The customer voice is needed by future customers and current customers.
We’re getting more and more requests from current customers to speak to their peers. Not just in a digital forum, but meeting and getting to know each other to the point where we, as the vendor, can be the facilitator of those conversations.
It really benefits us, and it benefits the customers. They feel more connected to a community as a result, and they feel more connected to the product.
Alrighty folks, welcome to the State of Customer Storytelling podcast. The show that is all about helping you, as a B2B marketing leader, get the download on the most current practices and strategies related to customer marketing and customer storytelling.
The State of Customer Storytelling podcast is brought to you by Testimonial Hero.
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My guest today is James Lustenader, Senior Customer Advocacy Manager at Planview.
James, it’s great to have you here. Welcome to the show.
Hi Sam, good to be here.
To kick things off let’s start at a high level. Talk to me a little bit more about why customer advocacy matters at the end of the day. Why is it more important than ever.
Yeah. I think the selfish answer is, because it’s my job. But beyond that, I think the customer voice is crucial to the sales cycle. Certainly in software, where my career has settled in for the past decade or so.
I think the customer voice is needed by future customers and current customers.
So, we’re getting more and more requests from current customers to speak to their peers. Not just in a digital forum, but meeting and getting to know each other. Asking them for best practices to the point where we, as the vendor, can be the facilitator of those conversations.
It benefits us, and it benefits the customers. They feel more connected to a community as a result, and they feel more connected to the product. Hopefully, they come away with some ideas on how to use the product that they wouldn’t otherwise.
I don’t think it’s because they don’t trust us, I think it’s just that the other customers they want to speak with have their hands in the product on a day to day basis in ways that we do not.
So, yeah, maybe this has been a shift that you’re seeing as well in the industry: the vendor needs to step aside as the expert, start positioning their customers as the experts, and find ways to leverage those customer voices in that way.
A hundred percent. And I, yeah, I, I agree. Like, it’s, it’s less about like this to me. It’s also like, less about like, oh, like they don’t trust us. It’s more about it. Functionally hearing from customers and peers can, it’s just more helpful. You know what I mean? It’s just, it’s often, you know, a more helpful, more relevant and it certainly different, it certainly cuts through the noise, which, you know, from a marketing perspective, I think is so critical because it’s getting noisier and noisier than ever, you know, in general out there.
It’s so true. And maybe my perspective to me thinking about this a bit more is coming from the customer success side of things, which I don’t, I technically sit on the marketing team, but. Title, isn’t customer marketing, it’s customer advocacy, and there’s a subtle difference there. It very much exists and it’s starting to become clearer.
The customer advocacy, I think, has that straddles the line between customer success and the retention and customer, customer marketing for sales and new sales and creating content. Right? So, if you were to ask that to a straight customer marketing, why does customer advocacy matter? You might get a very different response.
Yeah. That’s, that’s interesting. That’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately because there’s at different, you know, I think customer advocacy that, that, that the title in, has a more consistent meaning where we’re in some companies. Customer marketing can mean customer advocacy, but it can, you know, it can also mean, you know, we’re actually just marketing to our existing customer base essentially.
Right. So, yeah. I don’t know if you have any, any thoughts on that, but that’s definitely something that I’ve noticed. And, I don’t know if it will kind of get this kind of unifying terminology that everyone can agree or like, you know, but, yeah, it’s just a kind of interesting observation.
Yeah. I think if, if you’re not in the business, then you don’t think about that subtle differences. But, if you are in the business, you do and you are aware of it. I think it’s our job to make sure that others, leaders and marketing leaders in CS understand the subtle. And wrap that into their strategy for what they need from us as a team.
And so that they, if they do understand that they can work with us more effectively. Right. So just getting the word out there, might be preaching to the choir, to your audience here a little bit, but, you know, if you’re not thinking about this kind of thing that I think it behooves you to do so.
And I know that you mentioned it in the, in the, pre-show just, you know, something that you know, you are passionate about is really, you know, capturing the customer’s authentic voice. tell me a little bit more about that. You know, what’s the, you know, how do you think about, you know, customer voice and in general versus like authentic voice in the value?
When you’re able to actually tap into that authentic voice.
Yeah. Like I liked that you brought up the value. I think that almost answers the question or provides a good example of my answer. As an audience member, you know, when someone, when you’re watching a movie, you know, when someone’s a bad actor, you can tell that they’re acting you. If you don’t notice that they’re acting, they’re great actor, you know, if you, if you feel like they’re the person, then, then the actors doing a good job, right?
So when you’re building this piece of content, video content, you want to capture that authentic voice you want. Make sure that the customer is putting themselves out there as to who they truly are, because the audience is going to relate to them so much better. If, if the audience feels that they’re reading your subject is reading from a script, your customers just canned answers.
It’s not going to be as effective. I don’t have any data to back that up. I think it’s just kind of self-evident right. So when we’re, if we’re the directors of this movie, to keep the analogy going, then you want to make sure that your customer feels. In front of the camera, not everybody who is a customer product expert has done this before.
And many times you’ll find that they haven’t and that’s okay. You just need to coach them a little bit, and we can talk about best practices and preparing for a video interview as well, if you’d like, but making them feel at ease initially, superimpose. asking them. I always like to start with a question, like, what’s your favorite part of the product?
What’s your favorite feature? What gets you the most excited? It’s a very different way of saying, oh, what are the success metrics that you’re seeing by using our product? Right? So when you get them talking about what they know and love in the product, the authentic voice comes out. They don’t, they’re not scripted.
This is truly what they feel. And they believe they don’t need to read from a paper and it comes right out from their heart into the camera. So, and I think the result is much better as it. By doing it that way. So think about phrasing your questions, that way, make the customer feel at ease, get to know them a little bit better, hopefully you already do.
But if you’re meeting them for the first time, that day, you know, make sure that you take some time before the interview goes to, have a chat even just about their kids. And do they have a good trip out here to the conference where you’re meeting them, whatever it might be, make sure they know who you are and try and connect to them on a personal level.
I think it’ll make the interview that much smoother for you.
Such a good point in it’s it’s remarkable. How in authentic gate is when you try to force someone down a script and how much harder it is. You know, versus how easy it is, if you just, like you said, you know, do your prep work and have a, have an honest conversation. I wanted to ask you about, you know, the best practices in preparing for a video interview, but just to kind of, you know, add a little more context there before, Tell us a little bit more like what’s your background.
I know you have quite a bit, I think in, creating, you know, customer videos, you know, with, your company, other firms, other, you know, vendors and such. Yeah. Tell me a little bit, what’s your experience? paint the picture, like what’s your experience, with, you know, creating, customer videos, video testimonials, et cetera.
Yeah, it, it did start in software when it comes to video content and it was very much that, okay, we’re going to go onsite to the customer’s office. We’re going to film some B roll. We have half a day set up and oh, great. They have a video studio that we can leverage. Fantastic. You know, so, and, and we came away with some great content that we boiled down to a three minute, heavily produced, very clean And smooth video about that customer’s experience with our software, in watching my, my boss at the time, kind of set all this up and I was kind of along for the ride.
I did that a few times, and then eventually I gained the trust to be the one to do that. we also, in order to save a lot of times, We would make sure that we had a video studio set up at our customer conferences that we would host every year. And this is back when I worked for Aptus in the quote cash space.
And so we could do 10 interviews, 20 interviews in a single day that way, and just had that studio up and running throughout the conference and made sure to invite people beforehand, to schedule them beforehand. And there’s a lot of work that goes into that. But it could save you a lot of time. You do lose an end money too.
You do lose the B roll of the customers’ offices. but there’s a kind of a branding that you can, the event was called accelerate. So you can put up a lot of accelerate breaks. around that customer and, it’s got that flavor And that, that brand to it, which is really cool. and then since, since then working with Clarizen and now Planview, we’ve definitely seen a shift in that we need shorter pieces of content, and maybe even like less produced pieces of content.
Now I know that’s completely up for debate and there were reasons why we decided that we wanted something a bit more. If you will, and like straight from my living room to yours, much like we are doing right now. And I think COVID has so much to do with that. But I also think that there’s a, this idea of a video reference.
Right where you don’t necessarily need to set up a reference call for every prospect every time, if you can get the right questions, asked and capture those on video and share them at the right part in the right way in the sales cycle, it kind of checks that box. And it it’s a ready-made piece of content that you can reuse over and over and over again.
Right. If you, again, if you set it up properly, so there were some reasons why we chose to. Kind of switch from that, that three minute production to shorter micro content, I think is the word that you used. And I love that term and I’m going to start to use it. And I think social media too, we made a big push in social media.
We still have a passion for that here at Planview. And I’m trying to think about more and more ways in which we can, provide that to the social media managers.
I love everything you said there. I want to, double-click on the, a couple of things, at the conference, just for folks. Listen, was that a conference you, you and your company put on? Was that more like your company conference or was that like an industry event?
Yeah, it was our customer conference. So we had some prospects, but it was every year we got a bunch of customers together. And, yeah, we had two, 3000 people on accelerated Aptus ran for six years or so. And oddly enough, Planview also has their annual customer conference called accelerate. So, it’s just a great word for an event. And we had our first one last year, this, although for Planview view, they rebranded their horizons event, which has been running for 22 years or so. A very well established event. we just changed the name on it and, yeah. So I think, you can do. What I’ve described with video and Dreamforce, for example, or, or industry conferences like that.
And we did do that, at Aptus, we booked a hotel room and that was our video studio. we just had it all week and brought customers up to the 32nd floor in San Francisco to market square to. get those videos captured. So you can be very creative in how you capture that.
And it’s, it’s so rare to have so many people altogether in one place.
So to try to. Leverage and maximize that is what the goal was there and it we’re pretty good. We’re pretty well.
That’s awesome. in terms of re you know, right now we’re recording this in early 20, 21. I’m curious, do you think that, you know, as we move into maybe more hybrid events or, you know, hopefully, you know, in-person again, but is there still that sort of dynamic where if you’re having it in a vet, you can, maybe it’s still a good time to ask someone for a remote testimonial and capture it virtually and use the event as like a trigger.
Even though, you know, obviously you could do it at any time. I guess I’m curious for folks.
Are doing, is there any sort of tips or perspective you can share for folks who love this idea, but maybe aren’t doing an in-person event.
Yeah, that’s a great question, honestly. and my, my brain instantly went to a wedding that we were invited to that was held virtually during the height of COVID in 2020. we, we dressed up into the nines as if we were there. Personally, we had a background, like we were at a ballroom and, you know, just to get into it and have fun.
And we had our champagne. And all that was good. And we were watching the wedding and then at the end, they, they cut to every single zoom participant and asked them to share their screen and say a few words to the bride and groom. And that’s what we’ve talked about. That’s, that’s the testimony right there.
Right? So we each got our chance to say a few things and have cheers with them and they, you know, tears were flowing and it was really great. And we got to see old friends too, even though we weren’t there in person. So absolutely there’s room for that. you need to make sure you understand the technology that you’re using to host the event.
This was like I said, Via zoom and there were a few technical glitches. so you know, as long as you do your research and make sure, you know, the tech, if you have a tech team to help you with that, I’m sure that would make things go a lot smoother. Again, this was a wedding, so it was just the uncle that was in charge of things.
So, yeah, I think, if you can, arrange for the. All the better. I think if it’d be more, it would be prudent to make sure that you identify who you want these testimonies to come from versus asking every single person, especially if you’re having thousands of people attend a conference virtually. So targeting your 10 best customer stories that you want to capture asking them like, Hey, since you’re with us, Can we capture you virtually via zoom or whatever tech, median.
And, here’s the questions we would like to ask you before? Is that okay? And then obviously get them to sign a piece of paper that will allow you to take that content to create some sort of video, piece I think, then you’re just going through the motions as, more traditional, testimony, videos are captured, right?
So I think there’s room for it. You just gotta, you gotta be very conscientious about what you’re doing. Why is. when you’re, when you’re handling it, be virtually.
Yeah, it’s so true. And, you know, still it’s, that’s such a great reminder that like, you can still. Use the excitement and the emotion of the event, and even, you know, as a reason to ask and, just because it’s not in-person doesn’t mean you still can’t, you know, capture, there’s there’s customer videos, you mentioned video references, which I think is incredibly powerful.
Because you know of a lot of reasons, one, it, I’m sure it works really well, but I want to hear more from you about that. and then also like, you know, preventing reference burnout, right. Which is a constant concern. Tell me a little bit more. It sounds like, you know, what you’ve been able to do is sort of, understand what the common kind of questions, fears and doubts that you get asked are, in, you know, at that stage in the buyer journey in basically, you know, create, you know, a series of, of, inner videos or longer, you know, Vic chapter videos to address that.
And, I think which honestly, it sounds like such a good strategy, you know, but, I’d love to hear you.
Tell me, tell us more, like, how is that working? what have you found, have you been able to effectively kind of, you know, deflect a lot of those reference asks and still kind of, you know, win deals, like yeah.
I’d love to hear more about that.
Yeah. like I said, you got to do your research. You got to understand what the common questions are. feel free to ask sales, experienced sales, men, and women, and what they typically see. it helps you in that. When I manage my program, I ask the prospects usually to the prospect of customers to provide the questions that they want.
So you ask them. Advocates before the call. And I put those on a briefing document for the advocate to give them context into the conversation. They don’t always provide the questions and that’s fine, but if they do great, it just maximizes the time with the advocate and that, that allowed me to take a look at some of those briefing documents and see, okay, here’s the common questions.
We can also kind of just, if you know your product and, you know, your buyers, you should be able to come up with Those yourself too. If you, if this, what I described isn’t available to you. and then you. yeah, just like you said, probably your, those that get asked for the most. So your biggest, most appealing customers, whatever They might be.
The Nike’s of the world, for example, just to name one very well-known company. Those would be the ones that you want to get that piece of content from, maybe not everybody. but you could also think of it in another way. It’s like the one story that you keep going to, maybe they’re not asked for all the time, but you know, that they’re just the best advocate and they always have the best answers and they win.
They help you win the most deals. Then you really don’t want to burn them out. That’s another way of thinking about who should I ask to do this? And they’ll probably appreciate like, like do this one more time for me. And I’ll never ask you. cause I’ll have this, on file. Right. And they’ll probably understand why you’re coming.
Where’d it come from there. and then, yeah, so feel free to share those with the sales team, let them know, like, this is not for you to put on social media. This is not for you to blast out early in the stage. This is for you to use when you’re asked for a reference and before you place a reference request to me and my desk, put this in front of them, let them see it.
If they have any further question. Then we can go through the process and address it. And it’s, if you can measure that, like the consumption of those videos and you can see how well they are, working, it’s a bit more manual that way, but you can kind of get a sense for like, okay, was this exercise even worth it?
If so, do it five, six more times with others, right? So one for each product or one for each industry, I think there’s, when, when it gets to the point where. I have additional questions. You’re typically not going to that same person to film the videos you typically go into somebody’s, and, it can answer those questions, those specific questions.
And when you’ve done it that way, it’s really helpful because now, you know exactly what is top of mind for the prospect of customer what’s these like last few hangups that they have, and you can really hone in on who you asked to take that reference call and you can press. Very specifically to address those things and it makes that call the more worthwhile.
Right. So, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to share a video link and say, Hey, I know you want references. Here’s one, that’s been prerecorded. Let me know if this suffices or if you want something else, right. It’s easy to do. And I’m well worth the effort I’d say. And then, yeah, you can just take that forward and, and apply that to the others.
Hopefully it alleviates some of the stress on the advocates. Cause it’s not their day job to work for you and answer questions, right?
Yeah. I love that. And like, It’s true. it’s, it’s such a good way to it’s like scaling out your best advocates, right. Instead of, you know, burning them out, you can just scale, you know, get it once, get it bank it.
And then, you know, probably 90% of the time that, you know, recorded reference call is going to work.
Because like you said, like most customers have a lot of the same questions that are most prospects have a lot of the same questions at the end of the day.
Yeah. I think what you said though, instead of burnout, scale out, I Like that. and, and, you know, you gotta be ready cause some prospects are never gonna take a video call. They’re just not like it’s, they’re a bigger company themselves. They got. an RFP team, a purchasing team, procurement team, that’s the word?
That’s very specific and very, into their job and they want to do it right. That’s fair. just, you know, I think it’s helpful to have this option for some of those faster moving deals, because those do exist. It’s like, man, we need something now. Like I don’t want to wait up on my procurement team.
I know what I need. I know what I want, but I want to make sure that I’m not stepping into something here. I have a deadline to meet, right? So those are where, you know, do you want a reference call into. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but here’s some videos, you know what I mean? Like here’s, here’s typical reference questions answered by the advocates who if they were available in the next two days would answer these in the same way.
Right. So you can use it that way. Right. Especially at the end of the year during Christmas, it’s like, well, so-and-so is out for the next two weeks and you need to get this reference call done. this is a great option.
It makes so much sense. And another thing we were talking about, around this topic, in the pre-show, I was just kinda like creative and, you know, forward-thinking ways some of the best, customer advocacy teams are leveraging video. one of the things that, you know, we, we kind of hit on was like this kind of mindset shift where maybe.
You know, the status quo, you know, especially a couple of years ago was, you know, really having these more monolithic pieces of content, whether it was like a monolithic written case study or a monologue. You know, corporate, you know, video testimonial kind of commercial, where that, you know, that was maybe the, and honestly still is the status quo and now, but like, you know, we’re
Shifting to a more of this, you know, you know, taking that, those, you know, monolithic things and kind of atomizing them, creating micro content throughout the buyer journey because in the reality know, Customer voice is, in that, like you said earlier, authentic customer voice is isn’t just something that needs to be sort of relegated to a certain point, you know, at the end of the funnel.
I’d be curious to think of like, how has your, how has your thinking there sort of evolved in terms of I suppose just this kind of shift from like that like single monolith. You know, piece to this more, you know, micro contact, full funnel,
Yeah. It’s, it’s been reactionary. this team, the customer marketing customer advocacy teams, usually, our. Here to service other parts of the organization to do their job, whether that’s sales or, or marketing. So as marketing, as shifts to ABM, account-based marketing right. As, as they focus more on specific industries, which is what we’re seeing a lot more of is like, how does this product apply to this industry specifically?
The results are that, that I can’t do a three minute. Corporate commercial for a customer five different ways You just can’t. Right. So once it’s made, it’s made, you’re not going to, you’re likely, I should say I shouldn’t speak in absolutes. You’re likely not going to send another video crew out there a year later to kept that story again, just to ask one question about a specific industry, right.
Or a specific feature or whatever it might be. Right. So. Unless you’ve covered all your bases and you still have that content to, to re edit the video specific to that, that topic. You’re forced to think about other ways to do that. So, and I love that you brought up case studies too, because case studies have become shorter as well.
But yeah, so my point was that we were reacting to the marketing teams shift in strategy to make things very personally. Very specific to the audience, whatever they might be. So the best way to do that is to leverage what we all have now as our phones and cameras all over, I could count 1, 2, 3, 4 different cameras that could capture my image right now if I wanted them to.
So, everybody has this in their office. Everybody’s in their office at home all the time now because of COVID. Capitalize on that, make it easy for them to provide this short form content. And you can ask them whatever question you’d like at any time, and, and say, Hey, you did a great job last month, answering these five questions.
Now I’d love you to let us let the audience know what you’re looking for. in accelerate 2022, you know, you attended last year, you spoke last year. we’d love to include your voice on our invitations for this year’s event. And so five minutes done, and you’ve got this piece of content that now you can use for event marketing, right?
Or, or, you know, what’s your, you know, if you keep it short and sweet and recurring, it’s like, well, what what’s top of mind for you this month, as you look into year end planning, you know, what, how are you using Planview to, strategize initiatives for 2022? You know, and then that that’s now you have a campaign for January of 2020 to about the year ahead.
And, and that ties to our differentiator strategic program management, right? So you can get real creative with this. once you’ve kind of shifted away from this. We need one video from about this one, customer two, we need lots of videos about this one topic from as many different customers as we can get.
And, you know, it’s, it’s a shift because of technology. It’s a shift because of the demands of the marketing team and the sales team. it’s also a shift due to the climate of, of COVID. and, and the, what I see as a. Shift in how people do work. And again, technology enabled, to do work from anywhere and most likely from home.
So yeah, that’s kind of a long winded answer. And I think for the most part, you’d agree, but I’m not sure if you, if you see some of these same things, if you have to take on that.
Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I think the other thing I would add is like, the great thing with video is it’s sort of like the master medium, right? You can take your video, you can transcribe it. You can, you know, use that in your written case study. you can use it in, you know, slides in, in your, you know, in your decks, but it’s not, it’s like doesn’t really work the opposite way.
You can’t necessarily take a, a written case study and turn it into a very authentic video, you know?
Yeah. So I think like that, to me also speaks to like why video is the best kind of customer advocacy and customer marketing team. are, you know, using video more is because it’s just, you have so much optionality and you get like, you get everything.
If you, If you do video, you can always have the option to, you know, pull the transcript and such,
Or just the audio for that point. That’s a great point.
Yeah. A hundred percent.
And yeah, I think, what also came to mind was, even the online review sites like G2 crowd are taking video ref reviews instead of text reviews. visitors can leave a recording and we’ve had a few customers do that. And you just see the shift in general, like again, technology didn’t allow.
10 years ago, this remote capture and transfer of video content is just the storage and the bandwidth issues. But now those are no longer problems. And so we see this video is more prolific than ever as a result.
And you mentioned G2. I know, you have a, you know, you and your team, you have a, basically a multi-site strategy. tell us, tell us a little bit about that, you know, you know, what have you sort of learned, what has been your biggest learning, you know, on the, on the review side and, you know, as it pertains to, having.
The multi-site, you know, reviews strategy and just making, what do you think is important, to just kind of make it work or what are the most interesting thing you’ve learned?
Yeah. It’s it’s a learning experience for me too. Now that I’m at Planview because at Aptus and then at Clarizen, we both had well after had multiple products. so it wasn’t such a thing, but especially with Clarizen we had one product for the most part. again, I’m generalizing a bit, but we had one product and made it easy to have a multi-site prod, strict.
For that one product. Now that I’m at plan B, we have a whole suite of products that really wrap into a platform. And so this, this has made it really trickier and having a multi-site strategy because do you pay for a paid profile on all four major online review sites for every single product.
Does that make sense? These are the questions we had to ask ourselves or do. Some products on some sites based on the visitation, statistics of those sites, or maybe not, don’t think about visitation of who who’s going to those sites, but think about, well, how are you going to use the content from each site in your campaigns?
Does that affect the way you, or how, which products you’ve played pay for the profiles on those sites? So we looked at all those, we looked at how. Positioned on those sites today and where we needed improvements or where we’re really strong. And that kind of affected our decisions as well. I think every company needs to have a multi-site online review strategy.
These days, you can’t afford to not do that because people are on all of these. There’s none, none of these four major sites being Gartner, peer insights, peer spot, which was it, central station, TrustRadius and G2 crowd, right? Those are the four that we work with, heavily work with. Because people are going to all those.
So if you’re ignoring one, you’re ignoring a huge chunk of visitors. and if your profiles are languishing there, it’s going to hurt you. And you’re never going to realize it and that’s the worst kind of hurt. So, that’s why we took that approach. And. my idea and as I build 2022 is to automate the collection of reviews.
And it’s tricky when you have multiple products on each site, because you can’t just have one link, leave a review. So what we’re doing to fix that is we’re going to create a dedicated landing page called the review hub online review hub. And then there, that’s how we are going to inject those into PowerPoint slides for events.
Put those in email signatures for the. put that on social media and that’s going to be where we point everybody to that becomes our one destination link. Once they’re there, the visitors can select the product that they want to leave a review on. And then there’ll be a dropdown menu is like, okay, I want to leave a review on Planview Claire’s in on Gardner.
And, maybe the next month is like, well, I left one in Gardner. I want to leave a review of Planview Clarizen on GDPR. Oh, it’s like, okay, now I’m ready to leave a review of views E one product. And, and they’re pointing me to peer spotter gardener. Right? So that, that hub will allow us to, broaden and easily use one destination, but also pointing everybody to the right place and hopefully a concise manner.
So we still have to design it. That’s kind of my vision for it. and the next couple of weeks we’ll see that. come to fruition. But, yeah, that’s. My way, of automating the collection of reviews and think about as many touch points as you can. It’s every time there’s a survey, that’s going out an NPS survey.
If anyone gives a positive response to that you want to point them to leave a review. You want to prompt them to leave a review. Anytime there’s a support case is filed and closed effectively. that’s a survey goes out after that. And again, any eight nines or tens should be. To leave a review. any newsletters you have planned think about that as a way, a customer newsletter is a great way to solicit online reviews.
So my plan here is to automate and find as many touch points as possible so that I’m not relying on a big email blast in the middle or the end of the year. and the reason you don’t want that is because you’re going to get, you might get a good spike and great. But then suddenly a year or two years later, whatever the review sites policy is that spike is going to disappear. And you’re those reviews, timeout. Eventually that’s typically what those review sites, the practice that they do. Right? So in order to make sure that you never have this spike and then trough, you want a steady uptick, you want a steady hill climb kind of effect. And so that’s, that’s my strategy there.
And, okay. I employed that at other companies and looking forward to playing it here Planview as well. And that’ll hopefully keep us at the top and suddenly not have a big drop off on reviews.
Yeah, that I love that. And, we’ll try to get that a landing page linked up, maybe in the show notes, So folks can perhaps, you know, check that out for inspiration. last thing I wanted to, ask you about James. I know that, You’ve built out a very robust, customer marketing dashboard in Salesforce. tell me a little bit about that, what are you tracking?
Why are you tracking, what you’re tracking and, and what are, you know, in terms of what you’re tracking, what are some of the kind of like metrics or indicators that that your, that you’re looking at?
Yeah. so, I try to think about, again, the audience. Much like these videos you want to think about, okay, Who are these metrics and dashboards for certainly yourself. so I started with the easy ones, like, what do I need to know to run my program better? I need to know how many program members I have at any given time. and I take snapshots of that so that I can, report at the end of the year that this is the growth that we’ve had. Program members by individuals and then program members by, accounts are the simple things you can do and easily add fields to Salesforce or any CRM to do that. then you think about, okay, the next level is like, okay, what’s the impact that these program members are having on our business. So next, probably the next easiest one to do is, an opportunity field. Salesforce opportunity to feel, to indicate whether references were requested and completed or not. And once you have that field in place and you are updating that, or the sales team, having the sales team update that, and it’s.
Great practice to work with sales operations, to make sure that that field itself is a stage gate before they can close any deal So I want to close when this, I need to indicate whether a call happened or not right before I can proceed. And that way, you know, your fields are accurate. So that’s a nice little tip there.
Once you have that field, you can run a report on, okay. All close opportunities, in Q4 of 2021. How many of those had that? That box ticked. And so you say, okay, our reference program affected X percent of all new business, and then you can run a report this current quarter, how many open opportunities yet to close this quarter have requested references.
And that’s a really cool report for sales leaders because they can see like, if I’m projecting to close a certain number of deals this quarter, but none of them are requested references. Are these really going to close this quarter? Is this actually a healthy pipeline? And there’s a lot of different ways you can measure healthy pipeline, but this is just one more than I think is pretty interesting.
And certainly for, the AEs, the account executives themselves. They can take a look at all their open ops and they can say, oh, I should think about references if I’m expecting this to close or as they go to the QBR. So they can point out like, well, I, I do feel that this will close because I’ve done all these things, including references.
I’ve got my NDA, I’ve got my, NSA’s in their hands and all this other stuff that they need to worry about. So it’s just one of many, many different things, but if you’re not tracking it, you can’t report on it. So get going on adding those fields. and make sure to take a snapshot after every quarter, because the problem is, unless you add more reports in that dashboard for each quarter, you, you lose what it was, if that makes sense.
And certainly a volume metric of number program members, if you’re not taking snapshot and marking that down at this. I have 300, then I have 400. It’s impossible for you to retroactively go back unless you add more fields and more layers to that existing field about when it was updated last and it gets a little hairy.
Right? So, next I’d say my field on the account record, this is really important. If you’re not thinking about it, it shouldn’t just be a program member or not program member. It should be a pick list of different options and starting with not yet. As in, we haven’t asked them to be a reference. Next is not ready to be asked.
As in the CSM has looked at this account and determined that they’re not quite ready, but maybe later, the next would be, recruiting or in progress. Something to indicate that the CSM has asked them, but they haven’t been recruited into the program yet. Then there’s active. They’ve been recruited, fully recruited, active member.
Then they’re suspended, which means this is a temporary status that we use in case health goes south. Maybe they’re busy this quarter, maybe they told us explicitly, I will only do one reference college quarter and I’ve used them. Then I’ll suspend them until the next quarter. That’s a good way of us making sure that we don’t overburden anybody.
Or our advocate left the company and we need a new advocate, but I don’t want to mark the account as no longer an advocate because the account is very much a program member, but they’re suspended from calls because we need to find somebody else there that maybe. And last is a corporate restriction.
So they’ve to politely declined to be an advocate and they will never be an advocate it’s against the rules at that corporation. So you, hopefully those are very few and far between, but they do exist and you need to track it. And all this is to say, when you get this full picture of not just how many accounts in our customer base are advocates, but how many of our advocate customers, you know, where what’s the status there?
You can tee that up to the CSM team and they can run their reports and say, well, how healthy is. Our business, our book of business, really when only 20% of our customers are advocates. We want that to be 50%. And so you got to work with sales leaders to make sure you understand what data they need and that’ll help impact how you run your reports and what data you collect.
And similarly, with the CSM team, you’ve got, gotta be really close partners with them because if the CSM team. paying attention to this, they’re going to want to fix it. They’re going to want to improve those numbers. And if they want to improve those numbers, that’s more nominations into your program.
And that’s easier for you to find it and facilitate reference requests and create more videos and everything that you needed to do to run a healthy program. So, make good friends with your, CS ops and your leaders of the team, because, it’s going to make your job a whole lot of.
That’s awesome. So many good tips and takeaways there.
For you guys, you target 50%, is that correct? Is that your goal? 50% of customer population to be in some level of advocacy?
Yeah, 50% of our named accounts, so, those with the CSM.
I’m lucky enough to work with a team that has a variable compensation to recruit advocates and have advocates in the program. Not every company does this. It certainly helps when CSMs are incentivized in that way to drive new advocate nominations.
That’s awesome. There are so many more questions I want to ask about that, but we’re out of time. Maybe we’ll have to do a round two sometime.
This has been awesome.
Where can folks connect with you, or get in touch if they want to connect with you and learn more?
I’d say LinkedIn, James Lustenader. Well, my uncle might be on there. I’m named after him, but it should be easy enough to find, working at Planview. Feel free to reach out and connect. I’m always excited to meet and discuss, and talk shop with others.
Awesome. This has been great, James.
Yeah. Thanks so much for inviting me, Sam. I had a great time.
Alrighty folks, that was another awesome episode of the State of Customer Storytelling podcast, brought to you by Testimonial Hero.
So many great takeaways. We’re running out of time, so I can’t recap them all, but, that bit at the end, especially with James breaking down the way that they are tracking everything in Salesforce.
So valuable. So many great takeaways for video, video at conferences, multi-site reviews, and the importance of the authentic voice of the customer. Amazing. Great stuff.
Make sure to connect with James if you want to chat with him about any of this stuff, and until then, we’ll see you in the next episode.