3 Big Ideas for Software-as-a-Service Customer Success

big ideas for saas

I was on a super exciting panel at the All About The Cloud conference in San Francisco this week: “the Power of the Customer”.

Here are 3 predictions for the future that were discussed on the panel:

1. All SaaS companies will use predictive customer analytics. Measuring and optimizing customer lifetime value was a big topic. You can’t manage what you can’t measure so expect SaaS companies to invest big in customer analytics and predictive analytics.  These are technologies coming from the consumer marketing space. However, in software you can go one step further because all customer interactions, including interaction with the product itself are digital. So while Victoria’s Secret may analyze customer transactions to predict whether customers will buy again (and whether it’s worth sending you another expensive catalogue) imagine that you could actually know how often your customer wore that swim suit. That would be a pretty good indicator of how much you liked the swim suit and how likely you are to buy again from the catalogue. With software this is possible! And indeed software usage turns out to be the most reliable buy signal (or churn signal whatever the case may be).

2. There will be many SaaS companies with no sales teams. Think about Atlassian: a $100 million+ revenue B2B software companies with ZERO sales personnel. Their sales model is 100x or more cheaper than that of their competitors with field based sales teams. And their velocity is so much higher. I bet you their customer satisfaction is higher too.  At no-sales companies, marketing is responsible for demand generation and initial signups. For more complicated products a customer success function is emerging to coach customers post sign-up and to grow usage, users and use cases over time. There was common agreement on the importance of building out customer success teams regardless of the sales model. Customer success managers have responsibility over renewal revenues as well as upselling and carry a quota rather than being a glorified support team.

3. Products are becoming social. The product itself will be the primary sales tool. Much of customer engagement will happen from within the application itself. Customer actions speak loudest: usage is the most important buy or churn signal. Also customers will communicate with other users and with the vendor using in-application communities and communications. The panel agreed that the new Social Buyer demands self-service. It started some years ago with self-service information (‘inbound marketing‘) and these days the ‘must have’ is a free trial or freemium version of your product. The panel agreed that freebies were essential in creating trust. Also think about this: if your competitor offers  free trial of some version of your product and you don’t, then customers will be already half-way down the sales process with your competitor before they ever talk to you.

Thanks to the All About Cloud team for having us, thanks to Shubber Ali from Accenture for moderating and thanks to my fellow panelists Jon Miller (Marketo), Todd Bursey (FinancialForce) and Jeff Yoshimura (Zuora) for fun times! See you next year :-)

If you are interested to analyze and predict your customers’ actions, or if you want to make your product social:

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5 Memorable Quotes on The Future of Sales

The Future of Sales

I just had the pleasure of lunch with Jacco vanderKooij who published an awesome video clip and a Prezi on the future of sales in SaaS that gathered over 100,000 views in the first month. Pretty good for a B2B topic!

The clip:

The prezi:

Here are some memorably quotes from our inspiring lunch:

1. “From Hunters to Peace Makers”

It is as if we have educated a generation of sales people to be hunters whereas what we need right now are peace makers that help build trust. Peace makers are focused on making a prospect or customer successful and are more akin to consultants than traditional sales managers.

2. “From Screaming to Whispering”

Using tools like Eloqua and Marketo we constantly bombard our prospects with our sales messages: it is like screaming. Now we need to move from screaming (to all customers) to whispering (to the right customers at the right time using social tools).

3. “Images and Emotions, not Arguments”

The message that resonates with the Instagram and Pinterest generation is images and emotions, not arguments. So more video and images, and less white papers and blogs.

4. “Relationships Matter”

Relationships really Matter. On Facebook relationships are fun, but on a business social business network like LinkedIn relationships really matter.

5. “Wow’m, Excite’m, Entertain’m”

When asked how his Prezi got so popular to quickly Jacco recalled that he often starts one of his talks on social selling by showing the cover of ESPN Magazine or Vogue. This is what we are competing with: to be heard you need very compelling content. Personally he is looking to Hollywood for inspiration on how to do this.

Give it a shot now! try Totango free!

Improve Trial Conversion – Focus, Filter and Analyze your Data

Adon Rigg

Do you know how it is that your company gets more and more leads then your sales people can handle but it’s still won’t justify hiring another sales person for your team?

Well, in many cases it’s just the case that your sales people need a “small push” that would help them understand which leads to refer first and that would make the difference on your customer onboarding picture.

Being at the Sales 2.0 conference, I’ve met Adon Rigg, the author of Insightful Selling, which told me that he too was enlightened to find tools which help in capture data, filter it and then analyze it in a way that could direct salespeople to focus on the most converted opportunities.

So how do we know who to focus on? easy – we’re gathering information from your metrics, build your cohort analysis and make the thinking for you. All you need to do is focus on the opportunities we offer and watch how your trial conversion is being increased!

Give it a shot now! try Totango free!

To read the full transcription of the video, click here

Video Transcription:

Hi, my name is Adon Rigg, author of Insightful Selling, and I’m just finishing up the Sales 2.0 conference here in San Francisco, which was absolutely fantastic.
My main takeaway would be that there are a lot of tools available such as some of the vendors here today which allows you to use programs and tools to capture information, filter that information and then put analytics or numbers to help make the efficiency of a salesperson a lot better and to help make them more effective in the field

Totango Recognized for Revenue Performance Excellence


Totango was recognized yesterday as a finalist for a 2012 Revenue Performance Management Excellence Award by Marketo!

We are super excited! See an excerpt from and link to the announcement below. Also remember to check out our session at the upcoming Marketo User Summit. I am very excited to be presenting on lifecycle marketing together with Jeff Wiss, VP Demand Generation from our friends at Zendesk!

Our session will be on May 24th at 11:20 AM in Imperial A of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Register here.

Here are the details on our session:

Three Steps to Accelerate Revenues from Existing Customers

Customers are using Marketo’s technology for much more than closing new deals. They are also using it to nurture their current customer base to score and nurture clients for upsell opportunities and renewals. Find out their secrets for success in turning the customer lifecycle into a revenue machine. Dominique Levin, CMO at Totango will present a three-step program to revenue acceleration using existing customer marketing.  In addition, Jeff Wiss, Vice President Demand Generation from Zendesk will present mind-blowing customer marketing campaigns that are boosting revenues for Zendesk.

Here is the excerpt from our press release:

Marketo Announces Finalists for 2012 Revenue Performance Management (RPM) Excellence Awards

“Revvies” Recognize Outstanding Achievement, Leadership in Companies Leveraging Innovation to Accelerate Revenue Growth

San Mateo, CA – April 25, 2011 – Marketo, the fastest-growing provider of Revenue Performance Management (RPM) solutions, today announced the finalists for its second annual Revenue Performance Excellence Awards. The “Revvies” recognize and celebrate customers and partners that are using Marketo’s marketing automation and sales effectiveness solutions to push outside the boundaries and away from their competition.

Adding six new awards this year, Marketo will honor 11 organizations and individuals that are true thought leaders and innovators in their respective industries.

The finalists for the 2012 Revenue Performance Excellence Awards include:

Most Innovative Integration with Marketo

American Public University Systems, Podio, Totango

“We are thrilled by the tremendous volume of submissions for our second annual Revvie Awards,” said Paul Albright, Marketo’s chief revenue officer. “The finalists are truly game-changing companies with leaders delivering amazing results across marketing and sales. It’s an honor to help provide the dramatic business impact evidenced by the stories submitted. Congratulations to each of the finalists for their achievements in driving revenue growth.”

Finalists were selected based on the following criteria: Innovation, leadership, success metrics and business impact and winners will be celebrated on May 24th, 2012 at the 2012 Marketo User Summit.

6 Sure Fire Tips to Retain and Grow Customers


In the week that we also announced integration with Zendesk (see below), I wanted to remind you of the “6 Sure Fire Tips to Retain and Grow Customers” webinar where Totango will be co-presenting with Zendesk.

The webinar will take place Tomorrow, Thursday, April 26th @ 10am PT.
If you still haven’t registered, please go ahead and do so in this URL

Here are some more details about the event:

6 Sure Fire Tips to Retain and Grow Customers

Customer success starts with understanding how your customers are using your product and what problems they might experience. It ends with more relevant and efficient information delivered at the right time, via the right channel.

During this webinar, you will learn the six things you can do today to retain and grow your customers. Zendesk is joining forces with Totango to share with you the insider secrets to transforming your customer support organization into a revenue center and turn prospects into life-long fans of your brand and services. Register here.

I am looking forward to see you there!

Regarding the integration with Zendesk which we accidentally omitted from our news update yesterday:

Integrate Totango with your Zendesk Help Desk

If you use Zendesk to manage your help desk, you can easily create a feed of ticketing activity into your Totango account, expanding your engagement database. You will then be able to tell which accounts are opening support tickets, how this influences their use of the application and their likelihood to subscribe to premium plans or to cancel their account. Read more

What is the Connection between Lifecycle Marketing and Automated Nurturing?

Robot and a Human Hand

Reading Fergus Gloster’s post on Marketo’s blog got me thinking how Lifecycle marketing has dramatically evolved lately.

Fergus states that Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) won’t turn into Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) by themselves – this phase can’t be automated and requires human interaction.

I agree with Fergus about the necessity of an additional role which businesses should consider. This role should help submitting qualified leads for the sales team. Mark Roberge, VP Sales at Hubspot has also talked about this by distinguishing the Hunter’s job from the Farmers.

I also talked in the past about the necessity of the Customer Success role in the SaaS industry new generation model.

But how would this function know which leads are qualified for their sales team? Well, Marketo is offering their scoring system, which based on user behavior on your website, which is a really efficient tool!
However, how would you know what leads are doing inside your APP?
For example, would you react differently if a new signup of yours signed up once and didn’t invite new users for your service rather than a user who logged in 3 times and invite 2 of his colleagues? Of course you would! You would like to invest more on the second user which reflects a higher level of engagement, won’t you?

And what if several users have entered one of your most important pages which suppose to lead for a sale and then signed out and never go back? you would probably want to look at that page again and figure out conversion issues, right?

This is why Totango service also offer the engagement score that would show you in-app engagement involvement.

But why compromise on one of the solutions – why not use them both?

This is why Totango and Marketo have joined forces and now Totango is also offering integration with Marketo’s services – this is how you could both know what’s happening in your application, get analysis on wha’t going on your app and then use Marketo strong nurturing tool to send your users exactly what they need to know by the stage they’re stuck on or need help with – the perfect match – Totango’s Lifecycle Marketing with Marketo’s automated nurturing – can you afford not to have it?

6 Steps to Boost Sales with Freemium or Free Trial Model

theory into practice

Did you notice how business flow has changed in the past years?

Purchasing online became the user’s field where they can check your application, test it and decide to come and go as they wish. No strings attached, no obligations. The new generation users are only paying for what they need and that make SaaS companies busy with making their users happy and increase customer success.
In fact, this is why many SaaS companies offer Free Trial period or even a Freemium version of their product and by that they’re actually telling their users – hey, check me out, I don’t mind, my product is worth it and you’ll be happy with it!

So how can those companies succeed in their new sales model?
Well, I’ve wrote a report, which is based on our recent study on freemium, free trial and pricing of 550 SaaS companies, summarizing 6 action steps on how to increase sales using this models.

If you’re a web-based company, you might find this very interesting.
Download report here