Hi, everyone. Happy Wednesday, and welcome to UserIQ’s webinar on Increasing Trial Conversions with User Adoption Strategies. I am really excited for this webinar. This is our first webinar with video, so you’ll get a chance to see our panelists face to face. We have an awesome panel lined up for your today. I’m really excited. Thanks everyone for joining us. So, I just wanted to take care of a couple of housekeeping items, first. So, the webinar is going to be recorded. We will sent out the webinar with the slides and the recording after the webinar. So, keep an eye on your inbox for those, and if you have any questions for the panel during the content today, you can feel free to chat those into the chat box or the questions pane. We’ll have a short Q&A at the end.
Also, if you have any technical difficulties, please send those into the organizer, so we can help resolve those. So, I’m your moderator today. My name is Erika Childers. I’m the content marketing manager here at UserIQ. Just a quick little plug, UserIQ empowers SaaS companies to deliver what each user needs to be successful in every moment, starting with adoption. As a result, you’ll be able to effectively scale onboarding, increase feature usage, accelerate time to value, and ultimately drag more revenue throughout the customer journey, but I don’t want to talk too much about me. I’d really like to get into sharing more details about some of our awesome panelists that we have today.
Erika Childers: (01:23)
So, first we have Dave Jackson, who is the CEO of TheCustomer.Co, Dave has helped … so, he helps companies profitably win, satisfy, retain, and grow their chosen customers to be better than the competition. So, in 2000, Dave founded and was the CEO of Click Tools, which is one of the UK’s first SaaS companies, which is a very cool role to be in. So, he led that company through some organically funded growth to two liquidity transactions, and then left in 2015, but since then he’s been recognized as an expert in customer success focused organizations, and he has more than 30 years of experience. He has developed customer experience awards, and accreditation programs in the UK, and he’s also been recognized as one of the top customer success strategists, which is very exciting.
Erika Childers: (02:15)
I also have a cool, fun fact about Dave, which is that he collects these T-shirts. So, if you can see Dave on the Webinar today, you can see one of his little funny T-shirts. He likes to collect these t-shirts that are sarcastic or funny little sayings on them, which I think is awesome. Hey, Dave. Are you there?
Dave Jackson: (02:31)
I’m here, yes. Thanks for having me.
Erika Childers: (02:33)
Of course, thanks for being here. So, just to level set the playing field, I wanted to have each panelist give a little bit of insight on the types of trial programs that they’ve seen work most effectively in the SaaS businesses that they’ve worked with in their experience. So, Dave, let’s start with you on this one. What’s some insight that you have into the types trial programs that you’ve seen work in your experience.
Dave Jackson: (02:57)
My favorites are less free trials and more freemium. I’m a big believer in freemium both as a user and as a supplier. Free trials and freemium are both acquisition strategies, slightly different in that one is very much constrained, typically by time or usage, or a functionality, both have got to add some sort of value. My favorites are things like, I have to say it feels sorry, but Hub Spot, and you’ll be pleased to know I’ve recently converted from a free customer to a paying customer. So, I’ve experienced what they’ve been doing to me.
Erika Childers: (03:33)
Dave Jackson: (03:34)
Others, I like are Trello. Trello is just such a great project management tool. It’s so easy to use, such good fun. A couple of others, Toggle, which I use for time tracking, and a new one that’s come along quite recently, really interesting I think, and again it’s a freemium offering, it’s a thing called Otter, and Otter is a tool that allows you to capture something like the audio into this, and actually then transcribe it automatically into text. It’s not perfect. It needs a bit of editing, but it saves a hell of a lot of time if you want to say something and then get the transcript of that.
Dave Jackson: (04:09)
So, freemium, because it gives you that value there, but it cleverly just hooks you in a little bit and says, “There’s a bit more. If you want to do this bit, there’s a bit more.” So, freemium over free trial.
Erika Childers: (04:22)
That’s great. So, I love that you kind of shared a little bit about that, about the differences between freemium and free trial, kind of talking about time base, which freemiums you’re able to get much more, way much more access to the complete software that you’re interested in, and kind of converting at the time that feels right for you. So, thank you for that explanation. That’s awesome. Thanks, Dave, for being here.
Erika Childers: (04:45)
Our next panelist today is Phil O’Doherty. He is the senior manager of Services in the EMEA for HubSpot. He’s a leader with experience in building and scaling CS Teams and those programs. He’s really passionate about recruiting, coaching, growing high performing teams, and also using data and predictive models and technology to scale those customer success teams into growing organizations. I love that Phil has, he writes about all things in customer success on his blog called “Keep Grow,” so, definitely check Phil out on the blog. You can find him at WWW.Keep-Grow.com to learn a bit more about Phil.
Erika Childers: (05:24)
A cool fun fact about Phil is that he’s actually a Jazz musician and kind of does some band and plays jazz, which is very cool and sounds like a very soothing hobby to have. Phil, are you there?
Phil O’Doherty: (05:37)
I’m here, Erika. Thanks for the nice intro.
Erika Childers: (05:39)
Of course, thanks for being here. So, I’m going to ask the same question of you that I just was chatting with Dave about. So, can you kind of share some of the trial programs that you’ve seen be really successful in your experience at HubSpot.
Phil O’Doherty: (05:52)
Yeah, so from my own experience, I have had experience with what Dave mentioned, the time based restricted trials, like a two week or 30-trial. Most of my experience at HubSpot has been around what Dave has converted on there, which is our more freemium based trials, and particularly with more heavier touch products. So, I think, I liked all the examples that Dave gave there. I had a particularly great one recently where I was helping somebody with a resume, and it was just so simple to upgrade, and we did it in about 30 minutes called NoVoResume with the app.
Phil O’Doherty: (06:27)
Most of those apps are a little bit more broad and cover kind of broad use cases. So, my experience is more based around a mixture of technology and people to help people convert and adopt end trials. So, that’s mostly where I’ve gotten my experience.
Erika Childers: (06:40)
Awesome. Perfect. Thanks, Phil. So, our final panelist is Ben Winn. He is in Customer Success over at SeamlessMD. He’s an award winning customer success thought leader, speaker, and writer. He originated the customer success team at SeamlessMD and was on the founding team for the Venture Out Conference. He’s also the founder and executive director of CS in Focus, which you can learn more about at CSinFocus.com, which is a hub for customer success professionals. Ben has been very involved in lots of different ventures, and he’s been a contributor in lots of different ways, but something I think is very fun and cool about Ben is that he has actually been a back up dancer for a Spice Girls’ tribute band, which is one of the coolest fun facts I think I’ve ever heard. Ben, are you there?
Ben Winn: (07:31)
Yeah, yeah. That was also actually how I got hired at SeamlessMD. They asked me to perform.
Erika Childers: (07:37)
That’s awesome. Well, it seems like you did really well, and made yourself a name over at SeamlessMD.
Ben Winn: (07:44)
Yeah, I know. Thanks very much. I’m excited to be here.
Erika Childers: (07:46)
Of course. So, again, same question, just to kind of level set what types of trial programs are you most familiar with in your experience, Ben?
Ben Winn: (07:55)
Yeah, I mean, so I’ve been on, obviously both sides of it from the SeamlessMD side, it’s extremely enterprise, high touch involved software. So, for those it’s very much, it’s very handheld, and we’re giving them basically real access to the entire program for a limited period of time, and it’s very mapped out in terms of what value points they want to see, and how we’re going to help them achieve them, but the ones that I think are more broadly applicable that I really love being on the trial user end of our square space, where they let you build anything you want for as long as you want, and once you’re ready to publish, that’s when they start charging you, and they have this nice kind of gentle touch kind of along the way, so that it stays present without being overbearing in terms of reminding you, “We want you to pay. We want you to upgrade now.”
Ben Winn: (08:45)
It’s only once you’re ready, and I love that customer first approach. The other one that I love, is actually an NPS software called Ask Nicely. Theirs is probably the lowest lift customer trial that I’ve seen. They give you a maximum number of people you can send your NPS to, but just the way that their UI is, as you walk through your onboarding into the trial to the point from going to their website, to sending out to 500 people an NPS email, you can do that in about 10 minutes, and it’s the easiest, smoothest experience I’ve had doing that. So, those are a few that I wanted to mention.
Erika Childers: (09:26)
Awesome. Well, thank you, Ben, for being here. All right. So, we’re going to get ready and dive right into our content for today. So, I wanted to understand what our panelists think. They have such great experiences and come from really interesting companies. So, I wanted to understand what our panelists think are the key ingredients of a best in class software trial, and Phil, I’m going to start with you on this one. What would you say are some of the key ingredients of a top class software trial.
Phil O’Doherty: (09:55)
Yeah, happy to start. I think for me it starts way before the trial right, when understanding who are the people you really want to be in there in the first place. The companies I’ve had the best trial experiences as a user with, or been involved with are where they make sure that are getting to that trial have been qualified through their marketing sales process. Whatever it is to get there, and they really understand who that is, because it’s not only the person, it’s not often the person who will end up using trial is the one who’s trialing it.
Phil O’Doherty: (10:26)
Sometimes you could have somebody in there who’s just playing around trying to figure out is this going to meet their needs, and then they have to go through a purchase process, and the end user doesn’t even end up being the person who did the trial in the first place. So, I think just having that kind of insight understanding that’s really useful, and then using that is really appropriate as well. So, segmentation and trials is really, really powerful. You either based on the information they give you, or information you pick up along the way, they install their demographics and their usage. I think the best trials really segment the experience.
Phil O’Doherty: (10:57)
They don’t drop you in. They just open up with, “Figure it out on your own.” They really make sure that it’s limited based on off what you told them, or based off your role, or based off some indicators that you, or some inputs that you give them as to what you’re expecting to get out of it. So, the final piece I would say is really tailored help and outreach based off that, what you know about them as well. So, and not just email. I think there’s many ways to engage somebody in a trial, whether that’s in app while they’re using it, whether it’s email, whether it’s directly with a human contact, or calling that person.
Phil O’Doherty: (11:30)
So, I think a mix of communication channels are really where I’ve seen the best trials as well. So, I think a lot of, when I really say, “Wow, that was a great trial,” it’s generally they’ve done a huge amount of due diligence before the person even gets to the trial to make sure that they have the right people in there. So, that’s some of the things that stand out to me.
Erika Childers: (11:49)
Perfect. That’s awesome. I love that you mention segmentation and also mixing different channels in how you outreach. So, we’re going to talk a little bit more about that later, but those are really great examples. Thank you. So, Ben, I’m going to move over to you on this one. What would you say are some of the ingredients of a top class software trial?
Ben Winn: (12:08)
Sure, coming from a CI customer success background, it’s for me, about customer experience over anything. The reason that they’re on the trial is because they think that your software will get them from Point A to Point B, and the point of the trial is to validate that. So, I think that the key ingredient, the segmentation is super key, because you have to understand if it’s a large group of people that are using it, and you’re using large segments, where can you group people? How are you going to arrange it to get them to their value prop, because it’s not going to be the same one for each segment. They’re each going to have different priorities.
Ben Winn: (12:44)
So, I think the best software trials understand what you want to accomplish and give you the shortest route possible to get their with as least lift as possible. So, I think that’s the biggest thing for me, and if on top of that you can add in some really helpful education like touch points, but not too much, you can really optimize the customer experience, and for me that’s the biggest thing when it comes to an investing class software trial.
Erika Childers: (13:13)
Awesome. Thanks, Ben, and then Dave move over to you on this one. What are some of the key ingredients that you would talk about for a best in class software trial? Dave are you there?
Dave Jackson: (13:28)
Yeah, I start by reinforcing the point that Phil made. The best trials, in fact, the best software are those that are built in a really deep understanding of the customer, of your chosen customer. So, not just anybody, but who are the people that you want as customers? Who are the people that you can make successful as customers, and by a deep understanding it’s not just who the company is, but who the individuals are, and what their jobs are. There’s a great amount of value to be had out of the jobs to be done theories with a look at.
Dave Jackson: (14:00)
Understanding how they’re measured, what their goals are, what their challenges are, what their opportunities are, and then using that to translate that into a effectively a best practice process that you really could bed into the product itself. It always amazes me that SaaS companies, we are fundamentally product companies, and yet quite often, this whole thing about getting the customer to success, which is what we sell, is an after thought rather than actually being something that we designed the product.
Dave Jackson: (14:29)
So, the more of it become product ties, and you can’t do it all at one, but again, as Phil says you just do something, see if it works, and a bit more, and it’s a bit like chopping the top off an iceberg. You’ll do something that works, and then another problem, another opportunity will rise, and the other thing I will say is that all the great free trials, all the great freemiums, all the great software that I know have put a huge amount, a huge amount, of time, and effort, and money into really, really good design.
Dave Jackson: (15:03)
Design that makes it ridiculously easy to use, in respect to what sort of user you are. So, that’s, to me, absolutely key.
Erika Childers: (15:14)
That’s awesome. So, I think this connection between really good design and making sure that your platform is really easy to use and then doing what you can within the product to kind of help guide people to success, seems like it would really free up your customer success team quite a bit to do the things that are most important for getting relationship building, would you agree?
Dave Jackson: (15:37)
And it enhances your profitability, and it makes it easy to scale, and it improves your evaluation. So, yeah, and another part of that, Erika, is actually, you talk about moving up, it actually moves a lot of the dredge work that CSMs have to do, stuff that to be quite honest with you, is boring as hell. It’s repetitive. Nobody really wants to do it, but you’ve got to do it, but if you can find ways to productize it, you turn them into change coaches. You turn them into almost psychologists. You elevate their skillset massively.
Erika Childers: (16:11)
I love it. This is great feedback, you guys. Thank you. So, I’m going to move into the next question, which kind of is a good piggyback onto some of the things we already talked about, and to kind of understand how you all in your different sort of realms and experiences, how do you pinpoint the types of user behaviors that correlate with success? So, how do you, to Dave’s point, how do you take what you know makes a user successful and start to productize that and capitalize on that behavior, and Phil, I’ll start with you again on this one.
Phil O’Doherty: (16:40)
Yeah, sure. I love this question and it’s quite a difficult one, because it really depends on the maturity of your operation, your company, your customer success team, your product team. I think when you’re starting out, if you’re a young company, or you don’t have many users or customers yet, it’s very hard to know what are those things that will lead to success further down the line.
Phil O’Doherty: (17:00)
So, I think early on it’s really about measuring everything, and tracking everything as early as you possibly can, and then later on you can figure out what that is, but you really need to talk to your customers at that point as well. Talk to people who are in trials, get in front of them, watch them, see how they’re doing it. I think as you grow and as you’ve got data to work with, it becomes a little easier. You can actually look at, “Okay, well, what were the usage events in my trial or in my app that led to conversions and success and outcomes,” and if you go further on, you have a lot more data.
Phil O’Doherty: (17:32)
You can even look at, “Okay, my best customers, my top 10, my 20, my top 1000, whatever it is customers, what are the things they did in my trial, or did early on that have led them to this point now, and how do I reverse engineer that success earlier into my product, into my apps?” I think depending on maturity, it’s difficult. There’s no one answer to that question, but I think the main thing is, that I think it’s related to Dave’s point as well, when you figure out what these things are, build it into the product, right?
Phil O’Doherty: (18:05)
So, you can scale your customer success to folks on the right activities later on. So, if you discover that a certain action is leading to a lot of success, but needs a huge amount of human effort to get that done, then why not try and make that easier for the user and build it in earlier from day one. So, I think like it’s kind of a continuous loop. It’s observing, measuring everything, and then building that into a process built into product, and then continuing that, because new challenges will arise as well. So, a lot of ways to tackle that problem, but mostly I can talk with the whole spot perspective here, we obviously have hundreds of thousands of users.
Phil O’Doherty: (18:40)
So, we’re looking to have a lot of data, so we’re able to build some predictive models around what are the things that have led to a customer converting, or somebody becoming a paid user. So, we don’t need to guess, but that always wasn’t the way right, so, we’ve leaned into a model where we use a mixture of that, plus humans who talk to our best users, our best trial users, figure out what they’re, and then they work really closely with the products team or analytics team to make sure that they’re getting that human feedback in there as well.
Phil O’Doherty: (19:09)
So, you can mix the two models together, I think.
Erika Childers: (19:12)
I think that’s great. So, I think that covers so much. Really, it comes down to having the data, so maybe different types of companies will have different levels of the data that they have, but using the data that you have, and also using your customers, getting that feedback directly from them, or from the CS team that they directly work with. Ben or Dave is there anything else that you would add to this?
Dave Jackson: (19:37)
I think, I mean Phil said much of it, if you’ve got the data that’s great. If you’ve got data scientists, even better. If you don’t have those things, be careful about you use the data. Particularly about there is a different between correlation and causation, because you can come and stop with some of that. I remember once one of the UK telecoms companies did some research into usage of phone services, and they found that the biggest drivers of phone services was cat ownership.
Dave Jackson: (20:10)
Now, that’s a correlation, now whether it’s a causation I question. So, understanding the difference between the two is important. I think the other thing is, I think there is case to be made as you get into this, to actually bring some of that thinking forward. So, yes, use the data that you’ve go, but then say, as we’re thinking about things like functionality, let’s go back to what customers have told us and what we’re trying to achieve for customers and say, “Does this function, this behavior that we’re trying to drive, actually help them achieve their success?”
Dave Jackson: (20:41)
And I think if we start to understand that we can get ahead of the curve a little bit.
Erika Childers: (20:48)
Absolutely. Awesome. So, for our next question, I kind of wanted to understand more about how we nurture these customers. So, we talk about how we pinpoint what makes them successful. How do we know what’s going to make them the right fit for their business, all these things, but essentially some the things that Dave, and Phil, and Ben have already talked about are using your own product to reach out to these customers and get them moving in the right direction, get them using the types of tools that are going to make them the most successful.
Erika Childers: (21:20)
So, I wanted to chat about some of the ways that you all have seen are the most effective ways that you’ve seen to nurture customers to adopt what essentially are your stickiest features, or the types of features or feature sets that are going to make them most successful, and Phil, I’ll start with you again on this one, just because you had already mentioned the mixture of different channels, and the need to make sure that you’re reaching each person in a few different ways to really reinforce what you’re doing.
Erika Childers: (21:47)
So, I was wondering if you could kind of expand on that mixing different channels and nurturing customers to adopt features.
Phil O’Doherty: (21:54)
Yeah, I think it goes back again to your product and the type of customer you’ve chosen to go after. Ideally we all love this really simple product where you can sign up and in app it just points you and has little … I’ve seen some great apps where they just have little tool tips, in app help that guides you through the whole process, but in reality, and I think Dave hit on this point that some products require a massive amount of change and an organization to be adopted, and that’s not going to happen, necessarily in a trial.
Phil O’Doherty: (22:22)
So, you need to understand how much change does a user need to go through to adopt your product or get it widely adopted in your organization, and if it’s heavy on the chainsaw, you’re probably going to need a lot of either sales or CS, or human help to get that over the line, and so that’s going to require more of the traditional route. I think if it’s product, your product is simpler and the use case is immediate and the value is more immediate, then things like in app chat is really, really useful, and email from my experience, less directly, but seeing other companies is that it’s just declining in its effectiveness.
Phil O’Doherty: (23:01)
There’s a bit of fatigue around email. So, I think the more kind of chat and instant messaging, that kind of stuff is a great channel to go through as well. So, those are some of the things that I’ve seen.
Erika Childers: (23:13)
Awesome, so you had just mentioned, maybe email is not the right way to go. How have you guys at HubSpot kind of decided what channels are most effective? How do you know when to use a certain channel as a customer is progressing through their onboarding?
Phil O’Doherty: (23:29)
Yeah, I think we look at its impact on ultimately their activation. If email is not attributing toward customers who are activating, well let’s expand out with other channels, and I think yeah, that’s pretty much it. So, it’s really, really important to track those things. I think, not just blindly look, like something I’ve been definitely guilty of. Look at the competitors out there, look at the landscape. What are the best in class people doing? That might work for them, but their audience might be different, so I think it’s really important to make sure you make it fir for your business.
Phil O’Doherty: (24:02)
Make sure you can track these nurturing strategies under impact, and activation, and then adoption.
Erika Childers: (24:09)
Great, and Ben, what about you on this one? So, you had mentioned kind of, obviously we don’t want to be selling features that aren’t relevant. How do you at Seamless when a feature set or a feature is most relevant for a new customer?
Ben Winn: (24:24)
I mean, it comes down to data and segmentation. So, I think the biggest thing here it so figure out, you might have a lot of different stick features as part of your software, but some of those may or may not be relevant to specific customers. So, generally we see people come in, because they want to accomplish the same results as another client of ours, whether they know it or not.
Ben Winn: (24:45)
They might come in and say, “Hey, I talked to so and so who works at this company, they have used your product to get this value. I want to do the same thing.” You go, “Great. Here’s a step by step of what they did, and how they did it. We’re going to guide you through it, where you’re going to have it, too.” That’s an easy way, other times, they’ll come in and they’ll just say, “We want this result,” and then you in the back of your mind, your CSM Rolodex, you’ve got a list of all of the successes from all of the customers you can think back to the one that fits this customer in terms of company size, and industry, and all those other relevant factors.
Ben Winn: (25:19)
Come up with a relative example, share how they accomplished their success. Excuse me, and I think the other big thing too that I wanted to mention on this is depending on the structure of your sales team, your CSM team, your inbound funnel, etc, I think one of the effective ways to get customers to adopt certain features as well is to have some sort of handoff at this point where if a customer has been brought in by sales and they’re moving to a trial, or they’ve come in through an inbound sales channel, and they want a trial, have some sort of hand off to someone from CS, because it’s just the dynamic.
Ben Winn: (25:56)
So, it’s not the customer is now not wary of being sold to. They’re now speaking with an advisor, who’s sole job is just to help customers be successful with the product, not just make money for the company, and that can also help, because they won’t be as wary about adopting new features, or trying different things. They’re more open, they’re more trusting. So, changing that dynamic, and then making sure you’re giving them a very prescriptive route based on data.
Ben Winn: (26:20)
So, you can with confidence say, “This is how you can achieve the results you want to achieve.”
Erika Childers: (26:25)
I love that word that you used, being prescriptive, because I think that’s so important. It’s not just about making sure that you have tool tips like Phil mentioned, or making sure that you have an email to try to get to use a feature, but actually giving them a reason to use that feature. I think, essentially, kind of your whole response is about, “How do we encourage people to do the things that we already know work?” And I love sharing case studies, and sharing use cases, and really getting people to just give them prescriptive, that prescriptive notion. “We know what works, and we know that you want to see the same success as X company. We’d love to help get you there.”
Erika Childers: (27:05)
Go ahead, Ben.
Ben Winn: (27:06)
At the end of the day, too, we all know our product better than the future customer that’s not even using our product. Most of our customers are surgeons, who are much smarter than me, and for me to go in and, it’s very easy to be like, “You know better. You have to use it however you want,” but at the end of the day, when it comes to our product, I’m still smarter than them, or I know better than them. So, the confidence to prescriptive and to push back and to really be firm is another big aspect I mentioned.
Erika Childers: (27:36)
Love it. Dave, what about you on this one? What are some of the ways that you’ve seen companies effectively nurture customers to the right features for them?
Dave Jackson: (27:48)
I think, we don’t start with features. I think what we start with what the customer’s challenges are. What value are they trying to achieve? What opportunities they’re trying to grasp, and we get them hooked on that, and then we say, “Well, if you want to achieve that, you need to be doing these things. You need to be using this part of the app. You need to be using these features.”
Dave Jackson: (28:11)
I think we get quite hooked up in our own companies, because it’s our product, and we know it well, and we’re very pleased about that feature. We lose sight that the only reason that feature should be there is because it adds value to the customer. It helps them achieve something. So, I think we push how much other people are achieving by using these things, but we lead the value and then use the feature to say, “This is how you get there,” and I think we better get munch smarter in understanding the psychology of people.
Dave Jackson: (28:42)
So, social proof. We’ve talked about cases. This is a big, big thing, but the other thing is, everybody knows about the fear of missing out, and I think it’s very powerful to say to customers, “Hey, listen. These people over here are getting three times the output that you’re getting, and they’re getting because they’re using these features in this way,” another final piece of that is, it’s not just about the product. We’ve got to find ways to guide people, preferably in the product itself with things that aren’t just product related.
Erika Childers: (29:18)
Great. I think that’s fantastic. We can’t just give them just the features, but kind of explaining to them why they need these features and the success that they will see from these features, I mean maybe that’s not a specific methodology, but its more of that psychology, like you mentioned of that fear of missing out. We know that this is something that’s going to make you very successful. We’ve seen it. Here are the customers that are doing it, and maybe that’s the thing that leads customers to adopt the right feature sets.
Dave Jackson: (29:45)
Yeah, prospect theory, which is part psychology says, “That you are much more likely to do something to avoid a loss than you are to gain a benefit.”
Erika Childers: (29:55)
That’s great. I could not agree with that more. That’s a perfect way to sum it up. So, I’m going to move over to our next question, which I think we kind of touched on just a little bit with Ben. Ben, you had mentioned an effective hand off between customer success and sales to really bolster what you’re able to learn from customers and get them moving in the right direction. So, have you found there to be an effective balance between the CS resources and sales resources, particularly how you guide users through a trial and maybe then you could also speak to what are some of the things you think are most important during a hand off?
Ben Winn: (30:36)
Yeah, I mean, I’ve done several handoffs that happened throughout the customer journey, and those can probably each have their own webinars dedicated to them, but happy to touch on a little bit today. I think there’s a few aspects to this. The first is that I would say it’s not so much even a balance between CS and sales. I think sales, it depends obviously on your company and your setup, but if sales takes care of the front end to bring people in, they can just kind of take a backseat while the trial is ongoing if CS is managing that ad facilitating that. It’s more between the CS and either your data team, or CS and your marketing team depending on how things are set up.
Ben Winn: (31:17)
But I think those are the resources that definitely need balancing, because it’s come up already so many times throughout the webinar how important and integral data is to figuring out how to optimize a trial. When it comes to the real-time guiding users through, I think that should be 100% CS, because they’re the ones that can speak to the successful customers in first person and say, “I’ve seen this customer do that.” David was mentioning something very similar. That’s really important, and so yeah, I think sales can take a backseat. I think the handoff, it really should be if you don’t have it set up in sales force and you’re early on, and you’re using Google Sheets, or something else, or you’re using HubSpot later on, have a specific format that works for that handoff.
Ben Winn: (32:02)
What are the key things that the CSM or CS team needs to know? Who are the key players that are going to be using this product? What are their top value products? What features are they most interested in or have they expressed interest in? Anything I should need to know. Does one of them hate to be called before noon, or any kind of facts like that, that will make that trial more seamless, that will allow the CSM to run it effectively to have a good cadence with that person and start their relationship off on the right foot, because at the end of the day a really well run trial will end up with that customer converting, and that CS person, or member of that team might end up becoming their full CSM for months or years to come.
Ben Winn: (32:45)
So, that’s really key, because if that’s their entry point to the nurture side of your company, that’s where you have to take a strong statement and say, “This is how we take care of our customers. This is how we show them what their experience is like to work with us, and be one of our customers.” So, I think that it’s really a CS having resource for marketing, because I know a lot of companies, their marketing team will manage trials as well, in which case that should be another conversation to have.
Erika Childers: (33:12)
All right, that’s really good insight. I think the takeaway of what you’re saying for me is kind of, shifting this conversation. Once a customer has moved into their trial, kind of shifting this conversation away from selling, selling, selling and trying to get that conversion, but shifting that more to a support function and a learning function so that they’re able to really see, like you mentioned, they’re able to see first hand what it’s like to be a customer. They’re able to learn from the customer success team who had the most insight into the product, exactly how they should be using it, and for sales to take a backseat.
Erika Childers: (33:48)
I think it’s important that sales is involved, just because that’s been their point of contact, my opinion, is that sales should be involved, just because that’s been the customer’s first contact. That’s the person that they have the relationship with, but that sales can kind of let the CS team kind of take the reins and really show this customer what it’s like to work with your company, and then CS, and then maybe sales can come in and make that conversion right at the end.
Ben Winn: (34:16)
Mm-hmm (affirmative), and you can think of it like dating, right? If you’re with someone for a couple of weeks and you’re already looking for your next Tinder date, you’re basically not really fully committed to that already. They’re not getting the full relationship experience, and then their more likely to leave anyways, because they haven’t gotten the best experience, but if you’re like, “No, I’m committed to this, it’s going to work, and you really believe in it, then the customer or the person will pick up on that, too, and you’re more likely to be successful in the long run.
Erika Childers: (34:44)
Dave, what would you say on this? What do you think is an effective way to utilize the resources within your company to guide a user through a trial.
Dave Jackson: (34:58)
We had a discussion last week, Erika, as you know and I’ve given a lot of thought since then, and I’ve come to the conclusion that part of the problem is that we’ve actually framed the wrong question or the way that the question is framed actually represents an out of date perspective.
Erika Childers: (35:12)
Dave Jackson: (35:13)
By what I mean is, we think about, we think about sales. We think about customer success. We think about marketing. Customers don’t give a damn. They may know that you’ve got those different functions, but all they want is a great experience, and I think one of the most impactful things that we ever did, that clicked to us was, we completely scrapped our marketing process, our sales process, and our customer success process, and basically locked all those teams, along with product in a room for a few days and said, “You can’t come out of there, until you’ve come up with an end to end engagement cycle, which describes every stage that the customer goes through in their language.
Dave Jackson: (35:55)
So, I don’t want to hear about leads, and margin qualified leads, and sales qualified leads, and opportunity, and late stage opportunity. Let’s figure out what the customer is doing at this step, and how we can help them do that more effectively.” And then you start to say, “Okay, if that’s what we need to do for our customer, what’s the best way that we can do that? What’s the best source of that resource? What’s the best source of that content?” So, if you put the customer first, and design a customer pipeline rather than a marketing pipeline, or a sales pipeline, or a success one, I think you come up with a different answer.
Dave Jackson: (36:29)
But we perpetuate this stealth-packed organizations. We think, “Oh, this is our problem.” We have to think of this end to end from a customer’s perspective, and it was the single most, I mean, it helped us increase our [inaudible 00:36:47] value by about seven fold over two stages. We increased our lead conversion. We increased our sales velocity. We increased our lifetime customer value just by thinking from customer, and I wrote a topics, if anyone wants to know a bit more, I wrote an article. It’s called “Avoiding Death by Stovepipe.”
Erika Childers: (37:06)
That’s a great, I love that. So, I just want to say we’ll share that article. We’ll look for that article, and we’ll share that in the follow up. That’s fantastic, please continue.
Dave Jackson: (37:14)
Well, I just, I’ve always taken the perspective, because I was a CO from the bigger picture, and I guess that’s an advantage, but I think our first responsibility is business leaders is to the business not to our function, and that is actually, you could say another way of putting that is our first responsibility is to the customers.
Erika Childers: (37:39)
Absolutely. I think.
Dave Jackson: (37:40)
We say, “Think customers,” so, think customer.
Erika Childers: (37:43)
Yeah, I think that’s important. I think for the customer success teams that we’re talking about specifically, that’s all they care about is customers, and maybe if we’re taking a little bit of a different approach and looking at, instead of saying, “Well, how do we balance our resources?” And saying, “Well, how do we get the customer to where they need to be? What is the right resource?” Whether it’s a piece of content, or whether it’s a person, or whether their from CS or sales, or whatever it is. Stop thinking about how we balance those resources, but maybe thinking more about, whatever it is that the customer needs, at whatever stage of the journey that they’re in, giving them that. Is that fair to say?
Dave Jackson: (38:20)
It is, yeah, very much fair to say.
Erika Childers: (38:23)
Dave Jackson: (38:23)
Customer first. Solution second.
Erika Childers: (38:26)
Yeah, and then, Phil, is there anything that you would add here? You talked a little bit about earlier about how you have HubSpot coaches, and how they are kind of helpers with sales targets. Can you kind of talk a little bit more about that model at HubSpot?
Phil O’Doherty: (38:40)
Yeah, sure. So, I totally agree with Ben and Dave on all of their points as well. I think assuming we have a customer-first approach to our trials, and I think Dan, you have to figure out how do you organize around that, right, to make sure that you can get them the outcome that they’re hoping to have. So, I think that’s very much how we approach everything at HubSpot. I think be really, really clear about what the intent of your trial is. This is a sales tool, and that’s helping your customer see value that can then teed them up for a conversation to go deeper, or is this really just an opportunity for them to get an outcome from your product.
Phil O’Doherty: (39:18)
If it’s the first one, if it’s more of a sales tool, I think it’s better to have a sales person involved. So, I’ve seen in companies with more complex products, and they just simply use trials as an indicator to call in to that customer, because they need to have some sort of way to trigger that outreach, whereas what we try to do is get people onto products that are pretty easy to use, and help them see value, or help them get the outcome they want. In those cases, I think you need much more of a support and helper mindset.
Phil O’Doherty: (39:48)
So, you don’t want the sales mindset. You want somebody who goes maybe more from a CS or a support background to help them do that, and at HubSpot, we do have a team of user coaches and their job is to find the people who are struggling, or find those best fit customers based off the data, and are not getting the outcome they are hoping or are, and help them see even more value, and then their job is not to describe features or help them understand that.
Phil O’Doherty: (40:17)
The product should do that. It’s more like how to help them get more out of it, so that eventually if they’re ready, they can automatically go to a sales team, or go for a deeper conversation, or just simply upgrade without talking to anybody, and so the people we see work well in those roles are more of a support/customer success background, but with sales targets and incentives. Because at the end of the day, we can’t have a business if we don’t upgrade our trial users, or our freemium users. We need to sell them.
Phil O’Doherty: (40:44)
So, I think it’s important for them to track towards more conversions or activations, or upgrade dollars where the sales types target. So, that’s where it’s pretty well for us to have a balance there, and we leaned heavier into that model as we’ve grown and less towards a more traditional calling into people who are in trials straight away, and trying to get them on to a demo, or hide the trial from them. Make the trial do the work for you. Make the freemium model do the work for you.
Phil O’Doherty: (41:12)
So, I think that’s really how we’ve approached it, and to ensure that’s from the customer’s perspective.
Erika Childers: (41:21)
That’s great. So, I think this is going to be the end of our conversation, so not the end of our conversation. I want to move into QQ&A. We’ve covered a lot today. We’ve had a couple of questions come in already. So, I wanted to just remind everyone if you do have questions that you haven’t sent in yet, go ahead and send those in. We’ll do Q&A for just the next 10 or 15 minutes or so, but the first question that we had come in was around, “What do you do if you see a highly successful customer in a trial. I am assuming they’re hitting the milestones that they are supposed to be hitting, and they’re ultimately really successful, but they haven’t converted or maybe seem hesitant to convert.” and I’ll leave this open for the panel. Anyone who wants to jump in on this question.
Ben Winn: (42:05)
I mean, for us, that’s just the point where you get on the phone with the customer, and you ask a really awkward open-end kind of line where it’s just, “Great, I see you’ve been doing the trial. You’ve done X, Y, Zed. We’d love to get your feedback,” and they’ll say a bunch of complimentary things, and if they don’t talk about anything as a reason that they haven’t converted yet, then you can say, “I see you haven’t yet upgraded. We’d love to get your feedback on why that might be,” and that’s a very uncomfortable question to ask.
Ben Winn: (42:34)
As someone who has given those calls before, you want to fill that void with, “Is it because of this? Is it because of this?” And then you actually end up embedding possible excuses in the customer’s head, and they’re just going to repeat it back to you, but if you let that awkward silence hang there after asking a question like that, the answer you will get from the customer is going to be more obvious, because in their head they’re just like, “Oh, God. Say something,” and so the truth ends up coming out, and if it’s, “My boss won’t let me whatever,” whatever it might be, you’ll get a really honest answer, and then hopefully you can work with them to coach them through it.
Ben Winn: (43:07)
Those have been more my experiences. I’d be really curious to hear from David more, have ideas around how you can do that at scale, or in other use cases as well from my personal interests, too.
Dave Jackson: (43:18)
I think the thing about stepping in is absolutely important. Some good data from VC, a company called With Point Ventures, and they’ve got some good data, let me just. So, free trials, which are entirely self-service, and this is across a wide range of companies, converted about four percent, but if you then inject a sales person into that process at some time, they convert at 15%. So, as the great believer in freemium, and part of the reason I like freemium, is because it puts the [inaudible 00:43:54] of when the buying time is on to the buyer, because sometimes we sell too early.
Dave Jackson: (44:01)
If you have got a customer that’s meeting all those criteria, call them, because then you’re more likely to convert them.
Erika Childers: (44:09)
I love that data. Go ahead Phil.
Phil O’Doherty: (44:13)
I totally agree with that. I have seen the case before where you’re sitting there looking at the data, looking at this user, looking at it and they’re like, “Why aren’t they converting?” [crosstalk 00:44:20]. You pick up the phone and ask them whether you’re a founder, whether you’re in customer success sales or not, whoever it is should talk to that user.
Dave Jackson: (44:32)
Erika Childers: (44:32)
That’s great. I think that’s great feedback, and that data is so important. That’s a huge percent from just four percent to just a self-service trial to 15% from having a sales person. I know that I have definitely been someone who had trialed something, and been very successful, but not converted on it. I’m sure I have caused that frustration for other people, but I do think if it’s someone that comes in, if it’s just a self-service trial, I ama little bit, I’m maybe not as involved. I’m not as necessarily invested, but if I have someone who’s kind of walking me through that trial, or even someone who comes in toward the end of that trial and says, “Hey, you’ve actually been really successful, and we’re curious to know, why haven’t you converted or why are you not ready to upgrade?”
Erika Childers: (45:12)
It does kind of give me pause and kind of make me more interested to do it, if someone is kind of encouraging me in that direction.
Dave Jackson: (45:19)
You have to build a process, understand that the free trial process, which is typically timed, usually time constrained, sometimes user constrained is very different to a freemium model. So, the intervention strategies you need for the two are very different.
Erika Childers: (45:36)
Dave Jackson: (45:37)
Freemium, I think, gets much more of it in product thing, which is just, I mean HubSpot is great at this. Oh, I want to do this. Here’s the menu item. Ugh, here I’ve got a baby. Phil, that’s worth it. I need to do something.
Ben Winn: (45:53)
It was a free version, and that’s what we’re getting out of this. You have to get a free account.
Phil O’Doherty: (45:58)
I think we’re assuming here as well. One small point that we have the customer’s phone number, which sometimes is a challenge for a lot of companies that they just don’t have that, or they have an email address and that’s it. So, in those situations it’s quite challenging to dig deeper and figure that out. Re-engagement might be the thing you need to do there, maybe the timing wasn’t right. So, make sure you’re booking those customers and following up with them, so that maybe there is a time in the future where it is actually appropriate.
Ben Winn: (46:23)
Dave Jackson: (46:23)
But one of the things you can [crosstalk 00:46:25] product ties in this process is you can use the product to outreach to the customer, and then take the conversation elsewhere.
Phil O’Doherty: (46:35)
Ben Winn: (46:35)
I was going to say, the only other thing I’d add is going back to what Dave mentioned before about correlation and causation, you could call them, but it’s also a chance to revisit your analytics. Maybe your analytics are wrong. They’re pointing you saying that, “This is a gold customer that should be converting, but in actuality you’ve made some assumptions that aren’t, you shouldn’t have been as confident you have to re-check your calculation.”
Erika Childers: (46:59)
That’s a great point. All right. Great answers, you guys. So, for the next question, I think there’s maybe a little bit of level setting on this one. So, the question is, “Demo first or trial first? What are the pros and cons of each?” And obviously I would take that to mean probably a software that’s a little bit more robust, it’s not necessarily something that’s self-service. So, do you guys have any experience with, kind of, do you always have to have someone getting in a demo before they have a trial? Or can they go into a trial without having seen a demo in those situations, and are there pros and cons, and I will leave that again open for the panel.
Ben Winn: (47:38)
For myself, everyone, I mean in my experience, customers learn differently. I can’t watch someone walk through a demo, it’ll all go in one eye and ear and out the other. I won’t be able to repeat what I saw them do. I need to just click through, break things, do things wrong, until maybe they’ll then guide me, “Actually, here’s faster way to do what you wanted to do,” or those kind of little things, but other people, I mean, I know are great with seeing a demo and then doing it.
Ben Winn: (48:06)
Customers when they use SeamlessMD, half of them want to just click through and figure it out themselves, and that’s how they learn, and the other half want video. They want written point form instructions. They want images with screenshots. So, I think it’s good to figure out what kind of user they are, what kind of learner they are, if you can, and give them the option.
Dave Jackson: (48:28)
I think it all comes down to, I was going to say product complexity, but I think actually it’s probably problem complexity, rather than just product.
Erika Childers: (48:36)
Dave Jackson: (48:37)
How complex is the problem that we’re trying to solve? Because quite often the demo shouldn’t be just about this is how the product worked. This should be part of the sales conversation which is, “What are the problems you’re facing, and here’s what other people are doing,” that type of thing. So, if you’ve got a complex problem, then you need to have a conversation with it. If it’s a demo, I don’t necessarily know, but the other thing I’ve been thinking of is, if the product’s really complex is, “How the hell can I simplify it?” Because that’s the key.”
Erika Childers: (49:11)
Dave Jackson: (49:12)
Not just the trials, but actually to ongoing use and retention.
Erika Childers: (49:15)
Phil O’Doherty: (49:17)
Totally agree. I think just from the example that we have here, those are the easy to use tools where we’d be happy to let a customer just sign up, and use, say for example, our See Around tool on their own without a demo. We do have a pretty big marketing tool as well, but if you were dropped into in a free trial without any kind of guidance, we would struggle to find out exactly on your own what you want to do. So, I think just somewhere in between where you can let a customer, let a prospect use a trial, but really understand what they’re trying to do, and point them in the right direction. So, it’s not like a demo, but it’s more like, “Oh, the problem you’re trying to solve is X, Y, and Z. So, while you’re in the trial, I recommend you focus on these three things, and these five tasks within those three headings.”
Phil O’Doherty: (50:00)
So, you kind of let them do the demo on their own, let them figure that stuff out on their own, in a siloed way, so they’re not overwhelmed by the breath of your app, and they have some direction, and then if they want to go deeper into those specifics, then you can do something to formalize later. So, I think there’s a medium in between there if you have a very complex product, you need to narrow it down for them.
Phil O’Doherty: (50:20)
Ideally, you could do that in your product by qualifying them really well, and finding out what their outcome is, and then just showing them those pieces of the app, but generally that’s quite sophisticated. So, it generally does require a human or a sales person to do that. So, that’s what we try to do for our more complex products.
Erika Childers: (50:38)
Great, and then I think we have time for one more question. So, this question is around, “”What are some of the common mistakes that you’ve seen organizations make in their trial programs?” And again, I will leave this open for you guys, whoever wants to answer first.
Dave Jackson: (50:55)
I’ll jump in there. One is that you sell to the wrong customers, or you try and sell to the wrong customers. Don’t sell to the customers that you can’t make successful. Second is, in a free trial particularly you give away too much or too little. You have to really understand both from the data, if you’ve got it, and/or talking to customers. Just where your value thresholds are. What’s the thing that’s we can value, sticking to freemium, you can get people to a point of value, but then there’s another point of value that they really want. So, understanding where those cut over points are.
Dave Jackson: (51:32)
And the reason I like freemium is, I think I mentioned this, is that sometimes we just try and close too early. We try and close quite often because the quota, and the month’s end’s coming, or the quarter end’s coming. Whereas, if we really focused on making customers successful and getting them to the right outcomes, we have to understand that quite often the customer has to put certain things and resources in place, and until they’ve got them in place, we can close a deal, but then we set off with the relationship, and they’re not ready to actually use the product properly. So, you start off on a bad foot.
Phil O’Doherty: (52:12)
Yeah, I think from my side add there’s three things, I think, yeah, and that would adds that. Do you really need a trail at all? I think it’s a good question. Do you need a freemium experience? If your product, this is from personal experience, working at a company where we had a product that was quite time based, or single use case based, so it was a seasonal product, and giving the trial away, I think as Dave said, giving too much was definitely something that we suffered from where you could do whatever you needed to do for that project in that two weeks, or that 30 days, and then you didn’t need to purchase, because you had gotten your outcome that you wanted. So, I think you need to be really careful about that whether if you have a complex product, or a seasonal product or something like that. Do you really need one at all, and were you sure you relied on a more traditional sales process or human led process.
Phil O’Doherty: (52:59)
Second thing is, don’t drop people in with guidance, without guidance, sorry. I think we talked about this a lot, but yeah, don’t drop them into an empty product without any guidance whether that be through chat, email, in app, whatever it is, and then the last one which I think is important from my experience in customer success, my team here used to be pretty heavily focused on getting our existing customers to adopt more features and more tools, and the way that we did that was through trials.
Phil O’Doherty: (53:26)
We just opened up trials to them. They were existing users, so they were pretty comfortable with the [inaudible 00:53:32], but one of the things we suffered from was we’d always extend those trials out, so, don’t extend your trials, because it devalues your product. If you’ve set it up correctly, you have enough time to make that customer successful in that time period. So, you can use that as an indicator for sales skills on the team, to know if people are extending trials, it’s mean they probably need to work on their closing or their helping, or whatever it might be.
Phil O’Doherty: (53:53)
So, I think that’s a good indicator to look at as well, just make sure that you stand over your trial and you don’t extend it out, or put it into [inaudible 00:54:04].
Ben Winn: (54:07)
Yeah, I think the only big thing I would add to this one is, overall when you’re looking at, or what I’ve seen companies do is overall look at this from a company first perspective. What features do we want the customer to use? How fast can we convert them? Are you going to hit your quota. It’s all company centric, and it’s come up a lot today, but being customer centric, flipping those questions around. What features does the customer want to use? What features is the customer most curious about? What value does the customer want to get? How can we delight the customer in their trial? What opportunities are there? And kind of putting your quota, or your sales target aside for that conversation.
Ben Winn: (54:50)
If you can really, genuinely do that, it’s a very hard thing, and a lot of companies really struggle with it, especially when you’re a growing start up, and you’ve got very intense numbers to hit and investors and all this kind of external pressure, but it’s, ultimately that’s what’s going to make it successful in the long run if you can really make everything you do from beginning to end, including the trial customer centric.
Dave Jackson: (55:13)
I agree with that, Ben, but as a CO I will also say, “How can I do all these things and hit your quota?”
Ben Winn: (55:19)
How can they?
Dave Jackson: (55:20)
How can they do all these things and hit the quota?
Ben Winn: (55:22)
I mean. Good point. Yeah, hopefully it’s one of those things where you, I mean it’s going slow to go to fast. It’s that kind of thing, right?
Erika Childers: (55:34)
Phil O’Doherty: (55:34)
Ben Winn: (55:34)
If you pick a customer approach, it’s counter intuitive at first. It’s like advocating internally down down selling someone’s contract, because the sales person oversold them, they’re not going to get the values, so recommending that they reduce their contract, that will get you the renewal and keep the customer for years to come, but if you just keep going, going, going, then you’re going to end up trimming. So, it’s kind of a down approach, right?
Dave Jackson: (55:57)
Yes, I jest.
Ben Winn: (55:59)
Erika Childers: (56:02)
Awesome, well, I’m going to call it a wrap for today. We have about three minutes left, so everyone can move onto the next meeting or wherever they’re going, but I thought this was a really great discussion. Thank you all so much for being here. Thank you to the panelists for sharing all their insights. For everyone that’s in the audience, like I mentioned earlier, we’ll send the recording. We’ll send the slides and everything that you need, we’ll send. We’ll send the article that Dave mentioned earlier that he wrote, because I think that will provide some really good additional insight.
Erika Childers: (56:32)
If you have any feedback or questions or anything for us, please send us an email. You can reach us at [email protected], and hopefully we’ll see you on the next one. Thanks, everybody. Have a good day.