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Don’t Lose the Heart and Soul with Cameron Brain {Hey Salespeople Podcast}

September 10, 2019

As salespeople, we often focus on turning prospects into customers, but how do we prevent those customers from jumping ship?

Cameron Brain, CEO of Everyone Social, and Jeremey discuss strategies for driving adoption, engagement, and retention on this episode of the Hey Salespeople podcast.

Cameron shares his tips on how to maintain a competitive edge while never diverting focus away from the customer and never losing the heart and soul of your organization. 

cameron brain podcast

Listen to this episode for answers to questions like: 

  • Should customer success be responsible for upselling and renewals? 
  • How should you change tactics based on who you are engaging?
  • How has Cameron never once lost a client to a competitor? 
  • Why does the heart and soul of a company matter so much?
  • How can salespeople maintain a good reputation even when competitors are playing dirty? 

Client Success in Sales

Jeremey: This is constantly debated in the B2B sales and service world these days of whether or not your CSM, your client success people should have any commercial responsibility. Specifically, should they be responsible for any up-selling or renewing? How have you handled that?

Cameron: Yeah, we made some changes not too long ago, I feel like things change, you know, at every kind of evolutionary stage of the company.

We’re still relatively early. Our view across our company with respect to all our teams is, do as much as we possibly can with as few people as possible. We want to keep our eye towards hiring great people that can operate on a largely autonomous level. That may change as we grow from here, but ultimately, our view is that we really want client success to be the true partner of all of our clients. For that reason, they are not responsible for any kind of economic component. 

I will say retention, obviously, is something that they’re measured on in addition to growth. Without tying that to dollars, we’re looking at user adoption, generally speaking. Every client we have has some amount of additional runway in terms of the number of additional users that can be on our platform because it does apply to everyone in an organization, even if we’re just starting out with sales.

So they have retention goals, they have user growth goals, they have user engagement goals as well. Upsells, in addition to renewals and anything that is exclusively owned by sales in the spirit of being a true partner.

I don’t want them to ever think that a suggestion or something that client success may be working with them on has a different aim. I want the client success objectives to be totally aligned with the objectives of the client. Even things around user growth and engagement.

Yes, there are dollars tied to user growth, but the more active users a client has, the more value they’re going to get out of the program. That’s part of the reason why we kind of have that hard line between the two organizations.

Increasing Adoption and Engagement

Jeremey: How, if at all, do you explain that you guys are better at adoption and engagement than the next person?

Cameron: Fortunately, we’ve got some great examples. We all have these kinds of nuggets that we can weave together into a narrative or a strategy. One of the most powerful aspects of our story is that over six years, we’ve never lost a client to a competitor. Over that same period, we’ve taken many from competitors. Probably 9 out of 10 times, it’s because of engagement adoption.

Those clients turned into some of our absolute best clients because they have experience. They know where the holes are and they know what they’re looking for. They’re obviously very committed to the programs. I say,  trust us. We’re going to make this successful. We’ve never had anyone move to another platform, we understand what the issues are, what we do not play the game of feature comparison, or anything related to competitors. Probably anyone in sales has run up against a question from a prospect that’s, “well, we’re looking at these other solutions, how do you compare with them?”

We are not experts in our competitors’ products. For the most part, we’ve never even used them. We can go to their website and look at what they advertise on there. But of course, the reality can be very different. We like to put that back on the prospect and say, “You’re talking with them, you have access.” Let’s take it to a little bit higher level and talk about what our priorities are.

We know over the years, of course, there are some different approaches and priorities in terms of how we focus on our product and you know how we focus in particular on client success. Those are two things that we know because clients have moved to us from competitor products. We have significantly higher levels of engagement and retention at the user level. We’ve heard bad things about client success on the partner competitors, but we know what we do. We’re going to give you as much as you possibly need to make this a success; we are committed to your success. That’s been our approach over the years. It never fails to surprise us.

We were just in a deal with a big cloud service provider. It went relatively quickly, only like three months. We were chosen over one of the others. They sent the buyer team this email saying “these are all the things that you don’t know about the competitor.” You know, the majority of the stuff in there was just total fabrication. The buyer team knew what the deal was, too. They were like, “this is complete BS.” They actually emailed back that vendor about it. Trust me – this had to have reached the CEO of this company, that they said, “Well, one of the reasons why we didn’t buy from you is that it violates our corporate principles. This is just totally inappropriate.”

I look at something like that, it’s like, “My God, how did a salesperson think that that was appropriate?”

Jeremey: The story you just described plays out all the time. The customer tells us the same thing. “We bought from you because of the heart and soul. We know you wouldn’t do something like this.”

Cameron: It just drives those people more into your arms.

Jeremey: Yeah, I love your approach – they didn’t buy from you now. Now you have 12, 24, 36 months to nurture them with real value. That proves that you are the right partner that be helpful in their social media strategy.

Cameron: We all live in the same world. Especially with Enterprise. You may be used by one division and your competitor grabbed another division. It’s probably more rare than common that someone jumps in and snags an Enterprise deal right off the bat. 

Key Takeaways

Cameron: Focusing on having some aspect of your organization function as a true partner in success. Not just simply in the use of your product, but understanding what the ROI expectations are. Even if we charge for client success, the objective would still be the same. Success for us is not purely their usage of the product. By them getting value out of it, that’s going to lead to account retention, account growth, all that good stuff. Within most enterprises, there’s lots and lots of headroom for growth, economically speaking.

The other thing is, obviously, there are many B2B SaaS companies, many companies, in general, trying to sell into Enterprises. Lots of sales teams are out there knocking down doors and making phone calls. Just as your product or your brand or your client success team has a reputation, so does your sales team. It may not be the number one reason why someone ultimately buys from you, but I think it’s a huge contributing factor.

We have seen that over and over again, I think it’s interesting… we’re kind of in our little micro-industry over here and we even see some of this ‘bad behavior’ from some competitors from time to time and there’s probably more that goes on behind the scenes that we’re not totally aware of. There is such a major competitive advantage to be snatched by saying “we are going to be the trustworthy party and your experience with us – whether you buy from us or not – is important.”

THERE’S A LOT MORE TO HEAR! Listen to the full podcast for more on driving strategy.

If you have a passion for the art and the science of sales, are looking to further your career, or just want to hear some great, practical tips, ‘Hey Salespeople’ is the podcast for you. Subscribe so you can follow along as Jeremey interviews the brightest minds in modern sales to bring you immediately actionable advice. Listen and subscribe here.