In one of our most recent ‘How I Work’ episodes, Eva Dixon, Director of Marketing from Kipsu, talked about why customer partnerships are important for SaaS companies.
This got us thinking about how effective sales and marketing for SaaS companies has changed over time. Here is what we’re seeing:
Where we started: Traditional Sales / Marketing / Customer Service Model
In the most traditional model, the marketing department is driving MQLs and sales is qualifying them (SQLs). Once qualified, you’ve got sales people trying to win deals or sell large platform plays. They’ve got SMEs (subject matter experts) that help them get deals closed. Once a deal is closed it gets handed off to the customer support team and the sales team jumps back into their SQLs looking for their next big deal. Everyone has their own goals and hierarchies that they’re reporting and accountable to.
Where we are today: Customer Success Model
The customer success model has been widely adopted. Here you’ll see a blending of sales and customer support. Marketing is still on their own, with their own set of goals and KPIs for driving, mainly, free trials.
The customer success team is a blend of sales and support functions. This type of team ensures that from the start prospective customers are using the product effectively and seeing their desired results. Customer success teams are looking to land-and-expand, getting started with a customer and then soft selling them throughout the relationship to drive usage, assessing satisfaction and introducing additional products – ultimately leading to upsells and renewals.
Where we’re seeing this going: Customer Partnership Model
Imagine all three of these functions (Marketing, Sales and Customer Support) rolled into one. One unified team with shared goals, managers, reporting and accountability. Everyone is responsible for bringing on new customers or working together to unpack tough questions like:
‘Yes, we’ve got leads but they didn’t close – so why is that?’
‘We’ve got some leads that have closed – why aren’t we getting more of these?’
The goal is to build teams with the ability to have empathy for both sales and marketing. Teams with the ability to see these conversations from both sides – diagnosing problems from a 360 degree view. By combining functions, teams have incentives to win together. At the same time the need to defend, blame, or be territorial goes away. That’s why customer partnerships are important for SaaS companies.
SaaS marketing has come a long way over the years and the organizational structures companies choose to put in place matter. The relationship between marketing, sales and customer support continues to evolve and it’s worth paying attention to. Hopefully we’ve helped to uncover why customer partnerships are important for SaaS companies and got you thinking about how the model your SaaS company is using could evolve.
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