How Buyer Intelligence and Customer Success Work Hand in Hand at BlackBaud
Tracey Bozzelli is the Director of Competitive initiatives at Blackbaud. Blackbaud, a $2 billion software and service organization, is a world-class supplier of software tools, financial services and fund raising/gift management consulting expertise to non-profit organizations around the world.
Blackbaud has an active customer success program. In late October 2015, Tracey participated in a conversation about Blackbaud’s program, and how buyer intelligence contributed to it. Let’s let her speak for herself.
What follows is a transcript of our conversation with Tracey. The interview is broken into a series of sections, each of which is headed by a question that addresses what was covered in that part of the interview.
Who is Tracey Bozzelli? What does she do for Blackbaud?
Interviewer: Tracey, how are you today.
Tracey: I’m great.
Interviewer: I really appreciate the fact that you prepared to talk with me about how blackboard uses buyer intelligence and how that leads to customer success inside your organization. Before we get started, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do inside the organization.
Tracey: Sure. So I have been at Blackbaud for 12 years, primarily serving in a sales management and sales leadership capacity – working with our teams as they work with our customers and help them navigate through their life-cycle solutions with Blackbaud. Earlier this year I changed roles and am now in a role that’s looking at competitive initiatives as we are calling it. It is broader than just competitive intelligence. Our goal is to make sure that we are using the information that we are gathering through our competitive insight work and actually shaping initiatives in the organization to make change and help us react and stay competitive.
What does Blackbaud do?
Interviewer: Not all of the people who will be reading this will really understand who Blackbaud is and what Blackbaud does. So I’d appreciate if you could tell us a little bit about Blackbaud, the organization, and its mission in life and how it benefits its customers.
Tracey: Blackbaud is a technology company that serves the non profit industry. We have been in business for about 33 years, serving only non profits. We say that we power their passion and we want to help good take over the world – which is our tag line.
What that really means is we partner with the non profit community and help them use technology to raise funds, to provide accountability in terms of their financial management solutions. We help them connect them with grant funders and grant makers.
We have solutions that span the entire non profit community offering. But primarily, a lot of people know us from our flagship product, Raiser’s Edge, which is fund raising, a fund raising CRM and database that is use by more than 30,000 non profits across the globe.
How does buyer intelligence fit into Blackbaud’s competitive initiatives program?
Interviewer: You talked a little bit earlier about you now heading a competitive initiative program. Can you give us a little bit of insight on how buyer intelligence – understanding the buyer – fits within that initiative?
Tracey: Blackbaud is going through a very large technology shift internally as a company. What we are trying to do for our customer base and prospective customer base is stay innovative, and really help connect them to the experience of individual donors in a much bigger way.
To do so, we felt it was important for us to understand from our buyers – from our existing customers and prospective customers – what was really important to them.
It was really important for us to take a step back and ensure that the direction that we were going in was a good match for what our buyers were telling us they wanted. We knew that we could adjust our product futures based on feedback from our buyers if their success needed things that did not align with where our product innovation was heading.
Interviewer: So recognizing that this was important to you to understand this perspective from the buyer, how did you go about collecting this information? What did you do to get it?
What is the best way to gather this buyer information?
Tracey: The first thing that we did recognize that we may not be the best at gathering is this information ourselves. It’s hard to remove an internal bias. Also, we wanted to make sure that we could find individuals who were experts and helping us really get an unfiltered view from the buyer’s perspective.
So we did some research and found a firm that we felt was a really good match for what we were looking for, and that’s Eigenworks. They are a firm out of Toronto. They specialize in buyer and competitive intelligence. We really like the way they are able capture the journey that the buyer was on when they were making a decision – whether that decision was for or against Blackbaud.
Do you need to get information about buyer who chose for you (wins and renewals) and buyers who chose against you (losses and erosions)?
Interviewer: You talked about getting information from both the people who bought your product and the people who chose against you. Can you expand on why it’s important to get both views?
Tracey: It’s definitely important to get both views for a variety of reasons. It’s not always known when you win a deal, exactly why you win. And understanding the types of buyers that are really connecting with you, can tell you a few things. It can tell you that you may be only attracting a certain type of buyer and why you aren’t attracting a different type.
You can learn a lot from what buyers see as your value – your contribution to their success – when you win. You learn a lot if there are patterns – types – in the kinds of organizations that are buying from you – that you win in competitive situations.
That’s not always obvious by looking at just the external demographics of what you think that customer looks like. You really have to understand the things that they were considering going through their internal buying process. There is a lot to learn about how they perceived you – both your product and your sales approach – through out their internal decision making process if you won versus the competition.
But obviously, there is a ton to learn from your losses. It’s sometimes an eye opening experience to hear some of the feedback from the buyer on why you win and why you lose. Really understanding and taking that feedback that you get from the buyer allows you to looking at it through the buyer’s lens. That is crucial because that’s how future buyers are going to perceive you. You need to dig deep and really understand the root cause of some of this information and where it’s coming from, so you can act on it.
How does buyer intelligence contribute to customer success?
Interviewer: The underlying theme of this Gainsight series is all about customer success. How does understanding the buyer, both the people who you win with and the people who you lose with, how does that enable you and allow you to be more effective around helping customers succeed?
Tracey: I would say it’s a multi faceted process. I think one of the things that we’ve learned is buyers are a lot of times getting references from existing customers, from former customers. So customer success – making sure that we are setting a foundation for it internally, – and then monitoring, managing and helping our existing client base to optimize the use of our products and services is key to how we are going to get future customers.
So we’ve seen from the feedback that we’ve received from buyers, how that works in our favor.
lso, we want to be able to understand if we have customers that aren’t necessarily doing well as they could with our products and services, so we can help enable them to be successful at a macro level.
Interviewer: You sound like you are actually translating what you are learning into actions. Is it appropriate for me to ask what kinds of actions that you are starting to initiate that you haven’t done before?
Tracey: Absolutely. We definitely are taking action on all of the information we are receiving. And putting more resources into customer success is something that we are doing as a result of the feedback that we’ve received
We are also doing some thing in other parts of the organization. We’ve found out that there are some perceptions in the market and across our customer base that we know internally that we’re really working hard to change, but we want to make sure that we can do a better job of projecting that out into the market, to the customer base.
We also have learned that we are potentially not doing the best job in the discovery, diagnosis portion of the sales process. So we are going to be investing in sales tools and support for the sales team in addition to sales training, to help them get better so we can do a much better job of matching the customer’s use case with our product positioning, which then flows into making sure that we can turn that customer into a very successful customer once we win the deal and move them through their journey with Blackbaud.
Interviewer: Thank you Tracey, for taking the time to talk with us about Blackbaud’s customer success journey.