One of my favorite presentations from the 2014 SIIA conference was by Nick Mehta (@nrmehta) on turning your revenue funnel into an hourglass. In other words, using your customer’s success in more creative ways to help you drive more revenue.
Nick’s viewpoint is that software companies should focus on accelerating their customers’ “time to value” — the time it takes for you to get your customers to achieve full value on your software.
Nick redraws the typical funnel — you know, leads come in the top and customers pop out the bottom — into an hourglass. Nick’s point is that getting customers to value faster is one of your best sales tools for growth. In the hourglass example, what pops out the funnel is customer success which in turn grows outward into more revenue for the company on all fronts.
Top Ten Software Company Growth Hacks
My favorite part of the presentation was Nick’s top 10 “growth hacks”. Having run a SaaS company for 12 years, this is really good stuff. Here they are, but to get Nick’s full message, you should really watch the video.
- Talk about customer success. Use your website, sales team, literature — everything — to make customer success part of your sales process.
- Get to customer value quickly. Think of customer success like a sprint where the beginning of the race really counts. Do everything you can to get customers to value as quickly as possible.
- Understand your customer’s goals. Your employees really should know your customer’s goals, and those goals should be in the customer’s language.
- Ban the check-in. Having your team call to “check-in” that everything is okay is no longer acceptable. In fact, it’s often time seen by your customer as a nuisance or yet another sales call for an upsell. After all, you should already know what’s going on. Every call should add value with your customers.
- Define your customer’s scoreboard. Capture your customer’s goals and review them regularly. Customer’s employees change over time and so do their goals. Try to incorporate their goals into a larger picture or scoreboard and measure yourself constantly against this.
- Remember you sell to people. Identify three people at every customer you interact with. Then identify three people inside of your company to build relationships with those individuals. Avoid “single threading” your customer relationships.
- Identify your raving fans. Get your raving fans to rave even more on your behalf. You’ll get better marketing and they’ll become even more satisfied.
- Think about speed to upsells. Don’t slip in development or you will slip in sales. Adoption leads directly to upselling your products and services faster.
- Identify early disengagement warning signs. Try to develop early alerts and notifications so you know when your customers are disengaging. Do this in all aspects of your business, including marketing (i.e. a jump in unsubscribes).
- Make current customer success bigger than new customer sales. Celebrate customer success more than you celebrate a new sale. In fact, make the gong for customer success even bigger than the gong for a sales win.