A collaboration piece with Peter Armaly, Nick Mitchell, and Sheik Ayube
Customer Success Analyst
VP of Customer Success
Program Manager, Partner Success
VP of Business Development
It’s easy to forget how many different types of shoes there are in the world: heels, wingtips, wedges, loafers, even a pair or two of crocs. For the last two years, we’ve all mostly been talking heads, framed in front of fake beaches and aerial views of our favorite cities. In today’s world, in-person conferences resonate differently than they did pre-pandemic, and TSIA World Interact in Orlando, Florida was no exception. From the sea of red lanyard name badges and seeing phones pop up like you’re at a concert every time a new slide is displayed, to the Interact Zone with food truck Tuesday, a gamer’s arcade and donut wall, headshot booth, and silent-disco-esque theater sessions, this year’s TSIA World raised the bar for networking, collaborating, learning, and fully engaging with industry colleagues and peers.
While we’ve all been able to take advantage of content-rich virtual conferences over the last couple of years, it’s safe to assume we’ve also been eager to get back to shaking hands and connecting in more meaningful ways than a request on social media platforms. There is something about meeting a new face from a company you haven’t heard of and uniting over kindred business obstacles that keep us from fully meeting our objectives, all in the spirit of sharing, uniting, and uplifting the industry—an initiative much easier to facilitate in person. The ESG team was as eager as anyone to get back to these types of events, and I was thrilled to join my colleagues Peter Armaly, Sheik Ayube, and Nick Mitchell to do just that at TSIA World Interact.
With such a generous amount of content reviewed in two and a half days, let’s jump straight into key takeaways, shall we?
- Your digital transformation is late. With the release of TSIA’s new book, “Digital Hesitation,” it was impossible to walk out of this conference without a general understanding of the criticality of digital transformation and why your company may be struggling to act. If you don’t have strategies already in place to, at the very least, roadmap your digital transformation, you are behind in the industry—the time to get started has already passed, and the longer you delay or reprioritize, the further behind your company will fall, regardless of how sleek and robust your product is. Don’t fall behind.
- Get a Program Manager. The demand for Program Managers in Customer Success was a quiet undertone in almost every session but was specifically evident on the CS Operations side of the house. Data analysts and scientists have very specific skillsets: hypothesizing, testing, reporting, visualizations, analyzing. Depending on where these personnel fall in the org chart, they can have a variety of projects running simultaneously that are requested by, and have an impact on, business units across the organization. They shouldn’t be also required to execute on program management motions that may pull time and resources for the actual deliverables.
- Who owns the renewal and upsell/cross-sell process? It’s a safe assumption that this question will never truly be settled—both sides have their arguments and conviction to stand against the opposing view. I’m not here to tell you that you’re right or wrong…but here’s what J.B. Wood, President and CEO of TSIA reported in his closing keynote. You decide which outcome would be best for your business:
- When the CS org owns the upsell process, “technology subscription growth rates increase 9% points over companies that leave that task to Sales Executives.”
- “There is no statistical difference in renewal rate when Sales Executives are responsible for renewals versus when the Customer Success team oversees renewals.”
- “When Sales Executives get full quota and compensation credit for renewals, subscription growth rates plummet by more than 10%.”
- “Companies that deploy auto-renew terms and capabilities increase their renewal rates by an average of 11.5%.”
- Data issues all around. I won’t spend a lot of time on this one. It’s just comforting to know we all struggle here, adjusting to bring better telemetry to our data tomorrow than we have today. The struggle to get to actionable and prescriptive data outcomes is real.
- Focus on the Chief Revenue Officer. TSIA announced that they will be focused on the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role in a new practice to research revenue optimization. This is an encouraging sign that they see what many of us have seen for a while – true Customer Success is a multi-organizational effort that requires attention throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
- The future of customer engagement. TSIA’s perspective on the future of customer engagement supports the reasons for establishing the CRO research practice. It states that when the cost of marketing is too low, the cost of sales and services too high, and a focus on adding more marketing across the Land-Adopt-Expand-Renew (LAER) model to scale CS, the cost of Total Customer Engagement Costs (TCEC) will be exceeded past its limit. TCEC is the aggregate of Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Support, and Services costs.
- Diversity & Inclusion. In 2020, McKinsey reported that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” Assess your hiring practices and emphasize the importance of diversity for your organization—not for financial gain, but for enhanced collaboration and wholesome perspective.
- Channel, channel, & more channel. The importance of the channel was made clear just by the number of channel-focused sessions at TSIA World alone. Your channel partners need to be enabled in execution and aligned to your strategy, becoming advocates of the Customer Success motions you advise or implement, and experts in execution of those motions to the end customer. Your product is yours. Adoption of that product falls on you regardless of who is selling, implementing, or managing the end customer.
- QR codes to connect. This one’s for TSIA directly. Bring back QR codes that direct to our LinkedIn accounts to make connecting on the fly easy and effortless. (You know it’s a good conference if this was your only piece of feedback.)
TSIA World Interact 2022 in Orlando is a wrap, but the key takeaways above shouldn’t be one-hit-wonders. The industry continues to transform every day, and throughout this conference, we were gifted both content and foresight from industry leading experts to keep progressing, transforming, and delivering value to our customers, thinking less about our products and services, and more about how their business will benefit from the value we seek to provide.