It is rare for a company to create a new category and build a complimenting and innovative software. Gainsight is part of those unique breeds of businesses that have accomplished this by helping create the category of customer success, and the solution—Gainsight CS. Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, is always looking for companies constructing a new category and leading their vertical. One such company is Terminus.
Terminus is an end-to-end account-based marketing platform (ABM) used by the world’s largest and most successful companies. It began the account-based movement in 2014 to help its customers transform B2B marketing. They empowered marketing teams to harness their resources while concentrating on sales by focusing on customers that were the “right fit.” That meant customers who were most likely to buy segments of their addressable market. By doing so, marketing teams could drive quality growth by producing, promoting, and measuring scalable account-based initiatives.
Like Gainsight and CS, Terminus is turning the world of marketing upside down. Why? Because ABM is marketing with a CS twist. Marketing to “best fit” customers aligns with one of the Ten Pillars of Customer Success: Sell to the Right Customer. Watching with excitement, Nick was compelled to reach out to Terminus CEO, Tim Kopp, to discuss how he and Terminus are blending CS and marketing to make new customer-centric noise in the industry.
Turning the Funnel Upside Down
It began by observing that customer success can inform marketing concentration in a high quality, super-targeted manner. Tim explained using the analogy of “fishing with a spear, rather than a net.” “Instead of going after 100 leads to get five opportunities,” he asked, “why not just start with five opportunities and create full surround-sound marketing?”
Tim acknowledges that the thought behind ABM is not necessarily new. However, the software automation behind it is. The combination of both the philosophy and methodology brings greater value to the motion—a satisfied, engaged customer. Terminus calls it “full-funnel” ABM. Marketing usually starts with the top of the revenue funnel to generate more high-quality leads. That is not enough. Data indicates it is mid-funnel where pipeline accelerates, and pipeline velocity is more critical than poaching for prospects. Even more, ABM must quickly disqualify customers that aren’t a great fit to prevent clogging the pipeline operationally. Terminus tapped into this with their software platform and turned the funnel upside down.
Interestingly, during COVID-19, Terminus saw an acceleration in the pipeline almost four times the average pace. It is a robust use case for customer success and engagement, using the same motions, and having the same issue at its core. That is why Terminus sees customer success as a necessary account-based strategy from the beginning of the engagement, beyond acquisition, all the way through to retention. To Tim, this customer-centric marketing makes good business sense. When he joined Terminus as CEO, he declared partnering CS and marketing the number one priority. As Tim said, “It’s just the right thing to do long term for your brand.”
Retention is the New Acquisition
Customer success and Gainsight just makes sense for Tim Kopp and Terminus. There were several reasons that this connection resonated. First, is the understanding that retention is the new acquisition. The sheer cost of acquiring new customers is a good enough reason to focus your marketing resources. ABM allows your marketing organization to target the “right” potential customer and continue focused marketing into your customer base. Without retention, your business will not survive. According to Tim, “What you realize is no matter how fast you’re growing, you can’t pour water into a bucket fast enough if it’s leaking out. So financially, it’s just what you need to do.”
Gainsight enabled Terminus to have broad visibility into their customer base necessary to drive retention. Tim explained that every one of their CS people has a list of 50 accounts, and they want to know what’s happening in those accounts in real-time. Gainsight does just that by creating one record system with a dashboard, visibility, and metrics that everyone can see, including your executive team.
Terminus also utilizes Gainsight to keep track of their cross-sells and upsells. “We think about customer success not only as gross retention but net retention. For the company, net retention is one of the most important metrics.” While partnering with Gainsight, Terminus has moved its net retention thirty-four points in two and a half quarters. That is astounding, especially in an account-based world.
A Consistent Record of Engagements
The second way Terminus used our platform successfully was by creating a consistent record of engagement and contacts. During a recent territorial realignment, which included new people and new teams, Terminus smoothly transitioned over half of their CS accounts. With Gainsight, it was not as disruptive as expected. The reason? Our platform helped organize their point contact changes, including a timeline for every CS interaction.
Tim believes business is about “people, and process.” Without the ease of workflows and providing seamless handoffs, you risk everything by creating a poor customer experience. So, for an ABM platform, which values CS as an integral part of the process, Gainsight fits the bill. The platform helps transition accounts through handoffs or if the account shifts to a tech touch segment. Tim explained that in Gainsight, there is “a system of record that keeps track of all those end-to-end engagements.”
Tim gave insight into the great partnership with Gainsight as an answer to software proliferation. “I think we’re going to be switching from best of breed to an all in one type approach. We don’t want three different solutions. We want to standardize. We don’t want something different for chat, and something different for email. You want one.” If that was Terminus’s goal, then they more than achieved it in Gainsight.
Streamlining, however, is not for the user alone. Terminus is looking to simplify the entire process for the customer by creating a value framework and value path. In those motions lies the purpose of CS. How best can you make the customer a success with your solution? Then, by unlocking your software’s value, how do you align that with the right person within your company at the right time? Tim explained it as “making our end buyer look like a hero every day.” It is more than coupling CS and marketing. Nick agreed. He added, “Now it’s about maturing the customer through the journey and getting them to grow. And therefore, that’s how you drive them to retention.”
Human First Initiatives
Last, Tim learned as a marketer that “unless you have happy, engaged customers who are viral and talking about you,” your marketing strategy will not work. But that can’t happen without employees who are willing to engage with customers on a human level. According to Tim, Gainsight’s software may have met Terminus’s needs, with robust functionality and ease of use. But that is not the ultimate goal. Tim believes that Gainsight helped their company better connect and be a better human through it all. They don’t want their customers to feel like they are dealing with a conglomerate. Terminus has a desire to make things personalized. More hands-on. More human. “At the end of the day, we’re making somebody’s job easier. You’re making their life easier.”
Tim has brought customer success not only into the daily practice of marketing at Terminus, but he has taken his employees to a place to better connect with themselves, with their company, and ultimately with their customer. He sees that as the very top of the pyramid of their purpose. Yes, strategically, CS and marketing are consolidating the ABM category. Yes, CS and Gainsight helps drive retention. But from a purpose perspective, CS helped Tim and Terminus connect more to the meaning of what they do best—make life easier.