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How to Run a Cross-Functional Quarterly Business Review

Your Quarterly Business Review (aka Executive Business Review) is often a make-or-break moment in your customer relationship. If you nail it, you can proactively solve the challenges that are the seeds of future churn. If you fail, your relationship just might fail too. A properly-executed QBR/EBR is the culmination of months of effort from many individuals and teams. It’s an incredibly strategic moment, which is why so many people struggle to pull them off seamlessly. You need involvement from Product, Sales, CSM, Support, and others—but you can’t have representatives from each team present at the meeting. You need data from many different sources, but you need to orchestrate it in a way that makes sense for the customer. And you need to do it all at scale. How do you involve the right person at the right time in the QBR/EBR process? How do you share information effectively? And how do you scale your system proportionally for your high-touch clients and your long-tail? Join Kellie Capote, Senior Manager of Strategic Customer Success at Gainsight, and Josh Lowy, CEO and Co-Founder of Hugo, as they help you solve your QBR/EBR strategy for high-touch and long-tail customers. Get advice on: Who needs […]

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How to Compensate Your Customer Success Managers

This blog post is based on questions and answers showcased in our webinar, How to Budget for Customer Success: 2019. Does a straw have one hole or two? Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard? How do I compensate my CSMs? It’s questions like these that keep the world up at night. While the two former questions might forever be shrouded in mystery, we are able to provide some clarity on the latter. CSM compensation varies widely across companies, just as their job duties do. Luckily, our Chief Operating Officer, Allison Pickens, has worked with many different Customer Success orgs and shared her knowledge during our recent webinar on budgeting for Customer Success. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when building out compensation plans, creating incentives, and divvying up responsibilities for your CSMs. Should Customer Success Managers (CSMs) “own” renewals with incentives and quotas? “This is a hot topic and it’s been one ever since I can remember. The answer is: it depends.” Every Customer Success has to adapt to their particular situation and business model. This means you have a lot of organizational structures to pick from. To make it easier on you, these can be boiled down […]

7 min readOctober 19, 2018

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How to Plan a Budget Your Boss Can’t Say No To

This blog post is based on questions and answers showcased in our webinar, How to Budget for Customer Success: 2019. Listen to the full recording here. Every year, we gather members from our C-Suite to answer your questions on budgeting for Customer Success. Budgeting is a highly collaborative process; although each department has their own budget, what they ultimately decide to spend on will fuel company-wide business goals. This year, Gainsight’s Allison Pickens (COO), Igor Beckerman (CFO), and Karl Mosgofian (CIO) gave their perspectives on budgeting for Customer Success and best practices that follow a customer-centric philosophy. Here are the three biggest takeaways from their Ask-Me-Anything session. Budgeting Tip #1: Involve other departments earlier than you think. CFO: Ultimately, a budget is all about accomplishing a company’s goals. So, in my mind, the core part of any budgeting process is aligning the company around the things that drive overall success. If you’re in a company that (for some crazy reason) doesn’t care about renewals or upsell, you’re going to have a tough time engaging with them on why Customer Success matters. You need to be able to create that discussion and align on those things, and then begin to figure out how […]

9 min readOctober 1, 2018
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Top 5 Takeaways From Dreamforce 2018

Another Dreamforce has come and gone. Have you caught your breath yet? Are your ears still ringing from that Metallica show? When it comes to the world’s biggest, wildest, busiest SaaS conference, it can sometimes seem like the longest-lasting takeaways are the tote bags full of swag; there’s just so much going on, so many people to meet, and new strategies to put into practice. It’s difficult to parse it all at once over four breathless days even as you’re running around San Francisco between sessions and meetings and booths and kiosks. If you asked any one of the 171,000 attendees what their biggest takeaway was, you may get 171,000 different answers—that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why we wanted to collect our team’s top learnings into a digestible blog post. Let’s break down the chaos into five bite-sized chunks. 1. You need a 360-degree view of your customers One of Salesforce’s biggest product announcements was Salesforce Customer 360, based on tech they acquired when they bought Mulesoft. Mulesoft has been a longtime customer of ours. They recognized early on the need to make customer data actionable no matter how that data is brought together. Salesforce Customer 360 obviously isn’t what […]

5 min readSeptember 28, 2018
3 Reasons Your Customer 360 Strategy Is Stuck in the 90s Image

3 Reasons Your Customer 360 Strategy Is Stuck in the 90s

Let’s all just agree: the 1990s were awesome. Tamagotchis, Birkenstocks, Vanilla Ice—what more could you ask for? And even though Birkenstocks and fanny packs are (incredibly) back in fashion, some things are probably better left in our memories. (Bowl cuts, anyone?) Let’s take 90s tech, for example: dial-up modem tones and brightly colored iMacs may give rise to warm feelings of nostalgia, but waiting 30 minutes to download an email? I for one am super glad we moved on from that. But how much have we really moved on? In some aspects of B2B IT, things haven’t changed a ton in the last 20 years. Plenty of companies are tracking essentially the same data using similar systems funneled to the same teams—and those teams make use of that data the same way they did in 1998. Like, does anyone outside of Marketing know what content customers are engaging with? Does anyone outside of Product have any clue what daily active use looks like? Could anyone besides Sales even find a customer’s basic contact info? And even if those pain points have been solved, they probably haven’t been solved evenly across the company. Around the turn of the century, pioneers like […]

5 min readSeptember 28, 2018
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CSM Is the Fastest Growing Job in Australia

LinkedIn Talent Solutions just released its latest report on emerging jobs in Australia. If you’ve been keeping an eye on trends in employment (not just in the Asia-Pacific region, but globally) you won’t be surprised to see CSM at number one on the list. Customer Success Manager has been among the fastest growing careers on the planet. What is Customer Success? If you’re just hearing about CSM, you may be surprised to see it at the top of the emerging jobs report ahead of core STEM roles. I recommend you take a look at our Essential Guide to Customer Success Management for an in-depth breakdown of the discipline, but let’s first understand that Customer Success is much more than just a job. It’s a much larger movement in business. It encompasses people, process, and technology—all working together to help customers achieve their desired outcomes with the products and services they buy. But why do businesses care whether customers they’ve already sold to achieve those outcomes? Why does it matter to them when the money’s changed hands? The one word answer is churn. Customers don’t renew when they don’t get what they paid for. You can’t grow revenue when you’re bleeding customers, and […]

5 min readSeptember 25, 2018
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5 Can’t-Miss SaaS Events in Europe

There may only be a few months left in 2018, but it’s not too late to attend a career-boosting event! If you live in Europe, you’ve got a great selection of conferences to choose from. Attending an industry event is a great way to expand your mind and your network simultaneously. You get a crash course on ways to elevate your current strategies and might even get introduced to entirely new ways of thinking! The energetic atmosphere and motivation that comes from conferences and forums just can’t be beat. It’s budget season and one of the biggest mistakes SaaS companies make is not investing in personal development for their employees. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about how you and your team can incorporate more growth opportunities into the next few months and the next fiscal year. Here are five Europe-based events that you can’t afford to miss. Pulse Europe 2018 7-9 November Olympia London | London Click here for the event website. Customer Success is a rapidly-growing discipline and Pulse Europe is the place to learn fresh strategies. With a wide variety of tracks, this learning and networking event has valuable content for practitioners to executives and everyone […]

7 min readSeptember 18, 2018
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SaaS Strategies for Improving Customer Experience

If I found Aladdin’s magic lamp, the first thing I’d wish for (after an infinite number of extra wishes, of course) would be an extra “untimed” month between the end of the year and the beginning of the next so we could have some focused time to plan as a company. Sadly, there’s no such thing as wish-granting genies. And unless we develop the technology to hold our year-end budgeting meetings in orbit around a neutron star, we’ll have to keep doing what we’re doing—planning for next year while simultaneously wrapping up the current one. Why Customer Experience Needs to Be a Priority Most SaaS companies today know they need to take Customer Experience (CX) to the next level next year. I’m sure you’ve read the reports on how Customer Success and Customer Experience are key to growth in the Subscription Economy. And you’ve probably made some progress. Maybe you hired a Customer Success (CS) leader. And maybe you hired some Customer Success Managers (CSMs). You may have even checked out a conference or book on the topic. But as we move into the new year, it’s time to get serious and make CX a differentiator for your business. That means you’re probably […]

5 sharesSeptember 25, 2018
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Migration Strategy for Digital Transformation

December 23, 1975: a date which will live in apathy. That’s the day President Gerald Ford signed the Metric Conversion Act to make the metric system “the preferred system of weights and measures for United States.” So why don’t we use kilograms and meters like the rest of the world? Because change management is hard! And the bigger and more entrenched the systems you try to improve, the more difficult it is to overcome the inertia of your established systems and processes. Despite that fact, we’re in a current business climate where most large, established companies are recognizing the need to “adapt or die.” The Pros and Cons of Digital Transformation Many enterprises are engaged in digital transformation programs as they retool their environments for a more automated and digitally connected world. However, the transition from current state to digital utopia can be fraught with change management obstacles. And comes with good news and bad news. The good news is users are getting access to more and improved applications. The bad news is twofold: First, users have to live through a difficult transition from legacy to new applications. Second, as we move to more best-of-breed SaaS solutions, users may find themselves looking […]

4 min readSeptember 18, 2018
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The Case Against Software Demos

Looking for a Customer Success Solution? Skip the Demos. You probably think I’m joking, right? I’m not. Generally speaking, watching product demos is one of the worst ways to judge the quality of a company and its product. In the world of Customer Success especially, it can be very misleading. Full disclosure up front for those who don’t know me. I work for one of the Customer Success solution vendors—Gainsight. And I’m not here telling you to look at our demo and not anyone else’s. I’m telling you that the best way to determine the right solution for you is not through sales pitches and demos. It’s by determining which company is best at the thing they are claiming to improve with their software. In this case, Customer Success. Back to that in a moment. (Oh, by the way and just for the record, our demo absolutely ROCKS! 😃) How Marketo Dominated Marketing Automation I learned this lesson long before I joined Gainsight—back when I worked for Marketo. Marketing Automation was a crowded market. Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot, Act-On, and others were all viable solutions. Four of those companies either did an IPO or were acquired or, in the case of Eloqua, […]

7 min readSeptember 11, 2018
3 SaaS Budgeting Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make Image

3 SaaS Budgeting Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Budget season is upon us. Time to roll up your sleeves, get out the spreadsheets, and brace yourself for a lot of negotiation. There’s no steadfast, one-size-fits-all way to budget for your company or department. Because of this, it’s common that you’ve made some budget decisions that you came to regret. Mistakes are good—they’re one of nature’s most persuasive teachers—but nobody likes making mistakes, especially if they follow you the entire fiscal year. So before you start building your case for next year’s budget, learn from these three budgeting mistakes and save yourself the time and, most importantly, that sweet, sweet cash. SaaS Budgeting Mistake #1: Not asking for the money you need Sometimes the line between greedy and asking for what you need can be thin. But it doesn’t have to be. If you build a strong case each investment, you’re not being greedy, you’re being proactive. One of the most critical parts of budgeting is allocating enough funds for the expenses you’ll need, and the ones you may not foresee. How to get ahead of this? Plan, plan, plan. Rule number one is to start as early as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to adequately […]

7 min readSeptember 25, 2018