The Recurring Revenue “Boomerang” and the Customer Success Journey


Recurring Revenue Boomerang.2

     Click on the image to view the recurring revenue boomerang…

Once upon a time, in the heart of England near to Sherwood Forest, we kid “gamers” (no consoles then) would spend our time in outdoor adventures. With the kids on the block we’d invent new games, role plays and mini Olympics and we’d be recognised for our success. I was proud to be crowned “Maid Marian of Boomerangs”!  I was fascinated by the deft of my boomerang whizzing through the air and spinning right back into my hands. It was magic and rewarding! The trick was mastering how to launch enough spin and orientation to ensure the boomerang would keep coming back gracefully into my hands.

Now that I’m all grown-up (well, in age at least), I’m pleased to be involved in yet another kind of “boomerang” activity, now more commonly known in business as “customer success”. Let’s face it, the role of the “boomerang team” would have sounded a little strange, don’t you think?

My enclosed infographic (my first) revisits the traditional marketing and sales revenue funnel metaphor with what I have called the “recurring revenue boomerang”. In traditional funnel depictions, as soon as the bottom of the spout is reached, i.e. when the contract is signed, this is usually considered the end of the journey. To compare to my childhood pastime, it’s a bit like my bosom pal “Robin Hood of Arrows” meeting his bulls eye targets! Robin Hood

In those days of bows and arrows, a customer implementing a solution had to spend a huge amount of money for the implementation phase and had to keep it several years, irrespective of the success because the investment (software acquisition cost) was huge. Now in the recurring revenue model, there is no more upfront cost. A customer can easily decide to opt out of using a solution early if it is not giving returns.

In a recurring revenue model, the contract signature is just a part of the way through the customer journey. The customer experience starts right from the outset of their interaction with your company and continues across their on-going journey with your product, company and internal teams. While customers continually gain business value from their renewed investment, vendors increase their customer life time value (CLTV).

Research shows that loyal customers are worth ten times their first transaction value and it’s 65% easier to sell to them than first-timers. As my infographic shows, gained life time value is a recurring process where both customer and vendor benefit in a business win-win relationship of health and wealth:

Demand ‘n’ Turnaround, Expand ‘n’ Boomerang!

The recurring revenue boomerang maps the typical macro milestones of the customer journey and which vary in name and granularity depending on the organisation. The revenue boomerang also shows the role of the customer success team in the vendor relay to partner the customer with their expected business outcomes, create loyalty and generate health and wealth for both customer and vendor alike.

The left arm of the boomerang (demand and turnaround) illustrates the typical macro “hunter” funnel relay activities between marketing and sales teams. The right arm illustrates the “farmer” type activities of the customer success team in relay with sales and marketing teams to reinforce expansion and the boomerang effect of returned gains!

The product team covers the whole customer journey. While this team may not be directly client facing, they are the innovative backbone of all team relay interactions: client feedback and requests, user product experience, competitor benchmarking, market listening, product advisory council etc. It’s simple, no product innovation and the boomerang will plummet straight to the ground with a great big plump! The financial team is depicted from the signature onwards. In the recurring revenue model, depending on the agreed payment frequency and organisation, this team also works in seamless harmony with customer success and/or sales teams.

So what do we mean by customer success?  Whilst the role of customer success may be perceived differently across countries, sectors, company sizes and business models, it is about vendors partnering customers to deliver a customer life time experience of business value and ROI to continually meet current and future expected outcomes. For positive returns and a boomerang effect, this is the result of vendor top down strategy, mindset and committed synergy between all company roles: marketing, sales, product, finance and customer success teams. This latter population is the name given to the actors who partner the client after contract signature to achieve their expected outcomes.

Depending on the company size, organisation, maturity and product implementation complexity, customer success can include several actors fulfilling different roles and names (professional services, delivery, support, on-boarding teams, account management, education, support, renewal teams, customer success…). To simplify my recurring revenue boomerang illustration, I have used the term customer success team to envelope all of the above.

For the customer to be successful and the boomerang to come full circle with returns, customer success starts right from the journey outset, when the boomerang is thrown with eagle-eye precision.

Let’s take a brief trip through the main macro milestones of the “recurring revenue boomerang” customer journey.



Potential customers need to know WHY they should invest. They will be aware that your innovative product promises to solve pain points, facilitate achieving business objectives or obtain business gains by doing existing tasks in an optimised manner. Potential customers will also be aware of the impact of not investing in your product.

At this stage of the journey, marketing teams do a great job generating, nurturing and qualifying potentially successful customers with a product-people fit. Potential customers are now pretty savvy about your product and those of your competitors. This matching of the potential successful customer and raising awareness of the gains from your product is an essential first step in orientating the rest of the customer journey on the right trajectory. It’s like that sporty kid “Maid Marian of Boomerangs” putting on an amazing spin!


Now that the customer is aware of potential gains, they desire to move forward and consider themselves in the future state, savouring the benefits and related operational considerations.

Marketing teams work in relay with sales at this point qualifying and nuturing potential customers to take them the next step forward.


The customer’s desire to find out more encourages them to obtain pragmatic knowledge on HOW your product meets the promise. A trial period usually creates the “wow” effect and gives an initial glimpse of what future gains and potential ROI could look like. Here the customer appreciates more the practical “How to do” relating to your product.

Sales teams play a key role in having the customer define what are the expected outcomes for a successful trial. In certain organisations, customer success teams may also participate, e.g. in a POC (proof of concept).

Decision and Contract

After a conclusive trial where expected pre-requisites are met, sales teams convince the customer of the gains in closing the contract and determine the further “How to Do” and “How to Be”. These include a projection into a future vision of how the product fits into the organisation, processes, methodology, tool landscape and roles and responsibilities of impacted actors. It also engages customer sponsorship and management buy-in, defining what success means and how progress towards that vision of success will be measured. For that, measurable key performance indicators will be defined.

Sales and customer success teams work in relay to ensure that the customer context, vision of success and expected outcomes are clearly defined. To keep to our metaphor, the well spun boomerang has now started to gain momentum on its outbound course.



Customer “on-boarding” is the stage where adoption of the product should be firmly anchored.

Adoption is one of the biggest challenges in recurring revenue models. It impacts directly each individual user at their different speeds of changing their usual reflexes and routines. Swift initial adoption by all users will help ensure a smoother boomerang return for both customers and vendors.  At this stage and in addition to the usual excitement, it’s here when the first hands-on impression is engraved. This will often leave a lasting emotional perception, even influencing subconsciously the later decision to renew the subscription.

Customer success teams play a vital role in partnering customers to help maximise adoption and generate added value. Customer management buy-in and engagement is key. Relevant and measurable adoption indicators are defined, measured, and celebrated. Our happy boomerang has now made a U-turn and is at the beginning of the return journey, symbolic of initial returns.



While each impacted individual adopts the product at their own pace, they’re all now up to speed rowing together in the same boat and “cruising” at a rate of knots where initial business wins can be celebrated as a team.

Key performance indicators have been previously defined, implemented and are now measured.

Customer success teams partner their customers to continually optimise their potential of boosting business performance. Added value performance stimulates the customer’s desire to expand current investment and/or purchase new offers. For that, customer success teams relay with sales and marketing, according to the organisation, processes and roles. Our boomerang is now gathering excited momentum on its return journey.


At the transformation milestone, customers are now “sailing”.

They use your product as a reflex in a “business as usual” like manner. The product has most probably become sticky in their processes and methodologies as full gains and ROI are now proved and increasing. The contract renewal will just be a formality and the customer will most likely wish to buy more of the same or try new packages.

Customer success teams work in relay with sales and marketing to keep the customer sailing at high speed with their business transformation.

Our boomerang is now on it’s advanced success return trajectory, enjoying all the benefits of its flight path.

BOOMERANG  Boomerang-in-Flight


Your customers are now successful and have achieved their expected outcomes, so they not only wish to buy more or even invest in new packages, but they also genuinely want to tell the world all about it. They have become natural advocates of your product, services and company and are “surfing” on the waves of their success. Their whole boomerang experience has turned them into becoming the best sales agents you could ever wish for. Customer advocacy of course can happen at any time of the journey in different forms (e.g. word of mouth referrals, reviews, business cases, participation in events, testimonials, NPS…) and as soon as the customer is thrilled and successful enough to want to spread the word.

Peer advocacy is worth gold. It not only creates credibility and legitimacy with potential prospects but according to McKinsey studies, peer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales generated by marketing and advertising. The cherry on the cake, according to research by Deloitte, customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Customer success teams partner advocates and relay with marketing and sales teams (depending on the organisation and processes) for advocacy programmes.

So now the boomerang has come full circle gathering on its trajectory all the health and wealth benefits for both customers and vendors.

In the recurring revenue model, the challenge is to proactively ensure the boomerang keeps a healthy flight path and is not grounded after  collision with other boomerangs or self-flying objects or destabilised by external forces: churn is the cruel and costly curse of the recurring revenue boomerang!

As in all good sports, the competition continues and the boomerang will be thrown again to generate further win-win returns. As in all good fairy tales, all the “Merry Men” live happily and successfully ever after…

*Check this out if you’ve ever wondered why boomerangs come back


From RIO Sport Success to ROI Customer Success


I’ve always been a sports fan and with the Olympic Games in Rio just starting, I’m excited to admire the performances of these great sports men and women. Whilst we watch the games as they’re televised around the world, let’s keep in mind the incredible determination and daily routines of practice, dedication and passion with which these sports people have prepared their ticket to success..

As we know, the Olympics were invented by the ancient Greeks and according to written records around 776 BCE. The modern Olympics were revived by a French aristocrat, Coubertin in 1896 following his concern about the lack of sportiness at that time of the French boules-playing population. French Boules playerI’m glad that 120 years later, his concerns and investment have now truly paid off despite the fact that “boules” is not yet an official Olympic discipline! For those interested, you may lobby for their introduction in the 2024 Games!

The games have evolved since 1896 admitting more disciplines, more countries and even women! Female participants were first allowed to compete in the Paris games in 1900 where just 2% of participants were women compared to 44% in the 2012 London games.

Whilst the individual stellar performances have always captiated our imagination (Mark Spitz, Mohamed Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt to name but a few), Mohamed Ali 2team sports earn our admiration for the magical synergy and euphoria of collective performance. The RIO games for example will see Rugby 7 for the first time.

For those nations not familiar with the game (my US friends I’m impressed to also see you have a team in RIO), rugby is a passionate team game with core values comprised of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship. Basically, it’s 2 opposing teams (usually 15 aside) each running forward in opposite directions throwing backwards a squashed shaped ball. The aim is to run across the boundary line, dive on the ball and gain points (try), often squashing the ball even more. Johnny 4. pngThe winning team is the one with the most points, boosted with throws through a post (penalty) after doing a hen-like impersonation! (Johnny Wilkinson we love you). Humour aside, rugby demonstrates the epitomy of team work and collective performance. By the way, it was invented by the Brits!

Customer Success, Adoption and Performance

Although customer success has not yet been admitted as an Olympic discipline, the values it encourages in partnership with customers have all the ingredients: customer future vision of success, an expected business performance outcome, a plan of how to get there, discipline and determination to adopt new routines, behaviours and processes and of course the celebration of success stories.

As part of my approach to business transformations and for which customer success has an active role, I have coined the concept of A.M.P.M. This time, inspiration comes from the ancient Romans: A.M. meaning, ante meridiem (in other words before noon or morning if you prefer) and P.M., meaning post meridiem (afternoon for short). I have revamped the original Roman phrasing with the Anglo-Saxon term: Adoption Measurement and Performance Measurement. The underlying idea is that in any transformation where greater performance is the expected outcome (whether in business or sports or whatever…) we simply can’t just come out tops and nail it without first putting in all the adoption effort. So the saying goes, no pain, no gain! Naturally by the laws of science, we have never seen the afternoon come before the morning, right?

So whichever solution or service is being used to help achieve a determined greater business performance (however that may be defined), first a top-down plan of disciplined preparation and adoption needs to be implemented, controlled and measured. The RIO games participants have been carrying out such plans on a daily basis with blood, sweat and tears since the last London games in 2012.

A.M.P.M. Indicator Examples

The A.M.P.M. approach can be applied to any solution or service and implies defining adoption and performance indicators. The adoption indicators are considered as the pre-requisite measurements to control that the path for the desired outcome necessary for success is being paved. This often implies new routines, reflexes and adaptations to organisation and processes. It’s no longer a question of doing business as usual but moving out of a known comfort zone. For sports people today, this can correspond to measuring the evolution or maintenance of their physical form, aptitude and mental state, e.g. number of practice hours per day, amount of sleep, number of kilos gained or lost in weight, etc… For ancient Greek athletes (they were all male by the way), this also meant keeping their bodies in great shape to show off their magnificent muscles to their opponents as an indicator of superiority and intimidation!

Performance indicators measure the improvement in expected outcomes as they are achieved. For sports people, this is for example the reduction in seconds for track races, the number of goals scored or medals won, the number of world records broken, or the number of squashed ball tries for our rugby friends! The ROI of sports efforts and investment is palpable.

The table below shows just some non-exhaustive examples of A.M.P.M indicators which can typically be used to measure adoption and performance in a business context where CRM solutions are deployed. Depending on the context, solution type and expected business outcomes, the A.M.P.M. indicators are adapted. The ROI of solutions can then be more easily measured thanks to the analysis of the performance measurements.

A.M.P.M. Table

Team Performance

Whilst vision (dream of future performance) and determination (adoption needed to get there) is admirable for an individual sports person, when applying to a team, the effort is multiplied and accentuated by the added difficulty of getting everyone in sync. As we saw during the Euro football championship in France this summer, although there is often great individual talent, if the team as a whole is out of sync, then collective success is not au rendez-vous!

The A.M.P.M. can be applied to business team efforts and performance and it is interesting to detect any weak links which could potentially put collective performance at risk. Corresponding action plans can then be anticipated and addressed.

These A.M.P.M. indicators are of course just measurements. The real impetus for fabulous team performance comes from top-down management: sharing the vision of success, knowing how to drive a plan and create collective momentum to sustain the adoption activities which pave the way for team success.

To exemplify all this and to light up our Olympic flame, you’ll love the following short video and music* (5 mins). Although it’s a few years old, it makes a tribute to some all-time great sports men and women who have demonstrated the A.M.P.M. approach in the pursuit of their dreams for success. Sadly, Michael Schumacher has since been seriously injured and Lance Armstrong has demonstrated that non integrity never pays. This is a shame considering his fight to combat illness. On a brighter side, the video makes a final poignant tribute to Pelé, a very fitting Brazilian example of a stellar performer to nicely kick off the RIO games.Pelé

Enjoy and just imagine what would happen if each one of us displayed this kind of passion – everyday!

I dedicate this blog to all the RIO games participants as well as to all those embracing their next business transformation challenges. So A.M.P.M to you all and may the best sports performers earn their place on the RIO podium and the best business transformers on the ROI podium!

Just as a last minute inspiration from The Greatest :

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”  Mohamed Ali

Que comecem os jogos no Rio de janeiro !

View here the 5 minute video  : Everyday – Sports Champions Inpirational Video.

*If you’re wondering what’s the wonderful music: Vangelis–1942 Conquest of Paradise Theme (Christopher Colombus) 1992 Ridley Scott film


Customer Success – It Takes Two Totango – Interview with Guy Nirpaz


Two TotangoInterview By Sue Nabeth Moore – Customer Success Evangelist, France

Sue: Why is customer success becoming so important when it is often perceived as an activity which has always been done but was not given the label “customer success”?

Guy: Customer success is often associated with traditional activities such as account management, professional services or support but the activity of customer success is linked to the maturity of the recurring revenue model. Companies with a recurring revenue model such as SaaS depend on their ability to retain and grow. The role of customer success is becoming just as critical as that of sales. Customers prefer now to have the choice of renewing their contract or not with a company. The role of customer success is therefore to do everything to make sure that the customer just keeps coming back.

Sue: Customer success seems more mature in certain regions and sectors. What are your thoughts for the expansion of this role?

Guy: Totango was initially created in Israel in 2010 as a response to ensure life-time value to the Telco industry, a sector heavily dependant on the recurring revenue model where churn prevention is critical.

In terms of geography, the need for customer success is everywhere. 40% of Totango business for example is outside of the USA, mainly in Europe but also in Australia, India and Brazil. Totango has been collecting and sharing best practices and creating events to evangelize customer success. We have noticed that the customer success machine has started to develop just by the number of participants. Our first Totango event in the USA in 2013 attracted 100 participants, the 2nd one in 2014 attracted 400, and the 3rd one in 2015 attracted 1000 people. This is a huge success for CS actors to network, participate in the interactive seminars and workshops and learn from their peers. Over 75% told us they’d be back! We’re excited to start the Totango road show this first quarter 2016 in USA and Israel.

Sue: What do you consider to be an ideal profile for a CS Manager ?

Guy: OK well let’s start by defining what they need to do. Basically their goal is to retain and grow customers. To achieve these 2 main outcomes, we need to look at the drivers and values. The 5 main drivers are:

1) On-boarding

2) Nurturing

3) Renewal

4) Up selling/Up-grading

5) Escalation

On-boarding is critical to success. It is often complex and fluid process and organizational and project management skills are required.

Depending on the size of the company, there are different CS organizations and roles. In smaller companies, the CSM is usually responsible for all 5 drivers, at least to begin with. As a company grows, the drivers are often split into CS management roles where CSMs are specialized, e.g. for on boarding, renewals, up selling and cross-selling.

The CSM drives and articulates business value at all times. Value indicators are measured on the business outcomes expected. It’s not about the product itself but about the business gains generated. Business curiosity and a talent for solving issues is also key. Engagement is essential in order to identify gaps for achieving this value.

The real challenge is how to articulate the customer success activity and engagement in a scalable way.

Sue: What for you are the main challenges for a company wishing to start a customer success activity?

Guy: First of all the CS activity must be aligned with the main objectives of the company – to maximize renewals and up sell. This should be done in a very pragmatic way to ensure profitability and growth. If the fire-fighter model is still in operation and a company needs to spend for example 1$ to generate 1$ of renewal, then the CS role is not moving the needle forwards.

It is necessary to invest heavily in the previously mentioned 5 drivers (see above) and to keep tabs on the value that customers are gaining from the product. This is applicable for all customers.

Sue: There are more and more actors on the customer success software market, yourselves included of course. What guidelines can you give as to when a company should invest in such software?

Guy: Usually for smaller companies, the CEO begins the CS activity themself. As a general guideline, as soon as there are between 20 – 50 customers, it’s a good time to start and think about investing in CS software and for the following 2 reasons:

1) It’s great to build the activity and capitalize from best practices rather than repeat the same mistakes made before by other companies.

2) At a certain point, it can become very quickly unmanageable to be in control of all the 5 main levers. Customer success software helps to structure and alleviate the multiple tasks, allowing greater visibility on customer activity, risks and the company engagement.

My advise is to invest in customer success software as early as it is affordable.

Sue: So what is your elevator (or rather “lift” – sorry I’m British) pitch for Totango ?

Guy: Our key philosophy is to drive value to customers. It’s necessary to know how your company is driving value. To do that, you need to understand the way that customers are using your products. Once you’ve mastered that, you can better retain and grow your customers. We built Totango on this foundation.

I’ve never been a fan of the customer 360° view concept. This implies that you’re in the middle of a circle without really knowing in which direction to look first. I prefer to consider customer knowledge and consequent success with the following main areas:

1) Utilization

2) Adoption

3) Measurable business outcomes

4) Operational aspects

5) Feedback, e.g. NPS

Success is the result of the company’s engagement and understanding of their customer’s gained value but also of their customer’s ownership on what’s going on around your product.

It takes two Totango! Tango 2

Sue: What are the main profiles of Totango’s current customers?

Guy: There are 3 main world-wide categories:

1) Start ups and maturing SaaS companies

2) Medium to large companies

3) Verticals : telco, data providers and infrastructure

Sue: What are Totango’s ambitions for 2016?

Guy: Our first aim is to make Totango software easily accessible to all client focused actors: CSMs, VPs, CEOs…

We aim to have a new release per month and celebrated 8 new releases already in 2015.

We look forward to the Totango Customer Success Summit on March 21st and 22nd in San Francisco. Here we’ll meet and exchange with like-minded actors in a very convivial, productive and inspiring event.

Sue: If you had a crystal ball, describe what you would see for customer success in 5 years from now:

Guy: Customer success will be more mature and we will know how to do it better than today. It will evolve like the role of digital marketing has evolved over the last 7-8 years.

As customers innovate and their expectations increase, customer success will also gain in importance, becoming equally strategic and sustainable as the role of sales. Customer success will be more efficient and scaled, facilitated by faster programs and software.

For Totango, I can foresee continued amazing growth and thank all our customers for their advocacy and for finding great value from our customer success software.

Sue: Thanks Guy for the interview. I wish you continued success and look forward to seeing you at the next Totango road show, why not here in France!

Guy: Yes with great pleasure. Thank you Sue.


Customer Success – The Return of “The Wall Street” – Interview With Gainsight’s Dan Steinman

the force awakens

This is Episode 3 of the “SaaS Wars Trilogy” interview with Gainsight’s CCO (and Skywalker), Dan Steinman. We look at the evangelism of customer success value in business models.

Sue: Let’s look a bit more at Gainsight now as a company. I noticed that a lot of your current clients are B2B software companies such as Box, Marketo (your previous company), Clarizen, HP, etc.  What is Gainsight’s position to attract other recurring revenue model clients who are also thinking about including customer success in their organization?

Dan: Yes that’s a good question. We currently have all sized clients ranging from relatively small and medium sized clients (200 – 300 employees) to larger enterprise organizations. It’s true that we do focus on B2B and have not yet focused on B2C because the B2B market is so different from B2C. SaaS companies are the sweet spot because they are the pure subscription model and we can easily track how they use the product. However, any company doing subscription-based products and services is becoming interested in customer success and not necessarily software or technology companies. Let me give a couple of interesting examples in our customer base.

1) We have a client called Bright Horizons. They’re neither a software nor a technological company and they probably don’t even know how to spell SaaS:)

They build and manage day care centers, offering their services to very large corporations who benefit from having a day care center on site as a perk for their staff. For example companies like GE, Ford and Chevron. What’s interesting is that it’s a B2B business because they’re selling to B2B corporations on a subscription basis with annual renewals. There’s also a bunch of up sell opportunities in addition to selling the usual day care center facility: e.g. the possibility to benefit from other services such as after-hour child care, tutorial services, on site child nurses etc. So from a business model point of view, they function like a SaaS recurring revenue business.

In addition, the product can be measured to follow whether it’s being used or not. For example, how many kids are being dropped off per day and how many hours they are spending at the center. The team that manages those relationships at Bright Horizons is called the “customer success” team. That’s not just because they thought that was a cool sounding name but because they thought this term described exactly what they do.

2) Another example is a company called Fitbit. Everyone knows them as a lot of us are probably wearing one on our wrist. It is B2C for the most part but they also have a partner business activity which is B2B. They sell to large corporations who provide Fitbit watches to their employees, either free of charge or highly subsidized. The idea is that if the physical fitness and health of employees can be tracked, it might be possible to convince their insurance company to lower the rates.

So here’s another great opportunity which has all the makings of the customer success world but which is neither a SaaS nor software business. There’s a B2B relationship which needs to be managed, product usage, adoption and gains to be tracked as well as up sell opportunities with Fitbit upgrades.

Every company in the world is moving towards subscription because the market, Wall Street, the City and investors just love that model so much.

Sue: What is your elevator (I mean “lift”) pitch for Gainsight Software?

Dan: If I was in a “lift” in a London skyscraper with 30 floors, I would probably take about 2 minutes and say something like this…

Gainsight’s technology is designed to help companies more effectively manage their customers. This has become increasingly critical in the subscription economy. Gainsight will provide actionable insights to Customer Success and Account Management teams to allow them to touch the right customers at the right time with the right intelligence, ultimately driving adoption and value. Tangible benefits of doing this will include lower churn rates and improved identification of upsell opportunities. In other words, net retention will increase. Gainsight will also allow scalability that cannot exist without automation – touching long-tail customers that otherwise would not be touched and optimizing the time spent with high-value customers. The bottom line value proposition is critical and simple – maximize customer lifetime value.

Sue: Well I would love to see your technology for myself.

Dan: Yes, I know as a user it does live up to this description because when I was at Marketo, I was actually one of the first users of Gainsight.

Sue: It’s great to be a first-hand advocate. I read that Gainsight was rewarded with a $50 million funding at the end of last year. That’s a tremendous recognition. What are Gainsight’s short term plans?

Dan: It’s funny with your British accent that you refer to that as a reward and yes we really think we earned it:) We’re pleased that Gainsight has now raised over $100 million. This is a testament to our value proposition and which is obviously resonating with investors. We know there’s value for what we’re doing and for what we want to do.

When you raise figures that big, it’s usually associated to growth and indeed we have a growth plan with big goals for our revenue as a company.  We intend to break into new markets, verticals and geographical regions. A decent percentage will also go into marketing and sales because we think we have a good product-market fit and a good execution process on the marketing and sales side.

We hope to reach the point where we can make a decision as to whether we want to be a public company or not.

Sue: What about your plans for here in Europe Dan?

Dan: Well the plans are pretty open for the time being. As you know Sue because you referred to me dressing up as Austin Powers,  we did our Pulse conference in London in October last year. There were 450 very excited people who were totally energized wanting to meet, talk and learn about customer success. It was like an experiment for us as we were asking whether the timing was right. The resounding answer was “Yes it’s time”.

There’s a lot of need, interest and opportunity for customer success in Europe. Sometime this year we will officially make a move into Europe and start actively marketing and selling there with local presence as well.  We haven’t specifically determined what date or month that’s going to happen but it’s definitely this year that we’re going to make a move. We’re going to need a big presence in Europe to be a good global company. So yes Sue, the Americans are coming 🙂

Sue: I’ll look forward to that. Good luck for your future evangelization events, the next Pulse event being on May 10th in Oakland. We’d love to see you here in Paris soon 🙂

Finally and as a sequel to your book, in five years time, what do you think you’ll be writing about on customer success?

Dan: The future of Customer Success is hard to see clearly (the crystal ball is cloudy) but there are some very predictable aspects of it:

1. It will continue to grow in importance and stature as the world moves to subscriptions.
2. It will expand far beyond the core SaaS market into traditional businesses and B2C (where it’s already being done under other names in many cases).
3. The power shift from vendors to customers will continue.
4. The internal power shift from Sales to Retention will continue.
5. The rise of the Chief Customer Officer will continue.
6. We’ll see more leaders of Customer Success ringing the bell on Wall Street on IPO day.
7. Customer Success experience and results will lead some of those involved into CEO roles.
8. Automation will continue to assist in making the people part of the business (which will never go away) more effective.
9. Customer Success technology will become part of the standard infrastructure of virtually all companies – CRM, Marketing Automation, ERP, CSM.
10. Customer Success will continue to be a great career choice and will continue to attract more really talented, high-quality people into the discipline.
Those who understand it and embrace it will thrive. Those who don’t will get passed by.
Sue: I’m excited about the prospect of contributing to this great “awakening force”. Thanks Dan for this awesome interview!

Innovative Vendors Strike Back – Vendors Organize For Customer Success



Episode 2 of my interview with Gainsight’s CCO, Dan Steinman:


Innovative Vendors Strike Back – Vendors organize themselves for Customer Success

Following on from Episode 1: New Hope: SaaS Wars – A New Business Model and The Growing Importance of Customer Success.

Sue: So who do you think should own the role of customer success Dan?

Dan: It’s a really interesting question. Literally I have seen customer success organizations in different entities: sales, services, product, marketing and in a separate stand-alone organization. I believe that customer success is going to ultimately become so important that it’ll be more and more a separate organization for most companies, reporting directly to the CEO. It’s one of the reasons that the role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO like myself) is in vogue. That’s the person the CEO is going to hold accountable for the entire customer life-cycle and customer retention number. Whilst you want someone high level to own your sales number you also need someone to own your retention because it’s so critical to the long term success of the company.

I think for an ideal organization the following 3 roles reporting to the CEO are key:

– CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) who owns the acquisition process via marketing and sales.

– COO (Chief Operating Officer) who owns operations and finance and maybe engineering.

– CCO (Chief Client Officer) who owns customer success, professional services and support and perhaps the renewals.

Customer success can work in any organization and so there’s no right or wrong. But I think the evolution will take us where customer success will become this stand-alone organization.

Sue: We’ve also seen the emergence of different customer success roles, often called customer success managers (CSM). What for you does it take to be a great customer success actor ?

Dan: Yes I have a pretty long list after having managed CSMs over a number of years and so I’ll give the highlights. Firstly, I think it’s obvious but if you’re going to be dealing with customers, you have to have the right personality and demeanor to do that. That’s not just about being likeable. You also have to be able and willing to take some level of punishment. That’s because this job is often dealing with customers who are not always delighted. There is an element of pain which comes with that and so you have to know how to live in that world. In addition, the 2 skill components that you have to either find or build are:

1) A high degree of product expertise. At a user level, I can help you use my product better because I really know how to use it in an optimal way.

2) The second one is equally as important or even arguably more important and that is domain expertise. If I’m selling a marketing solution like we did at Marketo, my CSMs had a thorough knowledge of marketing processes. So if you are selling accountancy software, you may want to hire accountants and teach them how to use your product.

Sue: Yes that is really important for your credibility with your customers and their trust in you.

Dan: Yes, they love talking to people who have actually done the job which you are trying to do and who can truly empathize. There’s so much power in words when you know exactly how they feel.

Sue: So a typical great CSM needs to be a Jack of all trades.

Dan: Yes and there are a lot of skills in managing customers and product expertise as well as supporting and consulting team skills. It’s all about bringing all these together in one place with people who are very passionate about their customers. It’s not that I want to see CSMs going to hospital but I kind of expect them to feel ill if their customers aren’t really doing well. For the great CSMs, it’s a very personal thing. It hurts in your stomach when your customers aren’t happy. Great people in every job are like that. A great sales person for example anguishes over their deals. Great CSMs are just the same.

Sue: I empathize with that. It’s all about how you interact and the real concern and passion you feel for what’s happening with your customer’s success. It’s not just another routine job.

Dan: That’s right. It becomes a craft. It goes beyond a job and almost becomes a hobby. I think about it and work on it in my apartment in my spare time. I’m always determined to be better at it even if no-one else notices except me!

Sue: Indeed it gives you a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you’ve created added value.

Coming soon… Episode 3:

Return of “The Wall Street”- Evangelism of Customer Success Value and Return on Investment.


The Customer Success Movement Is Taking The Business World By Storm

Star Wars Androids
Oscar.go.com – Star Wars Droids – 2016 Oscars

Interview with Gainsight’s CCO, Dan Steinman. February 2016

By Sue Nabeth Moore, Customer Success Enthusiast, Paris 

In the momentum around customer success, I’m pleased to share my recent interview with Dan Steinman, CCO (and Skywalker) from Gainsight. In keeping with the theme of the Oscars last weekend, this inspiring interview is split into a “SaaS Wars Trilogy” which you’re invited to follow over the next week. It also casts an avant-première at Gainsight’s new book – Customer Success – How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn And Increasing Revenue, to be officially published on 7th March. 

Trilogy Episodes: 

1) New Hope: SaaS Wars – A New Business Model and The Growing Importance of Customer Success

2) Innovative Vendors Strike Back – Vendors Organize Themselves for Customer Success

3) Return of “The Wall Street”– Evangelism of Customer Success Value and Return on Investment 

Episode 1 – New Hope: SaaS Wars

A New Business Model and The Growing Importance of Customer Success.

Sue: Thanks for accepting this interview Dan. Firstly, how do you define the role of customer success ?

Dan: I’d like to present my pictorial. Imagine that there’s a gap between what your product has the ability to do and how your customers are actually using it. Every company should have that gap. That’s because it shows that you’re innovating on your product. Customers can never keep up if you’re innovating at a good pace.

Customer success is there to narrow that gap, by bringing the bottom line closer to the top line. By getting your customers to use more of your product, this brings a direct correlation to loyalty, value and all those other wonderful things we want to happen: renewal, up sell, cross sell and advocacy…

Sue: I like the gap pictorial Dan. I know there’s a lot of momentum around customer success right now and Gainsight has even coined the so-called “Customer Success Movement”. Yourself, Nick Mehta, (CEO of Gainsight) and Lincoln Murphy have just written a book on the subject. Can you give us a little avant-première insight please? Is it going to be the “bible” of the customer success movement?

Gainsight Book on Customer SuccessDan: Well I would probably use the word bible pretty carefully:) Let’s say it’s the first book of the new customer success movement. The terminology of “customer success” has been used before. But in the new world order where subscriptions are king and customer success is a necessity in a subscription company, this is the kind of first book. It won’t be the last. I know of least three other people who are writing a customer success book. I’m proud that we got there first and that we’re taking on a leadership role.

The book covers different aspects. Firstly, the history of customer success and how we got here. It explains what the subscription tsunami is all about and how that turned into the customer success movement. The middle of the book deals with a lot of practical advise on how we do it, what we like to call the ten laws of customer success. At the end, we cast a look at what the next five or ten years will look like. From a tongue in cheek point of view, we think we’ll be seeing customer success droids flying around in Google self-flying cars ensuring that every customer has a customer success droid helping them do their thing. The total cost of doing customer success at the highest possible level will be around a nickel a year! So I don’t think that’s realistic but at least that is the direction that we’re trying to go in. By necessity, customer success will become more and more valuable in the subscription world that we live in.

Sue : That sounds like a wonderful futuristic world for customer success. I mentioned the bible and you talk about the ten laws of customer success:) So when will the book be published ?

Dan: Well I didn’t correlate that before and there are definitely no stone tablets provided with the book:) The book is completed. It’s on the printing press right now and available in Amazon. The official publication is March 7th so before the world runs out of paper, you can hurry up and get your copy now:)

Sue :Well I’ll definitely order my copy on Amazon and would love you to personally sign it for me*.

With all the current buzz, how do you position the role of customer success compared to more traditional roles, e.g. sales, account management, professional services, support, marketing … ?

Dan: Yes, a little history I think helps answer this question. The history has to do with the shift in the changing business model from the enterprise to the subscription economy. Let’s just use those high level terms. One of the main things that the subscription economy drives is the focus on customers.

In the enterprise economy, we used to be able to sell to a customer once and not really worry about revenue afterwards. In those days, 90% of all of the money was collected at the time of the first deal. Now that has flipped completely. Today less than 10% of all the money we’re going to collect from you is collected at the time of the first deal. The other 90% comes after that in the form of renewal, contracts and up sells. So if 90% of all the business I can potentially generate is after the first deal, we need a team of people who are going to help manage those customers to make sure they wish to renew those contracts.

It’s a little bit like taking subscription to the very basic level of magazine subscriptions. If I sell you an annual magazine subscription, I better do something which delivers value to you so that you renew your subscription. I can’t just ship you a piece of empty paper! I have to give you content, pictures and whatever exciting things you want in that magazine. The same thing is true now in the software world with a subscription recurring revenue. Customer success is not about delivering just another product but about delivering a value, an outcome and ultimately success. If I do that for you, you are likely to renew your contract. If I have more products to sell, you are likely to at least look at those and potentially buy them too.

Sue: We’re really witnessing a power shift where power is now in the hands of the client.

Dan: That’s absolutely right. There is a significant power shift from vendor to customer that has driven this customer success movement. Since you spoke about power shifts, there is another second shift inside of companies going from sales to post sales, basically from acquisition to retention.

In a SaaS company what usually happens after about four to five years of existence is that more dollars are coming from the installed base rather than coming from new acquisition sales. I like to use Salesforce as the analogy because they’re the most mature SaaS company. Next year Salesforce will be around a $10 billion company. Out of that, somewhere in the region of $8 billion will come from the installed base and not from new sales. That’s a significant power shift. So, if you’re the CFO at Salesforce, who are you talking to most about next year’s forecast, the one who has the $2B number or the one who has the $8B number?

Coming soon… Episode 2: Innovative Vendors Strike Back

*I have since ordered my copy of the book on Amazon for my Kindle….It’s a recommended read!



Shifting How Companies Run Customer Marketing


Shifting customer marketingThe rise of the subscription model has brought significant attention to the role existing customers play in generating company revenue. As one Gartner study suggests, 80% of your future profits are expected to come from 20% of existing customers. This creates a unique challenge for executives in prioritizing existing customers to maximize lifetime value.

Continue reading “Shifting How Companies Run Customer Marketing”


Customer Success – A Darwinian Approach in 2016



Those who have crossed my path will have probably already met my mascot chameleon which I have affectionately called “Adaptus Rex”. Don’t worry, he’s tame! More importantly, as a dinosaur descendant, he learned to survive environmental change! His capacity to modify colours has followed me through all life environments and challenges, adapting to the next state of evolution. Adaptus Rex has always been accompanied by my favourite Darwin quote:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

Constantly inspired by this quote, consuming it without moderation, I have even placed it as a personal slogan on my LinkedIn profile!

The famous “survival of the fittest” (1) and its selection process is accelerated today in response to unprecedented environmental changes. In our natural world, the recent COP21 decisions here in Paris testify while in business, the technological digital transformation is taking us by storm. Whilst history has always shown us the progressive driving force of technology in transformation, digitalisation is creating an immediate impact and disruption. Each digital change brings a promise of progress or new experiences and which are accompanied by considerable learning curves, irrespective of our generation: baby boomers, Xers (like myself) and millennials. It’s simple. We either adapt, stay competitive and keep ahead or we don’t adapt with the risk of losing out!

In nature, the famous evolutionary story took place in my native northern England during the last major technological transformation: the industrial revolution. To ensure camouflage as a consequence of the sooty manufacturing towns, peppered moths (2), originally white, became predominantly black via a reproduction process. A recent example in response to current climatic change is the shift of snail shell colour from dark to light. Snails have developed lighter coloured shells (3) which have a lower body temperature to keep cooler in response to global warming. This phenomenon is noticeable here in France where snails are still a culinary delicacy, especially at this festive time !*

In business today, we’re lucky enough to be facing another incredible transformation, this time in human form. The digital revolution and the related technological innovations are forcing us human beings to challenge our behaviour, routines, processes and even our business models. Whilst we will not suddenly develop coloured shells and wings (well not in my lifetime anyway), this brings me to the emergence and vital importance of the role of customer success as a lever to facilitate our collective metamorphosis. In today’s professional environment we are constantly trying to keep pace with the impact of digitalised innovations: cloud, big data, IoT, predictive analytics, machine learning, 3D printing and mobility to name but a few.

Customer success emerged and evolved in the Silicon Valley as a logical response to the introduction of the cloud subscription economy. Cloud exposed painful gaps in how existing companies were interacting with their customers. These pain points were filled with the role of customer success to encourage customer engagement with solutions, continued added value and client longevity. As the SaaS model continues to grow with companies moving away from purchasing software upfront preferring to buy on demand, customer success promises a bright future ahead. Other B2B models have also been seduced by its strategic importance and are investing in customer success.

With the continuous flow of new digital technologies to our business environments, it seems that my favourite Darwin quote has never rung so true. Out of all the animal kingdom, though we humans are definitely not the strongest, we are perhaps the most intelligent (open to debate…) but when it comes to responding to change, we are generally slow or right down resistant. Let’s face it, staying in a known comfort zone is so much more tempting than stepping out into unknown and potentially risky territory.

The role of customer success is to partner their clients, helping them adapt to new and unknown situations where gains are promised. The aim is to either obtain better results than before or create new positive experiences which could never have been imagined without innovative technology. The real challenge of this adaptation process is not about the technology itself. It’s rather about how the technology and its promises fit harmoniously into the future organisation, processes and methodologies defined for achieving desired outcomes.

Like the peppered moths of my native England, we humans face the challenge of adapting in our digital fast paced environment. We need to “camouflage” the new technology and associated behaviour, blending it into our daily habitat so that it becomes the accepted “norm”, at least until the next one presents itself. It is essential for survival and for keeping ahead. It is perhaps because human beings are the most intelligent of creatures on earth (so we believe) that our response to change is more complex than our animal neighbours. We perhaps approach each new business context with too much thought, emotion and memory rather than acting on our instinct, like my friends Adaptus Rex, the peppered moth and the shell changing snail.*

Customer success is a passionate role to partner our fellow homo sapiens acclimatise to their new surroundings and rise to the challenges of a business world driven by technological innovation. Afterall, the word “success” derives from the latin “successus”, meaning “an advance, a good result, happy outcome.”

So in the dawn of 2016 with the human tradition to make resolutions (myself included) to change certain behaviours for improvement, there’s no better prospect for customer success to partner these desired outcomes, helping companies transform their performances through the challenges and gains of the digitalised environment.

“Adaptus Rex” and myself take this opportunity to wish you all great resolutions for change, new routines, adaptation and success in 2016.

*P.S. All my respect to snails. I did not eat any over the festive period!

References and further reading:

1) Explanations on “Survival of the fittest

2) The story of the peppered moths

3) How A Few Species are hacking climate change




2016 : The Year to Boost Your Customer Success Strategy


With the arrival of the 3.0 marketing era where each client becomes ambassador to the greatest possible number of people, every company must ensure that their customers reach the outcome expected from their investment (i). Indeed, a satisfied customer is the best possible ambassador of your product or service (ii).

From this need, new business strategies have developped: Customer Experience and Customer Success depending on context.

The Customer Success framework was created by SaaS software companies in the US – the first of them being Salesforce.com. With the advent of cloud, the software industry has changed in depth:

  • In the business model, from selling a box to a subscription-based relationship
  • In design, from a watefall approach to agile development
  • In the implementation, from a heavy installation to a light set up
  • In usage, from an owner front end to a more intuitive web interface
  • In product updates, now available on CD or immediately through the interface
  • etc.

Customer Success is dedicated to partnering customers within this new framework to facilitate the achievement of expected outcomes. As an emerging role, this mission of underlining added value includes the implementation, use and deployment and can be extended to the design and marketing and sales.

To take the example of Salesforce.com, which stood out by creating the logo “no software” and was the first to set the goal of customer success at the heart of its business objective. Today, their signature is “The Customer Success Platform” with a stated goal of nothing less than a “Customer for Life” ! Indeed, it is a whole approach and organisation which complements the solution with features and tools dedicated to this objective and assigned partners working in a very active community. Almost every editor has been inspired by and followed their model: clients for life.

Ultimately, whatever the outcome expected by their customers – e.g. for marketing to optimise its website or its omni-channel interaction or for sales to optimise their sales process, etc. each editor must announce and keep their promise. This will result in customers becoming naturally inclined to act as ambassadors for their product or service  🙂

Happy New Year !

To go further :

(i) 3 Technology Trends That Are Transforming The Customer Experience

(ii) The Ultimate Moment of Truth and The Art of Digital Engagement