We asked Seb to shed light on the question of “why do tech startups fail to grow existing accounts?”
With so much at stake at winning often landmark and enterprise deals at tech companies, we often falter as Founders to systematically and consistently grow the adoption, usage and account spend of these hard-fought new customers.
So over to the interview with Seb and the key questions and answers:
- What are the main causes for startups failing to grow existing accounts in your experience?
(Seb) I think it comes from a lack of understanding of that customer, about how they are structured, how large they are and what their true needs above just making your first deal. I think back to when we did an exercise with a credit control and inspection agency. We found out from them what the sheer size of some of our customers was way bigger than at first glance and hence it drove us to think how we could support them. Furthermore, from speaking to some founders I know I don’t get the impression that startups talk to their customers enough. We’re not blameless here either.
From my experience, you switch from hunting in the early stages of a tech company to gain traction in the marketplace to a farming mentality, growing existing accounts. You have to prove that investability up front to continue developing the platform, growing the team and ultimately that means winning new customers. In our industry of logistics, you have to build out your service levels and have a unique proposition for the accounts team to grow your existing customers in what can appear a crowded marketplace.
With the benefit of hindsight, we did spend a lot of time focusing on the technical development of the platform rather than pushing for new sales in the early days. Now we’re probably the other way around. As in life, balance is sometimes difficult to achieve!
- Why is there such a gap between Customer Success and Sales?
(Seb) Technology is dominated by engineers. Sometimes as an industry, we get too focused on our technical product rather than the customer’s needs. Therefore the link between Sales and Customer Success becomes a secondary consideration.
Despite what I said earlier about talking to customers, we still have the benefit of long established feedback channels from both the demand and supply side of the business, so we understand customer and the courier needs. This has really improved our sales process as we can map the customer experience from the website to delivery.
- What are some of the best practices for linking Product and Customer Success?
(Seb) Taking a driver survey every 3-6 months helps us get a lot of feedback on our product and our NPS rating amongst drivers. A live chat function for both couriers and customers really helps us respond in a timely manner. This is so important in the first 12 weeks of your onboarding process, as the courier and customer may be making adjustments to the regular behaviour by adapting your technology.
We also use our Slack channel to record new ideas and to report on the backlog of projects. We triage new development by tagging each objective, rank high/medium/low importance levels, rank on the impact on a scale of 1-5 and then the ease of implementation 1-5.
Our proximity to the customer has enabled us to build out five key company objectives:
- Increase number of customer bookings
- Increase courier acquisition and retention
- Incentivise great courier performance
- Provide exceptional customer experiences
- Create new features & services
- Why do some startups focus more on customer acquisition than existing customer growth?
(Seb) It’s definitely seen as more attractive by investors and even Founders. It’s often difficult to see the signal in the noise. And on the face of it it probably seems a little easier.
- What are some of the key attributes you look for when hiring Customer Success managers?
(Seb) We look for empathy, inquisitive nature and an interest to get to the real issue underneath the initial request. They need to be able to articulate what they are seeing within the customer’s behaviours and actions. It’s this open, inquisitive and collaborative nature which often proves to be a success at Gophr. The other is accountability, they need to be open to being able to take on responsibility and accountability for their domain and work.
Any final thoughts, Seb?
All good. I’d just recommend looking at customer growth earlier in your journey as a tech company.
Over and out from the team at Sales for Startups. We’ll be interviewing other successful CS leaders, Tech Founders and even recruitment leaders to see why we are missing the mark when it comes to growing existing accounts at tech companies.
If you’d like to be interviewed please comment below or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or submit a request on our website.