In today's episode, we interview Lincoln Murphy, Gainsight Customer Success Evangelist and Founder of Sixteen Ventures. Lincoln, an expert in customer success and SaaS growth, shares about Gainsight's approach to helping customers at Gainsight and through consulting at Sixteen Ventures. Lincoln discusses Customer Success University (CSU), Gainsight's wildly popular Pulse Conference, and how he embraces a "helping sells" approach to enable SaaS companies to accelerate their growth across the Customer Lifecycle, from customer acquisition to retention.
About Lincoln Murphy:
Lincoln Murphy helps SaaS companies grow. He is a SaaS Marketing & Business Model Expert, revolutionizing the industry as a Growth Hacker & Customer Success Strategist. He is founder of Sixteen Ventures, a consultancy for SaaS growth, and he is Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight, where he promotes thought-leadership in the areas of Customer Success, retention, churn mitigation and expansion revenue that build toward an efficient engine of company-growth for SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and other Subscription businesses. Since 2006 he's directly helped 300+ SaaS companies accelerate their growth by optimizing the Customer Lifecycle, from customer acquisition to retention. Lincoln's work has been featured Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Sandhill.com, Read Write, SoftwareCEO, Venture Beat and ZDNetand have spoken at industry events including SaaS University, Freemium Summit, SIIA On-Demand, & HostingCon.
Gainsight is a Customer Success company that helps companies reduce churn, increase upsell, and create successful customers.
About Sixteen Ventures:
Sixteen Ventures is a consultancy focused on enabling SaaS companies' growth, focusing on areas including pricing, customer acquisition and evolving with the market to helping reduce customer churn.
- How Sixteen Ventures got its name. Hint: It's got nothing to do with a John Hughes film.
- Getting more distribution and sales by putting out helpful information to the right audience.
- Learning to become tuned in to customers; find the questions that will help the most people if you create content around it.
- The real reason customers churn: if they're not achieving their "desired outcome" through their interactions with your company.
- How Learning Sells at Customer Success University and Pulse Conference.
- ...and much more!
Helping customers achieve their desired outcome starts before the sale
- Start helping customers even before the sale through marketing. Share as much as you can to elevate everyone in the field, even if these prospects don't become customers. Ultimately the right propsects will convert by aligning with the advice you provide.
- Recommended reading:
- Customer Success: The Definitive Guide
Once you put out the churn fires, customer success becomes focusing on account expansion and advocacy.
- Many companies aren't there yet, even though customer success is out there.
- Many companies' initial catalysts was and is churn.
- Early-stage startups are now being influenced by investors who want them to build it into everything from the ground up. These investors know about customer success influencing valuations.
Customer Success University: Learning Sells
- CSU consists of live trainings before Gainsight's annual conference (Pulse) which is about Customer Success and also as an
- online Customer Success University courses
- and now available as training. If you as a vendor have certification in industry about the discipline and not your product, that's a big win. Thousands of individuals who aren't necessarily Gainsight customers join to get the CSU credential attached to their profile. It's good positioning.
- It's also about helping people understand what customer success is. It has accelerated deals, but it has been a foot-in-the-door for many orgs who go through trainings but don't get a sales pitch (it's about Customer Success only) but people presenting are mostly from Gainsight - implicit message is learning from experts in the space.
- Ultimately, it's helping while marketing.
Anything you sell you have to be good at yourselves.
- Gainsight has to nail Customer Success and "drink their own champagne."
- If you're teaching your customers to be experts in a subject, you better be experts at that, too.
Educate during conferences
- Success Unplugged is a track of sessions that are educational in nature - this was in addition to live Customer Success University and was focused primarily on educating the market at Pulse Conference.
- Recommended reading:
- Growing Trend - Small, More Frequent Conferences with Training
- If you want your conference to be educational throughout (not just during dedicated "learning" sessions) focus on getting expert presenters from your industry together to share more industry knowledge.
- People should walk away from your conference knowing exponentially more about the subject (ex/ Customer Success) than they did before.
- Numbers don't lie: Gainsight has grown Pulse from 300 attendees to nearly 5000 attendees in only a few years. If you say your conference is about helping and it's not, you won't see repeat attendees and exponential growth.
Customer Success isn't about making customers happy - it's about making customers successful. And to do this well, we have to challenge them.
- Be in tune with what customers need, not just what they say they want (hearing his customers wanted "a faster horse" would have been of no help to Henry Ford).
- Required outcome plus appropriate experience is about helping customers achieve desired outcome, not necessarily happiness or even satisfaction.
- Suggested reading:
- Customer Satisfaction Isn't Enough
- Learning from Steve Jobs, who understood, learned from and listened to context clues about what customers wanted as an outcome, which turned into iphone and ipod.
- Don't shy away from difficult conversations with customers. Sometimes we have to push our customers into places that aren't comfortable to be successful and they will thank you for it later.
- Most conferences are one-way presentations and we like hearing smart people talk and we like ideas.
- Challenging customers to change behavior can be outside the comfort zone of people who don't want to do work and only want to sit and listen.
- Getting customers from where they are and need to be may not be comfortable but outcome is worth it.
There are no quick fixes for customer success.
- It's not about tactics and quick fixes.
- Learn why types of things will work so you can take it from there and do tactics with an understanding of why.
- Tactics may work in one situation but not in yours because you don't really understand what's going on. You won't know to just avoid doing it in the first place.
- Some people may not fit your ideal customer profile and may not like to hear backstory and that's ok.
Top 2-3 Trends for Customer Success for 2016 and beyond?
- More companies and startups with customer success from the ground up as part of their DNA.
- More organizations formalizing customer success and embracing the real ethos of customer success and not just re-naming account management teams to Customer Success.
- In 2016 and beyond, customer success will just be a way we do business – it will become part of operations structure.
Until Next Time
Well, that was just a short summary of what we talked about in episode one. We hope it makes you want to subscribe and listen. We plan to publish 2 interview per month for now. But between episodes, we can continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #HelpingSells. So if you’d like to chat with Sarah and Bill, tweets us and use the Hashtag #HelpingSells.