5 Customer success premonitions for 2016

What does the future have in store for customer success?

Glass balls get cloudy, but the vision for the future of customer success is steadily getting clearer. Customer success is still an emerging role, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it will undergo some changes in 2016. As of right now there are still a number of different ways business are addressing scope, reporting, and the activities that fall under customer success.  But in 2016, the activities that customer success plays a part in will become more solidified.

So what are the details of how customer success’s organizational alignment and activities will change in 2016? These four predictions will lay it out.

5 Changes customer success will undergo 

  1. Customer success will closely work with marketing to manage the customer journey – In 2016, customer success will redefine the scope of their functionality. Since customer success’s focus is on the continued customer journey after the sale, it makes sense that they start to align with marketing to strategically manage the customer journey during the buying process as well. As of now, customer success ensures a customer’s continued happiness to promote a greater LTV which means they have access to the information on what makes a customer happy and what a customer would like to see improved. That information can give marketing valuable insight when deciding how to provide a consistent, engaging customer journey.
  2. The department will be managed as a profit center – Customer success is responsible for retaining and growing the business. This makes it logical then to run the department like you would run a profit center. And in 2016, that’s what will likely happen. Like a profit center, customer success will be crucial to determining which clients are most and least profitable so as not to spend time on customers that have little to no chance of cross-sell and upsell with the worst case scenario being that you break even. Understanding which customers are in the business to cross-sell and upsell will reduce the allocation of resources to less profitable customers. This will make customer success seek out technology that can provide increase cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Advocacy methods and referral programs are one avenue that will be more sought out to accomplish this.
  3. Customer success will take more ownership of digital properties that customers touch – Customer success understands what customers want, like, and dislike. As a result, in 2016, customer success will take on more responsibility that aligns with the current customers they come in contact with. User communities will be managed by customer success to further nurture and interact with current customers. In addition, customer success will direct marketing on the best forms and styles of customer communication. This insight will lead to better and more successful communication between marketers and customers.
  4. Customer success will take an increased marketing role – Customer success has the know it all that marketing needs to market successfully. That’s why in 2016, customer success will take on more of a marketing role. If there are no customer marketers to start, customer success will hire marketers internally. Marketing and customer success are tightly tied together. This will cause customer success to seek out new technology that can help customer success and marketing better align.
  5. Adoption of technology to track the health of a customer relationship will increase – Two metrics that are extremely important to customer success are the rate of client retention and churn. Minimizing churn and maximizing client retention are key to the success of customer success. That’s why in 2016, the adoption of technology that can improve and monitor the health of the customer relationship will become a high priority. This will include the research and adoption of automated advocacy and referral program.

Care to further the discussion? Email me at JVanhaaften@amplifinity.com

Best referral program



Prompt your prospects’ referral passion: Part 2

Deliver referral features that inspire them to want you.

Lately, you’ve been singing the same old marketing song. Specifically:

I want you to want me

I need you to need me . . .

                                                                                                                  (Cheap Trick)

But I have to say, it’s starting to sound a little desperate. And if you keep carrying on this way you’re just going hear those six little word over and over again, “You’re not my type . . . of business.” It’s time to change tactics. Instead of having your referral program ask the prospect to want you, imbue your referral program with feature that inspire passion for your services and products and motivate them to become customers.

And while you already uncovered what advocates want in part 1, you must now ask the question, what do your prospects want from your referral program?

Well, that’s a good question. Luckily, Penny the prospect gave me the inside scoop at dinner one night.

“We want the buying process to be easy and simple,” said Penny. Your prospects don’t want hidden gimmicks or fine print, but a buying process that rewards them.

From that insight, 3 prospect referral desires were locked onto and 5 referral features were developed to elevate and ignite your prospects passion for your business.

3 prospect referral desires and the features that fulfill them

  1. A deal too good to pass up – What prompts a prospect’s passion is what prompts any customer, a good deal. Prospects want to feel like they have tricked the “system” or obtained a deal of an exclusive nature. By making sure that prospects as well as advocates are rewarded, you add another incentive besides that of their family, friend, acquaintance, or professional network endorsement of you.


A feature that fulfills this want: Double-Sided Rewards


  1. A personalized buying experience – While your prospect knows who referred them and has a pre-established relationship with them, most of the time they need more than just the referral to become a customer. Prospects want to be able to discuss with their advocate why they should buy from your business. The prospect might want this to happen over email, in person, verbally, through social media, or even through text. Your referral program needs to be equipped to handle every type of referral interaction. This keeps the dialogue going and builds up to the conversion from prospect to customer.


Features that fulfill this want: Empowerment Tools   Prospect Nurturing


  1. A simple and easy buying process – Prospects don’t want to have to make the extra effort to buy your product, and they won’t. Give your prospects the buying process they want by making it easy to complete and individualized to the prospects preferred method to purchase.


Features that fulfill this want: Supported Prospect Purchase via Brick-and-Mortar or Phone Call  Prospect Buy Flow   Prospect Lead Submission

These prospect prompting features will not only invigorate potential referrals, but as an added benefit, your advocates as well. By fashioning features that encourage prospects to become successful referrals it becomes easier for advocates to achieve a rewarding referral. But while prospects and advocates are very important to motivate and reward, don’t forget who builds those relationships and manages your referral program, your sales team and marketers.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this 4 part blog that will focus on what referral features your sales team craves and requires to enflame their closes rates.  And don’t miss part 1 to learn about the desires of your referral advocates.

Customer referrals



Best referral program

Interested in furthering the discussion? Email me at JEdmondson@amplifinity.com

3 growth hacks for the cost of a lunch

Sometimes growth can come from your own optimization efforts. Change your paid search terms and you might squeeze out a few hundred more leads. This is commendable and hopefully every marketer is looking hard at the performance of their various campaigns and programs and working to improve them.

However, in my experience, significant growth comes from a new idea, a new method or a new partnership within the organization. Honing in on the last comment, I just want to remind everyone of the power of cross-functional collaboration. I think most people get that sales and marketing need to work together. There is even a buzz term for this ­smarketing. But here are three internal partnerships that you may not have thought much about that can truly provide growth for your company.

 1. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Success

Customer Success organizations are starting to get pressure to manage P&L. What this means, is that they are starting to be measured on their ability to bring in revenue for the company. Why? Well, companies are realizing that Customer Success is in a much better position than Sales to get new or recurring revenue from existing customers. Customer Success is talking to the customers on a regular basis and can feel out when a cross or up sell opportunity pops up. Even more than that, studies have shown that customers are more willing to make a referral when they are happy. Customer Success is there when the customer completes implementation and when they just pulled a super hero move solving their problem. These are great times to ask for a referral into new business unit or a new company.

The partnership: Demand Gen and Customer Success can work together for a win-win here. Customer Success has the link to the customer. Demand Gen has the expertise on how to operationalize a referral program at scale. Working together, there is a big opportunity to grow revenue and satisfy objectives in both camps.

 2. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Marketing

Like Customer Success, Customer Marketing has an inroad to existing customers. They might interact with them for references, at user events or by managing a user community. These are all great opportunities for Customer Marketing to facilitate some extra demand generation. You just need to give them the tools to capitalize on it. The story of this collaboration is illustrated beautifully in this SlideShare presentation: Digital Marketing and Customer Marketing just did something amazing.

The partnership: Demand Gen can work with Customer Marketing to create a customer referral program. Customer Marketing can integrate the promotion of the program into user events, reference calls and in any online communities. Customer Marketing will look good by generating revenue from customers and Demand Gen will be bringing the highest quality leads into the pipe.

 3. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Channel Sales

In most companies, the channel group is so siloed from marketing that they’ve no idea what each other is doing. When you stop and think about the fact that both are doing Demand Gen, just using different channels, it seems there would be a lot to share. And that is exactly the benefit of these two groups getting together, to share best practices and see where there are mutual opportunities.

The partnership: The channel group controls partner relationships, including referral partners. If you ask how those referral partners are doing, the answer is usually, they should be producing more. Demand Gen can help with that. By taking expertise in running programs, a referral program can be created to harvest high quality leads from referral partners at scale. Channel Sales gets tracking to direct ROI and Demand Gen gets more high quality leads.

Reach out and schedule a few lunch dates with your colleagues in these departments today. Your growth hack is just an order of Pad Thai away!

SaaS referral automation

Top 10 common conundrums solved by a successful customer referral program

How to Navigate Israel with Successful Customer Referral Programs

You have to admit, even with all the space the internet has to offer it’s begun to feel slightly crowded. Business are SHOUTING from every direction, pushing past you in an effort to block you out but you’re still expected to deliver an increased numbers of quality leads.

What is your plan to get heard through the squall of squawking businesses? Our marketing team created an infographic that documents the top 10 most common problems for businesses solved by successful customer referral programs.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to experience the customer’s side of a basic successful customer referral and found it very fulfilling.

Recently, I was in Israel exploring the small town of Tsvat. In Tsvat there is this one narrow street which plays host to an artist market. While walking through the artist market people are jumping out of their shops, talking about their merchandise and desperately directing you toward their business. But if you show the slightest bit of interest in their product three more sellers show up beside you to direct you toward their shops with similar products. The process actually seemed to parallel very well with Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

At that point I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference between the right product and the product that would fall apart 30 minutes after buying it. Luckily, I had access to an advocate on my trip. She knew the sellers and was able to steer me away from the cheap, overpriced products and toward exactly what I was looking for. The referral process broke through the noise of the sellers and made me hone in on a particular business without doubt or second thoughts. Now imagine what successful customer referral programs could do for a business.

While the most successful customer referral programs are much more advanced and automated, this basic exchange of information, prompted by trust, establishes the foundation for successful customer referral programs. It’s time to ask yourself, can one of your businesses struggles be solved with innovation automated referral software?


10-problems-solved-by-referral-automation (1)

6 ways sales and marketing can align with customers and grow revenue

Originally published in Marketing Profs

Marketing leaders at B2B organizations communicate directly with their sales counterparts to review quantity and quality of inbound leads; to apprise one another of upcoming promotions and sales enablement initiatives and objectives and strategically determine the most effective ways for their teams to work together to benefit the organization as a whole. But often these meetings don’t include a topic that is possibly the most important of all: existing customers.


Sales teams are hardwired to focus on getting new logos into the pipeline and they want marketing to partner with them to make that happen. Marketers want that too. However, it is important to not lose sight of your existing customers; it is these logos that got you this far! Here are 7 ways in which aligning sales and marketing goals around current customers can be the difference between meeting quarter goals and hoping next quarter will be better

   1. Use Personas to segment your communication

Marketing invests in marketing automation or email marketing systems so that they can track their emails and ensure that they aren’t bombarding their database with too many emails.  That’s all great, but inevitably there is a time when marketing unknowingly blasts an account that sales has an active opportunity with. And it gets noticed because it is a communication that doesn’t fit the customer.  The customer is thinking, “Don’t they know me by now?”

Marketing and sales need to divide the customer base into personas and regularly discuss the buying behavior of each persona.  From there, a plan to communicate with valued information to each persona can be developed that keeps customer engagement high. Additionally, the email communication plan should be very transparent with sales so that they can flag to have their active opportunities removed from communications during the sales cycle if that makes sense.

   2. Ensure sales involvement with referrals

A great sales rep always asks a new customer if they know of anyone else who may be interested in your product. Most reps forget to ask or simply aren’t asking at the right time or in the right way.  On the flip side, sometimes marketers will start a referral program, but forget to engage sales.  Marketing and sales needs to be in tight alignment on this one.  If they are, it can be the best producing channel for leads and customer acquisition.

One of the keys here is that the referral software be integrated into the sales CRM system.  Sales needs to know if the lead came from a referral and who it came from so that they can call up that customer, thank them and get more info on the new lead.  The referral software should also have a way for sales to input new advocates and referrals into the system so that it is fully tracked and referrals are rewarded without causing operational burden for sales.

    3.  Be strategic in approaching cross-sell and up-sell

Your existing customers already know how you have helped them be awesome. Why not suggest ways you can help them be even more awesome and increase their profits by cross-selling or up-selling?

If you are selling into a large company, crossing over into another department can bring all the revenue of a brand new customer.  Usually this is left to sales to have a good enough relationship that their contact will refer them over to another department.  But what if marketing could help? Back to point #2, a referral program can be structured so that existing customers are offered incentives to refer others in their company and to help influence the buying process.

Up-sell gets more complicated because product management is in the mix.  They’ve created release notes for their next great product and it gets sent to all customers via an email blast.  Sigh.  Just a little discussion with sales and marketing could lead to a better understanding of the target customer.  Better yet, the beta customers can be tapped to provide quotes and a use case.

   4. Use the power of your social influence

Social media marketers are often an isolated group.  They are the front-end communication vehicle for the company, yet typically have limited interaction with anyone outside of marketing. And social media channels are often used to push out company news.

But remember; your customers are on the other end of your social conversations too!  Just like email, marketing and sales need to be in alignment with targeted messaging campaigns for social media – this can be at the campaign level, or it can even be at the account level where the social media team is giving “social love” to key contacts at customer accounts.

   5.  Get value from your user communities

Most user communities that exist today are a great resource for product tips and tricks.  Product management and customer support teams have dedicated resources that push content into the communities and respond to product issues.  Fantastic! But where is the effort to leverage that user community for cross sell, up-sell, referrals and advocacy?  Maybe you have a banner ad or two, but is that enough?  If you’re not sure, I’m guessing it’s probably not.

Sales and marketing needs to create goals for user communities so that specific effort can be placed on starting conversations that naturally encourage new product discussions (up-sell) or that get customers talking about what they like about a product (advocacy). Those kinds of conversations don’t organically occur (unless you’re lucky).

So, just like your social media channels, dedicate a marketer to work with sales, product management and customer support to ensure that you are leveraging your user community to its full potential.

  6.  Give ‘em some Love!

In my opinion, you can never give your customers the recognition they deserve, but it doesn’t hurt to try!  You exist because of them.  Their feedback makes you better!  Why not give them love in as many ways that you can.  In most companies, sales and field marketing is fairly well aligned on this.  They help provide company swag and customer events.  But my argument is that more can be done.

Once sales and marketing has discussed the types of customers that they want to attract, it makes sense to highlight the current customers that fit the mold.  And I’m not talking about case studies and press releases, but genuinely making these customers feel good about your brand.  This could be by giving them an award, giving them some love on social media or even inviting them to an exclusive event with executives.  If sales and marketing work together on programs like this, it can be rewarding for all involved!

Don’t wait for a miraculous organizational shift to align your sales and marketing teams; it probably won’t happen. Instead, find the mutual benefits of working collaboratively and communicating regularly. Just throw a few of these items into a calendar invite and re-introduce yourself to your sales or marketing teams.  Increasing revenue for your company is a team effort.

SaaS referral automation


Dreamforce 2015 – it was all about Personalization

Sitting here on the plane going home from Dreamforce, it is the first opportunity I’ve had to really think about the conference. More specifically, what message I can take back for my organization and for where the market is going. Despite my extreme lack of sleep, it is clear to me that everything boils down to one word: Personalization.

As Mark Benihoff said in his keynote, “We are all here to fill the gap between our companies and our customers.” And personalization is the way to do it.

As a marketer, I get that the more custom and personalized I can get with communications, the better they do. But Dreamforce made me think about how personalization touches every aspect of business. (And of course, Salesforce has solutions for each one.) I can almost hear you ask, “But how can I personalize my marketing even more than I already am?”

Personalized Marketing – There are lots of phenomenal capabilities available today for companies to take in the incredible amounts of data available on prospective customers and serve up information that is specific to what they want. Mathew Sweezey, Author, Marketing Futurist and Salesforce Evangelist, commented that “The average number of pages a visitor to your website sees is 1.5. Don’t you think you should make those 1.5 pages count?” But personalization in the marketing realm goes way beyond web and email.  The way you acquire leads in the digital age needs to be personal as well. It’s clear that many companies are looking toward advocacy and referral marketing to help fill that gap.

Personalized Analytics – After years of complaints, Salesforce is releasing its new UI/UX called Lightning. It looks great and has great functionality, but the key is that they heard their customers say they want to customize views. Don’t limit me to 2 columns, I might need 14 columns! And they are delivering. I think all companies need to think about what level of customization they can deliver to their customers. It really does make people happier with the experience. We all want what we want, the more flexible you can make your product, the better.

Personalized Sales – It’s clear that Salesforce sees the lines between Marketing and Sales as blurry at best. The Engage functionality coming out of Pardot clearly sees Marketing investing in tools to help sales prospect in a more personal way. Do generic marketing blasts even work anymore? It’s all about getting an email from an individual with a message as catered to them as possible. Doing that at scale is of course where Pardot and Salesforce comes in. It is clear that the faster that sales and marketing leaders get over their differences and begin practicing the art of smarketing, the more successful they will be.

Personalized Community – The Community keynote at Dreamforce was awesome. What Salesforce has done with this product is incredible and I’m sure it is the fastest growth area of their business. It looks so easy to spin up communities for customers, employees and partners with incredible functionality.  And of course, communities are the embodiment of personalization. You can provide a way to allow your customers to hear from other customers on your products/services and even make purchases from within the community. I predict this will be a powerful add on for companies to seriously pursue and I’m sure much more functionality will be added over the coming year.

Personalized Service – Lots of sessions were focused on Customer Success and the idea that they own the customer journey. This means that they need to understand it and find ways to influence it and make it consistent across silos of engagement. Salesforce has always been a great tool for this as it integrates across departments. The real innovation comes with some of the AppExchange partners doing advocacy and referral marketing with a sales referral program. With those as add-ons you can get an actual ROI from your customer journey while making customers feel more engaged with your brand. It’s no wonder that companies are aligning around this function and are hungry for improvement.  Who doesn’t want happy customers and revenue growth to boot?

In the age of digital, it is clear that companies need to be looking in every area of the business for ways to enable 1 to 1 interactions and provide an experience that makes each person feel that your brand understands them. Each engagement is an opportunity. An opportunity for delight. An opportunity to generate a high quality lead. An opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive. Make each engagement count with personalization! Now time to get some much-needed sleep!