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How to Scale #CustomerExperience, with Martin Duhamel (Front)

This article includes key takeaways from Martin Duhamel’s talk on how to scale customer experience. Check out the full video on Youtube or get the latest from our Scale series.

3 key mindsets

Mindet #1: Going enterprise isn’t mandatory

The move to enterprise is too often described as the be-all and end-all for SaaS startups. However, your potential for growth in the short run might be greater serving SMBs and mid market customers. Martin shares how Front experimented a few years ago the move to Enterprise, from a sales-driven perspective. It did not turn out to be the best approach at that stage, even though it allowed the company to learn more about what it takes to succeed in that space. The takeaway? The move to enterprise isn’t systematic, and if you choose to do it you need to go there as a company (including product, marketing, sales…).

Mindset #2: Say bye to end-of-quarter rush

Martin has experimented with moving cadences on the sales teams from quarterly to monthly objectives. And the switch has proved valuable in helping the team scale. First, shorter cycles means more iterations and opportunities to learn (from 4 per year to 12). Second, switching to a faster pace has also helped bring more rhythm to the sales team (bringing them closer to Front’s core value of “ruthless execution”). Lastly, the move also reduced stress by limiting end-of-quarter scramble to meet quota, often resulting in aggressive discounts.

Mindset #3: Understand your team’s drivers

Martin’s advice to young sales managers: know why each member of your team gets up and goes to work every day. In a high growth environment, the best way to get the most out of your team is to understand what motivates each team member: What challenge would they like to take on in 6 months time? Where do they see themselves in 2 years? You need to know, and reassess every quarter with each of your reports.

4 key best practices

Best practice #1: Hire 6 months ahead

Hiring can make — or break — your forecast. Martin recommends looking 6 months ahead for your hiring needs. Start by looking at your entire funnel and drawing the hiring plan based on achieving the correct ratios — for example sales to extra $ in MRR, SDR to sales, etc — to grow into your forecast. Then focus on getting the right people and serving them a personalized onboarding.

Note: For onboarding new hires, Martin creates a user manual which he gives to each of his direct reports. This document briefly summarizes who you are, what you do, what your objectives are, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. Asking new employees to do the same can get the conversation started in your first one-on-one’s on how to better work together.

Best practice #2: No compensation system is perfect

Martin and the team at Front have tested different compensation systems, and none of them is perfect. Natural frictions will occur in your sales organization, for instance between AEs and CSMs and between SDRs and AEs. The best thing for a manager is being open to discussing it, but also realizing that not everything can be corrected through the incentive system. That said, any compensation plan must accurately reflect the impact you expect from the person regarding both your company and your clients. For example, SDRs at Front are compensated primarily on opportunities generated and second on closed deals — in that order.

Best practice #3: Segmenting customers to unlock revenue expansion

It’s a well-known fact that keeping existing customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. Yet sales organizations rarely consider the full ramifications. Signing deals that have low potential for long term growth — instead of focusing on ICP — is one example. Another is not segmenting churn analysis: by running through the data, the team at Front were able to understand which company sizes, industries, and geographies are seeing the most value from their use of the product and focus their efforts where the impact is highest.

Best practice #4: Using data to better serve customers

Martin encourages sales leaders to delve into their account book to unlock learnings onto how to serve customers and how to structure their team. To do so, he recommends plotting accounts along 2 axis: low touch vs high touch, and low MMR growth potential vs high potential. By tweaking thresholds, the team at Front were able to calibrate the effort on their accounts: placing a single CSM spread on low touch accounts, a strategic CSM on high touch accounts, and an additional AE to back up the strategic CSM on targets in the high touch/high potential quadrant

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About Martin Duhamel:

Martin is Head of EMEA Customer Growth and works closely with sales and customer success to deliver a seamless customer journey, at scale. He shares how Front designed a scalable customer experience at each stage of the funnel to drive new revenue and revenue expansion.

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We’re the startup studio building the future of work. We inspire new ways of working and have launched over 30 companies including Front, Aircall, Spendesk, and Slite.

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