Webinar Archives - Concrete Ventures

Category: Webinar

Category: Webinar

Zendesk reviewed 4,400 early-stage companies to see how customer experience (CX) tools, tactics, and strategies at high-growth early-stage companies differed from slower growth startups. This report used 4.6k+ startups, starting in Jan 2014. The data shows that while there is no one-size-fits-all approach, startup companies’ success stories have one thing in common: the ability to provide more holistic support to customers from the beginning.

What Are the Best CX Trends, Tactics, Tools & Strategies Used by The Fastest-Growing Startups?

As the basis of every business is to acquire and retain customers, the customer experience (CX) has become increasingly important. Improving customer retention by 1% can have four times the impact of improving acquisition by 1%. With startups, CX can be make-or-break: the difference between the top 2% and top 1% in terms of performance is often massive and can mean the difference between getting funding or not or achieving a successful exit.

So, what are the best CX trends, tactics, tools, and strategies used by the fastest-growing startups? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make sure your product or service is delivering on its promise. This may seem obvious, but many startups fail to meet customer expectations. If you’re not delivering on your promise, you will never win the CX battle.
  • Get feedback early and often. The best way to improve CX is to constantly collect customer feedback and then act on it. This means being open to criticism and always looking for ways to improve.
  • Build a strong relationship with your customers. The more you understand your customers’ needs and wants, the better position you’ll be in to provide them with an exceptional experience. Building strong relationships will also help you retain customers in the long run.
  • Be responsive to customer queries and concerns. Customers appreciate it when they can reach out to a real person who will help them with their problems. Make sure you have a system to quickly and efficiently respond to customer queries.

Constantly strive to improve. The best startups are always looking for ways to improve their CX strategies and CX tools. This might mean making minor tweaks on a regular basis or periodically overhauling your entire approach. Either way, always be on the lookout for ways to take your customer experience up a notch.

CX Is Seen as Cost Center, Not A Growth Lever

In a world where buyers have more power than ever before, businesses need to find ways to stand out from the competition. With so many choices, customers have become pickier, and it’s harder to please them. Studies show the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has declined by 34% since 2015.

Even more challenging for businesses is that the Cost of Customer Acquisition (CCA) has increased by 70% since 2015. This means it takes more money and effort to get new customers while, at the same time, product values have decreased, and customer willingness to pay has diminished.

To grow in this climate, businesses need to start seeing customer experience as a growth lever, not a cost center. By focusing on CX trends, early-stage companies can improve customer loyalty, increase customer lifetime value, and ultimately generate more revenue. Excellent customer experience is key to success in today’s market. Businesses need to focus on CX strategies to grow and thrive.

The problem is that many businesses see customer experience as an expense rather than an investment. This is especially true in industries where the average number of competitors has quadrupled or quintupled in the last 10 years. With so much pressure to keep costs down, it’s no wonder that CX strategies budgets are often one of the first places early-stage companies look to cut when they’re trying to save money.

High-growth vs Slower Growth Startups: Key Differences

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the differences between high-growth startup companies and slower growth startup companies. While many factors contribute to a company’s growth rate, one important area that’s often overlooked is customer experience.

High-growth startups tend to be laser-focused on acquiring new customers and growing their business as quickly as possible. As a result, they often sacrifice long-term customer loyalty in favor of short-term gains. In contrast, slower growth startups tend to focus more on retention and building long-term relationships with their customers.

There are a few key strategies that all businesses can use to improve their customer experience, regardless of their growth rate.

It’s important to invest in CX tools and staff them properly, so customers can get the help they need when they need it, and your team will be prepared to handle any issues that may arise. 33% of high-growth startups are more likely to add support in their 1st year, and 20% more likely to add a live chat by year 2.

They should also focus on meeting customers where they are with their CX strategies. This means offering omnichannel support so that customers can reach you through whichever channels they prefer. In fact, 33% of high-growth startups add omnichannel by their second year.

Invest in self-service options like Knowledge Base articles and FAQs. This will help reduce the number of support requests your team has to deal with and free up their time to focus on more complex issues.

Watch the full webinar about CX trends with guest presenter Adam O’Donnell from Zendesk:

How to Maximize Revenue Through Prospecting Leads

When we spoke with Jose Martins from HubSpot about prospecting, he emphasized that maximizing revenue through prospecting leads is all about having an effective process and doing your research upfront. 

So in this post, we will look at the key takeaways from that webinar by focusing on the four stages of a B2B sales process.

Utilizing the Four Stages of B2B Sales Processes in Prospecting Leads

Inbound Sales methodology - prospecting leads

Step 1: Identify your target audience.

In order to generate quality leads, you need to know precisely who your target audience is. Having this clarity will help you spend time and money wisely in connecting with the people that care about your product and your business.

Start by crafting your ideal buyer profile. Who is your ideal buyer? The more specific your picture is, the better. In order to create the most accurate picture possible of that ideal customer, utilize any data that you have collected via social media, questionnaires, or cold calls. What are their goals and what are the challenges that stand in the way of those goals?

After that, you want to create a positioning statement that incorporates all this data. In a few short sentences, you should be able to answer the questions. 

Try framing it something like this: “We help (who) that are (usual goals) but are frustrated because (usual challenges)… Does this happen to you?” Remember, your positioning statement is not about you, it’s about your leads. In other words, now is not the time to dive into your product, company, or current promotions. 

Step 2: Connect with your target audience.

Once you have your ideal buyer profile and your positioning statement, you can start connecting with your target audience to transform leads into qualified leads. Connect in authentic ways by matching your values with their values. In addition, create avenues for communication that allow you to get to know more about your leads.

Some great places to look for leads include:

  • Existing relationships
  • Company verticals
  • Social media
  • Target accounts
  • Current/past clients
  • Your community network and alumni

When you connect with leads, make sure you keep your goal in mind and make a call or send an email to establish an initial relationship. Schedule an exploratory call and understand the high-level challenges that they face.

When making those prospecting connections, there are a few common errors to avoid. Most important, drop the elevator pitch completely. Keep the conversation about the potential customer and don’t deep dive into how you can help them just yet. Remember, your goal is to qualify the lead and set a meeting; not close the deal.

The hardest part of the connect call is reaching out to strangers.

Therefore, you need to be prepared to be uncomfortable, or there will be no growth. As time goes on reaching out gets easier and better. Remember that the fear of connecting with prospects is all in your head and be prepared to override that fear. The most important thing to do is to put time on your calendar for prospecting. Make it part of your daily routine. Once it is routine, your fears will be gone and your communication will be more natural and authentic. However, this doesn’t happen overnight – only through practice. 

Be prepared to reach out more than once, you can be persistent without being annoying. For example, use a two-day follow-up technique and set a maximum of six to 10 calls or emails. Your CRM can help you keep an efficient prospecting cadence. Make use of task queues, filters, templates, and sequences to keep you organized and on schedule with prospecting. 

Step 3: Explore the needs of potential customers by asking “how can I help?”

This is a critical step where data and information about the real-life problems that your potential customers are facing come into serious play. By reaching out and asking “how can I help?” you position yourself as a business that might provide the solutions they are looking for.

Step 4: Be prepared to offer advice in the form of your product or service.

A lead becomes a customer when they see a clear match between their problem or their need and the solution that your business provides.

Research Is Vital for Successfully Prospecting Leads

Do your research, not only on your leads but on your industry and market. Look for signals a business is looking to solve the problem you solve. Likewise, find ways to differentiate your approach from cold callers. Transcend the solution, focus on the problem, and start with urgency from the get-go.

Prospecting checklist:

  • Define ideal buyer profile
  • Define sources of leads
  • Develop your connect call positioning statement
  • Establish a prospecting sequence
  • Define your research and start reaching out

Key takeaways

  1. It’s NEVER about you
  2. Focus on the problem
  3. Do your homework (research)
  4. Define a process
  5. Put it in your calendar!

For more details, watch the webinar here:

The following is a guest post by Julia Rivard, the CEO of Eyeread (a Concrete Ventures portfolio company) and behind game titles Squiggle Park & Dreamscape. Julia and her team are reshaping how gaming and education can work together. In this post, she talks about how to build company culture in a remote world.

The drawbacks of a remote team

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a multitude of workers to make the move from the workplace to working from home, the remote culture was the norm for many companies and a rapidly growing trend in various industries. However, while working remotely certainly has its benefits, as many who are new to the concept quickly discovered, it also has its drawbacks.

The primary issue expressed by the majority working from home or a remote location is the lack of connectivity amongst the workers. Feeling disconnected and unable to experience the company culture or collaborate with team members in a productive and engaging environment. Each of these factors, if left unattended, can lead to a loss of productivity and general dissatisfaction with work.

Foster company culture in a remote world

I’ve been a part of the remote culture and managing a remote workforce for quite some time, and so I was well aware of this fact already. I knew that it was critically important to foster connectedness amongst my team members. In previous years, this was easier, as we normally meet twice a year in person for team retreats, which help to bring us together in a manner much more engaging and encouraging than a simple day or two spent at the office.

But in 2020, with COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, this was not possible. Instead, I needed to develop other strategies to keep us all motivated and feeling like a strong and connected team. These ideas and strategies I put together for our team can be put into practice in many organizations and various industries. They serve to keep remote teams all heading in the same direction and feeling immersed in the company culture as a cohesive group.

Before sharing these ideas, I’d first like to point out that developing a strategy for connectedness is not necessarily something that can be planned overnight. It takes ample preparedness, and I certainly had to do my homework before putting everything together. It also means having a clear picture of your company objectives for the year, and that isn’t always something you can come up with on your own.

Develop a strategy

As 2020 was drawing to a close, I met with key players on my team to get their insight and to hear about their thoughts and learnings from the past year. Not only did this provide me with vital information I could use, but it also made team members feel more involved right from the start since they knew their feedback was going to be reflected in the upcoming plans for the year.

The initial planning and involvement of my team didn’t stop there, either. I let them know that although I already had a high-level plan established, it would likely change by the end of our week of planning based on our strategic conversations and the priorities. Despite the potential for change, everyone appreciated having a starting point, a clear owner and a clear sense of which KPI they are contributing to and how it is measured.

With prep done, we set out on our week of planning to get alignment for 2021. When reflecting on the three days we spent together these are the standout ideas that helped make everything work and work really well.

Show value to receive value

First is making sure there is space for all voices to be heard.

This was a deliberate commitment to enable all team members to share their thoughts at many points during team meetings. It encourages commitment, fosters engagement, and increases connectedness. It also promotes productivity, and increases overall workplace morale, even in a remote company culture. There is great value that comes from the voices that are typically less vocal. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge. We made a point during every session to lead with a round table on how everyone was feeling in one word. One word is important because it is quick and there is very little pressure. I also called people out to add their thoughts if they hadn’t spoken up. In short, show every member of your team that you value their work and their input, and you’ll receive great value in return.

Make sure to not try and do too much. These virtual meetings with my team were a part of three days of virtual planning to kick off the year. It’s an intensive process, but also one that is so worthwhile so long as you don’t overdo it. In the past, internal feedback surveys have made it clear that staying on a Zoom call for more than one hour sucks the life out of the team. This was an easy fix. I made sure there was plenty of time between meetings to recoup and recharge and a break every hour during longer meetings. This served to keep the energy flowing and the ideas blossoming.

Show that you care

It’s also so important to go the extra mile to show you care. In early December, while preparing, I was really struggling with what to do virtually that could be special and heartfelt. I also wanted to build anticipation for the upcoming planning sessions. My solution came from the recognition that our team is family and what my mom did for me when I couldn’t be with my family was to send a care package. So I built a care package for each member, with the dual purpose of building anticipation and spreading love. I instructed them not to open the package until the first day of our virtual meetings.

I filled the boxes with relevant items like instant coffee, the “White Fragility” book to showcase the company’s commitment to ongoing learning about the BLM movement and systemic racism that was so much a part of our conversation in 2020. A tech-themed cookie cutter with my mum’s favorite cookie recipe, and notepads, pens, markers and sticky notes, to enable team members to be more physical in our planning sessions – like we would be if we were in person. Additionally, the care package also included a few other thoughtful items and snacks, as well as a mini bottle of champagne for our team celebration on the last evening of the planning sessions.

Year-End Planning in a Remote World: The importance of taking time to build company culture

And, to make it even more special, there was one box that had a golden bottle (the rest were Henkel) and the special person who opened the golden bottle was the team’s choice award of high performer. Opening the boxes and the reveal of the team award was great fun and clearly helped invigorate the team to get our Q1 and Q2 initiatives clearly lined up and prioritized with clear and measurable targets.

Add knowledge and context

Finally, to bring fresh thoughts into our conversations and to bring new context to the team, I arranged to bring in expert speakers. I was fortunate to be able to bring in Mike Yates and education disruptor, TED Talk speaker and founder of ALPHA Schools in Texas and Lance Priebe, Co-Founder of Club Penguin and now Hyper Hippo Games. The team loved both presentations/Q&A. The speakers came in on the first of the three days, which really provided a great context for conversations to follow.

It took a bit of work and thought to do something different to build company culture. I think the hardest part was just getting started. Sometimes as founders and leaders in our companies, it’s hard to pick our heads up for fear of not driving an initiative forward, but I can assure you, this time and small cost paid back so much more.

The rewards are worth the work

As much as all this pre-planning might have done for the team, I think I received the biggest reward and benefit. On the last day of the roundtable, I asked each person to describe in one word how they feel, and some responses I received included:

  • Clear
  • Inspired
  • Excited
  • Ready
  • Thankful
  • Motivated
  • Aligned

I couldn’t have asked for anything more.