covering all things Sales, Marketing, product management and going global. Content taken directly from our jams and delivered in bite sized learning chunks.
Successful businesses do more than just provide great products. They create and deliver an exceptional customer experience every step of the way. Today’s customer has access to a global marketplace and a myriad different options- it isn’t enough to just offer the most affordable solution in your area. You need to stand out during every stage of the customer journey. If your business can’t give customers what they need, they’ll find someone that can.
That’s why smart businesses optimise their customer’s experience at every stage of the buying journey.
What is a customer journey and why does it matter? When you first hear it, the term “customer journey” sounds like a fluffy marketing buzzword that has zero place in the real world. It isn’t. The buying process can be broken down into five distinct stages. At the end of every stage the customer re-decides, consciously or subconsciously, whether to continue their journey with you or move on to one of your competitors.
By creating a delightful experience every step of the way, you are encouraging them to choose you. Let’s take a look at the five different decision points.
Your customer has a problem. They are vaguely aware you exist and offer something that can fix what’s bothering them. So, they look you up! They check your website and scroll through your social media profiles. They look at online reviews.
At this point, they make a snap decision. Are you worth exploring further? Make sure that the answer is a resounding yes by creating a strong social media presence and using an intuitive, UX optimized website that has enough engaging information to make them want to learn more.
You made it through the first test. Now, your potential customer wants to understand if you are a good fit for them. They’ll begin by scouring your resources and digging through your user reviews. They may even hit you up on social media.
To pass this stage, create resources that answer their burning questions. Build a powerful FAQs section on your website and create blog posts that address the most common pain points. Show them you’ve got the answers and aren’t afraid to share them!
Your customer has decided they want to buy. Now comes the real test. How easy is the process? How long does it take for your sales team to reach out to qualified leads? What are your email and social media response times like?
Can you answer all their common objectives? Can you make your customer feel secure that they’ve picked the best possible option? You’ve got to anticipate their questions and assuage their worries. And, you’ve got to do it quickly! If you don’t, someone else will.
What happens shortly after buying? Elation, followed by buyer’s remorse. With so many options available, your customer wants to feel like they got the best possible one. A big part of that rests on how well you treat them after the purchase.
Do you have a customer nurturing plan in place? Do you go above and beyond and offer special deals to existing customers? Do you answer queries and questions quickly? According to research, 60% of customers who complain on Twitter expect a response within one hour.
So, make sure that you’ve got your bases covered! Create a system that helps you catch inquiries and respond quickly.
The customer journey doesn’t end after the purchase. Retaining existing customers increases their overall value to your business. One of the best ways to keep customers and leverage your relationship to reach new potential customers? Turning them into advocates.
Create a loyalty system and reward customers that recommend you to their social circles and share your content. This works on two levels. By making your customers feel like a part of your team, they feel more invested in your success and want to help! Plus, you are tapping into one of the most effective forms of marketing- word of mouth.
Understanding your customer
This all sounds great, but to create a quality customer journey you need to understand what makes your customers tick. Everyone is different. What works for one segment for the population will be completely ineffective with another.
To really optimize your customer journey, you need to get to know who you are speaking to. One of the best ways to do this is by creating an ideal customer avatar. Your ideal customer avatar is an amalgamation of the main features your target audience shares. It gives your team a real target- someone they can understand and relate to.
When creating your avatar dig into the data. Who are they? What’s their job title? What clubs are they a part of? How do they think about their problems? Sales VPs and solopreneurs use different terms to describe their pain points. To be effective, you need to understand who you are talking to. A little research now will have big benefits later.
Level up your skills further
Optimising the customer experience takes time. To help get you on your way, we recently interviewed Kirsty Traill, the VP of Customer Success at Hootsuite, as part of our Sales & Marketing Jam webinar series.
Kirsty shared a lot of fantastic, actionable tips she uses to optimize the process and create a delightful customer experience. And, with a 97% customer satisfaction rating, she is definitely doing something right.
Jump over to the webinar and get some tips you can start applying straight away.
A Focus On Knowledge - Announcing the - Ask Me Anything Series – Opening Up & Delivering Silicon Valley Level Osmosis
The Kiwi Landing Pad has been running for 7 years, originally founded by John Holt & Sam Morgan. Over the years we have evolved as the world changes and technology changes with it.
Traditionally we have taken a stance that we'll try not give advice but instead provide observations and learnings from what we see, experience and learn from meeting and working with thousands of people, companies, brands and communities.
When I started at the Landing Pad in 2014, joining the team and preparing to go on an epic journey with John and the original KLP supporters, it was apparent that we are a community of entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs prepared to help NZ technology companies expand globally. We pride ourselves on being community led and actively to this day are still operating this way, some might say somewhat successfully as our community has grown to 3,000+.
Our ability to be agile and launch new programmes depending on what our community seems to want and need at any given time is exciting to watch and be apart of. It makes us happy to provide true value and see impact as it happens.
John and I have been chatting lately and we've decided to launch a new series, there is something awesome that happens when you spend time in global markets, and doing the same thing for 'years' you get a knowledge base and learn things that just become second nature because you live and breathe it, but second nature to us I've learnt somewhat naively is liquid gold to our community.
Announcing the 'Ask Me Anything' Webinar Series
We are going to try an experiment and see what works as we have done with all our programmes. The first Friday of every month we are going to set aside an hour as a team to essentially be live on a webinar answering questions you may have. This might be tackling the US market, growing a global business, what's going on in the US, down to measuring, metrics, dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a founder, building communities or whatever you need to know in the moment that we might be able to answer. Hopefully we won't get too many trolls, but we've realised this might be the easiest format to get some of our knowledge that is stuck in our brains out in the open.
Join us for the first one on March 17th, you can register here.
Let's see how this goes!
It doesn’t take much scrolling through a LinkedIn newsfeed before you will stumble across an image proclaiming something along the lines of “skills can be learnt, but character is built over time.” While it is an absolute cliche, it’s also rooted in reality. Kiwi Landing Pad is all about growing the potential of New Zealand businesses as they look to expand into the American market. A big part of that is about finding the right people - especially when you are in the early stages of a startup when money is tight and the team is small. At that point it’s essential that you’re hiring people with a good character and an intrinsic motivation to learn, work and improve their skills. In the words of Mark Suster “team is the only thing that matters.”
Let’s take a few (unfortunately not too hypothetical) examples of where this can go wrong. Imagine you’ve just hired a top developer to build out your product; they have the skills you need and the qualifications to boot, but six months down the track they’re out the door because they’ve just taken a better salary (here’s an extreme example). Or one of your first sales hires has a chronic problem with excuses and is slowing down your sales team. This can be fixed by hiring two sales reps rather than one when you start selling - this is something we’ve covered multiple times in our Sales and Marketing Jams. Now you’re 6-12 months down the track, running low on funding and the product isn’t working or you have 3 customers (or maybe even both). These aren’t good problems to have.
One of the ways that we’ve seen companies get around this problem is by taking a ‘hiring for character’ recruitment strategy. This means looking for people who are responsible, have empathy as well as an inner drive to do their very best at their job. Sure they want to shine, but they are interested in doing it in the ‘right way.’ They take a longer term view of things, continually learning and work with a wider sense of purpose because they can align your vision of the future with their values. One of the interesting side notes to living to San Francisco is the dismissive attitude towards the “perks” that technology companies offer - there are a lot of people who don’t really care about the food that comes with working at Google, especially after you factor in the hour long commute either way.
Hiring for character often involves a few deliberate choices that ensure you bring on “missionaries” who share your vision and see work in a startup as a way to fast-track their careers, rather than “mercenaries” who are focused on making money and grabbing as many stock options as possible. Borrowing from Mark Suster - one of the best ways you can avoid mercenaries (and a whole lot of other issues) is by hiring people who are a weight class lower than they want to be. These are people who are good at what they do, but want to take the next step and basically don’t have the required years of experience needed to match their title. While startups are seen as the hot thing to be in right now, they are a hell of a lot of hard work. There is also a cultural difference between startups and established companies - a senior salesperson from a name brand company who is fed qualified leads is going to have vastly different set of expectations (and is probably less likely to work out) than a more junior salesperson who’s used to hunting their own deals and doesn’t stand behind an instantly recognisable logo. Someone who hasn’t done it all before (and therefore has an opinion on everything) is also much more likely to learning from their mistakes rather than blaming it on the executive leadership or other external factors.
While one cost effective way of upskilling staff members can be through online training, one of the major advantages of working in a startup is the freedom to be a jack or jill of all trades, working on a diverse projects that may or may not be part of your job description. Having a relatively flat management structure, being agile and constantly having to figure your way around problems without much money are all part and parcel of working in a startup. We advise against taking a straight jacket approach to hiring for skills - a positive attitude and an appetite for learning is a lot more helpful than a straight A+ academic transcript when you need someone who is going to have to figure things out for themselves. The other downside to a straight jacket approach is that you essentially mimic a big corporation, minus the certainty, prestige and defined advancement opportunities.
Hiring for character starts at the interview process - it means you need to be talking about what values your company holds as well as what your mission and vision is. Looking past the skills they’ve put down on their resume you want to find out why candidates want to work with you. Get to know them as people - after all, if they’re any good you’ll be spending an enormous amount of time with them.
Last month we were joined by Vidya Dinamani, sharing her insights as a leading Product Innovation coach. We thought we'd explore what a product manager is and what does their job really entail.
You don’t need to go to school to be a Product Manager, but you do need a few key things to be a great one. This post is dedicated to helping Product Managers figure out how to build an awesome product and the type of mindset needed to be truly successful. This is post is taken from the webinar we recently did with product expert Vidya as a follow on from our Sales and Marketing jams. Let’s get into it!
What is a Product Manager?
Typically it’s the CEO or founder of a company that acts as the original Product Manager, and usually come from a marketing or technical background. As a company expands, the need to have a CEO of Product work along side the CEO becomes really important.
This person will sit at the intersection of user experience and technology, and they can do a little bit of everything. The Product Manager is the owner of the end-to-end experience.
What does a Product Manager do?
What they bring to the table is that they own the customer experience; they’re thinking about the customer and they’re the voice of the customer. They carry the customer flag.
But they’re also carrying the business flag: the business goals, funding, targets, marketing, etc. They’re doing both. On top of that, they’re focusing on the lifecycle of the product.
The product lifecycle moves from learning to evaluating to design, then to testing and prioritizing, and finally, to the launch. Then the cycle starts again.
The Product Manager has roles and responsibilities in that cycle.
Learning: This includes the learning plan, customer research, and competitive analysis. The Product Manager is responsible for outlining exactly what you need to learn from any type of customer research you do.
Evaluation: The key question that people have trouble articulating is, “What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?” That’s where the product vision and roadmap come in. The Product Manager has to paint the vision for where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
Design: Prototyping can help with casting vision, and you shouldn’t wait to have a prototype done. It’s best to be “rough and ready,” and the Product Manager can be out presenting something to the customer that they can relate to.
Testing: We believe in hypothesis test-driving. Someone needs to think about what you’re testing, how you’re testing it, and what customers you’re testing in on. The Product Manager’s job is to take those insights and deriving an answer to the question, “What do the customer’s really need?”
Prioritization: It’s important to have an outline of exactly how the product will function, when and where people will use it, and all of those things that someone who’s not a developer or designer will think about – the experience. It’s the “mechanics” of being a Product Manager.
Launch: When you’re finally ready to launch, how do you know if you’re successful? The Product Manager’s job is to watch and interpret the metrics. They need to communicate what’s happening with the product and then pivot if necessary to keep things active
What makes a great Product Manager?
One of the traits common to a Product Manager is a “hero complex” – they like to be in a lot of different places taking ownership. But the main thing is that they’re waving the customer flag and owning the customer experience.
It’s constant insight translation. It’s not about just hearing what they said, but translating that into what they meant, and then figuring out how to give them a product that they want and love.
But the Product Manager also has the business in mind: What are the business goals? How are they measured? And how will you get there? What features will the product have to get you to those goals?
Great Product Managers know that products are about simplicity. As Jack Dorsey from Square says, “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”
Your product should have one purpose that it does beautifully. The Product Manager’s job is to figure out what details matter and then focus on making those details the best they can be.
What are the Product Manager fundamentals?
When it comes to the product itself, the Product Manager has to ask, “How do I build a great product?”
Traditionally, the focus has been on getting something to launch, but that’s actually not the best strategy.
The Product Manager has to figure out how to wow customers with their product. It’s not about just getting it to launch. You have to build something simple that will delight people, and that starts with the customer foundation.
What is the customer foundation?
There are three aspects of the customer foundation: the problem statement, the customer persona, and the customer needs.
The problem statement: You’re trying to understand the “why, what, and how” of your customer. It’s focused on a job the customer is trying to do and tying it back to your product as the solution.
The customer persona: The persona is used as a high-level picture, but it’s not only about demographics. When a Product Manager creates a persona, it’s about really understanding the target customer and their behaviors and attitudes. You want to get as specific as possible: who are they and what drives them?
The customer needs: This is about what the customer actually needs, not what they say they need. It’s about having insight into the problem and knowing what the solution should be, and then testing that solution in a variety of ways.
Wrapping it up
You have to understand the customer and you have to be talking to them all the time.
It will be hard if there’s a check at the end of the conversation, because it’s hard to ignore. But you have to stay focused on the customer.
You will receive a lot of advice, but it’s important to stick to what the customer tells you is important to them. That’s what makes a great Product Manager.
Vidya even gave us some specific tips for our Kiwi community to help them along the way to being more effective product managers and for helping them deal with US customers. Thanks so much for joining us, this session was invaluable. If you'd like to get in touch with Vidya, check out her website here.
Watch the recap of the session here:
Focusing on the US Market from Day One: Melodics Founder Sam Gribben on Offering Products Based on Users’ Needs
Original post appeared on the Kiwi Landing Pad blog here.
One of the key goals of the Kiwi Landing Pad is to pass on information from other successful entrepreneurs, as we aim to build an ecosystem that nurtures startups.
Late last year we started the Kiwi Founder Series. Aiming to capture and build on the momentum of the Sales & Marketing Jams held in New Zealand every 6 months. We wanted to continue the conversation, bringing awesome people who are ‘doing it’ in a simple ‘crowdcast format’ that gives you a direct line to targeted knowledge without taking too much time from your busy day.
Next up in the series is Sam Gribben, ex-CEO of Serato (DJ Software) and Founder & CEO of Melodics. A live replay of the webinar can be watched here. This post is an adaption on key points made in the Webinar, with a specific focus on the US from day one.
Melodics Founder (and CEO) Sam Gribben was among the first few employees of Serato, a software business that primarily developed professional DJ software, in 2004. He was with the company for a decade. During this time, Serato’s workforce grew to 85 and the software has been widely used by DJ’s all over the world.
Since Day One, Serato knew that if it’s biggest competitor, Native Instruments, had a presence in the US market, it was a no brainer for them to be focusing on the US market. The company started in Berlin and was prominent in Los Angeles because of its feature-rich products. But instead of producing merchandise that directly competed with Native Instruments, Serato settled on its roots and focused on creating products that provided what the customers needed, wanted and used the most.
Sam explained that they really built the brand by working with artists during the development stage of the product. They were not focused on endorsements. What they looked at – long-term – was to determine if the merchandise can give what people need and if it’s appropriate for them. He added that their biggest success was when artists who went to compete won because the tool was able to provide them with what they require.
The Birth of Melodics and Persuasive Technology
This philosophy somehow guided Sam to develop Persuasive Technology when he started his new company Melodics and created a software program with the same name. As he raised a small seed round funding in late 2014, Melodic introduced its first product in the market in October 2015. At present, it has over 50,000 registered users.
Melodics is a software program that teaches individuals to play musical instruments and makes use of Persuasive Technology, where you can plug the instrument that you’re playing into the computer and the tool will ‘listen’ to the sounds that you are creating, rates your performance accordingly and offers tips on how to improve. Melodics is the same as FitBit, Duolingo and Nike Fuelband – all mixing social interaction, gamification, data visualization and psychology to serve as motivation to individuals to do the things they want to do and discover how they can still excel. At present, Melodics is teaching individuals to engage in ‘pad controllers’ that work the same as drum machines and are used by DJs.
The Goal to Grow Melodics
Things may still be early for Melodics, but Sam said that they have huge plans of growing the company from New Zealand to other parts of the world. He added that businesses based in New Zealand can do the same thing as long as they concentrate their attention on what users truly need and build products to serve those needs.
Kiwi Landing Pad loves to pass on information from other successful entrepreneurs to nurture startups, and late last year they started the Kiwi Founder Series, bringing awesome people who are out there doing the work into the spotlight.
The Kiwi Founder series is made up of “crowd casts” that give business go-getters direct access to a targeted knowledge base full of helpful information for growing and scaling. In the first of these crowd casts, Cameron Priest, Co-founder and CEO of TradeGecko, speaks about his experience moving their SaaS startup to the wild world of Singapore and raising funds for further growth.
One of Trade Gecko’s goals in moving to Singapore was to launch their business in the JDFI incubator. They were looking for an area with great government support, large markets, and fewer distractions for their 90+ employees. They also had a sneaking suspicion that raising funds in Singapore would be substantially easier, and Cameron notes that Singapore is similar to Silicon Valley in that venture capitalists actually want to invest with you, making fundraising relatively painless.
Surprisingly, they received $815,000 (Singaporean dollars) during their initial seed round, back when they only had 10 customers.
But before they could start a Series A, they needed roughly $1m in revenue; a goal which TradeGecko thankfully reached at end of 2014. So far, they’ve raised all the funds they need to support thousands of customers in more than 100 countries around the world. And they expect to raise even more funds through 2016 to expand that reach.
While it’s not always easy to find businesses that have done what TradeGecko has done – as in, not many people have built a SaaS business that brings in $100 million a year outside of the Silicon valley – but Cameron says that their success hasn’t come without mistakes.
His advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to do what they did:
While Silicon Valley is usually the dream locale for startups, Singapore has done a great job of helping TradeGecko become the success story they are today. According to Cameron, it’s an excellent place for Kiwi entrepreneurs to launch a global business and it shouldn’t be ignored – especially for businesses who want to take advantage of the booming middle class market.
Catch the recap here:
This post is all about building a scalable content marketing machine, based on a webinar with Tami McQueen—Director of Marketing at SalesLoft. Tami is based in Atlanta where she joined the startup- SalesLoft,several years ago and started and scaled the marketing team there. In this Webinar, Tami discusses how to grow and scale a content marketing team. She leads with the idea that 'great marketing should make the customer feel smart and good marketing should make the company look smart.' Good marketing is all about your audience.
What is your Mission?
To begin with, identify your organisation's key mission/vision. For example, your mission could be 'To be the World Class Sales Authority in Sales Development.' Identifying your mission will allow you to do a SWOT analysis and identify your strengths, weaknesses, current opportunities, and potential threats to your team. Your mission will also help you identify who your key audience is and how to create and distribute content in a way that resonates with them.
An Early Stage Content Team
An early stage content team must include at least one of each of the following: builders, connectors, and distributors. So, what do these positions involve exactly?
A 'Builder' is a content marketing specialist, someone who is going to write, generate, curate, find, and assemble the right kind of content. A builder is a creator, whose daily tasks may include writing ebooks, blog posts, and other content.
A 'Connector' is someone who takes the content that has already been created and shifts it into a form that is distribution ready. These people serve to connect the creators and distributors in the content process. The 'Connector' may be a designer who creates the layout of an e-book or brands content with the company logo. This is where the 'Distributor' enters the picture.
A 'Distributor' may be a Social Media Manager or an entire Distribution Team who take content and share it through the appropriate channels, whether this be paid or organic. Distributors are critical in getting content into the hands of the right people.
Once you have this Early Stage Content Team up and running, you can then replicate this model as your organisation grows. For example, a Customer Marketing Specialist may act as another builder and a distributor could be your Email and Marketing operations manager.
Scaling a Content Marketing Team
Adopting Agile Methodology or running on a 'Sprint' basis will allow your organisation to remain focussed and on-task. By having an Agile Methodology you can go week-by-week, ticking things off your list of priorities and achieving the company's mission. Implement a Trello or Asana Board. This technology will help you dive into the Agile Methodology and track your different projects and metrics as well as ensure your team is all on the same page and know what they are responsible for during each sprint.
It is now time to create a One-Page Strategic Plan. This will allow you to maintain that focus on your main mission and keep up with your weekly Agile Methodology goals and metrics. Include these things in your Strategic Plan:
Create content that lasts
Creating content that lasts is essential for your company. You need to be able to create content that you can use over-and-over again and that will have some longevity to it. You may be asking how you are going to create five blog posts per week or an eBook every week. The answer is, you don't have to! Create a content flywheel. A content flywheel allows you to create one big piece of content and then from that original content, break off branches that can be used for other mediums. For example, you may start with content from a Webinar, you may then break that content down into 5 blog posts, you may then create 20 tweets from the content in those blog posts, and so on. The three main sections of the content flywheel are:
Types of content to consider creating may include:
Create an editorial calendar
This will allow you to plan your content creation. Create it as a shareable day-by-day spreadsheet that includes content assets, author topic/title, potential headlines, synopsis, CTA (call to action), theme, and a published URL. Creating an editorial calendar will ensure everything is recorded and accountable and that all content is on track.
Your Content Marketing Machine In Action
Follow the steps in building a content marketing machine, and you’ll be on your way to building a strong subscriber base through collecting email addresses. Your email list is a valuable list, and by nurturing your leads over time, you’ll see positive results through the trust you build with your audience.
Other helpful Resources
Seeing Tami’s marketing team in action at big conferences such as Dreamforce, SaaStr and SalesHacker is truly a magical thing. They are super innovative and produce such great results, they are able to have such an impact on there audience and customers by following the sprint and agile methology, we all know how hard it is to lose track of what activities we are meant to be doing, especially when operating on small startup budgets, with lean teams. Juggling various marketing campaigns can be a challenge.
During this Webinar we offered some insights on how to build a functional content machine, how to plan and tackle campaigns, what the DNA of your team should look like and how to ensure you achieve the objectives that you’ve set for yourself.
Catch the recap of the Webinar here:
Recently, we hosted Daniel Barber, VP of Revenue @ Node.io, and a very experienced VP of Sales on our monthly webinar series to deep dive into Sales Strategy. Catch the recap here:
Sales Process & Sales Strategy are like chalk and cheese. They’re both different. Yet, most people end up confusing the two, which can be detrimental to a company’s progress. This post is dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of sales strategy, based on an interview with Daniel Barber, VP at Node.io, who shares some invaluable insights on this topic. So let’s get right into it!
What exactly is a go to market sales strategy?
A sales strategy sees to find the best possible way to distribute a product or service to the market. On the other hand, a sales process is about setting up systems & processes and hiring the people you need to execute on your sales strategy.
With a go to market strategy, the 3 key questions to ask are:
1. Are you selling your product/service directly to a business?
2. Are you selling your product/service directly to a consumer?
3. Are you selling your product/service through an indirect channel?
Once you know exactly who your target audience is, your go to market strategy entirely depends on your business model. The 4 types of business models in a tech business are:
a. Charge Per User: Your revenue depends on the number of users using your product. The benefit of using this approach is that it’s simple and logical. The more people that use your product, the higher your revenue. But this model may not be good from a customer advocacy perspective. In the early stages of your company, you want as many people as possible to talk positively about your product and spread awareness about how awesome your product really is. A charge per user may limit your ‘word of mouth’ marketing.
b. Usage: Your revenue depends on the extent of usage of your product/service. This approach can be great due to it’s simplicity, but again, may limit user adoption on a large scale.
c. Revenue Share Model: This is when you charge your customers a percentage of the revenue your product/service generates for them. With this approach, it’s possible to make a lot of money, if your product generates a large profit for your customers. The only disadvantage of using this approach is that it’s hard to track how much revenue is directly attributable to your product or service. So you’ll need to make sure you have experienced analytics and data experts on board who’re helping you track the exact amounts of revenue generated and your resulting earnings.
d. Flat Price Model: This is when you charge a flat price for your product. It’s simple and straightforward, but you need to be confident that your customers would be willing to pay the price you’re charging.
Once you know which one of the above business models you’re adopting, it’s a lot easier to identify the right sales strategy (and process). By evaluating the costs and revenues associated with each sales approach, you can work out your cost of customer acquisition, decide which route to take and create a sales process around it!
What should you include in a go to market sales pitch deck?
Daniel recommends a book called “Get Backed” which has pitch decks of over 25 different companies that have raised capital to fund their ventures. He also recommends having a look at Reid Hoffman’s pitch deck for raising series B funding from Greylock partners for scaling his venture, LinkedIn. These pitch decks contain all the important details you need to include when pitching!
What exactly is a sales process?
A sales process consists of 3 main aspects. Inbound Sales, Outbound Sales & Closing Sales. It seeks to address questions around these 3 aspects, such as:
a. How many direct sales reps are needed?
b. What should the frequency of sales calls be?
c. What is the process of closing sales?
In the early stages of a company, it’s important for founders to be able to sell their product and close the first few deals, as they’re usually the ones who can communicate their product’s value in the best possible way. Moving on to later stages of a company’s development, Daniel recommends that the first people you hire should always be ‘sales closers’. They’re the ones who make calls, set up appointments and close deals (in an enterprise software or SaaS business).
An inbound marketing rep is responsible for generating and qualifying leads with inbound marketing. It’s easy to submit to inertia if there are many inbound leads being generated, so it’s best not to wait to do outbound sales, or rely too much on inbound. An inbound marketing rep shouldn’t be the first person you hire from a go to market standpoint.
Treat hiring sales professionals the same way you’d treat qualifying customer leads. You need to go through a few profiles, have a couple of interviews before you narrow down on the best person for your business. You’ve got to have a rigorous hiring process to attract the best talent!
How can you identify a good Sales Closer as your first hire?
You need to be able to have an ‘ideal candidate profile’ to know exactly the type of person you’re looking for! Without this, you’ll be lost.
Look for people who have experience in selling the products your company sells. If you’re in the enterprise software business, hiring a sales professional who’s sold widgets in the past would be terrible hiring decision. High end enterprise software sales requires a highly sophisticated sales professional who’s adept at managing relationships and comfortable with multiple rounds of negotiation. So make sure you know what qualities you’re looking for in your first few hires.
What would you do in a scenario where you’re in a sales meeting with a prospect who has recently bought another similar product?
In the enterprise sales domain, you can only lead with differentiation, not cost. It’s about creating the maximum value for the customer. In such a scenario, it would good to demonstrate how your product can be more valuable to your prospect. Rather than doing all the explaining yourself, it’s best to let customer testimonials do the talking, and show your customer how your product has added value to companies that are similar to theirs.
An experienced sales professional would find out who the decision makers are in the prospect’s company, and try and get them involved in the product demonstration process. Understand where their pains are, so you can truly demonstrate value to them.
How do you maintain engagement with customers, when the customer contacts leave the company? Do you have to resell the product to the new people who replace them?
If you’ve got a great relationship with a contact at your customer’s company, it can be tricky when they leave. It’s important to track where they’re going, so you can continue the relationship, and hopefully sell your product to them at their new company.
To re-engage with the people who replace customer champions at your client’s company, identifying ‘Value Moments’ can be the key to success. These ‘value moments’ are when your product demonstrates immense value for your customers, so it’s important to communicate them regularly with your existing and new customer contacts. People love receiving good news, and will begin to associate you with value!
How should a SaaS sales team work with the customer success team at a company? Who should be responsible for customer upsells/renewals?
A lot of companies have account executives win new customer deals, and customer success reps manage the relationship with customers as well as renew their contracts. The ‘customer success model’ is now evolving.
Daniel recommends bringing in a customer success rep long before the deal actually closes, and working in conjunction with the account executive to understand the prospect’s needs in detail, to set the foundation for the contextual value the product would generate if the prospect was to buy. This goes a long way in being able to track the right metrics, when a prospect actually becomes a customer.
With renewals, it’s best to think about who’s actually good at sales? Is it the account executive or the customer success rep? Having the customer success rep do renewals may be a conflict of interest, as it adulterates the genuineness of service a customer success rep is meant to provide! Therefore, the ideal approach is to have account execs own the customer relationship and do the selling, while having the customer success rep being purely responsible for the customer’s success.
What’s the right hiring strategy for sales reps? Is it good to hire in pairs or batches?
Don’t hire in pairs. It’s best to hire sequentially, when you have one sales prep start on one day, and the others start on a future date. The reason is because the ones who start first would be in a position to help the ones who start later, thereby reinforcing their knowledge through teaching and collaborating with newer sales reps. This has proven to be a very successful hiring and training approach, based on how people learn!
It’s also recommended that you set up office in a location that’s close to the talent pool you’d like to hire. For instance, if you’re looking to hire talented engineers, it’s best you’re located close to top tier engineering colleges where you can easily source great talent!
Wrapping it Up
Base your sales strategy, depending on your business model. Create a sales process once you’ve determined the right business model and sales strategy, to set the foundation for sales success. Evaluate what stage your company is at, in order to make the best sales strategy decisions.
For more videos on sales and marketing from the Kiwi Landing Pad subscribe to our youtube channel.
Editor’s Note: Guest post by contributor Savannah Peterson, founder of Savvy Millennial, and previously Director of Innovation Strategy @ Speck Design. Savvy is a regular Kiwi Landing Pad speaker and community contributor.
Lift your eyes from the screen and ask yourself: who is the most valuable person on your team? Not, “whose salary is the highest due to the market & subsequent supply & demand,” but “when shit hits the fan, who is the first person working to identify the source with one hand and clean it up with the other?” Who supports the community of individuals that use or buy your product? Who herds your cats? Chances are, this person is on your Community team, or a team you’ve yet to rename community but looks like, and smells like, one.
If you do nothing else after reading these 100 words, go hug that person now. I’m serious. They deserve it and 100 other hugs throughout 2015. If you’re concerned that might make them uncomfortable, it won’t. All community managers are huggers. It’s what we do online and IRL all day, every day. Digitally hug those in need, or those celebrating victories great and small. It’s not frequent enough that our employers open their arms and return the sentiment.
Hugs are cool and so is appreciation, but what is the real value of community?
Your community is your IP. It’s the one defensible asset you have from day one. Each person who chooses to be loyal to you and your brand is priceless and it is imperative you don’t financially compromise when it comes to protecting this asset. Your community managers are the inventors listed on your brand’s culture patent.
“You have to pay your community like you pay your developers,” — Anil Dash recently said to me while we were at dinner with some fellow community cultivators. I turned about-face and said “can we shout that from the rooftops, please?” Consider this my first attempt, because he is spot on. What people often forget is that without a community, there’s no audience to develop or build for. Just because you built it does not mean they will come.
“Customer” and “User” are dead, having given birth to the much more empowering “community member.” You don’t have a community until you’ve stopped seeing purchasers and their purchases as “average orders” and start seeing them as “ the fiscal value of real humans interacting with your brand.” People powered metrics are a part of any organization, but I can all but guarantee the longer someone is with you, the more value they have both qualitatively and quantitatively. Make your product/place somewhere people want to hang out, not just shop.
$50,000 is not enough to live in a major metropolis, let alone rationalize giving your soul to two-dimensional friends for. Glassdoor and Indeed both put the average CM salary around $50k. This is not what you’re paying you’re developers, and it’s half of what you should be paying your CMs. Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, y’all might be exceptions, but in NYC, SF, LA, Chicago, etc. the juice here is not worth the squeeze.
Community Managers bring their soul to work everyday. In another moment of daydreaming, ask yourself, who do your VIP community members and sacred cows call when they have an issue? Likely your CM. Do those issues normally happen M-F between 9–5? Doubtful. There is no other function within an office that is more emotionally taxing than that of Community Management (save for any in-house therapy your swanky corporation or fun startup may be nice enough to provide). Yes, the CFO may have a more stressful March/April and the CEO may feel the heat raising the next round, but day to day, no one tops the feels of a community manager.
Feeling the feels is hard. I’ve had designers call me bawling, vomiting, screaming, in complete speechless shock and dripping in joy. I’ve shared the excitement of the birth of their children, the deaths of their loved ones and the launches of their collections. I know more about people I’ve never met than many members of my own family (don’t judge). I have done happy dances via skype and sobbed tears of sadness alongside them through twitter. I’ve celebrated their brilliant achievements, thrust them in the media spotlight, and felt like I had the greatest value, the greatest impact, when they’ve visibly grown. This means we feel the growing pains with all of them, too, and it’s not easy.
Community Management is really fucking personal, and often on “personal” time. Of the best CM work I’ve done, easily 80% of it has been during “nights and weekends” because that’s when most humans need help. I’ve taken their frantic 2am calls (sometimes less sober than I care to admit) and woken up at 3am to share in moments “live” halfway around the globe. I do this because I give many fucks, and because I know the difference that one person can make for another just by being there. Don’t ever judge a groggy CM in the morning. Odds are it wasn’t the after party that kept her out last night, but the community stirring her from slumber.
Community Managers are the Antidote to crisis. Our server at Shapeways (an ecommerce platform) was once taken out by a backhoe days before Christmas. Offline for 19 hours, the longest in our seven year history save for Hurricane Sandy, I resorted to the only thing guaranteed to solve any internet crisis: cute animals. #SWPaws (get it?) was born, and 100's of animals later, we managed to not only have a great time (literally zero complaints about the downtime) but also to coordinate the visit of a special reindeer and Santa Claus to our factory in Holland on Christmas eve. All because the site failed. Go figure.
Community Managers don’t have personal opinions, they have highly informed community-driven perspectives & requests. Community managers are the liaisons between the outside world and the inside of your organization. They have to approach everyone from a fair, nonjudgmental, unbiased point of view, aggregate information thrust upon them, and report back with the status of the community. This is something CMs take very seriously. That remark they just made about the feature they think you need is one you should listen to. The opinion of the community manager matters most when building product and features intended to serve the community. They understand their needs better than anyone. Even you. Full stop.
Community Managers never say no. It’s likely to our collective fault as a whole, but I bet the classic “what’s the worst thing about you” question answer for all CMs is “I don’t know how to say no.” Translation: they’ll do anything for you and your community. Don’t take that for granted. I’ll never forget my eyes burning as my phone rang at 4:15am one morning. In a deep-sleep rasp I answered, only to hear the sounds of vomiting. After a few moments and the sound of chain smoking, I figured out who it was. “oh hey *censored* what’s up?” I then spent the next two hours talking someone through their business related nausea and axiety before showering and going in for my standard day. Didn’t say no then, wouldn’t now.
If you’re still not convinced community matters, adds value, and should be taken seriously, just remember: It’s the reason Instagram beat Hipstamatic, the reason iPhone beat Android, and the reason you call tissues Kleenex. The true power lies within your community and the loyalty they are kind enough to bring to your dinner table.
Now go hug that CM of yours and give them a raise if you haven’t already.
Editor’s Note: post originally appeared on the Savvy's blog visit here for details.
Editor’s Note: Guest post by contributor Ash Alhashim, founder of the Brown Flag Group, and previously Global Inside Sales Director @ Optimizely. Ash is a regular Kiwi Landing Pad speaker community contributor.
You’re walking down the street, texting on your new Blackberry Electron. You jokingly text your friend back, “You shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!” one of the many lines you shamelessly recycle from Wedding Crashers. What a great film. That Owen Wilson guy’s on fire. It can only get better for him from here.
As you reminisce about more great 2005 movie quotes, you realize you’re across the street from an Apple Store. Maybe you should go inside and check out one of those new iPods your friend keeps yammering on about? You decide it’s worth a shot, and you walk in the door–blinded by the array of shiny Apple products.
Okay, we’re back in 2015 now. [Thank goodness; I wasn’t sure how much more Kelly Clarkson I could take]. What happens next in our collective hypothetical memory is the subject I’d like to dive into in the following article. The question I’m posing is:
“What is the best way for an Apple Sales Rep to facilitate the sale of an iPod to our curious, but apathetic, prospect?”
BANT is Dead
When you think about BANT [qualifying sales prospects by inquiring about Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe] as it relates to this B2C sales scenario, you realize pretty quickly how ineffective it is in galvanizing a prospect like this one into action.
Apple Rep: Hi sir, how can I help you?
You: I wanted to learn more about this iPod thing I keep hearing about.
Apple Rep: Sure thing! The iPod is our best-selling item right now, happy to tell you more. But before I do that, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
You: Uhh, sure.
Apple Rep: Do you have budget?
Apple Rep: Do you have $300-$400 set aside for an MP3 player?
You: I mean, I do have money, but I didn’t think--
Apple Rep: Well do you have buying power?
You: blank stare
Apple Rep: What is your need for an MP3 player?
You: Well, I don’t need one, I just thought--
Apple Rep: Do you have a pain caused by listening to music on a portable CD player? What is it about listening to CDs that keeps you up at night?
You: Dude. You must’ve sipped too much sizzurp. I’m outtie.
The point of that hyperbolic conversation was to show how ineffective BANT is when it comes to selling products in nascent markets. The iPod was a new technology. It changed the way we consume media. Therefore, Apple was “selling into uncharted territory.” Because of this, the Law of Diffusion of Innovation applied to iPod sales. This theory, presented by Everett Rogers in the early 1960s, suggests that the rate at which new technologies are adopted is a standard distribution.
Law of Diffusion of Innovation, visualized [Source:Wikipedia]
Rogers broke up the curve into five distinct audience segments, that anyone who has read Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm should recognize: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The early + late majority segments make up almost 70% of the market (moving forward I’ll refer to these two segments simply as the “market majority”).
It’s safe to say that if a new technology or idea doesn’t “cross the chasm” and gain majority market share, companies selling products in that space won’t last. Note that I am talking about category adoption, not product adoption. In other words, I’m not saying that if Salesforce’s CRM product doesn’t capture the market majority, Salesforce will fail. I am saying that if CRMs don’t gain widespread adoption, the idea of CRM will fail.
BANT works when you’re selling to nerdy innovators and early adopters who can’t wait to be the first person in their social groups to adopt this tech. These folks might even buy in spite of BANT. I was an early adopter of the iPod and iPhone, and I would have let the sales reps flip through my high school yearbook and ridicule my hemp necklaces and JNCO jeans just so that I could get my hands on those devices first.
But an interesting thing happens when you start selling to early majority folk: the customer’s desire to change their own behavior dissipates. People, on average, become more cautious and pragmatic. The attitude of the buyer goes from “man, I can’t wait to trash that stupid Discman,” to considering how to get the most from that stupid Discman. In other words, people in the early majority are still annoyed with the limitations of the incumbent technology, but they believe that incremental improvements to that technology will suffice. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
The biggest problem with BANT, though, is that it assumes that the customer not only has budget, a need, and a timeline for evaluating and purchasing software in place: as a prerequisite, it assumes that the customer is aware of the fact that they should be buying a product like yours in the first place.
I wouldn’t be doing you much good, though, if I just wrote this to let you know that BANT sucks. The purpose of this article is to offer saleshumans selling disruptive, game-changing products a new sales discovery framework that is better suited for the type of conversation you will be having with prospects who are in the “unconscious incompetence” stage of learning [in other words, individuals who not only don’t know about what you do, but do not recognize the learning deficit].
The model I’m referring to is GROW-ROI.
GROW-ROI stands for:
GROW-ROI puts discovery at the top of the sales funnel, instead of qualifying and disqualifying. It is an attitude change: instead of looking for reasons to disqualify a prospect for not having budget, need, or timeline established, you’re trying to find common ground so that you can push the opportunity through. [I’d argue that authority is always relevant, because you always want to be talking to the right person].
GROW-ROI makes the middle of your funnel, the shaky ground where the SDR hands off the buyer to the Account Executive, much fatter than it was with BANT.
But enough with the GROW-ROI ad. Let’s explore it in detail.
In order to have intelligent and meaningful conversations with prospects, you need to understand what they are trying to accomplish. Now, this doesn’t mean interrogating them for 45 minutes so that you can hand off a “qualified lead” over to an AE. It means building rapport.
Consider what your product helps companies do. Now ask yourself “why does that matter?” When you have an answer, ask yourself why that answer matters. Keep doing this until you hit a wall. You’re [hopefully] landed at “helps companies make more money” or “helps companies save money” or some combination of the two. “Goals” questions should be focused on the big picture, and how muchmoney or savings they want to see within a set timeframe.
Note, that goals should be quantifiable, measurable gains. If you get fuzzy answers here, dig in deeper. How much additional revenue do you need to make this year? How many more marketing qualified leads do you need in order to meet your goals? The best way to do this is to start off by learning what’s going on today. Hint: this part of the conversation has nothing to do with your product, and often has little to do with what your product directly solves.
Roadmap questions are ones that help you understand how your prospect plans on accomplishing their goals. What is your plan of attack for making more money from your website? Do you plan on spending more on AdWords to drive more traffic to your site? Retargeting? Do you plan on doing more with your social media presence? There are so many ways to make more money online.
A majority of the time, especially when you’re selling to a prospect that is squarely in the market majority, their answer as to how they’re going to accomplish their goal will have little to do with the solution you’re selling. This is okay!
At Optimizely, we sell a product that helps companies improve the digital experiences they deliver to their customers—and increase online revenue as a result—through A/B testing and personalization. But, when we ask prospects how they plan on making more money from their websites, one answer we don’t often get from early majority prospects is “through optimization.”
That’s because most companies aren’t doing it today, and going back to the unconscious incompetence point from earlier, don’t even know that they should be testing. They want to do more of the “tried and true” stuff that has typically worked in the past. The problem is, what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today. This is where “teaching, tailoring, and taking control” lessons of The Challenger Sale really become important. You’re in the process of learning about your prospect’s business. Soon, the time will come to teach and take control.
What challenges does your prospect anticipate she might face in trying to accomplish her goals? What could prevent her from getting to the finish line? Chances are she’s tried to accomplish similar goals in the past. What went wrong then, and how is she ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself?
In Matt Dixon’s The Challenger Sale, this is referred to as “reframing.” What you are essentially doing here is helping the prospect realize that the goals and challenges she is speaking about is not the entire picture. There is more to it.
Marketers will often tell us at Optimizely,, with the very best of intentions, that their goals are to run A/B tests in order to increase conversion rates.
Why does that matter? And, is that the whole picture?
The reason websites care about increasing conversion rates is that, all other variables held constant, higher conversion rates equal more revenue. So it’s not about increasing conversion rates; it’s about making more money.
On top of that, many of our prospects don’t realize what Optimizely can do around personalization, particularly if they have a lot of first or third party data about their website visitors. We do a lot more than just A/B testing. This is where we help the buyer realize that.
Now is the time to teach through storytelling. The time to juxtapose the buyer’s limited understanding of how your product might be able to help with a clear, mind-blowing example of the effect your product was able to have on one of your existing customers.
When you give a reference, go big. Don’t match the buyer up with a case study of a company that did the thing they think they can do with your product. Show them what’s possible if they start doing the thing your product gets them doing.
Try to be as specific and relatable as possible (by vertical, by buyer persona, or by use-case] as that will help make your story resonate. But, most importantly, offer a great narrative!
What did your product do for the customer you just referenced? There are two directions you can generally go here:
Person: What were the benefits that person reaped? Did she get promoted? A raise? A big ol’ bonus? This is a great way to generate excitement with your buyer.
Organization: What were the positive implications for the business line? What did that mean for the business as a whole?
This is the part where you wake them up. That daydream with the big wins was nice, but now is the time to bring them back to reality. Here, you will introduce them to the account executive who will manage their evaluation cycle.
Introduction also means stands for introducing the buyer to the evaluation and purchasing plan. It’s important to remember, after all, that you are a saleshuman: you specialize in selling software for a living. Your buyer is likely not a professional procurer of technology. Be professional but firm, and set expectations for what your sales process looks like. Let them also know what all all involved parties–this includes them–will have to do along the path towards wild success.
I hope this was helpful. It has been for us at Optimizely. Crossing the chasm is never easy, and we struggled to figure out how to get out of our sales funk as we grew past the early adopters stage [MISS U GUYZZZZ!].
The Tao Te Ching teaches us:
“When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don’t know,
people can find their own way.”
Lao Tzu couldn’t have been more correct.
When it comes to selling products in the early majority of emerging markets, there is an order of operations. First, you must make the buyer aware of his learning deficit. Do this by reframing the conversation, and then persuade him through storytelling. Once you you’ve done these things, set expectations as to what he’ll need to do in order to be able to actually use the product. From there, the selling process gets much easier.
Just don’t screw up the demo
Editor’s Note: post originally appeared on the SalesHacker blog visit here for details of there up and coming sales conference in New York > #salesmachine. http://www.salesmachinesummit.com/
An event series and online resource dedicated to supporting the New Zealand ecosystems development in Sales, Marketing and Product Management.