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Why “Customer Success” Is the Future Of B2B Sales!

Peter von Burchard is the VP of Sales and Customer Success at Wistia. He’s in the trenches building an incredible sales team and is an expert in customer success.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Peter shares what the heck “customer success” actually is and how you can implement it into your own sales process to win more business, more repeatably in your market.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Peter von Burchard
VP of Sales and Customer Success at Wistia

Resources:

Transcript 

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the salesman podcast?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Success is really understanding the journey that the customer is on and the problem that you’re solving as a solution and finding a way to align yourself as a company with getting those customers to achieve that end.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, I’m Will Barron, host of the salesman podcast, the world’s most listened-to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already, make sure to click subscribe and with that, let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Great. Hey there, my name is Peter Von Burchard. I’m the VP of sales at Wistia, and we are a video enablement platform for salespeople and marketers.

 

What is Customer Success? · [00:49]

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show with Pete, we’re diving into customer success. What the packet actually is, why it might be the future of selling and a whole lot more. So let’s jump right in. What is customer success? This is clearly the starting point for the rest of the conversation.

 

“Customer success is really understanding the journey that the customer is on, and the problem that you’re solving as a solution and finding a way to align yourself as a company with getting those customers to achieve that end. And I think it’s really about aligning the business and the solution with the goals of the customer and helping execute on that.” – Peter Von Burchard · [01:10]

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s a great question. I imagine you’d get a different answer if you asked a hundred people the question. For Wistia and for SAS businesses that I’ve seen, customer success is really understanding the journey that the customer is on, and the problem that you’re solving as a solution and finding a way to align yourself as a company with getting those customers to achieve that end. And so for us, we talk about a little bit of how we attack that, but I think it’s really about aligning the business and the solution with the goals of the customer and helping execute on that.

 

Why Salespeople Need to Align Their Goals with Customer Success · [01:40] 

 

Will Barron:

And this is a weird question to ask on a sales podcast, and I’m going to stereotype salespeople a little bit here, but why is it that we’re now all of a sudden seemingly focusing on enabling people to achieve the goal, versus what salespeople have done in the past, if they stop at the implementation phases, we are selling them on the dream of achieving the goal. Why is this separation between the two?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

It has to do with how we charge our customers. Wistia is a SAS platform. When we close the deal, we are making a promise to that customer that we’re going to help them achieve their goals. In exchange, we’re going to ask them monthly or annually, to rebuy that service essentially. And so we’re signing up for a long-term engagement and effectively a partnership, to achieve that dream that we’ve sold the customer on. And so it has a lot to do with how we make our money in SAS, but it really does align the salesperson’s goal with the customer’s goal, which is probably good for everybody.

 

Why should a B2B Salesperson Who’s Primarily Paid for Closing Deals Care About Customer Success? · [03:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Of course that makes total sense. Right. I was baiting you there with that question because it’s seemingly common sense, the answer. And so with that said, it seems that the customer, whatever it’s been called, over things and it’s only just come into my zeitgeist now, as I do on these shows and now, and all of it’s becoming more and more of a topic, is its own conversation. Whose responsibility is customer success for the quota carrying B2B sales professional, who perhaps gets paid at this point in time only on getting the deal signed? Why should they care about it, if they should at all?

 

“It’s the entire company’s responsibility to care about customer success. If the CEO of the company is not focused on it, then mostly everybody else will not be really focused on it.” – Peter Von Burchard · [03:34] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

It comes down to what, as leaders, what do we ask our salespeople to care about. Often that comes through with basically what’s their quota or how did they get paid really, typically how that works. But it’s the entire company’s responsibility to care about customer success. If the CEO of the company is not focused on it, then mostly everybody else will not be really focused on it. And I think it comes from the top and for us, Wistia was a product that came from a freemium model. So for 10 years, we didn’t have a sales team or a customer success team or an account management team. And every customer that we had, which grew to about 20,000 customers over this period of time, came through the product itself. So we’d help create content, show them how to make videos.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Ultimately they’d need a place to store those videos. They’d get into our free product and they’d upgrades in a self-serve fashion. And as a result over 10 years, basically the entire company became a customer success team. And everything we did was from the perspective of why are we doing this? Are we adding value to the customer, getting the customer closer to the solution that we’re providing? And so we’ve carried that forward as we’ve grown and added other teams and sales teams, but that’s very much ingrained in the culture of the company right now.

 

The Difference Between a Good Account Manager and a Stereotypical Salesperson · [05:16] 

 

Will Barron:

So let’s make this assumption, then, that customer success goes or is handed to the account manager. And perhaps we’re not talking SDRs, BDRs here, but perhaps there is people who go out, win new business. And then there’s account managers who manage the accounts after the fact. And the reason why I want to discuss this now is that it might be that some people listening to the show go, “I would really like to do that, or I’d really like to do that.” And perhaps both of them can be highly commissioned. And so if the commission structure is similar between the two, then we can go down to the traits of the individual that suits one role or another. So with that said, Pete, what are the traits of a good account manager? And then what are the traits of the good stereotypical salesperson? So the audience know whether they should be aiming down this route, or perhaps aiming down a different route with their careers.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

One or the other. For us, what has worked on the account manager side is, there’s well, I should say there’s a lot of overlap, and I think there’s also just very key differences between the two roles and how they approach the relationships with the customers. The overlaps, I think, are just really being a inquisitive person, being able to get to the bottom of not just what the customer says the first time, but really being able to get a couple layers deeper than that and understanding really what’s the problem, what are they trying to accomplish? And what are the challenges that the customers are experiencing? I think beyond that, though, we think about the account manager role at Wistia as really a quarterback that has the entire company behind them to help support the customer.

 

“Sometimes the customer will have a problem that we can’t solve or wants to see a feature that we won’t build. And the typical salesperson might go down the road of saying, “Hey, that’s really good. Yo, let’s get that on the roadmap. I could see that coming down the pipeline one day.” I would think that it’s the account manager’s job to really say, “Hey, we’re not going to do that. And here’s why.” – Peter Von Burchard · [06:15] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And so sometimes the customer will have a problem that we can’t solve or wants to see a feature that we won’t build. And the typical salesperson might go down the road of saying, “Hey, that’s really good. Yo, let’s get that on the roadmap. I could see that coming down the pipeline one day.” I would think that it’s the account manager’s job to really say, “Hey, we’re not going to do that. And here’s why. This is where we’re going. And here’s where we think this product’s going. We think that aligns with the challenges that you’re having, and here’s why we have this partnership, but ultimately we don’t want to set the wrong expectations.” And so I think it’s, hey, can we get a really good explanation of what we’re doing and why, how are we going to solve solutions for you, getting engineers to connect with the customer or getting, leveraging the business intelligence teams to get those customers across the finish line. But I think it’s being a real partner from the customer’s point of view, as opposed to really selling something or building that vision.

 

Customer Success is an Ever-moving Target and Why Salespeople Should Focus on Providing Consistent Value · [07:21] 

 

Will Barron:

So does customer success have a finish line then? What I mean by that is, are we aiming towards a specific goal? We hit it, everyone’s happy. Or is it a constantly moving goal? Because clearly we want to retain these customers for decades as opposed to months or years.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

I think the answer is no. And I think for us, again, it’s a little bit of a grey area because we have people at Wistia whose title is customer success and account management, but I think that’s really just the very tip of the broader iceberg, which is really that the whole company is trying to retain those customers. And so they represent where we’re going as a company. And so for example, our CSMs, our customer success managers largely focus on product adoption onboarding. And so you might say, well, okay, once those customers adopt the product and they’re using it the way we want them to use it initially, then they go on, to the folks that are still at the starting point of that. And they drive adoption for new customers.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Account managers take an ongoing one-to-one relationship with our customers, but even the CSMs are basically leveraging what they learned through onboarding and through adoption. And then circling that back to the product teams, to our business insights teams, to our engineering teams, to help drive the product in a direction that really aligns with our customers. And so I think it’s the whole company and the support organisation is a big part of this as well. But from a sales perspective, really, the whole company is sitting at the doorstep of customer success going, Hey, what did we learn today? What can we put into the product tomorrow that we learned from our onboarding customers today? And so it’s a little bit of a closed loop that feeds itself as we learn from customers. And so I would say, no, again, we’re a SAS business and we want all of our customers to stay on forever. And so we’re very much invested in that.

 

Will Barron:

And this is what I expected and this is why I wanted to have this conversation, Pete, because that’s a lot responsibility, right? And if you’re the forefront of all of this, I don’t want to always dumb it down to money in commissions, but clearly as that role becomes more established as basically every single industry on the planet moves towards a software or a surface, a monthly payment model, as opposed to capital outlay. I think these roles are going to become less customer success and more senior product specialist, sales specialist or whatever it is. And they’ll have the team below them of product specialist, of implementation, experts, whatever it is, and they’ll be managing all of this.

 

Thought Leadership: What Salespeople and Account Managers Should Be Doing to Continuously Add Value For the Customer · [10:02] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that said, what can we do? And you can use Wistia examples, or we can talk about generic examples here, but other than getting someone onboarded using the product and then hitting that baseline, of what we expected when we first started the sales conversation and hopefully solving some problem, what else can customer success or account managers, what can they be doing to add value even as an individual to these accounts so that they want to work with Bob, the account manager, as opposed to Jerry, the account manager, perhaps.

 

“Ultimately, what makes a customer success manager or an account manager valuable for the customer is if they’re really pushing the customer to think about things in different ways, in ways that they’re not already thinking about it.” – Peter Von Burchard · [10:57] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Two things. This is a great question. And we actively think about this all the time. Of course, all of our approaches are completely fluid and moving all the time. But I think for us, there’s two things that really come to mind. And I don’t think this is necessarily a Wistia thing. I think this is broadly applicable. One is to become a industry-recognised thought leader in the space, because ultimately what makes a customer success manager or an account manager ultimately valuable for the customer is if they’re really pushing the customer to think about things in different ways, in ways that they’re not already thinking about it. Because these roles can very quickly become glorified support roles where, Hey, okay, I have your phone number. I can call you. I know you’ll pick up the phone, it’s your job to talk to me, therefore, I’m going to call you when the product breaks or I have an issue because I don’t want to get into the support queue.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And that is a very easy thing. And that’s essentially what will be the default, unless the account managers are teaching the customers about their own business on a daily basis. So I think understanding the business, understanding the use case, being an expert there, I think is the most important thing. And the way to leverage that as a company is through personal branding of those folks. So those folks need to be out on social media, talking about the use case, talking about examples, that they’re adding value. So that’s the first way.

 

“No solution is perfect. No software is perfect. And if you have people out there trying to convince the customer that your product is perfect, every company is going to see right through that.” – Peter Von Burchard · [12:26] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

The second way I think is really, to be honest with the customers and to be in their camp and not necessarily always be representing the company, the party line as it were, which is really hard to do, but ultimately no solution is perfect. No software is perfect. And if you have people out there trying to convince the customer that your product is perfect, every company is going to see right through that. And they’re going to get worried that they don’t know what they don’t know at that point. And there’s a trust issue there. And so I think really being customer-centric is a key thing as well. But I think the way to do it is to be an expert.

 

Will Barron:

So I’m reading this book and it is very dry and it’s on account management and the principles that are in it are really interesting, but it’s a dry book. So I won’t shout it out on the show. Maybe I’ll put it in the show notes. And it’s academic and the point of view of the book is how to get into a large enterprise account with a small deal and work your way up into big ones. This is what I used to do in medical device sales, of going into a hospital, selling to gynaecology, urology, whatever it is, and ended up then closing colorectal, outpatient, endoscopy and everything else, and wrapping up into one larger account later on down the line. So it seems like this customer success approach, from what we’re talking about here, Pete, is essentially the model that is dry and boring in this book, but more real with your examples in this place.

 

Customer Success and Taking Advantage of Opportunities to Upsell or Cross-sell Existing Accounts · [13:38]  

 

Will Barron:

So is this what we should be doing? Should we be using customer success? Not just to keep a customer on board, but to say to that customer, “Well, let’s expand, let’s talk about this. If I’m an expert in the industry, I can essentially consult with you. I can add value. I can be somewhat impartial from the organisation that I work for.” Again, these are seemingly all topics that are in this book, but a more vivid picture that’s being painted here. Is this what we should be doing with this?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

I absolutely think so. Again, it depends on how your product works. If there is an expansion opportunity or a cross sell upsell opportunity, then it’s an obvious way to align the customer’s best interest and the outcomes that they’re looking for and those with the company that you represent. For us, we have multiple products. We also have ways of expanding the use of the product. So the more videos essentially you have in Wistia, the more eventually you start to pay us. The nice cause and effect there is, you’re not going to be adding videos at any rate that matters to the platform unless you’re having success with your video strategy.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And you have to align the two. I think the miss is sometimes where it’s just solely based on relationship building, where, Hey, I’m an account manager. I have a good relationship. And in years past it’s, I’ve taken you to lunch a certain amount of times and we’ve been to the ball game together, that sort of thing, because of that, I want an intro to this other person and that’s the account, the typical and somewhat old-fashioned account management approach. I think where the customer-centricity or the customer success model starts to bleed into this is, instead of basing this solely on relationships, you can start to say, “Hey, I helped you achieve something that you would not have achieved otherwise. Are there other people in the organisation that might benefit from the same thing?”

 

“Getting the customer to having achieved those goals, it becomes a no-brainer for them to spread the word and to grow within the business.” – Peter Von Burchard · [15:59] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And it’s helpful when the product is accessible for us. For us, you can go and create a free account and test it out and see something. I imagine we have, that’s a lot easier to spread than the medical devices, for example. For us, getting the customer to having achieved those goals, it becomes a no-brainer for them, to spread the word and to grow within the business. Expansion revenue is ultimately a very lagging indicator of success around this. We don’t measure that as a monthly or a quarterly cadence, but ultimately that’s how we know it’s working in the longterm.

 

Are Relationships Becoming More or Less Important in B2B Sales? · [16:30]

 

Will Barron:

With all this said, are relationships becoming more or less important in B2B sales? Because it seems like if I’m working with an industry expert, every time I speak to them, that the branding’s amazing and I enjoy being wrapped up in their world and their environments, perhaps their brand has a robot on our organisation as well, even if it’s small and an internal robot. But with that all said, if I’ve been there a bit of an idiot, I’m still probably going to work with them if they’ve got all that going for them. Versus just a standard out-of-the-box sales professional, if they’re an idiot, I’m going to go to the competition down the road. Right. So with all that said, are relationships becoming less important if you’ve got all the other stuff going for you?

 

“I think ultimately the reason why relationships mattered in typical sales generations ago where you have people on the driving their entire careers in a car, living out of the car, driving coast to coast trying to sell whatever it is, the whole point of doing that is getting in front of your potential customers and establishing a level of trust with them. And I think nobody really buys anything from anybody unless they have a level of trust established. And you could establish trust these days by basically putting your point of view out there in a very broad, one-to-many way on social media and people will consume that content.” – Peter Von Burchard · [17:17] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah. I think what a relationship means is different now, right? So I think ultimately the reason why relationships have mattered in typical sales generations ago, where you have people on the driving, their entire career’s in a car, living out of the car, driving coast to coast, trying to sell whatever it is, the whole point of doing that is getting in front of your potential customers and establishing a level of trust with them. And I think nobody really buys anything from anybody unless they have a level of trust established. And you could establish trust these days by basically putting your point of view out there in a very broadly, one-to-many way on social media and people will consume that content. And you are essentially establishing trust at the same time, because it’s, Hey, this guy knows what he’s talking about.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

It helps that, especially on LinkedIn now, which is a business platform, it helps that you can use video so much because you feel like you start to know these people. It’s like you start to identify in a very visceral way with some of the people that you don’t know at all. And there’s obvious examples of people doing this very, very well. But I think ultimately it comes down to aa very human component, which is, Hey, do I trust this guy? Or am I taking a risk on something that I don’t want to take? And I think the dynamics are changing and how the scale at which you can do this, is changing. But fundamentally, I don’t think it’s changing. I think it comes down to trust.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve mentioned this on the podcast in the past, but I’ll use the example again because I think it’s a good one. I’ll go to sales conferences and there’ll be some of the people that listen to the show obviously. It’s the perfect environment for me to mingle around and for people to try and buy me drinks. So with that said, I meet these individuals and it’s always, I say every time. And I say it to people’s faces when it first happens, because usually get a weird look on my face as the first two or three people come over and shout my name or try and shake my hand. It’s bizarre for me. Because I don’t know these individuals, they know me because they’ve had at this point, thousands of hours’ worth of content consumed. And there’s an element of just impressions, right?

 

How to Build Trust Online · [19:47] 

 

Will Barron:

Of if you hear this person over and over and over and over, you feel like you know them, whether you do or not. And there’s probably people I watch on YouTube or celebrities, that I’d be the same way. And I’ll go into this room and I’ll be a little bit of a celebrity in the room. They walk out the room and no one gives a shit. No one cares who I am. So I go back to normality straight after that. So with that said, are there any ways other than just impressions, because I’ve felt the power of this. I understand it. Is there any ways other than just mass numbers of impressions or even using paid advertising or anything like that, which may be out of the reach of some of the listeners. Are there any other ways to build trust online and build thought leadership that you think have a real good bang for buck, for the audience?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah, it doesn’t have to be. Two things come to mind. I think one is very technical. You don’t have to have a widely distributed and very well-produced podcast to build a personal brand. Right? You can focus on just social media. You can find out who are the folks that you are aligned with, in terms of your point of view and your company’s point of view and get into a dialogue essentially with those folks and ask questions and respond to their content. I think this is really inbound marketing and thought leadership marketing at its core. But now it’s just a lot easier because you can use video, you can use LinkedIn to do it quite, quite easily. So I think there’s a technical component to just start doing it, in my opinion.

 

“You have to promote what you’re for but also have a point of view on what you think is not the right approach for whatever it is. Because I think most people want to identify with a dichotomy in thought leadership. They want to understand that there’s an alternative that you’re saying no to, and that there’s something that you’re promoting as well. And I think it’s important to establish that and be consistent with it.” – Peter Von Burchard · [21:15] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And the second thing that I think, which is related, that I think is very important is, you have to have a point of view. And I think more importantly, I think you have to say what you’re not. You have to promote what you’re for, but also have a point of view on what you think is not the right approach for whatever it is, because I think most people want to identify with a dichotomy in thought leadership. They want to understand that there’s an alternative that you’re saying no to, and that there’s something that you’re promoting as well. And I think it’s important to establish that and be consistent with it. And so I think that those are the two things, but I think it’s just start and think, but be a little bit thoughtful on the front end, about what you’re for and what you’re not for.

 

How Sales Leaders Can Handle Salespeople That are Crushing Quotas but are Crossing Some Corporate Boundaries and Pissing-off Half the Marketplace · [21:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So we’ll make this real for the audience now in that every piece of, not necessarily a piece of content, every product or service, or even the podcast, the premise of it, everything I do, I try and be polarising to a certain extent. I don’t want to or annoy anyone or piss anyone off, but I don’t want to ever play in the grey area in the middle. How does this look, Pete, for… We’ll make up a random person of your sales team, which doesn’t exist called Sally or whoever. How does this look from a sales leadership position when Sally is being polarising and you’re looking at her, going, “She’s getting results, but she might be pissing off half the marketplace by saying all this. And our logo is on the t-shirt that she’s wearing as she goes through it.” How does this work from your perspective personally, as you look down and go, “Sally’s crushing it, perhaps she’s crossing some of the corporate boundaries on some of this stuff.”

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah. Wistia is a funny place in terms of corporate boundaries. Part of our business model is to break most of the corporate boundaries that most people are limited by. So that’s a little bit funny thing, but I think for us, it’s really just about engaging in a discussion in an authentic way, because anyone could go up there and talk about, well, here’s two sides to the story, either one is okay but ultimately, this is not where people go necessarily to learn. This is starting to cross the lines between entertainment and education. And it’s not entertaining to simply just go and read a bullet point of pros and cons of a point of view. And ultimately we want to incite conversation.

 

“I’m a big skier. And the way we think about it is, if you get off the mountain at the end of the day and you haven’t fallen, you probably aren’t skiing hard enough. If you’re out there having a point of view on social media and nobody disagrees with you, you actually don’t really have an opinion to begin with, and it’s not going to be entertaining for your audience.” – Peter Von Burchard · [23:32] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And in my opinion, I’m a big skier. And the way we think about it is, if you get off the mountain at the end of the day and you haven’t fallen, you probably aren’t skiing hard enough. If you’re out there having a point of view on social media and nobody disagrees with you, you actually don’t really have an opinion to begin with, and it’s not going to be entertaining for your audience. And so I would say Sally is doing exactly what she ought to be doing in terms of having an interesting conversation online about it.

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, that’s smart for you, Wistia and the team there. So I appreciate that. I guess my background is slightly different, medical device sales. You can’t say X, Y, Zed because you don’t want to come back to get sued and the FDA to come back and close everything down, right? But this is interesting. And we’ll wrap up with this and I wasn’t planning on talking about it, but I lean over, get down here on the floor. I’ve actually got a book on my desk, “How to Write Comedy, discovering the building blocks of sketches, jokes and sitcoms and how to make them work.” I’m four pages in. So I won’t say if it’s any good or not. But dense team factor of all of this is something that really interests me because in the sales, training, development, self-help development space, it’s all boring as heck. And it was one of the reasons why the podcast app spawns life in the first place of, I literally Googled podcast for salespeople.

 

Peter Talks About How Salespeople Can Spark Conversations and Create More Entertaining Content without Crossing the Line · [25:15] 

 

Will Barron:

And it was all most, it was a dude in a weird ill-fitting suit on a whiteboard, giving you five tips of how to blague someone on the phone. And it was nonsense. It didn’t relate to me at all. So I’m not saying that what I’m doing is any better, but I’ve tried to go down a slightly different route and have it slightly more chilled and conversational. And hopefully it’s a bit more of a love for the audience, but it’s down to the market for them to decide. But with that said, how do we, and you may not be able to answer this, I don’t know. It’s a soft skill that is much like selling, but how do we be more entertaining in our content, in a marketplace where perhaps we’re competing and our product is somewhat commoditized. Perhaps there’s not that much difference. Perhaps people are buying into alls the account managers, customer success. How do we be more entertaining without coming across like a complete clown? 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah, I think it’s a great question. And I think the word entertaining can be a little bit misleading and again, we are a video company, every single person in this company is on video. When you become an employee at Wistia, you sign a little piece of paper that says, by the way, you’re basically giving us the right to put you on a video, you know? And not that everyone is forced to do that, but you shouldn’t come work at Wistia unless you’re okay with video, obviously. And so I think the concept of entertaining is a little bit misleading. You sort of thinking, man, I wish I was a standup comedian or I wish I was a good actor, but I think ultimately what it comes down to, and I think this comes back to the idea of people buy from people they trust.

 

“I think people, in a truly visceral way, they want to see themselves in everybody that they talk to. And so I think if you’re a super-polished salesperson in suit and tie, you never miss a beat and you’re crossing your I’s and dotting your T’s and you never screw anything up, almost nobody sees themselves in you, right? Everybody’s screwed something up. And owning that is really important.” – Peter Von Burchard · [26:28] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And I think it comes down to more about authenticity. I think people in a truly visceral way, they want to see themselves in everybody that they talk to. And so I think if you’re a super-polished salesperson in suit and tie, you never miss a beat and you’re crossing your I’s and dotting your T’s and you never screw anything up, almost nobody sees themselves in you. Right? Everybody’s screwed something up. And owning that is really important. I think it’s entertaining and being out there talking about, Hey, we like to talk a lot from outwardly, publicly, about things that we just screw up. So we tried something, it was a big bet. We fucked it up and we learned something from it.

 

“If you’re just out there talking about your point of view all the time and never admitting that something didn’t go right, or if you’re super polished all the time, I think it’s just not that interesting to people. But I think if they can see themselves in you because you are imperfect and you know, all of us are, I think that’s a good place to start.” – Peter Von Burchard ·[27:26] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

But I think that’s the kind of thing that people are drawn to. And I think it sounds like that. And I know that some of this is what you know is entertaining and what has worked for a lot of people in social media, which is, if you’re just out there talking about your point of view all the time and never admitting that something didn’t go right, or if you’re super polished all the time, I think it’s just not that interesting to people. But I think if they can see themselves in you because you are imperfect and you know, all of us are, I think that’s a good place to start.

 

The Strategic Cadence for Reaching Out to Customers Who Haven’t Expressed Any Pain Points or Satisfaction in Your Product or Service · [27:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. And final thing on this. I don’t expect to have data on this. There might be data that exists, but is there a cadence for almost all of this of, should we be not sending a “Hi, just checking an email,” but sending people a piece of viable content and then trying to then chat with them on that they’ve commented on, on LinkedIn and then deepening the relationship by sending them, “We screwed up on this, we’ve learned this might be useful for you,” or a similar tale. Is there a cadence of what a customer success person, a account manager, how often they should be reaching out to customers who haven’t said good, bad, indifferent, that we’re assuming that they’re using the product and everything’s plodding along fine. Is there a cadence of, we should reach out with these different touch points to make sure that we’re giving them an opportunity to say, “Oh, I’m glad you called because X, Y, Zed has been a pain”?

 

“LinkedIn is a great way to basically just add value at a very low cost way and to keep your brand and keep the person, the account manager front of mind for the customer.” – Peter Von Burchard · [29:20] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

The answer is yes. I would say that it’s probably a little different for every business, but I think whether it’s sales or post-sales account management and CSMs, that it has to be a bit of all of the above approach. And so that email cadence or the phone calls is a little bit of a ground game. The LinkedIn stuff is the air cover for all of it. Because I think what ends up happening is, even in LinkedIn, as long as you don’t actually ask for something on LinkedIn, if you’re asking for the meeting or asking for, have a call to action on LinkedIn, then it basically merges the two. But LinkedIn is a great way to basically just add value at a very low cost way and to keep your brand and keep the person, the account manager front of mind for the customer, the emails and the meetings have to be a little bit responsive to the business.

 

“If you’re just going to be a pinata to the customer and be reactive, you’re going to fall back into that default position of glorified support. But if you’re managing the customer such that you can get them to their goals or solve their problems, then you should also be running the cadence by which you’re communicating that. And if you’re in a bit of a lull, there’s no action items, then it should just be about adding value as much as possible and not asking for anything in return. It’s like a savings account in that sense.” – Peter Von Burchard · [29:53] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

And there has to be a bit of an upfront social contract with the customer there, which is, “Hey, let’s make a plan to get you to where you want to be. Let’s agree to that plan.” And then we have to hold each other accountable for that. Again, if you’re just going to be a pinata to the customer and be reactive, you’re going to fall back into that default position of glorified support. But if you’re managing the customer such that you can get them to their goals or solve their problems, then you should also be running the cadence by which you’re communicating that. And if you’re in a bit of a lull, there’s no action items, then it should just be about adding value as much as possible and not asking for anything in return. It’s like a savings account in that sense. 

 

Staying Top of Mind Even After the Buyer Makes a Purchase · [30:26] 

 

Will Barron:

And what does that plan look like? Is this a formal document of, every other week I will call you? I will tell you, perhaps Wistia, the backend stats. We’ll make sure that everything’s running, we’ll report and then ad hoc, if there’s any downtime or anything, we’ll report that to you. Is this a email, a phone call, an official document? What’s it look like?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

I would say it’s for us, it’s really about getting off the ground initially, establishing what’s the goal and how are we going to get you to where you want to be, let’s plan the next steps to get there. It’s almost like really running a deal, running a customer through a deal, starting with where we want to be at the end of this, and then let’s work back from it and get a joint commitment that we’re going to go through that. So for us very early on, it’s pretty much very intense weekly conversations. And then it probably paces itself out to probably quarterly conversations in a steady state. It’s certainly not a written contract, but I would say it’s probably best practise to follow up with an email to say, here’s what we agreed to. And I’m going to hold you accountable to it essentially.

 

“I think if you haven’t connected on social media with all of your customers as an account manager, then you’re missing an opportunity to build your brand with people within the company that you don’t know, that don’t know you yet.” – Peter Von Burchard · [31:42] 

 

Peter Von Burchard:

The social media stuff, I think is a weekly cadence. And I think if you haven’t connected on social media with all of your customers as an account manager, then you’re missing an opportunity to build your brand with people within the company that you don’t know, that don’t know you yet. Right. So we talked about the expansion opportunities within companies. I’m working with Joe and I want to get to Sally on the other team. Joe and Sally are likely connected on LinkedIn and you can navigate all that now. But I think if you’re putting content and Joe’s responding to it, Sally’s going to see it. And it just helps you build that trust with other people.

 

How Much of a Difference Does Having an Active Online Presence Make When Your Competition is Essentially a Ghost Online? · [32:50] 

 

Will Barron:

I don’t know that there’s a way to, there might be a way to measure that, but I think if it’s a weekly activity, it’s a small enough amount of time to put into it that we don’t perhaps need to go over the top and measure. Because I will go over the top and measure absolutely everything and drive myself crazy with it. But with that said, just get out. There’s a lot, too, to just having stuff on the internet, right? Just being find-able. I think there’s, and this might change over time, as more and more people have stuff and content out there. But I feel right now and tell me your thoughts on this, be the final thing, Pete, of how much of a benefit is there just to, when someone searches your name, your LinkedIn profile pops up and perhaps a few articles or something pops up underneath. How much of a difference does that make when we Google the competition and it’s just a desert?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Oh, I imagine for somebody who’s looking into a competitive product, I imagine it makes all the difference. Again, I think any product that has competition that is going to have… There’s features one way or the other. And some of that stuff is the feature that the customer is looking for, but that customer is not really up for grabs, anyways. And so if you’re really looking for, especially in SAS, where what you’re really signing up for, is the roadmap. You’re not really signing up for the product. You’re signing up for a commitment to the problem that you’re trying to solve. And so in that sense, it’s a real partnership. And so it comes down to, again, I hate to harp on it, but it comes down to this trust factor again. And it’s like, Hey, I want to understand that this company really represents what they say they represent, not just because the salesperson says so, but because there’s a long tail of history here that I can look to, to see what kind of content is being produced. What’s the blog look like and that the people are authentic and partners.

 

Peter’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [34:30]

 

Will Barron:

Got it. And the reason I ask is, I genuinely believe now for salespeople, there’s a bit of a land grab. There’s a potential that LinkedIn three years ago was not what it was today. So if you’re uploading videos, content at the LinkedIn, just even that nothing else, you’re going to have more of a mind share than your competition. And that will only grow over time. Well, with that Pete, I’ve got one final question, mate, and ask everyone that comes on the show. And that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Peter Von Burchard:

I think if I could go back, for me, it’s just a commitment to learning that I did not have in the early stages of my career. I was a very motivated sales person. I was focused on how do I get from being an entry level hunter to a quota-carrying rep to management. And I was very focused on managing my career and I was not necessarily focused on finding the right mentors, learning what works, what doesn’t and establishing what that point of view was. It was, what do I not want to stand for versus what do I want to stand for and how do I think sales and customer success should be done, rather than just executing and running faster. So I think it’s just the commitment to learning and understanding what my point of view was going to be.

 

The Longer We Spend Doing Something, the Better we Become at Understanding it · [35:38]

 

Will Barron:

And does some of that come down to just time? Because I’m 32 now. Three or four years ago, I was an idiot and I’ll probably look back three or four years from now and think I’m an idiot at this moment in time. But my big breakthroughs come from, not from some God-sent vision or from reading a particular book, it’s just from me going, “Oh, that was stupid. I’ve been doing that stupidly for too long.” And unfortunately I’ve never had any miraculous moments, how much of wanting to go back and learn more or develop your customer. And all this stuff comes from just being on the earth for a little bit longer versus a divine inspiration from elsewhere.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Yeah, I think that’s right. That’s definitely true, but platforms like the one that you’re providing here is a big shift in that. When I really started my sales career, the only access to points of view that I got was really from my managers and they frankly loved it, that I just didn’t ask any questions and worked harder. It was trying to beat everybody, it was just sheer competition essentially, rather than really trying to think about, “Hey, what’s my point of view on this and how do I think people should do this? And how is this perceived by the customers?” And those are questions that maybe what you’re alluding to is, as a somewhat of a privileged point of view to think about it that way, when you’re just trying to figure out, how do I get one foot in front of the other and hit my goals.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

But I think now you have so much content out there, it’s a great place to start and you can expose yourself to so many different points of view and establish your own pretty early. And the other one is mentorship, just having the right managers. And it goes back to, we could spend another two hours talking about management and coaching and the impact that that has on salespeople. But I think that is a key to everything. And as I grow my team, I think about who are the coaches on my team and what impact are they having on our early salespeople? So learning is a very important process and cadence to get into early.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:40]

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well with that, sellers, we’ve touched on it, and the audience should know at this point all about templates. Tell us a little bit more about Wistia and then where we can find out more about you as well, Pete.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Absolutely. So again, Wistia is a SAS video platform for marketers and salespeople. We have two different products. You can find out more information at wistia.com. And again, my name is Pete. I’m the VP of sales here and probably the best place to find me is on LinkedIn, just search for Pete von Burchard at Wistia, and I’ll pop up.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. To all that and everything else we’ve talked about in this episode, over at salesman.org in the show notes this episode, and with that, Pete, and thank you for your insights and for showing us the pathway and potentially even the future of sales as we move towards this SAS model in all industries. And with that, mate, I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman podcast.

 

Peter Von Burchard:

Thank you so much for having me. Have a great day.

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