EveryoneSocial is my second B2B SaaS company, and looking back, one of the most important learnings I’ve had between the two companies is that B2B buyers don’t want to buy software, they want to buy success.
And, importantly, they really, really, really don’t want to buy a problem.
Perhaps 10 or 15 years ago a B2B sales person could walk into a company, sell them a software package, and walk out the door without having another interaction with that client (honestly, I’m not sure that has ever been the case), but times have changed.
Just like cloud software is largely delivered on-demand, so are the expectations of buyers when it comes to support and service; the expectation is that as a vendor, you’re going to be there to provide them with what they need throughout their journey.
Everyone–especially those who work at larger organizations–has experienced what it means to buy a poorly-supported software package, product, or platform. All the promises made by that company’s marketing dept and salespeople fall flat on the first contact.
Clear ROI seems like an impossible objective because you can’t even figure out how to do simple tasks and there isn’t anyone you can email or call to get a quick answer let alone talk larger strategy and objectives with.
Back in the early 2000’s Bessemer Venture Partners, a very successful venture firm in Silicon Valley who invested in companies like Twilio, Linkedin and Box that stated in one of their reports, “don’t forget about the word SERVICE in software-as-a-service”. This is no joke.
Smaller tech companies often look at things quantitatively rather than qualitatively.
However and as with most things in life, there’s a huge difference doing something because you need to check and box and doing something because you believe it’s the right thing to do. As is often said in Buddhist teachings (and I’m paraphrasing), the volition of the mind is important! 🙂 It’s not just what you do, but why you’re doing it.
Example: it’s not good to be in a business where both parties (the seller and the buyer) aren’t mutually benefiting from the transaction. Just because you can sell someone something doesn’t mean you should. Every salesperson knows this, even if they’re not willing to admit it: it’s easy to tell which prospects are going to make great clients versus which are going to be on the struggle bus from day one.
This is where client success comes into play and serves as the great equalizer.
It doesn’t matter how likely the client is to succeed if the vendor is fully invested in helping them get there, regardless if it takes a month or a year, then that’s a well-balanced relationship and both parties will come out winners.
It is why we decided from day one not to charge for our client success services. It’s simply too important. Especially when you’re bringing something new to the world (and believe me, four plus years ago employee advocacy was very much a new thing for most people), it’s critical that you commit to giving it your all to make each and every one of your clients a success.
Fast forward to today, this strategy still holds true and is not something we have any plans to change. As I said at the outset, people don’t want to buy software, they want to buy success, and knowing that you’re going to be right there with them from day 1 to 1,000 is what really matters.
Yes, the product needs to perform, but the people behind the product are equally important; two sides of the same coin.
Ask one of our customers why they chose us or why they continue to work with us and they’ll cite our client success team as one of their top two reasons.
Our view, as it has been from the beginning is that we’re on a journey with our clients; they’ve granted us the privilege to work with them and our role is to ensure they’re successful, regardless what barriers or challenges we run up against along the way. This can only happen when you’re working with clients as a partner, not simply as a vendor.