What is the world record for number of high fives given over a 48-hour period? Whatever it is, we’re pretty sure we beat it at Pulse 2022.
From the opening keynote to the closing dance party, every minute of the conference was filled with engaging conversations, inspiring ideas, and more than a few incredible pairs of shoes.
If you weren’t able to make it this year, or simply want to relive everything, here are our top ten learnings from Pulse!
1. You can win in business by being Human-First
Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, opened with a fantastic keynote that celebrated the resilient and creative ways we worked to ensure we’d all be back together. He described how throughout the last few years, he’s been reminded how important it is to help each other through ups and downs and remember we are all human.
One quote really set the tone for the entire conference. Mehta asked everyone, “can you win by being Human-First in business?” And then confessed, “If I’m being honest, that’s the experiment of my life.”
If you ask us, and the thousands of Pulse 2022 attendees, the experiment is working.
2. Customer-centric companies are durable companies
Day one started with Building a Customer Success Organization Through Business Transformation, featuring Erika Cowen, VP of Customer Success, F5. We knew this was a can’t-miss session, but Cowen exceeded our expectations.
She discussed the process of evaluating F5’s customer journey and updated targeted nurture sequences increase adoption and expansion. Within an 18-month period, they were able to improve time-to-value (TTV) by 73% and saw a 25% improvement in expansion.
And it all started with a customer-centric approach to business. Cowen said, “You start to create a customer success culture across the company…That was really important for us as a legacy company.”
3. Product-led growth is fundamental for investors
Day one also had a session called Expert Roundtable: Why the Future Is Product-Led featuring Harshi Banka, PX Post Sales Leader at Gainsight; Ciara Peter, VP, Product at Robin, Ken Rudin, SVP of Growth at ThoughtSpot, and Curtis Townshend, Sr. Director of Growth at OpenView. The group talked about the urgency of product-led growth, particularly when customers are more cautious about their purchasing decisions.
Townshend said it best when he said, “From a VC perspective we don’t just invest in product-led companies because we think they’re interesting. They’re also fundamentally extraordinarily sound. Net retention is better. Your ability to acquire customers at a lower cost is better.
And a lot of it centers around the fact that you are focused on adoption and usage of your product.”
4. Community empowers your customers to reach their goals
One of the things we loved most was seeing all the speakers and attendees prove this year’s theme that together, we are unstoppable. Many topics highlighted the impact different organizations make when they collaborate. One of those notable sessions was The Future of Customer Empowerment: Community + Education + AI featuring Brigid Colver, Sr. Manager, Customer Intelligence Community at Involve.AI, and Mary Poppen, Chief Strategy and Customer Officer at Involve.AI.
The two discussed how customers increasingly want self-service education. Community members are also happy to share their learnings. With the right engagements from your product and your customer success managers, you can accelerate your customers’ empowerment and improve your TTV. As Colver said, “Community can and should be the foundation of customer empowerment.”
5. Net Revenue Retention represents a partnership with your customers
Over the two days, everyone talked about durable growth, and where our focus should be over the next few months. Over and over we kept hearing that Net Revenue Retention (NRR) was the North Star metric.
In one session, Why Operationalizing Your CS Function is Now a Must Do, featuring Easton Taylor, VP Customer Success at Gainsight; Jenna Stanley, SVP Customer Success and Services at Zebra Technologies, Lenny Alugas, EVP Customer Success at Veritas, and Conor Nolen, SVP, Customers for Life at Clari, we heard one of our favorite frameworks for thinking about NRR. Nolen said NRR is, “so unbelievably powerful in terms of what it represents as far as the partnership you have with customers. It indicates that you’re delivering a product that’s great. It’s keeping up with the needs of your customers and they’re showing you, through their commercial investment, that they’re sticking around with you.”
Stronger partnerships between organizations and the customer are certainly a foundational element of durable growth!
6. Everyone is fired up about Human-First
Ok, maybe we’re a little biased about this one, but hearing everyone respond enthusiastically to Gainsight’s dedication to win in business by being Human-First was a highlight of Pulse 2022. We could explain the feeling of excitement in the room while the video played, but we’d rather just show you so you can feel it too.
7. Ensuring your customers invest in your product ensures efficient growth
Nir Eyal, author and educator, flew to Pulse 2022 all the way from Singapore to give a talk about Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which we couldn’t have been more excited about. His talk covered how to get people hooked on your product and why community can be so essential to a durable business.
Eyal explained the reason a customer doesn’t take an action inside your product is “almost never” because of lack of motivation. He said, “It’’s lack of understanding. If we want to understand product adoption then we have to look at onboarding rather than marketing.”
If we can integrate community education and self-guided trainings into our customer journey, especially early in onboarding, then we can get them hooked to our product and increase NRR.
8. Customer Success Operations is the glue for your entire organization
On day two, there was a line around the hallways of the Moscone Center to attend The Ultimate Playbook to Customer Success Operations session featuring Jessica Palmer, Director of Customer Success Strategy and Operations at LivePerson. Palmer covered everything from processes and systems to change management and supporting your CS team.
Each playbook included stakeholders, steps to success, and a key takeaway to get started as soon as possible. We suggest learning from the expert and watching Palmer’s talk in the Pulse Library, but we will say our favorite quote of her session was when she said, “Customer Success Operations is the glue between the entire organization, and that glue is critical to us helping the customer success managers.”
9. Sometimes community members bark
We all certainly missed the buzz of hundreds of conversations happening at once in the Expo Hall. We heard friends catching up, networking opportunities unfolding in real-time, and new product discoveries that solved some of the biggest problems.
But maybe our favorite sound, and definitely the cutest, was the barking that came from the puppies. If you didn’t think we were Human-First before, just look at these smiles!
10. If you are Human-First, the business results will follow
For the closing keynote, Robin Merritt, SVP, Chief of Staff and Operations at Gainsight, brought out Raj Sisodia, author of Conscious Capitalism to talk about the actions we can all take to be human-first in business.
Sisodia gave practical action items and inspiring messages to remind everyone in the room (and online) why we are all here. We want to help each other and support each other as we reach our goals. His parting words were powerful and we wanted to make sure everyone heard them. He said, “If you do the right things, the business results will follow. Trust if you do the human-first thing, the business results will come.”
We know of a certain CEO and company that can prove it’s true.
Get more Pulse 2022 in the Pulse Library
If you’re like us and already missing the energy and learnings of Pulse 2022, don’t worry! Besides signing up for Pulse Europe, you can also access the Pulse Library! Inside you can watch all of this year’s sessions, plus sessions from previous years. Find out more here.