The New Imperative Of Growing The SaaS Business

4 min read
04 Jun

Most companies acknowledge the advantages of delivering a high-value outcome; why, then, many companies struggle to execute it? In this interview, Jeffrey Nadeau, Head of Customer Success at Leanplum, talks about why a value-based engagement model changes the dynamic role of delivering value.

This business mindset distills two important business aspects (1) To deliver a high-value outcome, organizations need to understand first how customers derive value from the product or solution (2) The organization should build strategies focused on customer value (user experience and adoption), not the product value (perceived value of the solution).

Background and Career

Nadeau started and worked in Enterprise Sales. He notes, the deal cycles for Enterprise customers take between 12-18 months. He pointed out, "The value of the solution has to be recognized early on, especially if you have a long and rigorous sales cycle." The longer the sales cycle, the higher the demand for the business value.

Nadeau says that delivering the desired outcomes and expected experience is a competitive advantage and has become more essential and imperative for success. Businesses are at risk if they don't have someone responsible for keeping their business's health (Remember, your customers are the indicators of how healthy your business is).

Without Customer Success in the organization, they will be (1) Blindsided by the negative churn and losing revenue without realizing it (2) Won't be able to capitalize and take advantage of the VOC (3) Unable to act on customer's feedback in real-time since the focus is on the broader business goals and initiatives, not on the customer.

Customer's growth as a company-wide effort

Our organizational focus "is on driving success through (user) adoption." The better the adoption, the better the revenue growth and opportunities are.

Nadeau pointed out, "When the organization understands and regards user adoption as a growth and key company strategy, it becomes a company-wide effort." Why? Because it is a fundamental operating philosophy that must come before retention, expansion, or advocacy.

Hence, a strong alignment in achieving the customer's goals and how the solution will satisfy those business objectives is the foundational character of Customer Success in driving and delivering business outcomes. 

Businesses today need to realign their focus (from a product-focus mindset to a value-focused mindset) as they move forward into the future. Otherwise, nurturing and building a sustainable relationship would be an uphill battle.

Before that, we have heard that customers buy through emotional affinity then back it up with their reasoning (logic). The question is no longer why they buy our solutions, but "can we make them (customers) successful"?

Understanding how your product solves your customer's specific challenges and its impact on their business's bottom line is critical in building a stronger customer relationship foundation.

To achieve this business goal, focusing on user adoption as growth metrics and delivering a high-value outcome is the new imperative of growing the brand. Once the organization shifts its focus, the customers' success is no longer just in a single department but a company-wide effort.

The conduit of success

Suppose you have a product that would take significant time before the customers start seeing its value. In that case, you have to make sure that Customer Experience must be given the same importance and significance.

Nadeau notes, "Organizations are not buying tools to make their jobs exciting or delightful (although it is necessary); they buy tools and invest their time in what helps drive their business forward. Customers want to make sure they get the value they expect and require from their investment."

Delivering a successful outcome

One of the OKRs we measured was 75% of our customers had to adopt 75% of our product. If we could see that customers are only adopting 50%: We plan, devise strategies, and build a playbook around how we can get to the point for them to adopt.

A couple of things we do (1) We segment our customers and set the stage up front so they can get the most in our service or platform (2) We tiered our CS services and align them with their desired outcomes (3) Design a success playbook based on their needs and personal challenges.

In hindsight, building a relationship is ALWAYS a work in progress. Organizations should always keep in mind the interest and well-being of their customers. On the other hand, customers must have a clear understanding of the commitment required of them.

Bottom line - it's imperative that your customers reach their desired business outcomes from your solution or service. One question I've found to be successful at understanding if you're meeting the customer expects to ask, "If today is the renewal of your service or contract, would you renew?". Based on the answer, you can work on a mutual plan with the customer to ensure they are successful and ultimately renew.

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