The Customer Room: Speaker Q&A

September 16, 2020 Written by Kolby Tallentire

In anticipation of The Customer Room beginning on September 21st, MetaCX did a Q&A series with a few of our amazing speakers! Check out their responses below and learn more about the event here.

Aaron Thompson, General Partner at SuccessHacker

Q: What is one thing a customer success leader can do to work better with their sales peers?

A: In short: See them as customers. If CS leadership can view the sales organization as a customer, we can identify what the Sales desired outcomes are and help them achieve those. It’s things like finding ways to speed up (not slow down) deal times and raise (not lower) conversion rates. Lastly, if we’re doing our jobs well, Sales should be able to leverage CS as a differentiator and large portion of the overall value proposition.

Todd Caponi, Author of The Transparency Sale

Q: What is one thing you would tell salespeople in young companies to do to achieve higher win rates?

A: First, and perhaps least surprising, is I recommend embracing who you are as a company and leading with it. When talking to prospects, make sure they know up-front that you are a young company, and that not everyone is ok with that. It (a) helps qualify in or qualify out the opportunity quickly. There are many organizations who aren’t comfortable working with an early-stage company. Addressing that at the beginning will help you ensure you’re working on an opportunity you can win, and (b) it is incredibly disarming, building the relationship with a potential client on a foundation of trust. Embrace transparency. Lead with it. Transparency sells better than perfection.

Second, and perhaps most counterintuitive, is to embrace extreme firmographic focus. While many young companies try to cast a wide net and work any opportunity where a potential prospect will listen, I strongly encourage you to consider developing a hypothesis; where should our value proposition best resonate in terms of potential company verticals, sizes and geographies? Then, learn everything about them…develop clinical levels of empathy. Then focus. If your hypothesis is correct, you’ll find quick wins due to your focus, expertise and confidence with the space. That will lead to momentum in that vertical. From there, expand out slowly – similar verticals, similar company sizes. Focus breeds confidence, and confidence is contagious.

Jeanne Bliss, Founder of Customer Bliss

Q: What are common mistakes that you regularly see customer experience leaders make?

A: There are 7 …
1. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan
2. Not defining the customer experience and gaining alignment
3. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces with ROI
4. Focusing first on survey metrics vs. operational metrics that customers care about
5. Not having executives engaged in the effort
6. Lack of clear communication and behaviors to model
7. Actions based on what people think vs. what customers need

Jennifer Dearman, Former Chief Customer Officer at Pendo

Q: What do you believe is the single most important component for customer retention?

A: Customer experience is often touted as the key to customer retention, but customers don’t stick around simply because they’ve had a great experience with a company. Retention is anchored in the value customers receive from the products they purchase and value is a two-sided coin. Value comes in the form of desired outcomes like increased revenue, decreased cost and mitigated risk on the customer side. Flip the coin over and company value, like retention and growth, is the result of customer value.

Matt Groetelaars, Head of Field Sales Strategy at Segment

Q: What’s one thing you think will change in buyer/supplier relationships in the coming years?

A: Sellers who can find a way to be knowledgable enough about each buyer’s world, company, and goals in order to help them build a future state they didn’t know could exist will be the ones who make up 90% of booked revenue.

Karen Mangia, VP of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce

Q: What is one thing companies can do to listen to their customers better?

A: Stop asking yesterday’s questions if you want to find tomorrow’s results. Never ask your customers, ‘What keeps you up at night?’ or even, ‘How likely are you to recommend us to someone else?’. Find out the one Genius Question that you’ve been missing.

Nicole France, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research

Q: What is one difference between companies who are successfully navigating the economic downturn and those that aren’t?

A: You mean aside from luck? Adaptability. The companies that have done well are attuned to their customers’ (and employees’) changing needs and priorities. They adjust accordingly, quickly modifying everything from product offerings to messaging. Sometimes even sacrificing short-term profitability to maintain long-term customer relationships. But it hasn’t hurt to sell toilet paper either.

Natalie Fedie, VP of Customer Value at HighRadius

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew when you first started managing customers?

A: When I first started managing customers, I wish I knew that you cannot retain a customer on relationships alone. Although relationships are very important, when the rubber meets the road it all comes down to delivering on the outcomes they need to achieve, and the amount of value you are providing. You can have a great rapport with a customer, but if you are not meeting the expectations you promised them, they will go where they can get the best results. I know I would, and have!

San Pathak, COO at Element Three

Q: What do you believe is the single most important component for customer retention?

A: Delivering great work on time is the most important thing for client retention. There are many other components, such as transparency, cordiality, collaboration, but if you deliver great work—Work that hits the mark, moves the business forward, inspires the end customer to take action—and deliver it on time, you will always position yourself best for renewal.

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