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Selling Value, Not Features
Customer acquisition as we know it is changing. You've seen the playbook before — grab all the logos you can. More logos = more success, right? More logos does mean more success. Initial success. As we've discovered, the key to long-term success is keeping those customers around. Retention is Queen 👑, and the SaaS world has taken notice. And we're not talking about signing a renewal and calling it a day; we're talking about leveraging your customers as a source of growth and expansion throughout the entire customer journey — product expansion, brand awareness, customer referrals. It all starts by selling more than just your feature set. Let's talk about value. Customers often focus on your latest feature releases. But that means that defining value gets a little murky along the way. In the past, we've defined value as offering more and more shiny objects. (And of course, as your customers' needs shift, your offerings should adjust.) Having clear, value-driven conversations should start with prospects, getting more specific throughout the sales process, with customer success continuing to define value in partnership with your customers. By having a shared understanding of what value means to your customer, you'll help them understand which shiny object will support their vision. ✨ Define, Evolve, Expand We're entering a new SaaS era, where customer success now goes beyond just keeping the customer happy and getting the renewal. We must define, evolve, and expand value every step of the customer journey. We're breaking it down with your {fictitious} customer, The City of Outline, below.  1. Define What is the core problem your customer is trying to solve (focusing on value)? Do they want to save time? Money? The City of Outline is moving to remote work like many other companies. To do that, they need to shift their employee training from in-person to an online platform, and they've chosen your SaaS solution. While they understand there will be an initial time investment, efficiency is critical, as is alignment with overall City values. And, just like everyone else, they're trying to save money while doing it.  2. Evolve Experience the solution alongside your customers and measure how it changes their workflow. What has changed since they initially purchased your solution? Your contact at the City of Outline has questions about your product's employee training workflow. You could easily leave it at that, but to help them evolve, you work with them to identify a handful of other features they had not previously considered using. By revealing this workflow in a new light, your contact can reduce administrative burden and allow for a more enjoyable employee experience (double score!). It also allows employees to take more ownership over their training, supporting two of the City's core employee competencies - "ownership" and "growth". 3. Expand This is where the drive to upsell used to take place blindly. Having had alignment conversations early on to identify success measurements, you're able to demonstrate where you've added value. Leverage your customer's happiness for product expansion, brand awareness, and referrals. By showing the City of Outline the value your platform brings to their team, you've helped them create an online training solution that's managed effortlessly and with fantastic results. They refer you to a handful of other local municipalities looking to transition to remote employee training. Data shows companies that focus primarily on acquisition are seeing less growth year over year. Companies that spend more time with a balanced approach, getting to know their customers continue to see stable and solid growth.* "Tell your friends" is not just a meme. We know that by going beyond shiny new features and partnering with your customers to sell them value, a company is more likely to renew. Also, they're likely to tell their friends. To reliably grow your business, you need to sell value, and let your customers help with your selling. *Patrick Campbell, Co-Founder & CEO ProfitWell (formerly Price Intelligently), Lessons Learned from 3000 SaaS Companies
Liz Ferguson, October 7th, 2020
Introducing Outline
Put your customers at the center of everything. We believe that your customers define your success story. Your company's growth is determined by your customers' success — it's no coincidence that the most iconic companies have the happiest customers. The art of developing meaningful relationships, driving adoption, and ensuring engagement throughout the customer journey requires both strategic alignment and coordination. Customer Success emerged nearly a decade ago for this exact reason. A lot has changed since then. But the software hasn't. Customer Success teams are operating in completely new ways. There's a larger focus on the overall customer experience as workflows have become more collaborative, needs have become more dynamic, and the stakes have become higher. The majority of tools today are passive and reactive dashboards that require you to do the core of your work elsewhere. We're setting out to change that. Meet Outline. We're on a mission to make Customer Success the central operating system of your organization. Outline makes it simple to manage customers, align cross-functional teammates on user needs and feedback, and deliver unified success at scale — all from one platform (finally!). We're supercharging your workflow so you can spend more time focusing on what matters, your customers. Our team has spent years designing and building software on high-growth teams. We've experienced firsthand the impact of aligning everyone around the voice of the customer. This is where magic happens, and we're enabling every team, and every company, to experience that. We can’t wait to show you what’s next. Outline is currently in private beta with select customers, but you can sign up for our waitlist here. We want to thank our early investors — South Park Commons, Parker Thompson and Matt Tillman of TnT Ventures, Mat Johnson, among other incredible angels — our early advisors, Sunil Joseph, and our early customers for not only sharing our vision but also laying the foundation to make it possible. We cannot wait to build Outline alongside you all.
Outline Team, August 19th, 2020
Putting your customers at the center of everything
Riddle me this – what is a company without customers? Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Customer Success = Company Success In successful companies, customers drive everything, regardless of their size, industry, or location. Customers are always at the center of those company’s decisions. Customers drive new growth through referrals and brand awareness. After all, your current customers make up 80% of your company's overall ARR. In short, your customers are the most valuable asset that your company has. Now, let’s talk about Customer Success. You’re the ones who work with customers on a day-to-day basis. You're the first to hear their feedback and what they need. You know exactly what needs to be done to make them successful. Keeping an eye on what's needed both strategically and tactically and aligning your internal teammates can be tough to manage. You are essential to your customer's success.  You are the peanut butter to their jelly. Your work is critical to driving your company's product and business decisions and, ultimately, its success. To coordinate with Product, you might submit a ticket using a form, track that ticket in another system, and alert them to the urgency through a third process. To take notes on your client interactions, you might use one system, but need to capture their health in another. You probably use another system or two to communicate directly with your clients and your Sales teams. Your most important work is happening everywhere. There should be a more streamlined, intuitive, and actionable system that supports the core of your work, all from one place. That's why we're building Outline.  We believe in putting you at the core of everything, so your customers can be at the center of every decision. We want to help you drive product-led growth through scalable customer growth and happy users. Imagine using a single platform to share your customers’ product needs and upsell opportunities with your internal teammates, to track your meeting notes and next steps, and even to close the loop with the customers themselves. We're supercharging your workflows so you can focus more on what really matters - your customer relationships. With the extra time you get from a more efficient system, you'll be able to create even stronger relationships at scale. The most successful companies out there are realizing the importance of the Customer Success role. Let's make your job easier, more efficient, and, ultimately, more impactful for your business and your customers. With Outline, you're putting your customers at the center of it all. ⚡
Liz Ferguson, September 2nd, 2020
Entering the Collaborative Workflow Era
Sit back, relax, and hop in the way back machine - let's look at how Customer Success is evolving. Over the past decade, we've primarily focused on individual CS workflows to manage our customers on a case-by-case, or rather, customer-by-customer basis. For the most part, we focused on productivity. Don't get me wrong - productivity is absolutely necessary. However, the most innovative and successful teams are now adding cross-functional alignment and communication to the Customer Success list. Start with our attention to customer-specific needs, add in distributed teams (even before Covid), and voila! You've got the need for crystal-clear communication and laser-focused alignment across departments in your organization. So, where is all that data kept? Now, let's travel to the past again for a moment. Sales had one relationship with the customer but handed them off once signing the contract. CS had an ongoing relationship with the customer, but the product team also had various interactions with the customer, as did the marketing team. Each interaction is a valuable piece of data. More often than not, Sales tracked customer conversations in one place. CS might have used the same platform to some degree, but probably also had notes in Evernote, scratched on a piece of paper, or even in email drafts(!). The notes from a Help Desk ticket or a product request? That was almost definitely in a third or fourth system. Locking up customer data across teams (maybe even between individuals) creates multiple moments for repeated internal processes, missed customer expectations, and increased churn risk.  Companies end up chasing one-off product decisions to appease users on a customer-by-customer basis. That process is not scalable, nor does it lend itself to creating a cohesive product/value story over time. And that makes your job 10x harder. Welcome to the Collaborative Workflow Era for Customer Success Good news! We're building the next generation of CS software that focuses on cross-team collaboration and alignment to make you, your customers, and your company more successful.  We're creating a collaborative, workflow-oriented platform that enables you to scale your customers alongside your business. We're bringing the customer to the center of your organization to make every company truly customer-centric.  Outline enables you to manage customers, align cross-functionally on user needs and feedback, and deliver unified success - all from one place. Let's create a customer movement internally - let's make you more efficient, your workflow smoother, and your customers happier! You can join the movement 👉 here.
Liz Ferguson, October 27th, 2020

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