CloudBees Use case – Automate Customer Engagement with Totango

CloudBees Logo

“For the first time, we have visibility into what our users are doing on our platform and can interact with them based on usage.”
Sacha Labourey, CEO, CloudBees Inc.

Those of you who’ve read my posts before probably know how I preach for customer success and customer value, especially in the zero-touch and low-touch sales models, where your success is actually your user’s success.

This week I’ve interviewed Sacha Labourey, the CEO of CloudBees Inc. Cloudbees is running a freemium business model with zero-low touch sales which is based on pure customer success and is using Totango for their performance measurement and level of engagement with their service.

Sacha Labourey-CloudBeesWho are you and what do you do?
My name is Sacha Labourey and I am the founder and CEO of CloudBees. CloudBees provides a Java Platform as a Service (PaaS) for enterprises and software developers.

What is your business model?
Our business model is based on the usage of our platform for the building and running of Java applications. We also utilize a freemium business model to enable developers to try our platform for free while they become familiar with many of our core platform services and their value.

What is your sales model?
We strive for a zero touch or a very low touch selling model.

What problem or problems are you solving with Totango?
We are using Totango to gain visibility into user activities and to automate customer engagement, especially via e-mail for now. Instead of nurturing our user database based on a fixed timeline, we personalize content based on their actual usage of our product. Depending on how they are (or are not) using specific features we may be able to offer helpful tips via e-mail.

How did you do this?
We monitor how developers are using our platform. Based on their actual usage of the product, we send helpful e-mails. We have integrated Totango with Salesforce.com and our e-mail marketing system to automatically send the right e-mail to the right users at the right time. The goal is to make our users more successful with the CloudBees Platform. If our trial users are successful they will hit the paid tier of our service at some point. In this sense the interests of the customer and of CloudBees are completely aligned.

What results did you achieve so far?
We have been able to see how our users are using our platform and engage with our trial users providing them with information to ensure their success with CloudBees.

Who was responsible for the Totango implementation and how long did it take?
This integration was all very easy to perform. It took us a few days of work (over a few weeks time) to establish an initial monitoring of our platform and an integration with Salesforce.com. It took us a few more weeks of ramp-up to define how we wanted to best leverage the collected information to automate our interaction with our users and customers.”

Did you look at other, similar, services? If so, what did you like about Totango?
We considered building some of these capabilities into our platform, but decided against it. We know our requirements in this area will continuously grow and strategically prefer to rely on a partner like Totango for ongoing enhancements, as well as industry best practices.

 

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Best of 2011: SaaS Sales Models Tips

Tip - theory into practice

Are you running a B2B sales or inside sales organization?
Do you have a freemium or free trial in your service?
Are you considering a low or zero touch sales model to increase velocity of your sales funnel?

These modern sales models are somewhat evolutionary as the official enterprise sales model is just not the customers first choice anymore.

Today, in my last “Best of 2011″ post series, I’ve gathered all the videos and posts from which you could learn about low and zero touch sales models and about free trial and freemium best practices so you could go ahead and build your ultimate sales machine!

Low Touch Sales and Zero Touch Sales Tips

Free Trial and Freemium Best Practices

>>Read other posts in this series<<

10 Tips for B2B Sales in the Subscription Economy

Subscribe

The subscription-based economy is thriving.  Netflix’s well-known model (and subsequent public relations mess in changing it), and the recent announcements from Google and Apple have set it in stone.

The subscription model, like many of the B2B sales models in the SaaS industry, is all about the customers – listen to your customers and have your service to comply and you’re on the right direction!

Here are 10 tips that can assist subscription based companies to get by in the industry:

1. Keep it simple

Ease of use is a key aspect of the subscription economy.  Subscribers want the one-stop shop, and their attention will not be kept easily.  Frustration, which might lead to churn, can be easily ensues if they can’t find what they want or need.

2. Customize to the consumer

Bob’s business is not the same as Mary’s.  Can you offer flexible payment options (weekly, monthly, annually)?  Family versus individual?  Basic versus premium?

3. Curate

More is better, but more can also be overwhelming.  Netflix’s popularity is in part because it offers customized selections based on its subscribers’ viewing history.  If the subscriber never, ever watches foreign language films, they don’t want to have to scroll through them to get to the good stuff.

4. Make it social

Can your subscribers see what others think of this product?  Can they easily share it through social media?  Social media has the power to sweep many others and help in distribute your message – and it’s free, so you might as well use in your business favor.

5. Offer continuing value

Make sure your offers will always consist of an added value. Can some ancillary information help your subscribers?  Partner with other companies that add value.  Also, what new thing can you offer?  Can you surprise them with how good it will be?

6. Keep it open

Remember what we said about the ancillary market?  Is your forum open enough to allow add-ons?  Don’t keep things so proprietary that spontaneous creation is stifled.  Think of Flickr, for example – would it help or hurt their business to team with a photo editing application?  It would help, of course, and they’ve allowed just that.

7. Give it away

If you still haven’t done so, consider  using a free-trial or freemium model for your product. Subscription economy is likely to be ruled by the free-to-join.  For example, you can make your overall platform free and have advertising, add-ons or premium offerings in order to make it profitable.  Think Facebook – free to join, but not likely to go broke anytime soon.

8. Don’t charge for that which was once free

How would you like to have nearly 9000 pages of complaints about your new pricing structure?  That’s what Netflix got for their announcement that they were nearly doubling their prices, removing services their subscribers had gotten used to having included, and offering no additional value in the exchange.  Calling it a great deal just added fuel to the fire.  (If you can’t give it free, keep it as low as possible!)

9. Keep the customer relationship as thy first priority

With the Netflix debacle, it’s not just about the pricing.  Their customers felt personally betrayed.  If you succeed in accomplishing a real relationship with your subscribers, where they recommend your service not for incentives but because they’re real fans, the worst thing you can do is spoil that relationship in a “money grab.”  Nurture your relationship.  Keep customers in mind as you consider changes.  Get feedback on proposed changes.  Don’t sell their information to spammers or let slimy advertisers in.  Business is more personal than ever.

10. Enjoy

Customers in the subscription economy are more savvy than ever.  They can tell if you honestly love your own offerings or if you’re just using sales tactics.  Let you enthusiasm shine through and it would be a win-win situation!

Freemium Sales Models for B2B and SaaS

PBWorks

As promised, here is the second tip from Chris Yeh, VP Marketing of PBWorks about freemium sales models for b2b and SaaS.

Knowing of the advantages of free trial / freemium models, I agree that companies that are making the adjustments towards those sales models have an advantage in today’s online market where users can pick their products without a moderator (sales person) and pay for it only it it’s valuable for them

Similarly, Chris believes that the way to business success is establishing a trial for its product. This way customers feel they’re not taking a risk by buying a product but they test it first and understand how the product works before paying for it and this is tremendously important for building up a Successful contemporary business.

In his blog post: Bought vs. Sold (Why Jive is a dinosaur & Dropbox is the future), Chris compares 2 types of companies that have similar revenues achieved it in very different ways. The first company is Jive software and the other is Dropbox.
Jive is a 10 years old traditional enterprise company who spent millions of dollars in marketing and still not profitable and on the other hand there’s the 5 years old Dropbox, who has 40 employees already and a hundred millions in revenue.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:
I’m Chris Yeh. I’m the VP of Marketing for PBworks, which is a SaaS company that does collaboration software for various markets like advertising agencies, law firms and, of course, general business.

Well, it just so happens that I wrote an extensive blog post about this, comparing Jive Software with Dropbox, two companies which, interestingly enough, have almost the same revenues, but have achieved them in very different ways. Jive is a traditional enterprise company that was started almost 10 years ago and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing to get to where they are today and are still not profitable.

On the other hand, we have Dropbox which was started in 2007, has something like forty employees in a hundred million in revenues and so where I really see this going is that you know, certainly the tradition enterprise world still applies to large complex products but the ability to get a trial going, the ability to get people to say, okay I’m not taking a risk by buying this product, I know that it can deliver for me, is tremendously important for building up the business, so somebody like Dropbox or somebody like PBworks who offers the ability for people to really understand how the product works before they have to make a six figure commitment I think and that’s the way to go.

Trial Conversion “The Early Days” – Lean Startup Presentation

Lean Startup Meetup

We’ve held yet another very interesting lean-startup meetup on Thursday to discuss free to paid conversion best practices for cloud applications.
First, please find within the presentation I’ve used. It’s a collection of many ideas we’ve been working on at Totango collected into idea presented by this presentation.

I emphasized during the talk the need to focus on the ‘evaluating’ users – the ones that their actions indicate genuine intent to come up with a buying decision.
Many people still wanted to understand what to do with the other group. The short out of the sleeve answer would be: “It depends ;) ”. Seriously, this question deserves a blog post on it’s own which I’m going to write later this week.

In the mean time, please feel free to enjoy the presentation. You will be able to learn a lot also by starting a ‘free trial’ for the Totango trial conversion product. So here’s the link for that as well.

If you enjoy this content, please be kind and share it with your friend. The links are above and below.

Converting from Visitors to Signups and from Freemium to Paid in a Fun Way

BadgeVille Interview

In the next couple of weeks I would like to share some short video interviews on relevant subjects taken at several events I’ve been to.

At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, I’ve met Eric Montoya from BadgeVille and interviewed him about the ways to convert from visitors to signups and from freemium to paid users.

These topics are highly relevant to every SaaS business and I’ve been writing a few posts about it lately, including my previous post.

In this interview, Eric explains how the conversion process become a simple mechanism when you find unique and fun ways to get your users to know your product by gentle guides or creating a feedback system that is presented back to the end-user once they conducted a series of behaviors that we wanted them to.

Eric also gave some interesting examples in which he mentions a 500% lift for a unique application of Samsung – view the interview to learn more

Tomorrow I will upload another interview from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. This time Jessie Wilkins, Director System of Engagement for aiim will talk about how the document system era evolved to the system of engagement era.

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

 
 

Video Transcription:

“My name is Eric Montoya, I am with sales and business development here at BadgeVille. You know, there is a couple of really, really unique things that happen within the context of any sort of online community or any sort of interaction with the product, the first is some sort of anonymous or local capture, right?

How do i get that person who has just come to my platforms, to my products and my brand and what can I do to try to capture them at that point? How do I convert them, maybe from fremium to paid and all of those mechanics that go along with could be something as simple as a mechanism like gentle guide or something where I am taking a series of behaviors or actions and presenting that back to the end user in some sort of unique, very step oriented, fun way with that getting feed back as they through all of the interactions learning the platform, taking a steps in necessary to become engaged within the product, but they are doing it in a way that’s very controlled and really wrapped around the behaviors and the actions that you want dozen users to perform.

Us, like our kind of broad, you know, 100 plus customers that we have now, we’ve seen, you know, strategic impact to the goals and objectives tied to a lot of those specific behaviors in the, like, 25 to 30% range, if you want to be very broad.

When you look at very, very unique applications or specific behavior such those users are performing. Samsung, for example, has just put out this last week that they are seeing a 500% lift on some of the drive and user engagement and actions that are very relevant to the success of their community.

Things like rating and reviewing and interacting with the product and the brand overall. So, you know,we have seen a lot of variance but the impact, you know, whether that’s 10%, 50% or 500%, absolutely the numbers are there.”

How NOT to Sell in SaaS and Increase Paid Conversions

Offer Customer Value

So you have a product! you’ve worked so hard on making it the way you want (iteratively of course) and now you want to sell it – so how do you do that? The answer, as strange as it might sound, is that you don’t!

As I wrote in my previous post, two very common sales models which have recently evolved are the zero-touch and the low-touch models where there are no sales teams or a very small sales team respectively. Why have these models evolved? because they were needed! in the SaaS reality, where the Internet is flooded with information, customers prefer being the active searchers and find solutions for their specific problems. They tend to rely less on non-objective sales people to convince them why their product is good for them – they prefer to simply read or hear about a solution from someone else and if they feel a solution might help them, they can simply sign-up to it’s free trial period or free account (freemium) and try it themselves!

Come to think of it, it’s kind of a revolutionary state of mind where your customers want to be able to choose their products based on its true value! After choosing it, they’ll evaluate it and only then, if they find it really helpful for their needs, they’ll convert to paid users.

The key is not to sell the product but to give away value – if you honestly & utterly try to gain customer success and help other people with their existing needs, they will feel your pure intentions and stay for more. Once trying to sell, the whole focus will go in that direction and you risk loosing the audience loyalty.

This very much like Google organic search: if your website truly provides relevant and valuable content, it will be ranked high in Google and attract prospects. Similarly, if your product is truly relevant and provides value to customers, prospects will try it and convert into paying customers.  Your solution should of course solve a very common problem and preferably have a unique answer (and that is a subject to a whole different post).