Two weeks ago, we talked with @David Cardiel about how to fill your pipeline. But that’s just the beginning. This week, I spoke with @Kevin McKweon about how to get the sales team closing the leads generated by the marketing team, as well as creating and closing their own leads.
“I’m interested, but not right now” is a phrase that your sales team are probably hearing over and over again. But the reality is that the customer’s need still exist. So you just need to figure out how to make them realize that your product will solve a real problem for them, and create real value.
So here are our top 3 suggestions on how to get customers to stop ghosting you and start buying:
For B2B companies, an average close rate is 1-3%.
So to get 1 deal closed, you need somewhere between 30 and 100 opportunities.
Some will come from your sales team, but the vast majority should come from demand gen efforts.
Many companies scaled back demand gen - now’s the time to step it back up. According to @David Cardiel, Demand Gen Marketer extraordinaire, here are the 3 things that every revenue leader should be doing right now:
By following these simple steps, you'll re-ignite the Demand Gen engine and start to see the lead pipeline start to fill-up again.
We have 20+ years of experiencing in helping companies re-think their sales funnel. If you’d like to learn how we can help your company grow from <$10M to $50M+ please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When companies ask me how to accelerate sales or improve retention, I tell them a story. I needed to purchase a sign for my wife’s French pastry shop last week. I spoke with the front desk clerk who said that it would be around $90. A few days later, I got the final quote from the sales person - $265. And with that, I was out. The sales person lost the deal. But to their credit, they called me (instead of emailing me again). Within 5 minutes, the misunderstanding was resolved and the deal was closed.
Pre-Corona, reps gravitated towards email and/or Slack and/or text. Post-Corona, video conferencing is all the rage. But the reality is that savvy sales people will use a combination of all 3 mediums to move a prospect through the funnel to close.
So when do you use the phone vs email? There’s a couple of questions you should ask yourself:
1. What’s the point of the communication?
If it’s a quick clarification, email is probably best because its asynchronous nature allows your prospect to answer on their (busy) schedule. And if the response is truly quick, it will be easy for your prospect to quickly type a reply during or between meetings, while commuting or while standing in line for their favorite burrito.
If the point of the communication is to discuss a more complicated issue, or to understand more about the prospects BANT or (like in my example above) resolve a miscommunication, the phone is probably your best bet because it allows for the back-and-forth dialogue which is so critical to get you and your prospect aligned.
2. Who is your audience?
Really try and think about your prospect. Are they in meetings back-to-back, or do they travel a lot? If so, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get them at their desk and a call to their cell might be a little intrusive. In this situation, an email might be best. Or perhaps they have told you that they receive 100’s of emails a day. If that’s the case, they might welcome a phone call as a reprieve from their inbox assault.
Also remember that while video meetings are the hot trend right now, your prospect might not appreciate being forced to be on camera. I would recommend sticking with the phone instead of a video call, especially if you are in the early stages of building a relationship with the prospect.
3. Do you need a record of the conversation?
When you are in the deal, there are certain aspects that you want to record – for example the specific requirements that the prospect is providing. I have seen too many deals fall apart pre-sale or post-sale when there is disagreement about what was included in the package. Even if they were discussed on the phone, confirming those details via email is absolutely critical.
But if the conversation is more general – going over the capabilities of the product, the initial gathering of the requirements, doing more discovery around budget – those can be done effectively via phone. Of course, it would be best practice to have those phone calls recorded.
The summary of all this is to remember to use all the channels that are available to you. A deal will not progress or close through phone or email alone. We live in an age where there are multiple communication channels available to us, and we would be foolish to not use all of them.
In my role of helping executives and investors grow <$10M SaaS companies by building a scaleable sales and retention engine, one of the most common questions I am asked is “Should we deploy software platform X”. Who better to help me answer this question than Vinay Bhagat, CEO of Trust Radius, which is the industry leader in software reviews.
He and I collaborated together and came up with the following set of steps you can use to help identify the right software solution:
Step 1: Ask Yourself - Will a Tool Fix Your Problem?
Too often, people fall into the trap of thinking that software will solve their problem. But software only accelerates and automates the current processes. If the current process is broken, or non-existent, software will exacerbate the problem, not solve it. The first step should be to understand whether your current processes are correct, or if you need to focus on getting those right first.
Step 2: Gather Requirements
Assuming you are ready for a tool, the most important step is requirements gathering. That’s just a fancy way of saying “what do you need the tool to do”. Talk to a broad range of stakeholders in your organization, from individual contributors who will be the main users to managers who will likely be managing the individual contributors to executives who will expect to see tangible ROI from the investment. Capturing the requirements can be as simple as a list in a shared spreadsheet or it could be more comprehensive (a lot will depend upon the cost and the impact to the organization of deploying the software). Vinay also recommends using review platforms, even at this stage, to both identify potential solutions and read about the various use cases. Doing so will enlighten you about what’s possible and extend your thinking about the requirements that you can codify in-house today.
Step 3: Research what’s available.
Informal networks (peers, friends) are a great source, but so are trusted 3rd party sites like TrustRadius. You’ll quickly learn whether the pros and cons of the software, as well as come across other potential solutions that you were not even aware of.
Vinay adds “Use filters to find products for your specific use case, and to find reviews from people similar to you or see how the products perform on dimensions like support and ROI realized”
Step 4: Take Some Demos
This is one of Vinay’s favorites because it means that you get to be customer (instead of the other way around!). He suggests documenting all the questions you have based upon your requirements document, and your research.
Once you have this, reach out to your short-list of vendors for a demonstration of the product. Ideally, you’ll do a 30 minute high level demo just to confirm that it can do what you want it to do. And then ideally, a follow up demo to see exactly how it will handle your specific requirements.
Don’t be afraid to push the vendor to have them show you exactly what you what, and ask tough questions. Don’t get distracted by them showing things they have but you don’t necessarily want.
Step 5: Get the Right Resources
Make sure that you have the internal resources and management alignment to make the deployment successful. “Peers are a great resource,” says Vinay. “Ask them about their real-life experience - what worked, what didn’t and what would they do differently if they had the opportunity to implement again”.
Step 6: Negotiate, buy and deploy
The right tool, deployed well and used effectively can dramatically improve efficiency and effectiveness of your demand gen, sales and customer success organizations. It may not be ultimate solution to all your challenges but it can definitely accelerate your growth.
We have 20+ years of experiencing in helping companies use software and process improvements to achieve exponential growth. If you’d like to learn how we can help your company grow from <$10M to $50M+ please contact us at email@example.com.
How Building a Bike Reminded Me of The Importance of Scaling
Last week, my daughter turned 4 and I found myself, late at night, trying to build her new birthday bike. The task would have been made easier if the instructions were decent, but unfortunately, they were written poorly so I ended up just trying to figure it out myself. What should have been one hour project ended up consuming 3 hours of my time, as well as most of my patience and sanity (why would part A connect to part F – doesn’t it make sense for A to connect to B?!?)
As I struggled with the joining the “G-Connector Bracket” to the “U-Slide” but making sure that the “Circle Washer” was in the right place, I realized how this same struggle applies to the workplace. When someone is faced with doing something for the first time, we oftentimes do not set them up for success – instead, we let them either figure it out on their own or rely upon the dissemination of tribal knowledge (i.e. they ask one of their peers who gives them verbal guidance on how to do that particular task).
What struck me was how inefficient and ineffective this method is. It’s inefficient because so much time is wasted, either from the employee who wastes time trying to reinvent the wheel from scratch or from the knowledgeable employee that must train over and over again. And it’s ineffective, because there are the best practices within your organization, and it seems silly for someone to not use it.
So how do you solve for this? Process and documentation. First, you need to document some of your best practices, especially for situations that come up commonly. For example, have your Sales Team list out the 5 most common objections they get, and then prepare best practice responses for each of those. Or look at your most common Customer Support tickets and and make sure that you have macros (in Zendesk) or templates (other ticketing systems) created that can be easily used.
The next is process, and there are 3 parts to this. Firstly, make sure there is a good process to identify when a standard document should be created. Maybe it’s when the team tells you, or you see, a lot of similar situations occurring. Or maybe you put 1 person in charge of creating a new template each week.
The second is to make sure that everyone understands how to find the template. Don’t get caught up in trying to find the perfect technology (Google Docs, Sharepoint, macros or 3rd part apps like Guru) – ultimately the technology doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it is easy to use, and everyone knows how to use it.
The last is to make sure that people are actually using the templates, and if not, find out why not. Typically, you’ll hear the response that either they didn’t know a template existed, or they didn’t know how to find it, or it was just easier to write up the response themselves rather than search for the template. Those are all problems that can be solved. For example, incorporate a template review in your weekly stand-ups to reinforce awareness of the templates and make it part of the team’s workflow.
With the right documentation and process in place, you’ll find the team performing better, more consistently and more efficiently. And when that occurs, congrats because you have started on the journey of scaling.
We have 20+ years of experiencing in helping companies scale . If you would like to discuss how we can help you achieve cost-efficient and effective growth, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us are spending our time thinking about (and writing about) how to get through the current Coronavirus-driven situation. For those who have had to endure headcount reductions, your energy and focus is probably on just getting through the day-to-day workload.
But it’s important to think about what will happen when the current crisis is over, especially as it relates to hiring. So, when management is telling you to cut back on headcount, how do you make the case to start hiring again?
The answer is simple – data.
When you are asking for additional headcount, make sure that you have the data to back up your request. It is likely that every department will be requesting headcount, and the executive team will not approve everyone’s request. Those with a solid business case backed up with data will win, compared to those who have generic requests based upon intuition. More simply said:
Make sure you bring a gun to the knife fight
What data should you bring? The simplest, most compelling data is comparing the work that needs to be done versus the current capacity of the team:
I’ve prepared a simple template you can use to build your business case (based upon Sales but easily manipulated for Demand Gen or Customer Support). You can make the analysis as simple or as complicated as you feel is necessary to make your point. (If you’d like help with your analysis, or need help building a model, please contact me at email@example.com and I’d be happy to help free of charge).
For many people, the data may not exist which makes it challenging. But look at the data you do have, even if it is qualitative or anecdotal or directional. If you put pen to paper, you might surprise yourself about how much data you have, even if it is not being formally captured within a system or platform.
Even if you think that your executive team will be lukewarm on additional headcount, all might not be lost. Instead of showcasing what will happen with additional headcount, show them what might happen without the headcount e.g. by how much will revenue targets be missed, what will happen to support SLAs, what will happen to customer satisfaction and retention rates. Giving them this information will help them make an informed decision, as well as help set their expectations regarding you and your team’s performance in the upcoming month or quarter.
In the words of many, #wewillgetthroughthis. So, while you stay focused on the present, give some thought to what the future might hold because NOW is the right time to lay the foundations for that future.
Intuition tells us that Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is important. But when it comes to retaining and growing your customers, it may not be as important as you think. What is important is usage – if your customer is using your product, they are more likely to renew, even if they are not totally happy. And vice-versa. If they are not getting value from your product, no amount of great customer service will result in a renewal.
Many of you have probably experienced this situation – “I’m really happy with you, and the customer service I get from your company. But I don’t see the value in the product so I’m not going to renew”. This happens more often than we would like and demonstrates that customer satisfaction is not the only thing that customers care about.
With that said, keeping customers happy is still important because (a) it does increase the likelihood that they will renew and (b) they can act as brand advocates for you with other actual or potential customers.
The most commonly used measure of CSAT is Net Promoter Score (NPS). Introduced by Bain & Company in 2011, it asks customers 1 single question:
“How likely are you to recommend our product/service to a colleague”
For more information on NPS, how to calculate and how to benchmark, please visit https://www.bain.com/insights/introducing-the-net-promoter-system-loyalty-insights/
And there are lots of tools available to help deploy NPS – a quick search on google reveals at least half a dozen options, and that’s just on the first page of the search results.
The bigger question is what do you do about it. The answer is easy – communicate with your customer. If they are a Promoter, maybe they can turn into a customer reference, or a case study or a brand advocate. If they are Passive, find out the 2-3 simple things that need to be addressed to turn them into Promoters. And if they are a Detractor, someone needs to immediately reach out to the customer to find out what’s going on. In any of these instances, a simple phone call and/or email can be extremely powerful.
Again, a happy customer is not guaranteed to renew. Likewise, an unhappy customer is not guaranteed to not renew. But understanding a customer’s state of satisfaction is a critical component to make sure you’re maximizing the chance that the customer will stick with you.
We have 20+ years of experiencing in implementing, and acting upon, Customer Satisfaction programs. If you would like help in implementing a Customer Satisfaction program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Product market fit. Do you have it? It’s a critical question for any company, but especially those early in their development. With it, customers will beat a path to your door. Without it, you’ll spend most of your time convincing customers that they need to buy your product. Think about productivity tools like Slack or Trello. Did anyone have to justify the spend on those tools? The answer is “No” because they have excellent product/market fit. But what about that tool that helps your team choose which place to go for lunch this week? It’s one of the first subscriptions to be cut when trying to manage your cashflow.
So how do you know whether you have product/market fit, because as be seen from the examples above, it can literally be the difference between being classified as “mission-critical” or classified as a “nice-to-have”.
There are lots of high-profile discussions regarding “product/market fit”, including Marc Andreessen defining it as being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market (which, with all due respect, doesn’t really help a company figure out whether it has it or not). Sean Ellis developed a heuristic that says, “if at least 40% percent of surveyed customers indicate that they would be "very disappointed" if they no longer have access to a particular product or service” or said alternatively “at least 40% of surveyed customers considering the product or service as "must have". This was validated by Rahul Vohra of Superhuman in his survey-based approach.
Surveys can be done qualitatively or quantitatively, with prospective customers or existing customers. And it can be done relatively easily and quickly. Obviously, the more in-depth you go, the more confidence you can have in the data. If you’re looking for quick validation, a quick survey of a sample set of prospect and current customers would be sufficient. But if you need to determine product/market fit to show investors, or to help make large strategic decisions about the direction of the company, a more robust analysis would be recommended. However, the approach, you’ll learn whether your customers will fight to keep your product, or whether you could be collateral damage in the next round of budget cuts.
If you’d like to do a Product/Market fit analysis, but don’t have the resources or expertise, or would like it done by an independent 3rd party, please contact Nagree Consulting. We have 20+ years of helping businesses make sound strategic decisions and executing and scaling against those decisions. To learn more, please visit www.nagreeconsulting.com or email us at email@example.com
I spoke with Andrew McFarland, Chief Customer Officer of Black Box Network Services around his role. In our interview, he talks about the role that a Chief Customer Officer can plan (different from the impact of a Vice President of Customer Success) and how he got to be in the position he is in.
Please listen and let me know any feedback you might have
Interview with Andrew McFarland
Best in class B2B companies have 130% Net Revenue Retention (NRR) i.e. they grow their accounts, on a net-basis, 130% each year. Obviously, Gross Revenue Retention plays a part. But upsells or expansions are the driving force behind NRR. So how to do you create a culture of upsells?
There are 3 ways that you can easily create a culture of upsells
Help the customer achieve their goals, not yours
The easiest way to generate upsell opportunities is to stay focused on your customer’s goals, not yours. If your team is focused on quota attainment, they will inevitably break the relationship of trust, or even worse, sell the customer something they don’t want or need. But if the team continues to help the customer achieve their goals, they will inevitably uncover opportunities to sell more.
Example: Acme Inc purchased a SaaS platform from Startup Co to help streamline it’s internal process. After 6 months, usage was mediocre. Instead of the CS Rep trying to sell additional products, they focused on increasing adoption and usage. Through those efforts, the CS Rep discovered that there were additional users that needed to be on the platform, as well as a whole other team that needed to be using the platform. By staying focused on the customer goals, the Rep was able to uncover upsell opportunities without even really trying.
Ensure upsell ownership is well understood by everyone
Make sure that it is very clear who owns the responsibility for the upsell. Is it the sales team? The CS team? The AM team? Or perhaps a dedicated upsell team? Based upon my work with different companies, there is no ‘correct’ answer because it depends upon the nature of the product, the relationship with the customers and the skills of the members of the various teams. The key is making sure that everyone understands who ultimately owns upsells.
Have the right compensation structure in place
Whichever team has responsibility for the upsell, ensure that the right compensation structure is in place. Generally, the most successful compensation systems will have two components:
1. A quota - without it, upsells become a "nice-to-get" rather than it being a critical, and core, part of the individuals responsibility.
2. Rewards for those who do well - when an individual achieves/exceeds their upsell quota, reward them generously through commission percentage, accelerators, uncapped upside or other mechanisms. The impact of upsell revenue is massive to a company's P&L so reward your best upsellers
Implementing these simple changes, it is possible to create a culture of upsells and really drive NRR.
Azim Nagree is an ex-Bain consultant with 20+ years in leading strategy, growth and operations transformations.