By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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What a great conversation I had with Joyce Brown, VP of Customer Success at Allocadia. We talked about The Art & Science of Customer Loyalty: Community, Advocacy and More
Our Guest, as VP of Customer Success at Allocadia, Jocelyn Brown is dedicated to helping Allocadia’s customers achieve the highest levels of Marketing Performance Management and maximize the business value of their investments. In her role, she guides customers through their continued growth and progression through the stages of budgeting, planning and performance excellence, and elevates their experience throughout the journey.
Having spent more than 18 years in the B2B and SaaS spaces, Jocelyn brings extensive experience building and managing high-performing customer success teams that drive recurring revenue and value, and develop life-long customers. Most recently she spent 9 years at Eloqua in customer success and global market readiness roles.
Listen in and/or read our conversation below:
Matt: Welcome to a winter Olympics edition of Sales Pipeline Radio. Isn’t it amazing how we go four years not watching it, and then every four years we become experts in curling.
Paul: I’m an expert in the Luge. Curling?
Jocelyn: Curling. Curling is what I get really into it. It’s only every four years.
Matt: You know what Paul? As much as I wanted to talk about customer loyalty and advocacy, we do have a Canadian as a guest today. Up here in Seattle, we get, I think it’s CBC. It’s the Canadian version of NBC right? But with much, much, honestly, better coverage. They’re more neutral in terms of who they cover. It’s less fluffy. It’s good. It’s just good coverage. That said, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the curling. I tried to watch curling. I got a buddy who’s in the Seattle Curling Club. Years ago, we went to the Seattle Curling Club. They had an open house. We went, not to make fun of it, but just like, “What the hell is this?” It was like, they gave you a broom and they walk you through the game. There were four of us. We all had a really good time. Then two of the four joined and one is now skip of his own crew and then my buddy, he’s still in a crew as well. They love it.
Jocelyn: That’s a decent conversion rate there, Matt.
Matt: 50%. There was no booze. There wasn’t an open bar. I don’t know what it cost them, whatever it cost to keep the ice frozen, I guess, and they got two people. Then it’s not just conversion, it’s, as we’ll discuss today, they got converted that day, but that was years ago. The lifetime value, the loyalty and advocacy built on curling, in this tiny little outpost. It’s not exactly a curling town, but anyway. We’re going to get to customer success and advocacy. We got a lot to talk about today. Thank you so much everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Once we get past waves and the Minnesota Vikings and the Olympics, we eventually do talk about B2B sales and marketing. We are here every week at 11:30 pacific, 2:30 eastern. We are live on the lead funnel, media, radio network. We are featuring every week experts in B2B sales and marketing. Today is no different. We have Jocelyn Brown. She is the VP of customer success at Allocadia. She is from Canadia. We may still use some icisms because I’m cold, some Olympics references. Really, really excited to have her join us today, to talk a lot more about customer success and customer advocacy. Jocelyn, thanks again for joining us.
Jocelyn: Yeah, my pleasure Matt.
Matt: If you’ve listened to this show in the past, you know that we are as guilty as a lot of media marketers in that we spend the majority of our time talking about acquisition. We spend a majority of our time talking about getting customers on board. When you look at the budgets and the resources from a lot of B2B marketing groups, I think that’s reflected there as well. You’ve got all these people and budgets and marketing technology, to be able to do acquisition and then when it comes to keeping customers, often times it’s a toll free number and occasional newsletter.
I don’t know if you saw, just this morning, a friend of both of ours, Paul Teshima who’s the CEO of Nudge. He put something up on LinkedIn talking about customer success, then and now. Previously, it might have been more reactive, it was more support and service. Now it’s really a revenue driver for the business to drive advocacy, ambassadors of the brand, expansion. What maybe used to be an after thought, maybe something it was thought of as more reactive, administrative and tactical, is now very much a strategic part of the business. Would love to have you talk about your perspective there and then what you guys are doing with that at Allocadia as well.
Jocelyn: Yeah, absolutely, Matt. I think the advent of subscription economy really of SaaS is what has put such a spotlight on retention, on investment in your customers. That business model really has given a seat at the table to those folks that actually work with the customers day in and day out, because we have to earn their business every day. Their barrier to leave is very low. We need to make sure that they are constantly feeling like they’re getting value and feeling valued in that business relationship. I’ve been doing it for 10 plus years, probably longer than that if I were to really admit it.
Really, for me, being with the customer is where it’s at. It is really the center of the company from results, from revenue, from anything. I actually work with customers post sale, but I also own a fairly large number in that I am responsible for all the renewal revenue and also all of our expansion revenue, which accounts for a very significant part of our growth. To say it’s just an afterthought or pieces of a gross misunderstanding of the economics of a SaaS business. Certainly of Allocadia. The customer is the center, really, of everything and we build our product for that.
We organize our journey for that. Our customers really lead our marketing. They are our best voice in the market. Peer to peer references are the most valuable to our prospects. Putting the time and effort and attention into our customers to make sure that they’re receiving value means that they’re going to talk about it. They’re going to explain it in the market. They’re going to continue to work with us and advocate for our business. I think those that haven’t figured that out yet are behind.
Matt: Yeah, I whole heartedly agree. Let’s talk about that relates to what we do talk a lot about here, along the acquisition side, which is the buying journey. I think often times, we think of the buying journey too often as ending when someone buys. That may be the end of the sales process, but it’s really the middle of what I’d call the revenue bow tie. You may have gotten someone to buy, but that’s when things really begin. As someone who’s spent quite a bit of time and, I want to get back and talk about the Eloqua days as well. How do you, as a customer success professional think about the buying journey? It’s way beyond the closed deal, right?
Jocelyn: Absolutely. I think also, just in the nature of how people buy now. Because it’s a lot easier to try things because it’s a lot easier to start small and grow from there. You also are seeing that people are really trying and then expanding. That land and expand strategy that we were successful with at Eloqua is a very big piece of our strategy at Allocadia, is let’s get people in experiencing our product, experiencing our team, solving their problem, maybe the smaller scale, and then help them map out how to get to a fully executed strategy to fully execute it. There’s really no downside to us bringing in a customer at a smaller scale, because we know, first of all that our technology’s going to help them. We know that our team understands what’s going on, has done it many, many times before and is going to provide them the right kind of guidance.
We know if we let them set the terms of how they grow, that it’s going to be the right solution and the right fit. We’re not going to have to back into it based on a sales cycle that maybe not everybody knew enough to run really, really well. For us, there’s no fear of people coming in and trying it out a bit first, because history tells us that that is a great place for us to start and to grow. We’ve had great success there. Then it makes less friction in the process for the customer and a lot easier. They don’t have to pick everything all at once. We don’t have to do a big bang release. We can really move them along. That’s a little change in the buying process that’s a little change in technology where integrations and things like that are easier.
That’s also just our philosophy. We want you to get a feel for our technology, to feel some relief of us being able to help you solve that problem and for you to then experience our team, because our team really is so invested in making sure that you are successful, that you’re going to partner with us. It’s going to feel like a real partnership.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Jocelyn Brown. She’s the vice president of customer success at Allocadia. This is a company that clearly is bought in on doing a customer success right. I think by having your position there, by having the resources and the focus there, I think it is a part of the culture, there’s a part of the priorities. I think that was clear to me as well when I met you for the first time back when you were at Eloqua, which was eventually bought by Oracle. The Eloqua experience conferences, there aren’t very many conferences I go to where you see more hugs than hand shakes.
When you see people that hadn’t even met each other before, but because of the relationship they built, because of the bond that existed between customers and not just the company, but the people at the company. That is an incredible competitive advantage, talk about customer success and customer advocacy was really at the heart of the culture of Eloqua and how that’s really developed the programs you’ve built from that point forward.
Jocelyn: Yeah. There’s no question that part of my goal is to recreate some of what was so great at Eloqua and I’ve been very fortunate, and that there are lot of people here that are willing to come along that ride with me. There’s so many good examples of what we did there, but I think the primary one was that everybody believed that the customer was at the center of what we were doing. There was a concept that the customer was in the room, all the time. All of our meeting rooms were named after customers. Everyone in the company had some portion of their compensation tied to a customer success type of metric. It really was pervasive. We talked about our customers. Our marketing was led by the voice of our customers. We told stories all the time. They were always there. They were ever present. I think that just meant that we were always thinking about them, and we were very invested in not just the companies that we were helping, but the individual people and the relationships that were driving that.
Matt: Well, I think another part of the customer evangelism and customer experience program at Eloqua, that I was certainly a part of as well, as an Eloqua customer and partner, was Topliners. Your customer success staff extended into your customers. You had customers that were essentially ambassadors and support staff in many cases for each other. I think to talk a little bit about where Topliners came from and why that was such a key part of the success for you?
Jocelyn: Yeah, the investment or the choice to really put that kind of investment in there, came out of a project called ICE. It was the ideal customer experience, where people from all of the post sales functions got together and tried to figure out where are all the ways that we can make this experience even better for our customers. Where we can make it easy to do business with us, where we can celebrate success, where we can share stories, where we can help people grow together. It was just clear that we needed to get as much as our expertise, not just from the staff, but from the customers that had grown up with us through that transformation and marketing and to marketing automation, out there as we could. Really, it was also an extension of we’d very successfully been running small customer events throughout our region, mostly in the US, but even in Europe, where we’d get customers together and we almost didn’t have to present anything.
They wanted to talk to each other and we just saw this amazing networking effect and this incredible desire for everybody to help everybody else. We really felt like we were building something. It was a pretty transformative time in the B2B marketing space, that everybody was on that same mission and everybody wanted to help everybody else. Topliners really was our best way to amplify that. As you know, it really did exactly that, where our customers became our best educators, our best marketers and really the best source for expertise.
Matt: Yeah, Topliners is basically a discussion board. It was a discussion board with comment threads, where you could attach documents. A lot of companies have those, but I think hopefully what you’ve heard from Jocelyn so far is there was something very special about the culture. There was something about the priorities of the organization, the people that were leading it, the people that founded it, that really drove what happened with customers.
I think you can set up message boards, you can start newsletters, but unless you have that culture, it’s not going to go where you want it to go. We’re going to have to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be back in just a couple minutes with more with Jocelyn Brown, vice president of customer success at Allocadia, talking a lot more about advocacy, a little more about the old Eloqua days and what she sees moving forward, in terms of driving more revenue responsible customer programs. You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Back to our program with Matt Heinz, the only man I know who can say the Luge without sounding silly.
Matt: I love watching that. Luge or skeleton. I can’t decide which one I like better. I was actually telling my wife last night, I think if I were to do it, I think I might like skeleton, even though it seems crazier, at least you can stare at what you’re doing. If you have to look over your toes to try to figure out where you’re going, that seems harder.
Paul: That does.
Matt: I don’t know. I have to apologize to Jocelyn. I don’t mean to make fun of curling. There’s no way at this point in my life, I’m going to race down a mountain of ice at 70 miles an hour on skis. Curling is, given I’ve not done it, but …
Jocelyn: Achievable goals Matt. You could be a curler.
Matt: I could totally do curling. Four years from now, I could be, where is it going to be? Beijing? Paris? I could totally do curling.
Jocelyn: Yep. As for Luge, the team event this morning, the Canadians won a medal.
Jocelyn: Oh yeah. It was very exciting.
Matt: The Canadians, obviously, not surprisingly very good at winter sports. I’ve really enjoyed watching the Canadian figure skaters the last few days. My four year old, women, he calls them girdas, I don’t know why. He likes watching the ice skating girdas. Last night was the first I got to see snowboard cross, where basically they line up six snowboarders, and they just race down an obstacle course and crash into each other. It’s like NASCAR on ice, it’s really fun.
All right, back to Sales Pipeline Radio, thank you so much everyone for joining us, if you’re still with us after that nonsense. If you like what you’re hearing today, make sure you join us every week. Coming up in the next couple weeks, next week on Sales Pipeline Radio, we have Joe Hyland, he’s the CMO of ON24. We’re going to talk about secrets of CMOs, the secret successes behind some B2Bs, revenue leaders. Joe has started a podcast called, “Confessions of a CMO”, and we talk a little bit about that. The week after our first episode in March, I’m super excited, we have Jill Konrath. She is one of my favorite people in the B2B sales world. She’s written a number of books, include SNAP Selling and just hugely, hugely influential to me and to others in B2B sales, so excited to have her join the program as well.
Today, we still have a little more time with Jocelyn Brown. She’s the VP of customer success at Allocadia. Couple things I will promote for you here Jocelyn. On February 28th, I highly encourage you to check out a workshop that Allocadia is doing online, called the Metrics That Matter workshop. They’re doing that in conjunction with IDC. You can go to allocadia.com, learn more about that. In terms of putting their money where their mouth is, I would also encourage you to go check out just content.allocadia.com. Tons of great resources, downloads, blog posts, some framework, some really, really great stuff.
Jocelyn, from your journey from Eloqua to Oracle to where you are today, having that culture and focus on customer success is great. But I think continuing to provide ideas and insights to your customers, often times, and I think we’ve seen this data from Gartner and CEB and others, it’s not just providing a phone number to call, it’s not adding more features, it’s really helping your customers become smarter, giving them new ideas and insights. That is a huge competitive differentiator. The content that we’re seeing online and what you’re providing to customers is a huge part of your job as well.
Jocelyn: Absolutely. I think to bring it to brass tax, as much as we talked about a lot of softer stuff in the culture of Eloqua that really drove such an amazing community for us, that resulted in real impact and real results. That came with investment. It doesn’t happen by accident. There is a real outcome to that. Customer success should not be mistaken for a colleague that’s called it dialing for smiles. It’s absolutely not that. When you understand a customer’s business, when you have a great relationship and great empathy for what they’re trying to accomplish and you’re really trying to help them solve that problem, you will make that company successful and they will grow and buy more.
You will make that individual successful and they will remember that and they will take you everywhere they go. That amplifying effect of advocacy, comes from the real work of listening, understanding and providing solutions for your customers. That includes your software, but also in advice and guidance and connections in helping them talk to peers that are struggling with the same thing. I wouldn’t want anybody to mistake customer success just for service or something soft. It has a true and very real business benefit.
Matt: Absolutely. I think a lot of people listening probably are in that camp we talked about at the beginning of the episode, around not really having people, not having resources. If I’m a CMO listing the thing, yeah, this makes sense. We need to be doing this, but I don’t have a Jocelyn on my team yet. We don’t have this in my budget. What are some things people can do to build the foundation for a more impactful customer success effort?
Jocelyn: Yeah, absolutely. The good news is it’s probably an extension of some of the stuff you already do. That idea of journey mapping that gets talked about a lot in B2B marketing, it’s extending that, all the way through the customer life cycle, and understanding the touch points, the content, the tools, the other types of things, the triggers, all the way through that. They’re going to help the customer that are going to provide opportunity for your company and seeing where your gaps are and where you might be able to get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of closing that gap.
Understanding the journey that your customer is going through in using your tool, is just as important as understanding the journey that they go through in researching, understanding and making a buying decision. A lot of the same tools apply, a lot of the same theory applies, a lot of the same work can be done. For me, it’s always going to involve a team. I think that, certainly in B2B, nothing really can replace that relationship and that empathy and somebody really feeling like you care what happens to them in the context of how you’re working with them.
I had the good fortune of a customer who I realized I have worked with for 11 years, come visit us in our headquarters. Just before she got up to tell her story, she turned to me and said, “Having a company really care about you matters. It matters a lot.” She’s a buyer. She’s the person making that decision and that matters to her. I think sometimes people forget the human equation, that there’s real work in building relationships and that those relationships carry an inherent value for the customer and for the company that’s working with them.
Matt: Now there’s no doubt about that. I think there aren’t enough people that prioritize that. I think too often, we look at the spreadsheet and we manage through the numbers you want to hit. We look at customers as buildings, but buildings don’t actually sign checks, the people inside the buildings do. There’s something about having a good relationship with someone and showing and proving that you care, that not only generates loyalty, but gives you a little bit of the benefit of the doubt.
Things are going to break. Things are going to not work the way you want them to. In most environments, you get customers that are angry and that yell and scream and get upset. In an environment where you actually make this part of the culture, what you make it here, they call and wonder what they can do to help you. They’re rooting for you to do it well. Before we have to wrap up here in a couple minutes, you’ve been doing this for a while. I think there’s a lot of people that I know that you’ve worked with, that we’ve talked about in the past that you’ve learned from. For people that want to learn more about how to do this right, who are some of the people that have been influential for you? They can be dead or alive, but people in terms of customer care, customer advocacy that you’d recommend go and read?
Jocelyn: Yeah, absolutely. I take just an incredible amount of learning from my days at Eloqua and I continue to work with those people and talk to them. You mentioned Paul Teshima. He certainly writes on customer success and the power of relationships. Heather Foeh, who’s at Lookbook is probably one of the most talented advocacy leaders that I’ve really ever met. I’m at Gainsight customer, so I spend a lot of time reading their content and have had a chance to meet Allison Pickens. I think she writes some really great stuff and some really practical stuff, maybe about the operational and organizational things that maybe people are craving. You’ve actually got a plethora of people talking about it right now.
What I would suggest is find the meet up in your local city, and go and talk to a bunch of people. It’s really in that networking effect and in that community that I get my best ideas and I get my greatest value. As we are building off this profession, you don’t know who’s going to have your next best idea. I think people are bringing experience from lots of other functions that is just accelerating the growth of customer success, and just making us better. Find your friends, and me. I love to hear from people. I’m very happy to talk to them, so you can find me on LinkedIn. My twitter handle is @jocebrown. I’m happy to interact on this stuff, because that’s what’s fun for me.
Matt: Yeah, I appreciate you doing that. I think your approach here and your answers just re-enforce everything I know about you, just being a very genuine, very customer centric person and very open to sharing ideas and your experience with others. Appreciate that very much, and I would echo the find friends, meet friends, stay connected with friends that also have similar roles, not necessarily in your industry, not necessarily with your same type of customer. I think sometimes if you get into other industries, other customer situations, you might discover something that you hadn’t thought about in your four walls that someone else is doing because of what feels natural to them, that might be truly innovative and new in your industry that gives you another edge. Definitely important to continue to be lifelong learners.
Speaking Paul and lifelong learners, we’re going to have to wrap things up here, on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. If you like what you hear today and if you want to share this episode with other people on your team, you can do so a number of different ways. You can go in a couple days to sales pipelineradio.com. We will have this entire episode on demand and you can share that with your friends, peers and colleagues, all episodes: past, present and future, Sales Pipeline Radio up on salespipelineradio.com. Make sure you don’t miss another episode. Subscribe to the series up on iTunes store, Google play and we’ll have a highlight of this session on heinzmarketing.com in just a few days as well, with links. Thank you so much Jocelyn for joining us today. We’ve got a great couple weeks of episodes coming up as usual. Thank you very much for joining us on behalf of my great producer Paul, this Matt Heinz. See you next week on Sales Pipeline Radio.