Success for Our Team
Why Your Team Success Is Our Business
In April of 2013 we officially launched the 15Five blog with a post simply titled, “Start With Why”. Back then our WHY was to help individuals and organizations reach their highest potential. But something vital was not being expressed – the human element, the relationship between managers and employees.
Today our WHY is to create the space for people to be their greatest selves. That space may look and feel different in every company, but it is always created by leadership communicating regularly with employees and supporting their teams in being successful.
We offer this blog as a resource for successful people who desire continued personal and professional growth. The content posted here will help you answer these 2 questions: What does Team Success look at my company? How can I create the space for myself and others to step into greatness?
My personal WHY is to create a world where work is a place that supports people in stepping into their greatness, what Abraham Maslow called self-actualization. Many prosperous businesses LinkedIn, and O.C. Tanner have adopted a similar frame and are far more successful than they would be otherwise.
We are already experiencing the early stages of this shift all over the business world. Managers are no longer seeing people as fixed, replaceable assets or resources (industrial revolution thinking that is still widely persisting today). Instead they are seeing people as whole human beings with virtually unlimited potential.
I’m not being overly-optimistic about this. There is actual scientific evidence to support the fact that the brain is adaptable, even in adulthood:Ideally more and more people will come to understand that managers can help create healthy new pathways for others in terms of their emotional physical, mental, and spiritual experiences.
That may seem it’s above and beyond, but in reality this shift is good for people and good for business. When people feel supported in living great lives (not just great work lives), they bring that energy back to work.
That energy translates into more innovation, increased revenue, and enduring high-performance cultures.
To know how to support the success of each individual employee, managers must have key conversations with their employees on a regular basis.
From the employee perspective, questions provide an opportunity to self-reflect weekly on successes and challenges.
They can stay focused on key objectives, plan their week, get regular feedback on their own performance, and voice issues and obstacles.
When managers ask pointed questions, they quickly uncover challenges and risks. They can either jump in heavily with help or give a light touch so that employees can get the job done, while still pushing their edges and evolving in their roles. People need to have just enough challenge to not be bored but not so much that they are overly-stressed and frustrated.
The greatest managers become mentors who are supportive of employee growth and facilitate improved performance over time. Through the regular recurring process of asking questions and providing feedback and support, trust and relationships deepen — the foundation of any high performing team.
In an oppressive workplace environment everyone suffers. Micromanagement, abusive language, threats of termination, and overwork all take their toll on people. The best of them will probably look for jobs elsewhere, and everyone who remains will give just enough effort so that their manager will leave them alone. Who wants that?
In safe work-spaces everything is different. Employees share more than just what they are working on, they discuss their personal goals and issues from the outside that may be impacting performance.
While we can’t turn a closed-minded organization into an open, results driven culture, we do aspire to help organizations work their way towards a healthier, more open and ultimately more productive culture.We fully support managers in learning new ways to inspire greatness in their employees through their own self-reflection, and through a commitment to learning ways to mentor and call forth the best in others.
Defining Team Success
Success looks different to every team and every organization but we believe that the true path to success is to support people in thriving at work, living great lives, and stepping into better versions of themselves. If you have great people and support them in learning & growth, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding.
We are committed to your success and offer this blog as a resource to help you achieve it:
– “How To” posts that profile the success stories of the most innovative and fastest growing companies.
– Interviews and guest posts from thought leaders, business experts, and successful entrepreneurs.
– New feature spotlights of our product. Using the power of inquiry and questions in new ways to build trusted relationships between peers and managers/employees.
– A look inside the 15Five culture. What works for us and what didn’t, and insights on how we create the space for our team to thrive.
These posts will often be accompanied by the latest research regarding communication rhythms, goal setting and tracking, accountability, organizational health, and mindfulness so that you can create and maintain teams and businesses that thrive.
Never miss out on valuable content for your business. If you haven’t subscribed, be sure to do so now. We would love to grow our community of fully actualized professionals who desire to create extraordinary value for their employees and customers, and work alongside a vibrant and lit up group of colleagues who are committed to doing great work and living great lives.
Image Credit: StockMonkeys.com
The benefits of recognizing your team success and the 3 rules of celebration
When was the last team you and your team celebrated your efforts? Don't forget to celebrate your success, for the sake of team spirit and improvement in performance! There are several reasons why you should recognize team success if you aren't doing so already! But first things first, how do you define success?
If you’re in sales, is it making $50,000 in revenue, or a 60% year-on-year growth? These numbers could be the mark of success, but in reality success doesn’t always have to be linked to monetary gains or a long term effort. Success is worth celebrating whenever a goal is achieved, be it short or long term, individual or team.
A lot can be learned from one person’s success, that can help other team members grow or spark thoughts on what they might improve in the way they work. For example, a member of your customer support team has an exceptionally high level of customer satisfaction because she developed her own flow to deal with inquiries and follow up with customers, which has proven to be effective.
In sharing the positive feedback she received, she can use this as an opportunity to share how the idea of the workflow came to her, and how she created it. This is not only a nice way of celebrating success as a team, but also creates a teaching moment for team members to learn from each other, and share best practices that will benefit the whole team’s performance.
Sharing success, strengthens teams
Sharing individual success stories with the team shouldn’t be perceived as an opportunity to show off, or make other team members feel as if they are less valued.
On the contrary, it should be a way to reinforce overall team motivation, and strengthen relationships between team members.
It should also motivate employees to start sharing more positive feedback with each other, as a way of supporting team morale.Peer recognition reinforces feedback received by managers, and helps people feel valued in the workplace. When people receive feedback on work they have done, or on time and effort invested, this boosts their self-esteem, and supports improved performance overall.
In essence, sharing success and encouraging peer recognition are the tools to grow your culture of feedback. Gratitude and appreciation increase motivation, meaning employees are more inclined to continue contributing to overall team and company objectives, resulting in greater productivity overall.
Sharing success is telling a story: you want it to have an impact. The aim is to inspire people to develop and achieve their own goals. Here are some tips for a good story:
Focus on useful content
You want your audience to take home practical tips. Ensure you outline the step-by-step process you took to achieve a goal. Share these steps as a inspiration for others who are looking to solve a similar problem.
Be inspirational and authentic
You want to inspire your audience so they feel capable of achieving something similar themselves. Think back to the obstacles you encountered and how you overcame them.
This serves several purposes: first it shows that you didn’t achieve success from the get go. Second it also helps show creative problem solving and ways to find solutions, that can be inspiring when people hit a road-block.
It will remind them that others have been through something similar before.
How to celebrate achievements
As manager, it’s important to take time to celebrate employee achievements. It’s easy to get stuck in the day to day, and move on to executing the next task. But as mentioned, in order to support team motivation, victories big and small should be celebrated.
Show your team you don’t take their hard work for granted. Here are some tips for you, as manager, to make a positive impact with recognizing employee achievement.
Do it soon
As a manager, you should always know what is going on in your team. If your employees do something great, you should be the first to notice and congratulate them.Praise them out loud, send them an email, or send a message in your team’s Slack channel… If warranted, an official congratulation or a bonus can come later, but there is no reason why you should wait to thank an employee for his or her hard work.
Make it public
Public recognition can be even more impactful than praise shared privately. There’s no need to go all out, it can be as simple as bringing it up at a team meeting, sharing it with people outside your direct team, or sending a company-wide email. In addition to making your team member feel valued, it also boosts their self-esteem more.
Add a gift
A handwritten thank-you note already goes a long way, but in some cases you may want to recognize someone’s achievement with a bigger reward. Once again it doesn’t have to be extremely costly, it’s the gesture that counts.
Here are some ideas of rewards that will cost the company far less than a bonus or a pay rise, but are just as effective:
- A day-off
- The opportunity to work from home, or flexible hours (if this isn’t a regular practice in your company)
- Lunch out with the team
- A gift voucher from a local shop, or a voucher for an experience (i.e. restaurant or other activity)
- A subscription to a business related magazine
- The opportunity to attend a conference in their field of work
And much more…
The key to success for rewards is to ensure they are personalized. This shows that you’re not only celebrating your team member’s work, but that you also took the time to get to know them as a person.
Make the effort to find out what your employees , what their hobbies are, and what they are passionate about.
For example, if an employee s reading, a book signed by his or her favourite author could make a great gift.
Building and maintaining a strong team is a challenging job. Take pride in your team’s success by celebrate it. Whenever someone achieves a goal, show your appreciation in a timely and public manner. Don’t forget that a personalized touch or a gift can also go a long way. Recognize employee achievement and your workforce will be more engaged, motivated and loyal.
For more insights on how you can use feedback to motivate engage and develop your team download our free eBook.
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How SaaS Companies Can Structure Customer Facing Teams for Support and Success
Most customer-facing teams are pulled in many directions. They are often involved in support, sales, marketing, and growth activities. And now we have customer success maturing as a discipline and added to the mix.
The people interacting with customers every day can feel confused about where their work ends and someone else’s begins. With so many options, how can you best structure your success and support teams? Let’s talk about how to add clarity for small to medium-sized teams.
Defining SaaS customer support, success and service
Before we talk about possible ways to structure your team, let’s review a few terms used in the world of SaaS. It’s important because, although we all use these terms, we may define them in different ways.
Customer service: Wikipedia defines customer service as “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.” This is a holistic term that can refer to all the benefits a customer can gain from your product.
Customer support: The folks here at Help Scout define customer support as “timely, empathetic help that keeps the customer’s needs at the forefront of every interaction.
” If we keep the idea of customer service as the overarching umbrella, customer support would be one aspect of that service.
This involves reactive interactions where the customer is unable to achieve their goal and asks for help (or voices their displeasure).
Customer success: In his Definitive Guide to Customer Success, Lincoln Murphy defines customer success as the discipline focused on helping people “achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.” He’s using his own terminology here, but the “desired outcome” relates well to the customer’s job to be done. Or, as Kathy Sierra puts it in Badass: Making Users Awesome:
“People aren’t using the app because they the app or they you. They’re doing it because they themselves. What are you doing to enable more of that?”
That is customer success!
A key way to differentiate these terms is by the tasks that the people involved perform.
As mentioned above, customer support helps customers who are having problems or are unsure of how to reach their desired outcome.
Customer success takes steps to prevent customers from having problems and meet their needs before they’re even aware of them. And everyone in a company can have an impact on the customer’s experience.
Customer success, new kid on the block
As a discipline, customer success is fairly new to the scene. While most of the related activities are not new, it’s only been in the last decade that customer success has become a more formal discipline. Currently in 2017, there are websites, conferences, and even products dedicated to customer success.
However, the phrase “customer success” can mean something very different from one team to the next.
For some, customer success is a term that represents all customer-facing roles. The people on the success team perform all support, research, and proactive activities. For others, customer success takes a more traditional position under a sales team.The sales staff brings on new customers and the success team handles onboarding, implementations, and upsells and renewals. This is especially true for enterprise software and SaaS teams aimed at those markets.
On still other teams, success involves only the proactive measures and may even specialize in a couple of activities.
The lines between marketing, sales, success, support, and even product management can be blurry
The important thing to remember is that there is often overlap between different teams, and different groups may share tasks and responsibilities.
And that’s OK, because …
One size does not fit all in SaaS
That’s true for marketing, developing a product, and how you structure your customer-facing teams. A career working for SaaS teams can look very different for each product you’re involved with.
But for small to medium-sized companies, the challenge can be how to best organize who does what. It’s common for a customer support or customer success team to be responsible for both sides of the coin. You have to support the customer reactively, but also put proactive initiatives in place.
Raise your hand if your team contributes in the following ways:
- Putting out fires by responding to customers over email, live chat and
- Helping new customers implement your product
- Writing documentation that answers questions about your product
- Measuring signs of churn and reaching out before it’s too late
- Reporting on customer feedback and identified bugs to the rest of the team
How do you best structure your team so that all of these responsibilities are done well?
5 questions to ask to find your team’s ideal structure
One way to find the right structure for your team is to start asking some important questions. The answers to these questions can help point you in the direction that fits your own unique team best.
1. What is the size of your support team?
This may be a tad obvious, but it’s the first question to ask. If you are a support team of one, you’re not going to accomplish all of the above.
For those customer support teams of one, your focus is going to be on answering each and every question that comes your way.
If there is any time for a more proactive focus, it may be best spent developing ways to help your customers find the answers to their questions on their own.
Or it may be ensuring insights you’ve gleaned from supporting customers get back to the rest of your team, so your time may be spent on documentation or automation.
If you are a team of five to 10 people, you may have the flexibility to pursue more proactive success activities. You may even have people focus primarily on one side of the fence or the other (support/success).
And if you’re a team larger than 10, you can start to put a formal structure in place. You may also need to move from a flat structure to having team leaders and/or support specialists.
2. How many customers do you have?
This is the second question to ask, as the answers here will go hand in hand with the previous question. If you’re a team of one, but your product only has 50 customers, maybe you can handle more of the proactive activities listed above. Conversely, a team of 50 might struggle to get the support queue if they have 150,000 customers.
This is where analytics can allow you to put all those arithmetic skills from grade school to work. Consider some of the following stats to get a better sense of how much time will be required for support work:
- Average support requests per customer per month
- Customers per support team member
- Average handle time for support requests
If you consider how many customers you currently have and what your support load looks , you can begin to get a sense of how many people are needed to meet that load. From there, you can start to measure how much time team members have for proactive work.
More mature products may want to view these measurements by active or paying customers, rather than total customers. Many of us have products where many user accounts are inactive and may not be pertinent to what we’re measuring.
3. What does your product development workflow look and who are the decision-makers?
Large teams usually have product managers, or some similar type of role. Those are the people who focus on the ideal customer and the target market and identifying the problem(s) you want to solve. They spend a lot of time mapping the user’s journey, writing user or job stories, and creating other strategies to match the problem to the business case.
In those scenarios, the development workflow is guided by the product manager. And while they themselves are not usually the sole decision maker, they heavily influence those decisions.
On smaller or even medium-sized teams, this may not be the case. This is where your team can shine, as there is a lot of overlap between product management and customer success. If your product has no dedicated product manager, here are a few success activities your team could handle:
- Create a weekly report of priority bugs and feature requests to share with your developers
- Work with leadership to form the product roadmap (always keeping the customer in perspective)
- Own the entire onboarding process, from identifying your WOW moment to creating materials to help your customers achieve it
- Conduct research calls with newly signed up customers or recent cancellations
- Profile your ideal customer and work with your marketing team to find the right target audience
The possible activities are numerous and varied. What will be possible depends on the makeup of your overall team, but any of the above are great uses of your time.
4. What metrics are your customer team focused on?
In SaaS, there are so many things you can focus on. It’s easy to find yourself on any given day asking,“What should I be working on right now?” Decision fatigue is a real concern, and you want to minimize that as much as possible. That’s where .
In the Lean Analytics movement, this is called the “One Metric That Matters”. If you and your team can identify the metric that matters to you most right now, it can help guide what activities your success team should focus on.
If you’re focused on activation, onboarding might be where you put your energy. Where are people dropping off in the process? What is your WOW moment and what steps are in place to guide people there? Mapping out your user journey with your onboarding touch points included can help your team see the big picture and create a plan to improve this measure.If your focus is reducing churn, your team may spend more time in research to identify why people are leaving. Conducting interviews with recent cancellations is one way to identify the push/pull forces that led to a customer leaving your product.
In the long run, all these metrics matter to you. But your team can have some peace of mind knowing that you’re going to focus on one at a time, and that focus can direct which activities your team engages in.
5. What resources will make your customers the most successful?
Finally, what types of things will your team do to help your customers achieve their goals? Writing is an obvious one, and one you should emphasize. Creating help docs, user guides, blog posts, and newsletters are all things you can do to help your customers.
But what else? Will your team create screencasts and onboarding campaigns, or conduct webinars and private demos? These all take a different set of skills, but they are skills that people in customer support often have. Spend some time thinking about which of these will help your customers best and who on your team is ready to contribute.
If your team decides that screencasts and videos will help your customers the most, you might have to invest in some tools or training. Research what kinds of content have worked best for your customers in the past, then compare this with the skills of your current team. This can guide where your team can put their success time to best use.
Embrace your uniqueness
Again, the right fit depends on a lot of different factors: the makeup of your team, your customers, and your product itself. factors team size and the source(s) of capital, each scenario can look a lot different from the next.
Here are a few current approaches to consider:
At Wildbit, we’re a bootstrapped team of 25 people running three products (soon to be four). Everyone wears a lot of hats and each day can look different from the next. Because of this, we do not have the resources of a large team, so we take a minimal approach to marketing and sales.
Our customer success team is five people and we handle both the proactive and reactive interactions with our customers. Because of this, we have a few measures in place.
Scheduled focus days
Switching between reactive and proactive work carries a lot of cognitive overload, so we try to minimize this as much as possible. We all love support, but once you get into the inbox, it’s really hard to switch from reacting to strategic thinking and planning. That’s why we schedule entire days for success work, so team members can focus for extended, committed periods.
Everyone on our team also takes at least two days per week to focus on success measures. As much as possible, we schedule those days back to back — that way, any residual support interactions are finished up by day two.
A distraction-free environment
At Wildbit, we’re firm believers in focus and deep work, so everyone is encouraged to stay group chat when they need long stretches without interruption. A lot of SaaS teams operate this way. But let’s face it: That often doesn’t apply to the support/success team.
That’s not the case here. Everyone at the company is able to close Slack completely when needed. For our customer success team, that is done on your success days. The expectation is that if you’re providing support, you’re monitoring Slack. But otherwise, it’s your responsibility to take any measures necessary to allow yourself to focus.
Plan Regular Get Togethers
Our customer success team gets together once a year in the company office. Although Wildbit also has a company-wide retreat each year, we to get together in smaller groups for more focused discussion. Plus, it’s vital just to meet as a team and hang out.
We spend this time discussing how we provide support, but most of our time focuses on what we should be doing to ensure the success of our customers. When you’re down in the trenches, it can be harder to see the big picture. This specific meet-up allows everyone to take a deep breath, review what we’ve been doing, and plan for the next six to 12 months.
Good for you, good for your customers
By asking a few questions and creating the right environment, smaller customer-facing companies can do more for their SaaS team and, more importantly, for their customers.
14 Sales Kickoff Best Practices for your Sales Team Success
Your sales kickoff is one of your most important initiatives, with the potential to motivate your reps to achieve phenomenal success this year.
How do you inspire, educate, motivate and celebrate your sales team in a way that helps them not only achieve but exceed their revenue targets for the year? Some of the most successful minds in the business share their secrets to a successful sales kickoff.
1. Align sales kickoff content with company goals
To achieve your revenue targets, your sales team needs to align with the overall goals of your organization.
A great way to do this according to Cara Hogan of Insight Squared is by the Executive level talking about business strategy, “This kind of open and transparent discussion of company strategy helps the sales team see the bigger picture so they understand that they’re working toward a larger goal.”
Going further, Joe Wilburn, Director of Sales for Brooks Group says, “People need a purpose (other than just commission), so each and every member of your team should know exactly how their work positively contributes to the company’s mission.
Aligning individual efforts with your organization’s purpose will keep everyone motivated to hit their own goals throughout the year—doing their part to add to the success of the team.
Lay out the strategy and exactly how each player will be expected to contribute so your salespeople can clearly see where the company is going and their role within it.”
2. Choose a theme for your event
Choosing a theme will help set the tone and agenda for your sales kickoff. Tom Snyder, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of VorsightBP says, “Too often we see sales kickoffs without a theme or with a theme that is lackluster. If success [to you] is about motivation then you want a theme that you will recognize as motivating.”
3. Set the agenda carefully
After the theme, comes an agenda that must meet your objectives. But as David Freeman, VP Corporate Sales of Nutanix points out, what you put into the agenda is just as important as what you leave out, “We have a lot of execs who want to talk about their area. We have to limit the airtime for people who just want to get up there.
We have to focus on what the participants need for this session in a face to face session. We may give them another opportunity to address the team, but we’re not giving people airtime just because they ask for it. We also don’t do topics that can be covered by webinars anymore.
If it’s just updated on product releases or informative one-way sessions, we’ll schedule webinars or other sessions.”Mohit Garg, Co-Founder and CRO of MindTickle suggest, “Before you settle on an agenda, talk to your reps and crowdsource ideas, obtain feedback, and help direct the sessions. Their suggestions, as well as some quick quizzes, may help you highlight knowledge gaps that you can focus on, rather than guessing what the reps need.”
It’s also important to ensure that the agenda remains flexible. Freeman comments, “It can’t be one size fits all. Let people choose their own adventure. It’s important to let people figure out what they need at this point in their career, their role, their tenure, their specialization. Allow them to develop the skills they need.”
4. Set pre-work
Your sales kickoff is an integral part of your annual sales calendar, so it’s only reasonable to expect your reps to prepare for the big event.
As Art Sobczak, Author of ‘Smart Calling’ notes “Just a comedian has a warm-up act, so too should you, in order for the sales pros to be excited and prepped when they arrive.
Assign pre-work, have speakers do videos or webinars “teasing” the material, or even short sessions on the content to be covered.”
5. Create an atmosphere of healthy competition
As part of the pre-work, you can get the reps motivated with a little healthy competition.
Mohit Garg suggests, “Have your reps do a pitch competition or complete bite-sized quizzes at the end of every day, and host a leaderboard so each rep can see how they compare against their peers.
The competition can continue throughout the kickoff and culminate in an award at the recognition night. Gamified techniques leaderboards are a great way to create a bit of healthy competition and get everyone excited, before, during and even after the event.”
6. Provide time for interaction and cross-pollination
Whether it’s a casual dinner or more formal roundtables, providing time for people from different business units to interact and share ideas will be invaluable as the year progresses.
David Freeman suggests, “Create opportunities for interaction between execs and reps, reps and reps, engineers and reps. We’ve forced this into our kickoffs sessions that force these. Panels with execs with Q&A, roundtables with salespeople, breakouts with engineers and reps.
And time at the bar is just as important as the time in the session. Need to give people time to unwind, have fun, share war stories.”
One of the best ways for salespeople to learn how to close a deal is by hearing success stories straight from the horse’s mouth. Steve W.
Martin, Author of the ‘Heavy Hitter’ series makes some suggestions on how to present these to the team, “I would recommend that you have your top salespeople be interviewed in a talk show program format by a moderator who has an extensive sales background.
I have found these types of panels are the most effective way to relay both the tangible and intangible aspects of winning to the rest of the team.” Mohit Garg adds, “I recommend recording these interviews and making them accessible in an online content library so reps can refer back to them whenever they need to.”
8. Include a variety of sessions
There’s nothing worse than sitting in one powerpoint presentation after another. To keep people engaged Steve W. Martin suggests, “Break the session into chunks of time no longer than sixty minutes.
Also, break up heavy technical chunks with lighter topics, completely different subject matter, or audience participation activities. This way, the attendees will remain mentally fresh and have higher retention.
9. Don’t forget your customers
When planning the agenda, it’s important to ensure that your customer’s voice is heard. Joshua Meeks, Revenue Growth Consultant suggests conducting customer research, “Conduct at least 5 win and 5 loss interviews.
During the interviews ask the customer about the process they went through to come to their decision.
Why did they choose to do nothing, go with the competition or select us? What was their opinion of us? It is important to ensure the content covered and the skills developed are in sync with buyer needs.”
Steve W. Martin also suggests using customer interviews to understand the decision-making process of your customers, “it provides a true snapshot of the competition’s strengths and weaknesses according to the person who matters most—the prospective customer.”
10. Celebrate and recognize your top players
“Recognition is critical,” states David Freeman. “Make sure you’re recognizing the top people. One because they deserve recognition and need to be acknowledged, but also it’s great for everyone who’s new or not so successful to see the celebration of those people and give them something to shoot for in the coming year.”
“If you’re giving awards for specific achievements make sure you capture on video a clip of the rep talking about how they achieved their accomplishment. This can be used later as sound-bites or in the online content library,” recommend Mohit Garg.
11. Reinforce concepts
Lori Richardson of Score More Sales suggests reinforcing some of the key concepts during the event, “Games Jeopardy are great because they can reinforce ideas for the upcoming year while also being fun and they get everyone involved.”
But once the kickoff ends, the hard work really begins. The team at Selling Power recommends, “Whenever you send an email, start a meeting, or get the team on a conference call, take a minute to highlight a recent story that illustrates the messaging from your sales kickoff – and make an explicit connection between the two.”
Mohit Garg also suggests leveraging the content from the kickoff, “Weave sound-bites from the kickoff into follow up sessions to make sure the messages stay with the team and build a cadence for reinforcement that continues throughout the year.”
12. Pay attention to the details
While it may seem more administration, David Freeman notes, “The location matters – you want people to have fun and socialize. You get more people engaged that way and more motivated when out in the field. Put in extra attention to make sure people are happy with the food. It might seem small but it can increase morale significantly.”
13. Request and act on feedback
We’re all used to filling out forms at the end of a sales kickoff, but there’s more to gain by checking the pulse of the event while it’s still going on.
Mohit Garg suggests, “Take a quick poll at the end of each session to find out what’s resonating and get some real-time feedback that you can act on immediately.
It’s energizing when people can see that they’re being listened to and taken seriously.”
14. Evaluate the event
Once it’s all done and dusted, it’s important to make sure the kickoff achieved your objectives. Joshua Meeks recommends, “To ensure proper adoption of content and sales skills, survey the sales force.
Ascertain if knowledge gaps have been closed and skill sets improve. The best time to survey the field is one month after sales kickoff.
If sales reps aren’t using the new content and skills after a month, they never will.”Mohit Garg also suggests, “You can track who is engaged with the content long after the event by using technology. If materials are accessible online, some platforms allow you to track who has accessed it and how frequently. This is a good indicator of engagement and can indicate adoption of the materials.”
What Our Customer Success Team Taught Us About Referral Marketing
We find it fascinating when a company pivot in one business area causes fortuitous side effects in other departments. In this case, our customer support team changed their approach in order to offer enhanced customer services, and our marketing team saw remarkable, unanticipated effects reflected in our marketing data. Here’s the story.
Moving from Customer Support to Customer Success
During the early stages of Bizible, as deals were consistently closing, all seemed well in the land of sales. After their product demo, system installation, and onboarding process was complete, customers seemed satisfied. However, while our sales team was paying attention to our current pipeline of leads and opportunities, we also needed to support our current customers.
But we had a problem. Our customer support team… was also our sales team. We were pulled in two directions, unable to fulfill either one of these roles proficiently.
At the end of the day, we realized that we weren’t dedicating enough resources to be able to serve our current clients well and move them along in their understanding of Bizible’s role in their marketing. This was very concerning.
As we sought out a solution, we began to design a new division within Bizible. It wasn’t long before we concluded that merely solving technical issues wasn’t the only service we wanted to provide.
We actually didn’t need a ‘support’ team. Instead, we needed a team that would identify with the customer’s marketing goals and help them achieve those objectives.
So, we formed our Customer Success Team.
The Customer’s KPI Became Our Success Metric
All of our customers have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they measure, along with goals for each of those metrics.
Whether it’s increasing sales revenue, decreasing cost-per-acquisition, raising marketing ROI, or reducing wasted ad spends, they all have finish lines that they’re trying to cross.And when a customer chooses Bizible as a way to achieve those goals, our Customer Success Team rallies around them.
We knew that our customers didn’t just deserve to be satisfied, but they deserved to be successful. Our customer’s goals became our goals, and their KPIs now mattered to us as much as they mattered to them.
The 5 Specific Goals of Our Customer Success Team:
1. Availability – We didn’t want to be a faceless organization in the eyes of our clients. Instead, our Customer Success team is available to every customer, able to answer any questions or help with any problems from day one.
2. Education – There is a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) that runs right alongside new customers, making sure that they understand the features, reports, and system functions of the Bizible app.
3. Support – Troubleshooting, problem solving, and technical assistance is one of our highest priorities as well. We never want difficulties with our system to throw a monkey wrench into our customer’s marketing success.
4. Communication – We don’t just wait for our customers to reach out to us. Our team takes an interest in reaching out to them. Our customers can expect regular communication from their CSM, who is ready and willing to talk about marketing strategy, reporting and even to chat for a minute.
5. Sophistication – As we continue to work with our customers, they eventually become experts themselves. They dive deeper into the data, and they begin analyzing the metrics on a more granular level.
Instead of simply understanding the data that Bizible provides, they start exploring that data to create informed and effective marketing campaigns.
Bizible becomes a tool in their belt as they become more successful at developing their craft.
As we pursued these goals, we began to see incredible feedback from our customers. Our focus on facilitating their success was apparent to them, and we started to see a consequent impact at a marketing level. All marketers know that word-of-mouth marketing and social proof evidence have an impact on referrals, but we started to see those principles come to fruition.
Lincoln Murphy (@lincolnmurphy), a marketer who writes extensively on the topic of customer success, explains it this way in his article Customer Success: The Definitive Guide saying,
“Having worked with over 300 SaaS companies – as well as Enterprise Software vendors migrating to SaaS – I can say without a doubt that Customer Success must be a fully-integrated, tightly-coupled component of a complete SaaS Business Architecture… You make sure your customers are successful and they’ll make sure you’re successful.”
Resulting Impact on a Marketing Level
Not long after our Customer Success Team began their work, we began to see a consistent uptick in referrals. Let’s take a look at the chart below.
While this graph doesn’t depict specific numbers, it does show the ratio of increase. The specific number of referrals in the fourth quarter of 2014 corresponds to the number 1 on the line graph. The figure ‘x2’ means that the number of referrals doubled, ‘x3’ means the number of referrals tripled, and so on from there.
After our Customer Success Team began, we saw our ‘opportunities from referrals’ metric more than quadruple in the first quarter of 2015. While we had always focused on helping our customers, it was apparent that they really appreciated the vested effort from our Customer Success Team to ensure that they were well equipped with everything they needed and more.
What We Learned about Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
While we understood in principle the impact that strong WOM marketing could have, we were able to see this firsthand through the data. When customers have an exceptional onboarding (and ongoing) experience with a SaaS company, they’re far more ly to recommend and promote that company’s services on their own time.
We also learned that marketing is really a full-company undertaking.
Yes, the marketing team writes content, publishes posts, creates ads, and coordinates events, but every single employee, regardless of which team they belong to, is a vital cog in the marketing wheel.
Although their mission is specifically to help our customers be as successful as possible, our customer success team incidentally supported the company’s marketing goals.Our success team was immensely encouraged, our marketing team was very impressed, and our sales team was ramped and ready to connect with these new referrals.
When it comes down to it, everyone sells, everyone markets, and everyone serves customers. There is meaningful overlap in the services rendered by each team.
Yes, we all specialize for the sake of efficiency, but we see blurred lines between departments all the time and for very good reasons. It keeps our company mission holistic.
For us, the key is to be communally focused on the same goal – serving those people who choose to partner with us to make marketing more effective.