After attending Pulse for the past six years, this one was by far the most impactful and fun. For the 79% of the attendees who attended for the first time (the virgins as Gainsight called them!), I am sure they will all agree — the event was epic!
Here are the top takeaways in case you missed #Pulse19:
1. Customer success has shifted from a cost center to a growth center. Companies can no longer afford to treat customer success as a reactive department. It is a companywide mindset where the customer experience is the focus. Proactive customer success with meaningful metrics will lead to company growth. How do you do this? CS Orgs should have direct revenue responsibility. When they do, you can celebrate three milestones:
i. lower sales and marketing costs
ii.higher subscription rates
iii.3Xs the CSM impact
These are compelling reasons to start talking to your executives about who is responsible for what and why. Compensating accordingly should also be part of the conversations.
2. Deliver Impact: While Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, and Maria Martinez, CCO of Cisco, talked about delivering customer value in the post ‘opportunity closed,’ I would take this a step further and argue that customer success responsibility to is to provide customer impact on their business at critical moments through their journey. There is a difference here. If you deliver value, it is about your product. If you provide an impact, it is about the customer’s business. As you build your customer’s journey, put them at the center of your discussion and notice how the conversation and decisions shift.
3. Human first. As a woman and immigrant, it was valuable to see more women and people of different backgrounds come together on stage to share their stories. Nick dared to share personal stories about loneliness and how it impacts not only his family but all of us in the workforce. Technology may give us 24/7 access to each other, but it doesn’t fill the human void that many of us can feel working in tech and often remotely. Let’s use this customer success community that we are growing and lean on each other when we need help. This focus on bringing the whole self back to business is invigorating and what sets customer success professionals apart.
4. Customer Marketing can no longer be ignored. There were several sessions at the event focussed on the power of customer communities and advocacy. After building communities for several companies, I can attest to the power of the voice of the customer coming together in one place to share best practices, test ideas, and grow. Including different personas to personify customer advocacy works. Customers are your best advertisers (sorry Marketers in the room) so why not work together to tap into this often underutilized opportunity?
5. Stop treating renewal and expansion conversations like a new sale. The status quo doesn’t think about how buyers and customers purchase differently. The science behind why a prospect buys your product for the first time and why a customer decides to leave, renew or buy more of your product explains the differences in the emotion and rational reasons for buying a product. Using emotional intelligence to understand the buyer from these perspectives is critical to learn and leverage.
6. Customer training and education is not a one-day or two-day event. It is an ongoing opportunity. Yes, Sales and Customer Success kick-offs are essential, and with Winning by Design, I have been fortunate to have been part of many of these client events this year. What is most important is what happens after these yearly events. Here are three actions you can take to ensure what you learn in a 1–2-day training sticks:
i. Weekly impact coaching sessions as a team to reinforce what is learned,
ii. Role-plays with your teams to practice what they learn and to give each other feedback (you can leverage dozens of role-plays on our YouTube Channel, to get started today. Subscribe and you will get new ones weekly),
iii. Align sales and customer success around one common language and with common goals and incentives to deliver customer impact. Alignment breaks down silos and reinforces customer centricity.
7. Technology is here to help your teams. Use it. There are so many technologies out there today to help your company become more efficient and to better serve your customer. For those who attended, hopefully, you had a chance to see all the new technologies to support your company in the Expo hall. I was also impressed with all the new features that Gainsight released — especially around predictive renewals and expansion. As you build your 2020 budget, ensure your team evaluates the best tech out there to support your team. Google sheets and a CRM aren’t good enough anymore.
8. Company culture is contagious — and it starts at the top. If your executives don’t make customer-centricity, employee enablement, and diversity and inclusion (another key theme at the event) a priority, why would anyone else make it a priority? If you are a company and people leader, start. Just start with one small initiative and practice and grow it daily. Put 15 minutes aside a day to work on that one goal. At the same time, you don’t have to have a management title to make a difference. Start with yourself, invite a colleague and work on improving one small action to improve your experience as an employee and that of the customers’.
There are so many more learnings from #Pulse19. I am just scratching the surface. What are yours?
One last note — I am energized by the people I met and the familiar faces. Thank you to the people who made it possible for me to attend this year’s event (you know who you are). I will be implementing what I learned at the event in my own customer success consulting practice and will be back next year to learn more.
Cheers to the people who made this event so impactful.
Brotopia Photo Credit: Lorna Henri, VP, CS, Mapbox