-at-night
Chris's other book with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. The Alliance: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JTJ84EW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
We sure do sound like an expert at work when we educate our peers and stakeholders about best practices in our industries. After all, our executive teams are asking us to implement best practices. Our customers expect us to follow best practices. The conferences we attended attract us with sessions on best practices. We learn them. We implement them. We are praised when we do. But did any of us sit down and think, before we charged down best practices hill, "Is following these best practices right for us?"
Jay Acunzo, keynote speaker, founder of Unthinkable Media and author of the upcoming book, Break the Wheel: Question best practices, hone your intuition, and do your best work, helps us change how we think about best practices. Jay tells us, "We are starting to lose sight of how to make good decisions at work. We think it's about finding that best practice. But here's the deal. Finding best practices is not the goal. Finding what works best for you is the goal.
So this begs the question. How do you (your organization) find out what works best for you?
That is the question Jay helps us answer on this episode of Helping Sells Radio.
Learn more about Jay:
The book: http://jayacunzo.com/book/
His website: http://jayacunzo.com/
That Medium post we opened the show with: Confessions of a content creator: I don't care about data
(I post the URLs rather than just linking the text, in case some of these podcast services doesn't pick up the HTML. At least you can copy and past the URL if you want to get it).
There is a first time for everything and this episode has two first times. First, we took Helping Sells Radio on the road to visit Dustin DeVan, founder and CEO of BuildingConnected at his office to talk about disrupting the construction industry with collaborative software. Second, Sarah E. Brown, founder and long-time co-host of Helping Sells Radio and director of content marketing at BuildingConnected, joins the show as a guest host AND a guest. She even took over the show open.
So, this was an exciting shows on multiple levels.
Riddle me this: How does a mechanical and aeronautical engineer with no aspirations to get into construction or technology, start a technology company for the construction industry? Think about that there for a moment.
In this episode you will learn how Dustin got into the construction industry, and while he was working in it, how he discovered that the construction industry is one of the most collaborative and also one of the most fragmented industries in the world. And with the gigantic number of construction projects around the world, organizing a seemingly endless number of contractors and sub-contractors and suppliers...none of them are connected in any modern collaborative sense. Dustin saw a need to create a network of contractors and sub-contractors to help all of these people work together better. For example, to help sub-contractor win more business, help contractors find the right sub-contractors, and ultimately help build better construction projects.
Learn more about BuildingConnected: https://www.buildingconnected.com
Dustin DeVan on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dustindevan/
Here is the question of the day: "How far do you go to help a customer adopt your software?" I ask this question to many of our guests, and there isn't one right answer. As you can imagine, there are many answers. In other words, "It depends." My favorite answer now comes from Arjun Devgan, VP of global customer success and services at Percolate. His answer is to create a methodology for adopting the software and then publish an eBook describing it and also publishing tools customers can use during their implementation or digital transformation.
This is just like the question I received after my talk at CS100 Summit 2018 run by ClientSuccess about what courses one should start building if there is nothing today. The second course topic I suggested is to create a course on your rollout methodology. The idea is to help a customer with a proven process for getting up and running on your software. Presumably, you have such a process. Why not teach customers how to do it?
Percolate codified their process in "The Percolate Adoption Framework." Which anyone can download. Take a look. It will inspire you.
The Percolate Adoption Framework: https://learn.percolate.com/software-adoption-framework-enterprise-percolate/#
Arjun's Gainsight Blog, "The Customer Success Identity Crisis." https://www.gainsight.com/blog/customer-success-identity-crisis/
Arjun on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arjundevgan/
Arjun on Twitter: https://twitter.com/arjun_devgan
Arjun at Percolate: https://percolate.com/team#
It is the the sixth and FINAL in the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack, so it is appropriate that we finish this series with Dave Blake's episode. The CS100 Summit Preparation Pack is a collection of past Helping Sells Radio guests who are also speaking at the 2018 CS100 Summit put on by ClientSuccess. When the agenda came out, it was glaringly obvious what a high level of speakers ClientSuccess attracts for their conference, we noticed five speakers were past guest of Helping Sells Radio. So we go together in the studio and decided to re-air all five of those episode just before and during the conference.
Enjoy the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack.
From Dave's episode:
One of the biggest obstacles to this customer-centric evolution is the buy-in of executives. According to Dave they believe in it because it's "THE" thing to do, however they don't invest the time and resources to make it truly happen. So they create CS teams within their organizations, yet they don't give them the ability or power to impact change within the organization to truly deliver a CS experience to customers. For example, if a product enhancement request comes from the CS team to the product development team, however there is no mechanism for the development team to prioritize the enhancement in their workflow. Worse yet, there may not be a way for the CS team to even speak to the development team to submit the request!
Only when executives break down the barriers between teams and departments and give accountability for CS to the right spots in the organization can it truly become a CS-focused company culture. "Until you turn the perspective outward, from outside to inside, that won't change," Dave said.
It is episode five in the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack. The CS100 Summit Preparation Pack is a collection of past Helping Sells Radio guests who are also speaking at the 2018 CS100 Summit put on by ClientSuccess. When the agenda came out, it was glaringly obvious what a high level of speakers ClientSuccess attracts for their conference, we noticed five speakers were past guest of Helping Sells Radio. So we go together in the studio and decided to re-air all five of those episode just before and during the conference.
Enjoy the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack.
From Kristen's episode:
How can B2B companies get better with data?
To improve their relationship with data, B2B companies should plan out their data collection processes from start to finish, advises Kristen. "Leverage the people they have in place in high-touch customer roles," she said. To augment what they're going to do with technology in the future instead of with people, she went on to explain.
Tech tools can help B2B companies increase their one-to-many customer relationships and reduce the amount of people involved in maintaining the relationship on a regular basis. That's not to say companies can reduce the number of CS staff, but rather, deploying their staff in higher value tasks and let the technology take over the lower value ones.
It is episode four in the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack. The CS100 Summit Preparation Pack is a collection of past Helping Sells Radio guests who are also speaking at the 2018 CS100 Summit put on by ClientSuccess. When the agenda came out, it was glaringly obvious what a high level of speakers ClientSuccess attracts for their conference, we noticed five speakers were past guest of Helping Sells Radio. So we go together in the studio and decided to re-air all five of those episode just before and during the conference.
Enjoy the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack.
From Nicolle's episode:
"Is it possible to monitor Customer Experience just by looking at data? Can we do that?" Bill was curious, since it can be hard to get customers to tell the truth when asking for feedback.
"In some organizations it's possible," Nicolle replied. "But I wouldn't recommend it." She explained that the data is only one part of the equation. It only gives you some of the information you need to create a positive CX for customers. At some point you'll need to speak to the customers to get the information directly from them. "You still have to talk to people to see what they're doing, how they're feeling, how they're using your products," she said. After all, you may discover your customers are using your products in a completely unexpected and unintended way that works!
It is episode three in the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack. The CS100 Summit Preparation Pack is a collection of past Helping Sells Radio guests who are also speaking at the 2018 CS100 Summit put on by ClientSuccess. When the agenda came out, it was glaringly obvious what a high level of speakers ClientSuccess attracts for their conference, we noticed five speakers were past guest of Helping Sells Radio. So we go together in the studio and decided to re-air all five of those episode just before and during the conference.
Enjoy the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack.
From Todd Eby's episode:
Customer Success is simple. But the simplest things are often the hardest.
Todd's customer success philosophy: "Understand what Success looks like to your customers. Make it your mission to deliver the direction, guidance and experience necessary for your customers to achieve their definition of success and you’ll be successful. It’s as simple as that. " Is this really simple? If it is, why aren't more companies doing it? Or are they? Every company is like a snowflake; there is no cookie-cutter approach. That's why companies struggle.
Although this is Helping Sells Radio Episode 85, it is episode two in the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack. The CS100 Summit Preparation Pack is a collection of past Helping Sells Radio guests who are also speaking at the 2018 CS100 Summit put on by ClientSuccess. When the agenda came out, it was glaringly obvious what a high level of speakers ClientSuccess attracts for their conference, we noticed five speakers were past guest of Helping Sells Radio. So we go together in the studio and decided to re-air all five of those episode just before and during the conference.
Enjoy the CS100 Summit Preparation Pack
From Nils' previous episode:
Nils has developed a model for building great customer success organizations. He calls it the 4 P’s of Customer Success.
We talked through this model and one of the most interesting parts of that discussion might have been the most controversial part of the interview. When it comes to purpose, a customer success team can have a primary purpose of satisfying customers or driving revenues, but it cannot drive both. Nils tells us we have to choose what to focus on. It is not to say teams cannot have both, but you cannot focus on both.
If you want to learn more about the 4 P’s of Customer Success, you can download the eBook that Glide Consulting has put together.
This is first in a series of podcasts in anticipation of ClientSuccess's annual CS100 Summit Conference. We are calling this series the CS100 Summit Preparation pack. To kick off the preparation pack, Nils Vinje from Glide Consulting and CS100 Summit speaker, is back on the show for the third time. We talk to Nils about customer maturity impact on what level of services you provide, what he's talking about at CS100 Summit, and you are much better off spending 30 minutes documenting a process rather than perform that process over and over from memory. Because if you take that process and multiply it across a team of customer success managers, you will develop a lot of inefficiencies and deliver widely varying customer experiences.
Even if you cannot make it to CS100 Summit 2018, this episode gives you a taste of Nils' talk.
Learn more about CS100 Summit:
Go download those resources Nils talked about in the show:
Are you creative? Most of us business people do not think of ourselves (or our professions) as creative. When we think of creative people, we think of artists and musicians and actors and writers. This is just one of the mistakes we make about creativity. Allen Gannett, founder and CEO of TrackMaven and author of "The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time," explains that anyone can be creative because creativity can be learned. He did the research and provides a way of thinking that will help any of us believe we can be more creative.
In just one example, Gannett explains that being creative is not just about the technical skill of whatever it is that we do. That skill could be painting or software sales. The technical skill of painting or selling is only one part of being creative. As Gannett explains, a creative person is good at three skills: the technical skill of the act, timing, and communicating and distributing your ideas. In other words, if you invented a new painting style or a new sales technique, it means nothing if your timing is off or if you cannot get that new idea out into the world.
If you want to be a more creative painter or sales person or customer success manager, I suggest you listen to this podcast and then go read "The Creative Curve."
How well do you know your customers? Do you know their lingo? Do you use their lingo in your communication with them? Do you really? Jeffrey Shaw, author of the book Lingo: Discover Your Ideal Customer's Secret Language and Make your Business Irresistible, joins Helping Sells Radio to help us, help our customers say to themselves, "They so get me." One tactic Shaw suggests is for us to use self-identifying questions so a customer can screen themselves to us. He calls it to help "customers how up 80% positioned." Shaw explains, "When you know your customer so well you really embody their emotional triggers that you can pose questions in your marketing and on your website that ring so true for your ideal customers their typical response is "WOW! It's like your in my head."
You want outcomes? Allison Pickens, Chief Customer & Corporate Development Officer at Gainsight, has outcomes. In fact, she is perhaps suggesting the ultimate customer outcome a customer could have after using your product. That outcome? Getting promoted. Think about it. Someone...an actual person bought your product. They stuck their neck out. Convinced many other people in their organization that buying your product was a good idea. The your product is a promise to make some meaningful improvement. People agreed and green-lighted the project. Looking back...someone is going to ask, "Was that a success?" If it was, perhaps your customer now looks so good, he or she ought to be promoted. Right? So, how many of your customers have been promoted? I think that might be the ultimate customer outcome. Put that in your dashboard and smoke it.
Maybe you've never heard of value engineering, but it's been around. A while. According to Stephen Morse, there is a direct correlation between a company's success and the focus they bring to bear on getting Value Engineering right. And on this episode of Helping Sells Radio, Morse helps us get it right.
She tried. And she succeeded. Naturally. Emilia D'Anzica, founder of Customer Growth Advisors, joined Helping Sells Radio intending to take over the show and interview Bill about his book. We did that at the end of the show, but before we did that, we spent time talking about Emilia and her work with customer success teams. Very early on in the show we talked about on-boarding pitfalls because we all want to avoid them. One of the pitfalls Emilia wants us all to really get is that we assume our customers will just learn how to use our software. And this is not true. Customer needs our help in on-boarding to understand why and how to use our software. But that does not mean turning on the fire hose and try to show the customers everything. Emilia urges us to make sure the on-boarding training is laser focused on the fewest most important task that get customers to perform the one thing they bought our product for...whatever that it. Don't do more that because customers will forget it anyway. Just get them to the one thing first. Then build on that learning later.
Oh, and we also talked about Emilia and the book she wants to write one day. We're going to check in on your Emilie. Write that book!