Everyone seems have come around to the fact that improving customer experience drives revenue. A recent Gartner survey showed that in 2014, the highest marketing investment was for ‘customer experience’ and that customer experience is now considered by many companies to be the ‘top innovation project’ edging out product innovation itself.
However, much of that focus is on two areas. On one hand we go deep into the end user experience – collecting user needs, mapping out interactions, getting feedback, understanding drivers even tracking eyeballs.
And then on the other, we cater to the decision makers – map their journey, demonstrate ROI, offer free resources, invite them to conferences and send them tchotchkes.
Left in the middle and often ignored are the teams at the B2B customer that are responsible for actually implementing the products, doing the type of nuts and bolts work that can drive up usage and smoothen daily use.
And herein lives a hidden revenue opportunity and an exponential multiplier.
Before we moved to the SaaS (Software as a Service) based, usage driven revenue models, having a top down ‘lay down the law’ approach to driving adoption might have worked. But in a usage based revenue model, where adoption is a key multiplier of revenue, ignore this group at your peril.
For example, you might have the next great product for using with patients (the end users) at a hospital. The potential is huge and physicians and administrators have signed off on a trial since their spend is all usage based anyway, and, in fact, tied to their savings through an intricate and well researched ROI model you provided them. However the ones to really drive your adoption may well be the already beleaguered nurses who will now need to use this new tool to no apparent benefits to themselves.
Or you are selling a software tool for end users at a financial institution. The tool has sparkling customer experience. However middle managers there groan every time they touch your software.
You can use the top down approach, getting top management to push the product down their throats or you can quite simply, use them as your hidden salesforce, your advocates.
Getting them ready and willing to sell for you can make or break your year 1-revenue The key is to think of them not as implementers or influencers or even the slightly derogatory ‘gatekeepers’ but as advocates or champions who can skyrocket your revenue. Arm them as you would arm a sales team.
Here are 3 starter ideas that work well as you get ready to leverage your advocates:
Answer the ‘What’s in it for me’ question
Like in any sales team, providing incentives work wonders here. While money and gifts are usually off the table, incentives may take the form of answering the ‘what’s in it for me’ or providing tools for their success within their organization or quite simply recognition and empathy.
Create Training and Tools with Sales in Mind
Most training for groups who can be advocates is usually either non-existent or hidden in reams of boring documentation. And often tools designed for the end user leave a horrendous implementation experience. Reviewing the material critically with sales in mind is eye opening and makes it easier for the advocates to actually sell for you.
Think outside the product development process
Your product is ready for use by the end customer and signed off by the decision maker – so rather than slowing down your next release see if you can make quick and dirty adjustments – using tools outside of your product to help your advocates. At a client, getting the finance team to send monthly spreadsheets formatted in specific ways helped get greater support from the advocates when a development effort to create the same charts would have taken years.
So if adoption is stalled, usage based revenues are not meeting their mark or you are about to launch a SaaS offering at a new corporate customer, take a look at how you can tap into your (potential) advocates.