Earlier this month, Influitive took a summer road trip to hang out with over 150 smart marketers at Chicago’s 1871, the entrepreneurial hub for digital start-ups.

How To Be Customer Obsessed In B2B, co-hosted with Gainsight, featured a number of expert speakers including Bob Peterson, Research Director at SiriusDecisions; Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing at Gainsight; Eric Marcy, VP of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations at The SAVO Group; and Mark Organ, Influitive’s very own founder and CEO.

We continue to bring you their hard-won-through-experience insights about why customer obsession is more important than ever in B2B. This post features insights from a Q&A with Eric.

Eric Marcy is currently the VP of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations at SAVO, but he has a background in hi-tech sales and sales leadership roles.

SAVO offers sales productivity software that integrates with CRM, predominately Salesforce. It primarily makes sales and marketing tools more productive.

“A few years back, we went out and raised money and invested in technology infrastructure around sales, centered around new customer acquisition,” Eric said.

“Unfortunately, we lost sight of what the year-over-year looks like for our subscription customers.”

Rock bottom: A churn rate of 92%

At one point, SAVO issued a survey to see how their customers felt about them – they were disappointed with the results. “The survey results were not what we wanted to hear,” said Eric. “We had some very strategic enterprise companies that weren’t happy. They told us that they weren’t hearing from us enough.”

The survey said that SAVO gave lots of attention when they were initially selling. But their customers’ senior leadership told the company that when they were floundering they didn’t hear from SAVO.

“Based on forecast renewals, the writing was on the wall and hurting us in our pocket,” said Eric. “Our churn rate was 92%!”

SAVO had understaffed the support organization. They were growing but weren’t seeing the value through the entire customer lifecycle. They needed to be become a customer-first organization. “We asked ourselves, how do we have a culture where we’re talking to and about our customers all the time?” said Eric.

“We failed to see the process as a continuum. We had to see what happened after the sale…we have to continually provide the thought leadership. What we sold was just our first step.”

Turning it around: Making customers a priority

942So how did SAVO turn it around? How did they turn themselves into a company that was completely customer obsessed?

Eric said that it started at the top, from senior leadership down. It was their primary initiative.

“We formalized processes and set up customer committees,” said Eric.

They peeled back one issue at a time. They began communicating releases. They invested based on churn — in resources, technology, and everyone thinking about customers first.

Eric put it this way: “If you don’t take care of customers, a SaaS business will die.”

Scaling customer obsession with technology

savoIn March, SAVO launched an advocate marketing program using Influitive’s AdvocateHub called SAVO Connex.

They also held a launch party at their customer summit and let their customers know that they were heard. They set up a booth dedicated to providing information to clients on what they were doing.

At the beginning, they started with 20 advocates. Now they have almost 80 in the program, and their goal is to add an additional 20 advocates per month. The objective of SAVO Connex is not just communication from SAVO – it’s also SAVO looking for feedback from customers, clients suggesting additional markets, and customers providing feedback on whatever they like.

“We want to find ways to automate the process of getting information from our customers. We don’t want to burn them out,” said Eric.

The payoff: 100% renewal rate plus upsells

At SAVO, product marketing owns the customer advocacy program, and they’ve been busy trying to source more advocates. They intend to use Influitive and their customer advocacy program as a selling tool.

“When it’s time for renewal, make the program a part of your business value. When you put your customers first, they respect that. Make it part of the sales message, and make sure they understand the value.”

SAVO must be doing something right: in Q2, they had 100% renewal rates in addition to a significant number of up-sells. Keep up the great work, SAVO team!

Learn how other B2B companies are putting their customers first

Photo credits: James Schmitt