Marrying Customer Success With Marketing
While at Adobe, Chris spent many years running a large pre-sales team and took over the customer success organization, which, at the time, was focused on marketers and the persona of marketing.
Chris worked with CMOs, digital marketers, and product marketers. He eventually noticed that customer success for a SaaS company was traditionally focused on top of the funnel and driving sales.
Now, look for a moment at the customer lifecycle as if it were an iceberg. If you're looking at marketing in this traditional way, you only see the part of the iceberg above the water. In short, just a minimal amount. However, in SaaS, the more significant, more important part of the iceberg and customer life cycle is underwater - Customer success.
They weren't taking into account the larger part of the iceberg: How to make their customer successful by using their product. A substantial amount of your revenue comes from having some upselling/ cross-selling in your product portfolio in the SaaS business. Chris knew if you don't make your customer successful in those areas, they're not going to buy more from you.
Chris brought this knowledge with him when he stepped into a marketing role. He thought about tying in the entire customer journey with marketing, asking questions like:
• What does that onboarding experience look like?
• How do I drive adoption with all the tools I have as a marketer?
• How do I engage with our personas and our audience to make them successful through that entire journey?
Shifting the Incentives of Marketers and the Metrics to Reach the Full Customer Experience
Chris emphasizes It's not only about driving pipeline. There are other metrics to be considered from a customer perspective. You start by painting a vision for your team, so they understand why this was critically important.
"We have this opportunity to facilitate the entire customer journey. Using the breadth of the marketing organization, we can help our customers through that," Chris said.
He developed three core metrics for his team:
Everything they do is shot through this lens. They're the core metrics that drive the business.
While it may be tempting to map specific teams within the company against each of these goals, splitting up the effort like this doesn't make sense, Chris says.
"Customer marketing is the responsibility of everyone, not just a function within BOX." Chris Koehler, CMO, Box
Customers, too, play a role in marketing your business, especially by word-of-mouth and customer-to-customer referrals. It can be a scary concept for many marketers because it is harder to control and quantify.
This can indeed deter some marketers from fully exploring this strategy's potential. This is probably one of the most under utilized and under leveraged opportunities marketers have, Chris indicates. People want to hear from their peers and get social proof before they invest. "Telling your story through the mouth of your customer is supremely more effective than us saying the same thing."
Digital Scalability and Customer Engagement: Planning for 2021
It's all about building a flexible plan, according to Chris. There's so much unknown about what everything's going to look like:
• Will a traditional selling environment ever come back?
• Will a few conferences come back?
• Will this differ depending on geography (in global markets and countries, or states)?
Despite this, there are some guiding principles everyone can plan for.
For one, digital is ultimately scaleable. Digital strategies must continue to evolve in terms of how marketers engage with their audiences and their personas. Chris indicated that he will continue to invest in the self-service experience. Already, many of their SMB customers can make online purchases versus talking to a salesperson. They'll reimagine that to make the process as simple as possible.
Foremost on everyone's mind, though, is how to engage with customers and prospects. Many have pivoted their focus to existing customers. Chris believes marketers should be asking questions like:
• How do we engage with our customers?
• How do we create unique experiences for them so that they are willing to engage?
• How, while everyone's struggling with digital fatigue, do you engage and create an experience that your customers and prospects will want to engage with?
Not Pre- or Post-Sale; instead preferably, a Continuous Experience
Chris isn't crazy about the term post-sales because it's a continuous journey around admins. Admins are the gatekeepers deploying the product to their employees.
"We spun a lot of the product development around the existing product, existing experience," Chris reveals.
Ultimately, it came down to prioritizing several factors, such as:
• What do they need?
• Where are they struggling with?
• What tools do they need?
• What content do they need?
The focus is on what Chris' team needs to bring to them to help them get value out of why they've purchased this solution.
Looking Back With Gratitude – and to the Uncharted Future
At home this year, Chris feels blessed for his family's health. He's been grateful for his fantastic team at work, which quickly adapted to the environment of the pandemic.
Looking forward, Chris says the old playbooks don't necessarily work anymore.
"Customers and prospects will be expecting a very different experience as we engage with them because now they're more educated. They have so much access to your content. They know everything about your brand, your company, your product–which changes how we engage with them."
But his number one lesson has been about engaging with his team. You can build relationships with your team because you're connecting with them via video in their homes, he says. The problem that comes with working at home is that it's easy to work nonstop. "That's why it's important to lead with empathy, check in on your teams, and make sure they're OK."
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