Our sales team just got back from SaaStr 2019 in San Jose last week. Aside from appreciating the change in scenery (we hail from Indiana), they saw the experience as an opportunity to see the SaaS industry from the inside, and validate why we do what we do. As a Customer Success Management platform, we had the lens of learning how B2B SaaS companies are figuring out how to retain more loyal customers. With an exhibition booth next to one of our competitors, it was like Walgreens and CVS, attracting any and all people interested in figuring out the value of using software to support their Customer Success functions. It was a revolving door of questions, answers and considerations.
Questions and Answers
We fielded questions and had a few of our own. Here are some of them:
- How do I “do” Customer Success profitably?
- Fine-tuning Customer Success to be profitable and not a cost-center is the million-dollar question. We didn’t have enough time to share our approach, but offered our blog with an overview to Green-gloving as a start. (Hint: Know what your customers need and will pay for before you start charging them.)
- If I purchase a Customer Success Management platform, how easily will it integrate with the rest of my technology suite?
- If a Customer Success Management platform is cumbersome to integrate with your technology suite, it’s not worth investing in. With RESTful APIs, integrations should be seamless and simple. That said, investing in a Customer Success Management platform isn’t a simple decision. Spend time considering which software you may be able to replace (i.e. Mixpanel? Zendesk? Jira? Your CRM?) as you calculate the investment. The ROI of a Customer Success Management platform is directly correlated to ease of integrations, adoption and streamlining of data.
- If I invest in a Customer Success Management platform, how quickly can I configure it, and how disruptive will implementation be?
- Configuration time seems to be a real pressure point for Customer Success Management purchase. No Customer Success Management platform is plug-and-play, so it’s unrealistic to suggest that there won’t be some time and energy consumed in adopting one. Having an agile approach to adoption means that you should be able to see value quickly (3 weeks or so), and then as you grow into the platform, you can expand and iterate. Realistically, you should be able to integrate with your CRM seamlessly, design a few essential playbooks, and get to work. Customer lifecycles and customized health scoring can be included as you grow with the platform.
- Why can’t I use Salesforce (or my CRM) to manage my existing customers?
- CRMs or sales force automation tools are inadequate for managing the complexities of relationships with existing customers. They simply lack the workstream functionality and the ability to incorporate a variety of qualitative and quantitative data points to accurately reflect customer health. That said, a Customer Success Management platform must integrate with CRM data–OR become the primary account data resource.
- What’s up with the green guys scaling the mountain?
- As for our mountain of happy green guys… Meet D. Light! He’s a happy customer. He exists because Customer Success Managers are able to do what he needs to find value in their solution. In turn, he is ready and willing to be an advocate and spread the news. Want more D. Light?
So, SaaStr wasn’t all about Customer Success. (That was just what we were most interested in.) We did have some other observations and considerations that came from our time there:
- SaaS is alive and well and bursting at the seams. Kudos to the many relatively young SaaS executives who are starting and growing innovative software companies. We welcomed the opportunity to chat with many who have creative ideas for solving important business challenges.
- Braindate…the app that we used to set up relevant conversations with other attendees. It showed up at the eleventh hour as a resource to attendees. It took us a while to figure out how to make good use of this. Ultimately, we hosted a few braindates and attended a few. It seemed like most of us were well-intentioned in wanting to meet and engage with others, but–let’s face it–we all were pretty self-promoting. Good idea to know what people want to talk about, but it came to us all a little late to fully prepare engaging sessions that weren’t pitchy.
Since we didn’t make all the sessions, we appreciated the reviews others provided, especially Alexander Peiniger’s takeaways. In discussing the importance of providing exceptional experiences to our existing customers, he says, “If we serve our existing customers in the best possible way, it will not only reduce churn and increase long-term growth, but it will also drive new business in a big way.” And we couldn’t agree more!