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:

Try Totango free for 30 days
Signup Button

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

REVVIES_finalist

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

zendesk-logo-e1291107356736

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

6 Social Selling Tips to Implement Today (from Sales 2.0 San Francisco)

LlinkedIn for Salesforce

The hot topic at Sales 2.0 Conference today in San Francisco remains (surprise, surprise) social selling (for B2B companies). Lots of speakers and lots of wisdom but also became abundantly clear to me that for most B2B organizations it is very early days in the adoption of social selling techniques. Therefore, for my wrap-up blog of Sales 2.0 I decided to summarize six things that any organization could do to get started with Social Selling.

I hope you find this blog helpful. Please tweet if you do: your own text or this clickt0tweet link.

1. Use your second degree connections

Mike Derezin (@mikedfresh), Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions at LinkedIn shared that second degree (LinkedIn) connections are 87% more likely to respond to any e-mail or phone call as compared to a cold call. If there is one place to start it would be to use your second degree connections as part of our (outbound) sales efforts. And not just your own second degree connections: also the second degree connections of the rest of your team. The new LinkedIn TeamLink product looks promising in this regard: it lets you tap into the second degree network of your entire company’s team.

2. Follow and engage strategic accounts on Twitter

Jill Rowley, Director of Strategic Accounts at Eloqua is the queen of using social media to engage with strategic accounts. You cannot do this for all your prospects and customers, but the best place to start is to create a short list of accounts that you are targeting for this quarter and deeply engage with them via social media. Follow them on Twitter and engage with them. Make the conversation personal. Often twitter, and sometimes even a text message, can be a great alternate way to get in touch with target accounts these days when people’s e-mail inboxes are overflowing. Be careful about engaging with prospects on Facebook. Mike Denizen shared research that shows that 80% of people want their social and professional networks separate.

3. Turn all employees into customer coaches

Your goal as a salesperson is to add value. Think of yourself as a customer coach: your job in sales is to make your customer successful and revenues will follow. Jill Rowley, super-star sales queen mentioned above, calls herself a “content concierge” on behalf of her prospects. “Think of prospects as as future advocates for your brand”, says Jill Rowley. “She clearly does a good job”, says Matt Heinz, a marketing consultant on stage at Sales 2.0: “Until today I didn’t know Jill is in sales. I thought she was an evangelist”. Eventually, not just your sales reps should be customer coaches, but every employee in the company is representing the brand and could be building trust with prospects and customers on social media.

4. Focus on lifetime customer value

Eryc Branham said it: “the only sales metric that matters in the end is customer lifetime value”. Customer lifetime value also featured high on Matt Heinz’s Top 10 Sales Metrics list, but I am with Eryc that all that matters in the end is customer lifetime value. Jim Cyb, VP of North American Sales from Zendesk shared: “the key to the success of Zendesk is a land and expand selling strategy”. It is not about the first sale, but about a lifetime of purchases. You can start small, establish any kind of paid relationship with your customer and grow from there. And, as Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group pointed out, when calculating Customer Value include “network value”: the revenues generated from referrals made by your customers.

5. Assign leads based on social proximity

I wrote about this before in Top 5 Trends in Sales 2.0 but this is still one of my favorite social selling black belt techniques: assigning leads based on “social proximity” (remember Tip 1 on leveraging second degree connections) makes the most sense. This time, Jim Cyb from Zendesk offered a good alternative if you are not quite ready for “social territories”. Zendesk is assigning leads based on a round robin system which is straightforward, eliminates any territory fights and aligns with today’s low-touch, virtual selling environment.

6. Make your product social

Research says that by 2020, 85% of the buying process will be completed before a salesperson is called.  In a day and age that direct contact with buyers is sparse, you should be listening to other channels.  Deploy social media tracking like Radian6 and Google Analytics to listen to your prospects. If your product is software, you should also be listening to what your product is telling you. Which trial users are active and what are they doing with your application? Did your paying customers stop using your application (and may cancel their subscription soon)? Of course this is the core of what Totango customer engagement is all about.  Even better – make your product a two-way social communication channel.  Communicate with your customers when and where you are top of mind: in your application with free tools like Appbox.js.

Top 10 Sales 2.0 Leaders I Want to Meet

Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco

I am much looking forward to the Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco next week.

Here are 10 Sales 2.0 Leaders I hope to meet at the conference and why:

1. Jim Cyb, Vice President, Sales, Americas, ZenDesk

2. Pete Eppele, VP Product Management, Zilliant

3. Steve Patrizi, Chief Revenue Officer, Bunchball

4. Kevin Akeroyd, SVP, Field Operations, Badgeville

5. Kirk Mosher, Vice President, CRM Product Marketing, Oracle

6. Mike Derezin, Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

7. Robert Pease, Founder & CEO, Nearstream

8. Jill Rowley, Director of Key Accounts, Eloqua

9. Paul Melchiorre, Global Vice President, Ariba

10. Anneke Seley, Founder Phoneworks, co-author Sales 2.0 book

They are all speaking about some of the most important trends in Sales 2.0:

Sales analytics

Big data is changing the way products are being bought and sold. It has been called sales metrics, sales analytics, predictive sales analytics and sales intelligence. The bottom line is that there is much talk this year about a more data-driven approach to sales.  Jim Cyb, Vice President, Sales for Americas at ZenDesk will be on a panel and talk about ZenDesk’s move from a zero touch sales to a low touch sales organization.  His company, which now has 15,000 customers, started life without a sales team. Pete Eppele, VP Product Management, Zilliant will be presenting interesting new technology that can uncover where you can sell more, sell other products and win back wallet share that competitors have taken.

Gamification

Both Steve Patrizi, Chief Revenue Officer from Bunchball and Kevin Akeroyd, SVP Field Operations from Badgeville will be speaking on how to use gamification or Behavior Lifecycle Management (BLM) as Kevin calls it, can be used to motivate your sales team. I always thought that gamification was used primarily to drive usage and adoption of your products and services by customers. However, both of these sales leaders are eating their own dog food and will share how they get their own teams to use sales best practices and tools by throwing in some fun and games. It should be an interesting duel!

Customer success

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kirk Mosher, VP CRM Product Marketing from Oracle will be speaking about “customer success” (a concept Totango deeply cares about). I still of Oracle as the classic Sales 1.0 company: bully customers into signing seven-figure deals, adding another seven-figure professional services engagement and then counting on the fact that customers won’t switch ever to a competitor because they have invested so much money with you. However, it seems that things have changed!

Social selling

Everybody recognizes that social selling has huge potential but in the real-world sales haven’t yet embraced all new possibilities. There are a large number of sessions (again) at this Sales 2.0 conference to help sales teams learn. Mike Derezin, Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, will break down his social selling tips by lifecycle stage. Robert Pease, Founder & CEO of Nearstream, will cover tactics for identifying buying signals on social media networks, essentially capturing demand that’s already out there rather than generating leads.

Lead management

Jill Rowley, Director of Key Accounts, Eloqua has been an evangelist for the lead management automation space since its inception. She is a leading commentator on social media and one of the top networkers in the space. She was the winner of 20 Women to Watch in Lead Management last year. More importantly, my friend Matt Childs from Dreamsimplicity tells I absolutely have to meet Jill while at Sales 2.0. She will be on a panel about, what else, nurturing revenue-generating prospects to close.

Sales effectiveness

In Silicon Valley we love technology and I am a tech-girl guilty myself so last but not least I am much looking forward to the talk by Paul Melchiorre, Global Vice President, Ariba and Anneke Seley, Founder Phoneworks and co-author Sales 2.0 book which both focus on “getting real”. Does all this technology really pay off in terms of sales effectiveness?

A full agenda and lots of people to meet!

If you are going to be at the Sales 2.0 conference, give us a shout on Twitter @totango #sales20 and we are looking forward to connect! I will even buy you a beer!

 

3 Steps to Lifecycle Marketing Success

SendEmails-Lifecycle

Introduction

Congratulations, as a marketing professional you’ve successfully recruited a qualified customer base: people who audited your product and ultimately chose you above the competition. It’s no small feat, but there’s no time to rest on your laurels – you’re only halfway there.

As your prospects cross the threshold and transform into customers, they continue to demand a certain level of nurturing, attention and engagement, dictated by need and identified through usage. With an understanding of your customer’s lifecycle profile, product consumption and usage, you can launch the right Lifecycle Marketing programs to reach out and expand customer value across your entire customer base.

What is Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle Marketing refers to marketing and sales campaigns that address your customer’s needs and requirements as they evolve over time.

These programs offer great rewards because of two simple marketing principles:

  1. You can often generate more revenues from existing customers (as compared to prospective customers); and,
  2. The revenues you generate come at a much lower investment cost (so you enjoy much more profitable revenues).

With these two principles at play, activating Lifecycle Marketing campaigns to an existing and continually growing customer base significantly increases your chances for generating more revenues, over time.

How to be successful with LIfecycle Marketing?

Your customers’ needs run the gamut: newbies have different needs than veterans; small businesses require different attention than enterprise. By using the knowledge you have about your customer’s profile you can launch Lifecycle Marketing campaigns that serve each client’s individual needs. If you engage a broad spectrum of client needs with generic emails, at best your success rate will be hit-and-miss, at worst, just miss. Directing marketing campaigns to specific users based on who they are (their profile) and where they are in the customer lifecycle (their actual usage of your product) will transform your marketing campaigns into meaningful and engaging initiatives. Whomever the customer may be – timely, topical and encouraging emails will help your clients use your product successfully, as needs and requirements change over time.

3 Steps to Lifecycle Marketing Success

Lifecycle Marketing relates to marketing programs that are anchored to your customer’s needs and usage. Here are some basic steps for conducting Lifecycle Marketing programs with your customers. The first two steps can be implemented immediately with your existing e-mail marketing or marketing automation system, whereas usage-based campaigns can be configured with Totango’s capabilities.

Step 1: Value Communication
First and foremost, communicate with your customers regularly about the value you are generating on their behalf. This form of communication not only acts as a testament to your company’s and product’s ongoing improvement, it also expresses your dedication to continually deliver value to your customers.

Value-based Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns could include:

  • New features you have added, improved or bugs you have fixed
  • New content you have generated such as presentations, videos, white papers
  • Events that you are organizing or attending where customers might meet you

Many companies roll-up all of this information in a weekly or monthly newsletter on behalf of the customer.

Step 2: Product-based Upselling
Upselling works best when you offer additional products that speak to your customer’s needs and usage. You can learn a lot about your clients, based on which product they have purchased and how long they have been paying customers.

Product-based Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns:

  • Focus upselling campaigns on customers who have already purchased at least one product; customers who have already purchased a product from you are more likely to purchase another.
  • Offer a special purchasing opportunity based on seniority to customers using a paid product for a prolonged period of time
  • Generate a special complimentary bundling offer for a purchased product with a product not yet purchased.

Step 3: Usage-based Programs
If you know exactly how customers are using your product in relation to their usage cycle, you know exactly when to send them what message in regards to content, events, features or other offers. Totango monitors this type of product and feature usage and can trigger e-mail marketing campaigns to optimize your Lifecycle Marketing.

Usage-based Lifecycle Marketing campaigns:

  • Trials phase: customers who registered for a free trial but never logged in should receive a different value e-mail than those who are actively engaged during the trial. Those that started a trial and abruptly left should receive yet another message. By seeing exactly where a trial user gets stuck you can send helpful tips to move the prospect along. Very active trial users could receive content related to pricing or purchasing of paid licenses.
  • Onboarding: Regardless of how user friendly your product is, every user feels like “the new guy” when they start using your product. Some of your users may have trouble getting acquainted with your feature set, while others may not understand the best ways to the get the most value from your product. You can always stay one step ahead and recommend the next best action for your customer. If you pickup where new users are getting stuck you can e-mail helpful tips and assistance before distress signals are sent out.
  • Land & Expand: upselling campaigns are more successful if you can send the right offer at the right time. If you monitor how actively a customer is using particular features or the product as a whole you could identify the best time to initiate the conversation about additional purchases.
  • Customer success: identify a decline in usage as a preemptive measure for alerting you of customers at risk of abandoning your product. Use this knowledge to reach out and proactively retain your customer base.

Conclusion

Rallying in your customers and generating a customer base is more than half the battle. Once they’re in your domain, Lifecycle Marketing programs help you optimize revenue potential by engaging customers as their relationship with your product builds over time. Start with the basics of value communication and build up your programs to product and usage-based initiatives. Your customers will feel that you’re catering to their needs, and your business will reap the rewards.