Marketing to Customers AFTER They Become Customers: Linda Komisak

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Marketers love chasing, engaging, and nurturing prospects.

Marketers love MQLs and revelling in sexy metrics how about well they are performing.

But once a prospect turns into a customer, marketers move on to the next shiny prospect.

A customer becomes the responsibility of customer success or customer service.

Linda Komisak, CEO of Upturn Consultants, believes this is the wrong approach.

Not marketing to customers, she says, means you're:

- not making enough of an effort to keep them happy and loyal

- not educating to get more value from your product

- not creating opportunities to expand their business with you.

In this Marketing Spark podcast, Linda talks about how marketing to customers matters and why "trusted advisors" play a key role in making sure customers are served properly. 

Hi, I'm Mark Evans and you're listening to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers insight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches and twenty minutes or less. Here's the thing about marketers. We love to focus on attracting, engaging and winning prospects, but once prospects become customers, well, we pretty much ignore them. We assume that they're happy once they're in the full end of story. The reality is that marketing and sales need to focus on customers as much as prospects. On today's show I'm excited to talk with Linda commisath about a better and different approach that BDB companies should take to customers. Hey, mark, thanks for having me on. I'm excited to be here. I have a lot of passion around this topic. I'm sure you do, and we'll get into that. Like I said off the top, the vast majority of marketing is focused on prospects. Their sexy, they're compelling. Engaging with them and winning them is very exciting, but once some prospect turns into a customer, as I said, marketers move on. That's it. We don't pay attention to them. We don't care. My question as a starting point is, why is that? Like? Does it have to do with marketing incentives, metrics, compensation? And what's the danger of not marketing to customers? Loaded question, I understand, but let's let's break that apart. So why don't we start with why are customers for the most part ignored after they've become customers? Yeah, that's a great question and a great place to start. I think there are a few things to consider. First as understanding the metrics that are driving your marketing activities, and that is probably a whole separate podcast, but I think it's really important to understand what you're measuring and marketing. But even more important than the metrics is really understanding that too few, be to be SASS companies really understand how to turn their existing client base into a revenue driver in terms of expanding the platform and driving new business. There's so much data out there from Gardner and mckinzi around, you...

...know, at two percent increase in your retention, decrease your operating costs, around, I don't know, ten to fifteen percent or so. But an even more compelling metric is that it's sixty to seventy time easier to sell into an existing client than it is to sell into a new client. You have about a five to fifteen percent chance of selling into a net new client. So making sure that your existing clients are happy and and optimizing their investments in your platform is the place to start. But let's be honest, everybody needs to hit an Aarr number and the easiest thing to do is to go land a big account instead of doing all the work of doing the upsell in your existing acclis accounts. If you could just sell that one big deal, that would take care of your Arr number for the for the rest of the year. Have you heard that? I see that happening a lot in in babasass companies. I hear that and it is a very compelling proposition to go out there and leverage your marketing and and sort of reef the benefits of your marketing to bring new customers into the fold. But at the same time, something that you said off the top is that it's easier to win more business from an existing customer than it is to attract a new customers. So you would think that there would be a part of your marketing activities would be focused on not only making your existing customers happy, but getting them to buy more right and that should be the easiest thing for you to do, and I love to call this elevating the order of client complaint. In a typical be to be business, you have the acquire stage, the deploy stage, the stabilize and then support stage. And what happens is sales sells to a buyer. The user is not the buyer or the stakeholder who needs to get reports out of that platform is not the buyer. But the conversation with that client becomes around the issues list that develops are during the deployment phase and your executives who bought are going to totally disconnect from a a conversation around the issues list.

But then now you're in the support phase and you want to have a conversation with that executive who bought your platform and he can't get to them, you can't get past their date keeper because they don't want to hear about the issues list. It's really you know, one of the best things that marketers can do in that situation is create value for those executives through each stage of that process. So during the sale stage we're helping them understand what KPIS are important for them and helping them paint a picture of what success looks like on the platform. And the best thing that happens as that client moves through their journey with you is that you're elevating their order of complaint. They have stopped complaining about the issues list. You've solved their problems and the reasons that they purchased your platform and now you know that once you've solved those problems, they have new things to solve. So when you can bring some proactive industry insight into those relationships, it's a game changer. It's a value driven optimization conversation about the platform that will bring your executives coming back for more. For many organizations, though, that's a paradigm shift in how they approach marketing in sales because after customer comes into the fold, once you get them on board and then it becomes the role in the companies that I've worked for is that you have a customer success team and I look at them as they put out fires. If a customers a problem, they have an issue, they can't figure out how to use the product, and customer success will have these know the hold their hand, they'll make sure that they that the users know what they're doing and solve any problems. But there's no selling going on, there's no marketing going on. So that's one thing. And the other thing that you said that resonated with me is assuming the role of the trusted guide. So you're not doing customer service, which is really what customer success does, is you're actually nurturing a relationship, you're you're discovering your providing insight, you're continuing to...

...build trust and build that relationship and then when you ask for the upsell or the asked for a longer contract, you're in a better positions. That makes sense, is that? Is that the way it should work theoretically? Yeah, so I guess my suggestion is to retool your client success and account management teams and really understand the difference between your your hunters and farmers. And then, of course, you mentioned earlier that that compensation can be a part of this conversation as well, as it should be. What you're really doing in in this amped up ceus account management model is you're introducing the trusted advisor in the sale cycle, during discovery and demo. So you have this trusted advisor who's not only a platform expert but an industry expert as well, who's listening to what the clients complaints are, opportunities are for problems to solve, suggesting that they are thinking about it correctly or maybe they haven't thought about something, and then going into a demo to specifically address that clients concerns and demonstrate how the product solves that. But then that relationship slips away when that project goes through deployment and stabilization. But that trusted advisor is coming back forty five days after go live on the platform to say great, let's have our first Qbr and let's talk about what you bought the platform for and the Kpis that we set during the sale cycle. Here's how you're performing against those. Are these still important to you or have you thought about these things that we know are coming down the pike? And the way that marketing plays into that is, first of all, creating content that is very insight driven. I see a lot of be tob content that's about this feature or this product, but it doesn't include a lot of things that executive should be thinking about that are coming down the pike. So marketing plays a very tight roll with these customer success...

...managers or account managers, whatever you call them. These are really your trusted advisors who are bringing insights and things that the client hasn't yet thought about because they were so busy solving x problem. But that's where marketing can really partner tightly, tightly with those groups to help bring that together. The other thing that I think has I've seen to be incredibly powerful is when a company offers a monthly lunch and learn type of thing. And this is not for your end users to get on and talk about their issues. This is for executives get on and and get some insights at into how similarly sized organizations are performing on this system, what problems they're solving and and marketing can help drive that as well through here's why, this is why you jumping in this lunch call on a Thursday or a Friday is important and here's what you're going to learn from it. And then having somebody on the call who's actually talking about optimizing the value of the investment that they've made with that platform. Sure, so, Ike's get back into the trust of advisor. So who is that person? Are they a marketer. Are they sales, the hybrid roll, and how do you make sure that they're always there throughout the whole buyers journey, so from awareness to consideration to decision to purchase and then afterward put some more sort of color around that person, their rolls, their skills. First of all, sales is introducing them as a value add to the partnership. So during the sale cycle, this trusted advisor is added as a value add to the client. So this person, this type of person, is going to be available through to you, through us, throughout your journey and they'll be helping you optimize. So that's number one. Is Setting it up for success. The second thing is who's sitting in those seats. Are People who are platform experts, so they know the platform better than the client does, and we'll talk about that in a second and why that's important. But they're also...

...industry leaders. They under there following the industry, they're they're paying attention to what the competition is doing and they understand what regulations or what changes or they have insights into what's coming down the road. So these are people who are not just issues list managers, they are thought leaders and they are experts on the platform. Here's here's an interesting thing that happens. I see this frequently in betb says once the client gets into that support stage and they're in the system, using it every day, understanding how to get the most out of it that they want, they now become experts on your platform. So you can't send a customer service manager in or a support person in or a salesperson in to talk about the platform because the client at that point very likely knows more than you do. I've seen that repeatedly. So it's important to put somebody in there who is aware of all of the cool factor that your platform has to really help the customer get the most out of it. So that's a pretty specialized role. I mean they've got to have product expertise. They've got to know the product inside out so that so they can demonstrate the value and the USABILITY and how you can use it to move your business forward. But they also have to be thought leaders, they have to have insight, they have to really have that big picture view of the world. That's if I can find a person like that, and maybe super valuable. I mean they could do a lot to attract customers and keep them for sure, and and it plays out right once you have an existing client base that is optimizing on your platform and they're innovating with you. I hear marketers talk a lot about success papers or marketing white papers. I like to call them innovation papers and that's how this is how I leverage those. When you partner with your clients to talk about how they're innovating on your platform, guess what, you...

...by default are innovative because you're providing them the platform that they're innovating on. So when you can have those conversations and partner with your customers to innovate, you get to ride the coattails of that, and that's where marketing is incredibly powerful. The people I like to see put into these roles often come out of the client delivery organization or out of the Professional Services Organization, because they do understand the configuration in the setup of the system and I think they can pretty easily be taught how to optimize those features and functions to fit into a thought leadership model. So it's a little less technical and a little more strategic around how to leverage the platform, but you can really pull some great resources onto a trusted advisor team that come out of the delivery organization. The other thing that you mentioned is lunch and learned. So, just so I understand it correctly, is this a lunch and learner with a particular client or this be a group of clients collectively discussing what their issues are and the company in turn, providing insight into how customers can get more more value out of the product. Your trusted advisors should be having regular client calls, whether that's a monthly or a biweekly call with them, depending on where they are in their journey. I wouldn't recommend that these lunch and learns are per client. I would say it's a quarterly event or a monthly event, and you know your client based better than anybody else. However, it's an invitation for those buying executives to come and understand how they're doing with these investments that they've made. So they'd be listening to other executives talk about how they're optimizing and and leveraging the platform that they've purchased and and it's a opportunity for the executives to share in that venue, if you will. Yeah, it's really talking about benchmarks. So what are the things you should be measuring, what are the things you are measuring and how are your peers and competitors measuring that's really important insight...

...for an executive. Hey, that makes a lot of sense. I have a client who has what they call these pure reviews where they pull in customers and prospects and it's a group learning session. It's about it's about insight best practices, and what happens is that the clients get lots of ideas about how they can use the platform better and prospects get excited because they see right in front of them success stories and people who are actually working together to solve these uses. That's that's really interesting to me and I think that's something that a lot of bedb executives can and can use as an really important takeaway. The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about his compensation. Marketers in many respects get paid. You know, they could paid a flat feed. There's not. In some maybe they get performance bonuses. Sales guys are all are. salespeople are obviously compensated that way, but how should marketers be compensated differently for doing a good job of marketing to existing customers. I don't know what the mechanisms might be, but how do you change the rules so that a marketer is incentivized to pay attention to people once they come into the fold? Well, I think there's two ways to look at that. The first is when the company does better, their bonuses will be better. So when the company has more money, if the company is selling more and expanding more, they'll have more money for bonuses. So that's that's the first way to look at it. But the other thing that I've started to work on with customers is allocating a certain amount of the contract value, the annual contract value. So, for for purposes of this conversation, let's say your annual contract value is a hundred thousand dollars. Allocating a half a percent or even one percent to marketing activities on that account can be powerful and and here's how. So the customer comes and says I need a custom report and you so that, let's say that comes into into the customer success team. Then they have to go to the product team and see if there's somebody who can build a report, if it's in the pipeline, whatever it is, and then somebody...

...will have to figure out how much it cost to give this custom report back to the to the client, even if ten other customers are asking for that's the way it works today. I'm suggesting that we give marketing a budget for existing accounts that's based on the annual contract value that's sitting out there, so that if they want to invite a customer to an event and they want to pay for the hotel the travel, they have a budget to do that. So if you want a customer to come and speak on your behalf at an event, and in the covid world, I understand this is a little more complicated, but you have money to do that. You're not running around the company trying to figure out how you're going to get this client to this event to speak on your behalf. I would say in terms of compensation for marketing, if the company is doing better, they should be doing better, but give them more budget to work on existing accounts and I recommend allocating a portion of the ACV or the aarr to those existing accounts. One of the other things that I want to talk to you about is your stories. You've got a very interesting journey from being a sales consultant to where you are now from from where your started. So talk to me a little bit about where you started and how did you come to where you're at right now, and maybe talk about the business that you're running right now, the consulting business, in the services that you're offering and the approach that or the methodology that you're using to to help companies sell more and really pay attention to their customers. This could be another third lenn and five minutes. So I'm a registered verse by background. I worked trauma for years in in major metropolitan areas and, as an end user of healthcare technology, found it incredibly cumbersome to use the people who were buying the technology for me to use. We're looking for accountability, but they certainly weren't addressing efficiency and there was a lot of disconnect between what...

...the buyers bought and what the users were using. And over time I had an opportunity to go work with some of these large vendors and and really work on closing that gap of experience between what the buyers experiencing and what the user is experiencing and really creating a better customer journey across all of the persaunas within a client. This the idea of a consultancy has been rattling around in my head for a long time because I think it's easier to make some of these changes from the outside than it is from the inside. I think when you're trying to make these kinds of changes to sales and marketing and delivery teams, it can feel a little bit political, whereas if you're coming in from the outside it's a lot easier to say, hear your opportunities and here's what I've seen work. Where do you want to start? And I get a lot more engagement coming at it for from that perspective than being on the inside of it. So it's been kind of a convoluted journey, but we're seeing great results with our customers that are implementing this trusted advisor approach earlier in the sale cycle and continuing it through the entire client life cycle. How long have you been running your consulting business? I had a consulting business from two thousand and four to two thousand and sixteen. It was kind of a side hustle, if you will, but I went all in in two thousand and twenty. So my current consultancy has been up for about four months. And how's that going? Because you're very active on Linkedin, which is great if you're looking to have conversations and engage with people. But overall, what's it been like to operate amid this strange time in which we're operating? It's been great. I my first four clients were all word of mouth customers, so people who had seen the results that I was able to deliver were referring me to their friends, which is the best marketing I and I didn't have to pay a dime for that marketing. That was just brilliant. But the lesson in that is that be toob companies can have that as well. You can have your happy clients out there telling their peers and colleagues how great it would be for...

...them to work with you as well. So that's the lesson I've learned. Is when you deliver really well and you are able to demonstrate optimization and value, people will sing your praises all day long, and that's how it's worked for me. That's awesome advice for any marketer or any salesperson. So, Linda, where can people find you and learn more about what you do so you can check me out it up turn nowcom and there's a wealth of information on that page. I have a service services brochure that you can download in the menu bar at the top, and if you're interested in having a conversation to learn more about how I might be able to help you, you can schedule thirty minutes for free right on my calendar at a time that's convenient for you, by just clicking the link in the contact page. We, as marketers, obviously are fascinated with prospects, but I think the lesson here is that your customers, people who you've already sold to successfully, are as good a material as anything else. I mean, I think there's value in paying attention to your customers and really serving them properly, in keeping them for a long, long time. Well, thanks for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes or your favorite podcast APP. If you like what your heard, please rate it. For show notes of today's conversation and information about Linda is a marketing spark dot Col blog. If you have questions feedback, if I to suggest a guess, but want to learn more about how I help beebe companies as a fractional CMO consultant and advisor. Send an email to mark at marketing spark dotcom. I'll taunting next time.

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