Using Video to Increase Customer Engagement

Target your customers

It’s becoming increasingly clear that one of the best ways to get and maintain customer engagement is through video. Like all methods, though, there are some best practices that are always good to keep in mind.

April Bixel on via680 notes that video helps you show off your company’s personality and culture. Getting out in front of them is good all on its own, but putting a friendly and memorable face to your name is extra valuable.

Jacco vanderKooij’s webinar on social media for sales points out (amongst many other things) that video makes a good sales tool: you can show videos interspersed with your presentation on your iPad. They offer consistent quality content that can explain a product’s value at the executive level or provide solid customer use cases. Video will generate more trust and offers the sales rep the chance to sit back and watch the reactions of the audience. If you include a link to a video you sent to customers to watch at their own time, make sure to use a tool like Wistia so you can track who has watched your messages.

Video may be more difficult to produce than, say, a blog post (for instance), but the effort is worth it!

 

Presenting – the SaaS Resource Center

Resource Center Screen Shot

This week we’ve added a section into our website which I believe would add value to the SaaS Community – I present our SaaS Resource Center!

The Resource Center is a place where we update the most important/informative/valuable articles on 7 of the hot categories that are most current these days in the SaaS industry and I believe this knowledge base would assist many beginners as well as veterans in this industry to learn on new trends in their fields.

Resources Print Screen

Here are the categories the Resource Center approaches:

  1. SaaS Best Practices – Will consist our latest SaaS business models and SaaS best practices and is updated with the hottest topics facing SaaS software and Cloud app vendors today.
  2. SaaS Sales Tips – B2B sales tips on different sales models such as low touch or zero touch, sales metrics and the best practices to build the ultimate sales machine.
  3. Lifecycle Marketing – Drive the usage and adoption of your application and maximize customer lifetime value. Nurture existing customers based on their specific needs and wants and their use of your application.
  4. Customer Analytics – Perform customer, conversion, cohort, funnel, usage or churn analysis. Discover how big data and customer intelligence can increase SaaS revenues.
  5. Free Trial & Freemium – Free trial tips, benchmarks and best practices and the way to optimize trial conversion and freemium conversion.
  6. Customer Engagement – Increasing customer/user engagement and customer lifetime value and reduce churn through lifecycle marketing and other techniques.
  7. Customer Retention – New strategies to increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn for SaaS businesses, how to identify customers at risk and how to implement customer retention strategies.

If there is a topic that we haven’t addressed and you think is worth mentioning, please don’t hesitate to comment on this post with the subject and we promise to consider it.

Also, if you’d like to guest-post in one of our categories, please feel free to contact me through this form and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Cheers,
–Guy

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<<

Best of 2011: SaaS Best Practices and Customer Analytics

Best Practices

SaaS Best Practices and App Vendors

Often I meet with SaaS companies who have a lot of good will but simply don’t know where to start. Even very successful SaaS companies sometimes need some guidance and some tips & tricks to become even more successful as many businesses are accommodating their sales model to comply with contemporary requirements.

Below are our top posts on these topics to help you get oriented in our Best Practices for SaaS and App Vendors:

Customer Analytics for SaaS and Cloud App

Speaking with hundrands of SaaS businesses I grew to learn that this topic specifically is lots of companies’ weakness. Some don’t know how to conduct a Cohort Analysis, some wouldn’t know which metrics to measure and some are even not aware to its importance for their business success.
This is why I’ve grouped together our Customer Analytics material which could help in building a more solid background on these topics:

Tomorrow I’m going to review all low touch & zero touch sales tips and free trial and freemium best practices

SaaS Key Metrics Survey Results

 

Want to know which metrics other Sales Executives use?
Download SaaS Business Survey Results

The Top 10 Requirements for an Effective Client Lifecycle

Customer LifeCycle

1. Must be a corporate wide initiative – not just a client services initiative.

Without Board and CEO level visibility, buy-in and sponsorship this type of corporate-wide initiative can be challenging to have all key stakeholders involved and invested. Although it is often lead by the client services team, a multi-departmental approach is necessary for it to be highly effective.

2. Each Department Leader has a key role to play

In a successful Client Lifecycle program, the leaders in departments such of Sales, Marketing, Product Management and Client Services all have a role to play at some point. Their contributions provide the pieces to the puzzle for a client when they are decided whether or not to renew.

3. Market and Promote your client lifecycle program

When you develop and execute on a truly unique approach to client engagement that will absolutely be a differentiator from your competitors, brand it. Market it. Don’t be afraid to let people know that your whole company has an approach that will make your clients successful with your product & service over the long haul. This added visibility also provides the appropriate amount of pressure to make sure your organization sticks with it.

4. Have a designated owner who acts as a “quarterback” of Client Lifecycle program.

Coordinating multiple stakeholders does require ownership for a client lifecycle program. The Executive owner is often the most senior client-facing (post-sale) executive. Depending on the size of firm, this would be the CEO, COO or VP of Client Services. This executive owner should be responsible for client retention. From a client to client perspective the owner should be a post-sales account manager, often referred to as a Client Advocate, Client Account Manager or Client Success Manager who is measured on retention, and not new sales revenue.

5. The Client Lifecycle activities should support the three main criteria that a client will use when deciding to renew:

Although this is a potential point of debate, from our experience there are 3 key factors that your client assesses when deciding to renew business with you:

  1. Is your organization meeting or exceeding their current business needs / business drivers;
  2. Does your client have confidence that you will continue to meet their current, future and evolving business needs business drivers, and;
  3. The client is confident that they picked a market “winner” not a market “loser”. For example, even though RIM continues to be quite strong on meeting the business needs of the corporate user community, they will still lose many clients because they are now perceived , wrongly so, as a market “loser”. No one will want to be the one that made the decision to go with a market “loser”.

Each of these three areas must be proven, measure, re-evaluated over and over again throughout the client lifecycle to ensure that the elements your can control or influence are in your favor when they are making a renewal decision. There are other factors outside of your control, but they are just that, outside of your control.

6. Should leverage, and take advantage of, your ability to use client driven referrals to generate new business.

This should be an obvious, but many companies stop at having a logo on a website, or perhaps a case study, as a method to use an existing client as a reference. The reality is, that if you are doing a great job for your client, many of them would take a call from a prospect, or even better, refer you to a peer from another organization who would also benefit from your solution. As a former colleague of mine used to say, “Don’t ask, don’t get”. Understand, per client, what type of reference they are willing to be, and leverage it – but don’t take it for granted either. You need to continue to earn their reference.

7. Should concentrate on user adoption and overall usage rates

The user community within your client’s organization can change frequently due to layoffs, new hires, mergers, and other business events. You client lifecycle approach must have a deep understanding of the user community and adapt to a changing and evolving user base within the client’s organization. A strong client lifecycle approach is highly proactive in tracking usage & adoption and stays on top of the shifts in user community and reacts accordingly. A fantastic product that could help you get great detail on usage iswww.totango.com . It gives a level of usage intelligence that is invaluable.

8. Should provide client intelligence on the renewal health of each client

Having a client lifecycle program that measures, among other possible things, business driver attainment, Vendor-Client interactions, client’s willingness to be a market reference and usage rates provides an ongoing scoring ability to gain a solid understanding of the likelihood of renewal. Doing this in regular intervals gives you plenty of time to change the course for any client who is on the path of not renewing.

9. Measurable with centralized access for all stakeholders

A successful client lifecycle program is like a hub on a wheel with information “spokes” going to and from all key stakeholders in the your organization. Each group will benefit significantly from the knowledge/intelligence gained about client activities, successes, failures etc. In our experience, it can have a profound effect on who you market to, how your market to them, what the actual development priorities should be, etc. With one of my clients, it provided great clarity into a market segment that just wasn’t right for their solution. They pulled all Leads, Opportunities with prospects from this segment, and they exited gracefully from existing contracts that we knew were doomed to fail.

10. Proactive in nature,

If your sole interaction with your clients is reactive by definition it’s a failure. Getting ahead of a train, is far better than being run over by it.

 

This blog was first posted at ServiceVantage by Jeff Bennett, Founder and CEO. His company, ServiceVantage, which has helped technology clients to maximize recurring revenue, strengthen client retention and increase client-driven referrals via a unique client lifecycle approach since 2002.

3 Recommendations for Sales Compensation for SaaS

Designing sales compensation for subscription businesses

I am at the Cloud Channel Summit today.

A topic that seems to be coming up over and over again today is the need to come up with innovative sales compensation (commission) models that align with the subscription business model of cloud.

While this is mentioned as an issue, not too many solutions were discussed so far (we are only at lunch time) so I went hunting online for some good blog posts on the topic. Here are three posts to get the discussion started:

October 2011 – David Cummings on Inside Sales Rep Comp Model for Startups

Here are some ideas when thinking about the inside sales representative compensation model in a startup:

  • Base salaries in the range of $25k – $50k
  • Commissions in the range of $25k – $60k (e.g. $40k base salary and $60k in commission for an on-target earnings of $100k)
  • Commissions would be 10% – 20% of first-year’s revenues (e.g. $1,000/month SaaS product is $12,000/year with a 15% commission would be an $1,800 commission)
  • Commissions should be paid out after the customer’s payment has been received by the startup

July 2011 – Larry Steele (VP of SaaS at Savvis) Tips for Transitioning Your Business to SaaS

It’s not just about compensation: you could technically have a comp-neutral model for perpetual licensing and SaaS bookings. However, you need to examine how Sales is compensated on revenue or bookings. If you set up term limits (i.e., 12 to 36 months) in your subscription billing, then you will want to review your renewal process and make sure your sales team has the right incentives in place to keep the customers you have. Remember, it’s harder to find new customers than it is to keep the precious ones you have.

February 2011 – Joel York Cloud Channel SaaS Channel Compensation

In my post on SaaS Sales compensation, I made the claims that SaaS vendors should a) pay in proportion to the lifetime value of the deal and b) pay entirely up-front, because the SaaS sales rep should not be asked to bear any of the SaaS investment risk, or the rep is likely to just quit and find better work. The same basic ideas holds for the SaaS channel partner with the caveat that it is reasonable to expect the channel to absorb at least some of the risk, if not all of it. So, when it comes to SaaS channel compensation, SaaS vendors should a) pay in proportion to the lifetime value of the deal and b) pay disproportionately, but not entirely up-front because the SaaS channel partner should not be asked to bear a disproportionate amount of the SaaS investment risk, or the channel partner is likely to just quit and find better work.

Somebody also mentioned to me over the break that there may also be models we could learn from in other industries: for example, in commercial real-estate sales people are paid as a percentage of the monthly lease over the lifetime of that lease.

Do you know of any other good recommendations or posts? Please let me know in the comments!

The SaaS Executive Dashboard

Today, the Totango team is excited to announce a brand new “SaaS Executive Dashboard”.
The Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard is an extension of the Totango online platform which allows SaaS teams to gain full visibility into the level of customer engagement in their business.

The SaaS Executive Dashboard allows SaaS executives to track and plan to improve key SaaS performance indicators and contains features such as Cohort Analysis. From the dashboard you can also drill down and instantly see specific account details.

The simplest way to learn about the SaaS Executive Dashboard is to watch this intro movie.

Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard from Totango on Vimeo.

We’ve chosen the metrics included in the SaaS Executive Dashboard based on discussions with many SaaS companies at various maturity levels. Many of these conversations started from our  SaaS Metrics Survey through which we aimed to capture an even wider view of the industry.

We’ve learned that most companies are struggling with homegrown monitoring solutions and still lack the visibility into important metrics needed to make strategic and tactical decisions for their company.

You can download the full survey to learn more. However, bottom line, most SaaS companies start with nothing, then as they grow they realize they need metrics to measure their business and start building home grown solutions which eventually gets out of control in terms of complexity and budget.

Totango SaaS Executive Dashboard captures the current SaaS best practices around monitoring customer engagement and customer success and tracks visitors, signups, activations, conversions and your SaaS churn rate. You can monitor against your business objectives and plans, diagnose problems and identify areas for improvement. The Totango SaaS Executive dashboard is the best way to focus your SaaS organization around customer engagement and customer success.

 

Availability

The Dashboard is available to existing Totango customers and will be available for new registrations within a couple of weeks. You can go ahead and pre-register to get access when it’s released.

The SaaS Exec Dashboard will always have a free tier, so SaaS startups that are just starting their business can take advantage of industry best practices with limited effort.

View our Trial Conversion Webinar!

 

To learn more about how to measure key metrics
view our 40 minute webinar: “Best Practices on Trial Conversion

 

About TOTANGO:
TOTANGO analyzes in real time customer engagement and intention within SaaS applications to help you grow your business

 

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