Teaching Customers To Promote Us In Their Organizations
Successful customers often lead to much larger footprints (or deal sizes) in year two of the life a customer.
One of the best ways to grow an account is to grow our footprint within organizations we've already closed deals with. This might mean something as simple as a freemium customer we'd like to nurture into a paying customer. Or it might mean a small customer who we think could grow into a really large customer.
Most people doing a job task that a given company helps to automate or gain more visibility into see the value in the products that company creates. But selling that value upstream in order to get more budget and a larger implementation can be a challenge.
There are always competing priorities within organizations for budgets and other resources. It can be hard to compete with those that have more visibility to leadership and influence over budgets. But it can definitely be done!
In this article, we’ll provide a few ways to arm customers to promote a good or service within their organization.
The Value Proposition
We talk to a lot of companies. Many are able to clearly state what it is they do and what market problems they are solving. But what's often far more interesting is how the person who acts as the champion of those companies at given customers talks about the product and how it benefits their lives and what impact is had within those companies.
If we know that, we can tailor our content strategy in such a way that helps them to get more buy-in, making us stickier and maybe even growing our footprint in an organization. Let's look at a few of these.
Get products and initiatives to market faster
Opportunity cost can be a killer in new product development. As teams grow, there's an increasing chance that some of what we do has already been done. Cataloging information about previous products, research, sales strategies, and results helps keep us from redoing things that didn't work, and so speed up time-to-market without sacrificing well-grounded decision-making.
This also frees us up to answer new questions and hypothesis instead of those previously worked on, allowing us to do more.
Uncover the hidden connections in our data
A lot of the services we use are really databases for specific markets. With all our data and insights into our data tagged, cataloged, and in one place, we can start seeing relationships between otherwise disconnected insights.
Many a startup founder has deep experience in a given field. Any one insight may be interesting but when taken as a holistic collection of data the founder can often surface insights into that data only gleamed from years of experience in a field. That allows customers to do more faster, with the experience of a veteran on staff even without having that veteran actually on staff. Or a lot of veterans as our organizations grow!
And with machine learning, we can often make inferences between a lot of data points from multiple sources. In short there's been an explosion in the number of targeted applications for a given role or industry simply because the narrowly defined workflows and data sets based on deep experience are so valuable to organizations just getting started in a given discipline.
Our teams need to understand what they’re building toward. They might have questions about what led to a particular state of a process they're managing or what the next step is. We also might put guardrails up that don't allow people to make mistakes.
Instant insights allow us to automate tasks but also when people don't where we are with a given task or order in a process, things can come to a grinding halt until various questions get answered while our team searches to figure something out.
Providing teams with easy access to whatever it is a given company is there to catalog keeps them well-informed and confident that they’re on track.
Never lose valuable information
Staff turnover happens. It always bums us out to hear stories of institutional knowledge getting lost when someone leaves an organization. Accounts get deleted and with them go a pile of valuable data and insights. Or the person is the only one that knows where everything is at at a given time. This is totally avoidable. Our businesses and processes are an investment. We should protect it.
Increase trust in a discipline
Let’s face it, not everyone considers the output of a given team as valuable. Especially not with given disciplines still "looking for a seat at the table" or new teams at an organization. Many a tool now provide insights not only to the ones on the front line fielding calls with customers, taking orders, researching, or any other individual contributions. But those tools can also end up showing each of these to people in other teams as well.
Exposing hard work and plans and the evidence behind insights, statuses, and processes goes a long way toward establishing that credibility, allowing the people consuming the output of a given team to see the context around it and verify that the work holds up.
A product saves money for a budget holder
Almost no teams have the resources to accomplish everything they’d like to do. So, leaders are always looking for ways to:
Have the same group of people be able to do more. OR
Have more people be able to do tasks themselves.
This might mean a service desk that integrates with a tool that provides built-in workflows for executing tasks for a given discipline. That reduces the time to complete a project, keeps our teams focused, allows for better scale, etc. Providing a tool that connects other teams also provides guidelines and templates so that those not in our team feel more comfortable with the boundaries and automations we provide.
Provide transparency to leadership
It is the nature of complex organizations to have gaps between those who run the place and those on the front lines. The most successful organizations are ones who consistently bridge those gaps, finding ways to communicate fluidly up and down the org chart. Providing senior leadership with efficient access to what a team does can be an effective way to increase demand for that team and influence strategy at higher levels in the organization.
Understanding the Needs of Leadership
The best way to understand the needs of leadership is to include them in the conversation. They may have valuable insight about how to sell ideas further up the chain or horizontally to other groups.
Leaders can certainly provide valuable insight about their own perspectives and goals. We can end up with a better understanding of competing priorities and the values that drive decision-making around an initiative like those we are trying to get done. A little research their goals and the problems they face gives us empathy for them.
Ultimately, every leader and budget holder is different. Different approaches work better with different stakeholders. Some will be interested in innovation and reducing time to market while others will focus on cost reduction. If we aren’t able to get budget approval, all is not lost.
Simply keep the champion at a customer successful and budget will come. But understanding which of the above Value Propositions that products at a startup are helping with, or when to focus on each, is a key aspect of not only selling to a champion, but arming the champion for success within their organization.