The Role of Community in Business Growth: A Look Into Sales and Expansion

Nicole: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the CX Nexus podcast, where we talk about intersections between community and all other aspects of the customer experience. I am one of your co hosts, Nicole Saunders here with

Chris: Chris Detzel. How's it going,

Nicole: Nicole? It's great to see you, Chris. So it sounds like we are going to talk today about how to move the community into more of a sales type of motion, still doing support.

Nicole: Still doing product feedback, still connecting users, but starting to think about how community can potentially become a little bit more of a business driver.

Chris: Yeah, that's right. And, we think about, our daily jobs as community leaders, we have to continue to bring value to the business and the closer to the revenue numbers that you can get, the better and the better, the more you can prove it, even better.

Chris: So I think that, today we'll talk a little bit about strategy around, [00:01:00] it could be net new and how community can help in that new, but also expansion, because I believe that. In a lot of cases, expansion is probably the biggest opportunity, but I also think that we can fit that in the net new.
Chris: What do you think?

Nicole: Absolutely. So I think this came up because we've both had some shifts in our roles and in our companies, and we've both been asked to think about this. Tell me a little bit about what that has looked like for you and what's driving you to think about this aspect of community.
Nicole: And

Chris: by the way, this, for my role, it's a little bit more than just community, but I have, I still own community. And so I have to figure out how community as a channel can fit into this entire role of what I think of as expansion. So expansion for us is upsell. Or, and, or cross sell. So how does community play in that role?

Chris: But, more importantly, let's go backwards for a bit and I'll tell you a little story about what we're trying to [00:02:00] do, and then we'll go from there and hopefully that helps. Yeah, maybe it's not, maybe it's just setting the groundwork for this entire conversation and other conversations that we have with not just you and me, but others within the, in the future for our guest.

Chris: So a little over a year ago Reltio went and changed kind of their marketing strategy from this, whatever you look for net new customer, it used to be, Hey, if somebody fills out a form, if somebody does something on, on the website, then you just call them just one person from one account.

Chris: Does that make sense? And that strategy, I forgot what they call it, but. Basically, it's dead. It doesn't work for a B2B company and an enterprise company like ours. And we had to make a shift. And the shift that we made was, it's called ABX. And it's account based experience or some people it's a little different.

Chris: So basically if you don't know what ABX is this view of, it's count based. So if if an account, [00:03:00] let's say for us would be a prospect, did something on your, on the internet, went to your site and downloaded a document or looked at something and those kinds of things that counts as a.

Chris: Okay, that person from that account did things, but instead of just going after that person, we now set limits and you can set different limits, but we want three people from one account. Doing something from a prospective standpoint before we go after. And when I say us, the BDR, so this is marketing kind of setting that strategy, working with kind of the BDR or sales organization to the BDRs.

Chris: Once they see through through some. Once they see three people are doing different things on one account, they go after them. They call them, they email them, they do things. Only if
Nicole: there's three. That's a more targeted way to prioritize which leads you're going to put time and energy into and which ones are probably just someone clicking around your website.

Chris: That's right. [00:04:00] So, that really helps streamline the pipeline, and, the goal for them is to move it from one stage to another stage. And then once it's moved to a certain stage, then the AEs go after it. So BDR do all the stuff within two or three stages. And then, the AEs then go do their stuff, to start doing POCs and, really long drawn out kind of stuff that they do.

Chris: And this is for net new. And. There's a whole thing that goes, the opportunity there for us. And I think every organization is, now the AEs kind of believe that I'm not getting enough leads. We don't look at leads though anymore. And there was a huge shift in mindset because they were getting all these leads and they were just calling and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Chris: There were less deals in AE feels like, I would too I need to call people. I need to do stuff, and So it changed kind of the way we thought and and it's worked really well this year. We worked or last year we worked with Forrester and all of these others and they believe that, not to brag, [00:05:00] but they feel like we're ahead of the game.

Chris: Right? And with that said, the other piece of that over the last two years from a community standpoint, I've been trying to push engagements, interactions, and all of those things that we do into that funnel, right? So when you think of the ABX, when a customer or a user logs into the community, when they post to the community, when they download, we also have documents to download when they attend a webinar and all those things are show that we do all that activity now.

Chris: Is being pushed into and it's took a lot of time and effort into this ABX model, right? And so now, as I think about my new role this year. From an expansion standpoint, how do we look at that and say, okay. Do we look at three people that are engaging from one account because we could have 10 people from one account on the community doing stuff, and so how do we look, look at that.
Chris: How do we implement [00:06:00] expansion type stuff opportunities. So whether it's cross or upsell, into that ABX model, right? And so that's what I'm doing today. One is figuring out the model. I'm working with our marketing team to really figure that out. So there's more collaboration across the team today.

Chris: I'm also working with the leader of cells that owns the A. E. aspect of things to get his buy in to get ourselves kind of operational teams buy in because that's they're all trying to. Make this work because ABX is a strategy for the organization that we're using, right? And so how do I get there buying?
Chris: And so part of that is, the different stages, the different types of buying profiles that, all of that kind of stuff. And so that's, I've been working on that. The model is now there. And now it's really just trying to say. How do we move that forward from an ABX standpoint to to now say community is helping in that way.

Chris: And, getting [00:07:00] people's buy in. So I don't know, does that make sense so far?

Nicole: It does. I'm curious how you feel about that shift because historically, communities are pretty, like we, we try to not sell. We're not here to be held to sales numbers. We're here to connect people and build authentic.

Nicole: Relationships and I think you can do both. I think that there's a way that you can still maintain authentic connections and also support those sales motions in the business. But it is a tricky needle to thread. It is a tough balance. So how are you thinking about that? How are you approaching that to make sure that your community is really staying engaged and feeling good about this?

Chris: I'm not changing anything that I do from a conversation standpoint with my community. When I get on shows, I'm doing the same stuff. All I'm trying to do is think a little smarter about maybe the webinars that I'm doing, right? So if I'm doing a webinar, and for example, how does that [00:08:00] relate?

Chris: So if I do a webinar, like last week before I forget, I did a webinar around we have this new product. It's called velocity packs for pharma companies. And so this velocity packs has all this stuff in it, that's going to help, life science customers. And so my thought around that is, and there's a lot of things that can go deeper into that.

Chris: And pharma is one of our big opportunities, right? And so from a, cross sell or whatever. So my thought was, how do I present more of that? And then the value of that. And make sure that our customers are still getting value out of some of that, but also the organization, because the way I've always felt about not always probably the last two years, maybe three, the way I feel about community is that's your job is to connect people and make them feel special.

Chris: And, that's just your job. That's what we have to do as community leaders, community professionals on a daily basis, but if you're not connecting the [00:09:00] business outcomes, whether it's sales or case deflection, or I don't know, whatever, product adoption, any of those things, if you're not going to those higher level outcomes, you're going to lose anyways.

Chris: So I just think it's a must. We are a channel. That, that that there are many channels to a business. And so we have to show that we're providing value just as much as anybody else. So I don't, I see it as a must to be honest. And sometimes that might not be enough. You know what I mean?

Nicole: Yeah, no, it's true.

Nicole: I think it's definitely smart to think of ourselves as a channel and. Where maybe in the past, we've seen community programs be underfunded or undervalued. It's because we weren't doing a good enough job of connecting them into those business metrics that at the end of the day are really the thing that drive the business forward and that's not to.

Nicole: downplay the value of all of those other things that communities do, but I'm with you. I think it's really important [00:10:00] to connect it into true business metrics and make sure that we are making the most of all of those people that we are talking to and connecting with.

Chris: Yeah, for sure. And, you and I have talked about this before is how we have to work cross functionally and, we think I've always thought I've worked cross functional functionally really well.

Chris: I don't know, I look back and I think, okay, yeah, I got people from different organizations to do certain things. And I think that's just what we do, but to truly work cross functionally in my opinion, I've been thinking about this a lot lately is to really bring people together internally to say.

Chris: We're going to, we are going to accomplish this thing together. It's not just community, but it's think about the customer success organization. They're doing a lot of stuff already with our customers. What is it that they can do to help drive that expansion piece, right? Community can help drive that expansion piece with all the things that I just mentioned.

Chris: But CS has a role. AEs have that relationship sometimes with those [00:11:00] customers. You have renewal reps that have those. Relationships with those customers. And there's a lot of people that have those relationships and there's a lot of things and tactics and things that they can drive that you don't have to drive.

Chris: You drive your stuff, they drive theirs, but how do you do it? In such a unified way, and I think that's what I'm trying to get at is how do we drive adoption and expansion together? And that's my new role is I'll do my piece. They do their piece, but. You have to get together and have working groups, for example, and talk about what you're doing and what you're going to go to accomplish, where you're at, what you're doing, there's a lot of work and time that goes into it, and it's not easy. And somebody has to drive that, right? To say, okay Nicole, where are you at on your piece of this thing of expansion? Chris, where are you at? Bill, where are you at? Jill, where are you? You know what I mean?

Chris: So it's this collaborative effort to drive to that one. Big number, and that's what I'm talking about when I think of cross functional [00:12:00] thinking and playing together,
Nicole: absolutely. And I think the most important point that you just made is that it's not just about connecting with other people or informing them about what you're doing, but it is about truly working together.
Nicole: I know for a long time, we had a motion where. We would have regular meetings with other teams, and we'd figure out, okay what webinars are we doing in the community? And what webinars are the regional teams doing? What webinars is the global team doing? And we would all cross promote them, but we weren't truly being cross functional in that we were all going off, planning our schedules, and then coming back and comparing calendars.

Nicole: And sometimes finding that we were hosting really similar webinars within a few weeks of each other, or the same speaker was making the rounds to all of our events, and it was really redundant and not like the best way to operate. And so I kept pushing for, Hey, I think we need to all plan our schedules together.

Nicole: We need to sit down in a room, look at the themes we all want to cover and figure out which of our [00:13:00] teams is the best to cover a given topic. And then it's all much more coordinated. And it's not. This just like I said, informing each other. And that's what we're working cross functionally.

Nicole: truly looks and truly means. And it can take a while to get to that point. We had a couple of years of these regular update meetings before we were like, we're still not quite getting where we need to be. How do we shift

Chris: that? Something that that I'm learning. And I think that, so I've been in the marketing team for a couple of years now.

Chris: And so that's my first time to be in marketing. It takes a while to learn, for me, you're doing your stuff, but one of the things that. I think about as a unified kind of thing is a campaign, for example, so campaign, what is a campaign to me, from a marketing standpoint is you create some creative focus on an area.

Chris: Let's say you have a new product and this new products coming out. The way that I think about in Working Unified is what is, all right, marketing comes out with a homepage or a [00:14:00] page that is about this new product. We get a bunch of emails together. Maybe we'll do a webinar on that topic. Maybe there's some PowerPoints and things like that the pmms are making for the sales organization.

Chris: Maybe the sales organization now is gonna go out and talk about these pages and talk about this webinar that's coming out and talk about, and then the CSMs are doing the same with their current customers. And so there's this and, we're talking about it on community, like I do webinars on community.

Chris: And so that would be one. So how do we help drive people to that overall overarching campaign? Like instead of. Hey, I'm going to do a webinar on this. And then a month later, Oh, we're going to come out with this page. And another month later, Oh, here's some PowerPoints. You know what I mean?

Chris: Like that happens, and product organizations a lot. And, what we're trying to get to is this collaborative way. And we do pretty good. Our PMM team makes a lot of really good content, but that's what we're trying to get to is how do we think about that in the bigger, and it's not easy because we all have our day to day, I [00:15:00] have to go still do, I have to create the webinar.

Chris: I have to find a speaker. I have to do a lot of stuff, and you got to worry about does this speaker speak over at this conference or did this, or can this customer do this thing? Because, the customer marketing person's doing all this, so there's a lot of things to keep in mind. And sometimes it feels like it's getting more political than ever, but. When you work in a collaborative and cross functional way and doing those unified things, it's so much better and get a lot more done. And, it's way better to do that in a unified way than just do it one off because, it's just not going to work one off.

Chris: Oh, 100%.

Nicole: Then you can also share resources. You get ideas and experiences from people that have really worked in different parts of the business. And I think all of that makes things better. Getting back to our original topic, how we're pivoting a community into kind of this sales realm, in a similar fashion, [00:16:00] my team and I have been tasked with doing some of that now as well.

Nicole: We started, of course, in the support org. We moved over to the marketing org. We were on the communications team for a while. And now we're part of a newer business unit that is really focused on the online business and how we are driving sort of self service sales conversions through the website.

Nicole: And then my team is really the first sort of post sales part of that to say, once somebody's purchased online, how are we then enabling them and onboarding them and getting them to adopt different features and supporting them? In a self service model. Not calling an agent, not having a dedicated success manager, but really being able to lean on the community to do all of those pieces.
Nicole: And so we're looking at how we fit into that whole funnel too. We're a little bit less focused on new business. But we're very focused on expansion, right? Because the idea is that we are enabling people, we're helping them understand the ways they can use the tools and that will [00:17:00] naturally develop into growth of that account.

Nicole: And so this is still a pretty new thing for us. This is just as of a few weeks ago, but we're starting to look at what kind of retooling do we need to do similar to you on the backend and through our operations and how do we need to be working cross functionally with our new team to make sure that we're supporting their efforts.

Nicole: And, it's it's really interesting. The team that we're on is actually a very cross functional team. There are product managers, there are some engineers, there's some sales people, there's some marketing people, there's a whole operations team. And so we're really looking at like, how do we plug into all of these parts of the business?

Nicole: When for years we've been our own little Island, just flip around doing our thing. And I think it's going to be interesting. So you're further down the road with all of this than I am, as far as shifting to this motion. So I look forward to sharing ideas and learning from you. We'll have to check back in a few months and see how we're doing, but it is really interesting and exciting.

Nicole: And I know that my team has had a lot of those conversations of [00:18:00] how do we maintain the authenticity of the community and the things that are great about it while also starting to open ourselves up to a different kind of focus and a different set of goals. For the business,

Chris: and I think that for you as a leader, some of that stuff is for you to worry about, right?

Chris: Like you, you just tell your folks, Hey, look, you're just going to do some of the similar things that you're going to do now, maybe some projects that are going to come up here in the future, you'll be part of, probably smart to get them engaged because. I'm not telling you what to do, but all I'm saying is, just thinking about like how it would, how are they going to get exposed to this is, doing is, cause I don't think a lot of the stuff changes per se, but their thinking changes a little bit.

Chris: And what, maybe a webinar that they cover or, Oh, maybe I should work with the PMM team or, Oh, maybe this engineering, like that thinking has to change and how they collaborate in that way, and for you, it's, how do you get. In my opinion is how do you prove it out, so you're going [00:19:00] to think about business or systems that, maybe you're not connected to, or some strategy like for us was ABX, that you've got to plug into and really be able to track those community engagement and interactions into maybe you have a nice little team that could do some of that stuff, but you still got to guide them, and figure out what's the most important activities on the community to help.

Chris: Drive the expansion piece, you
Nicole: know it's interesting because it goes back to something that you and I have talked about in the past, which is this idea of aligning to the broader business metrics and not just coming up with your own community metrics, but really understanding

Chris: that's not
Nicole: keep them, but you also have to understand what are the attribution models that you're marketing teams.

Nicole: What are the metrics when formulas and processes that your sales teams use, and how can you apply those to what you're doing in the community? And I think my the operations manager in our team recently got a promotion, which is awesome. I'm so thrilled for [00:20:00] her, but it's good. Cause she's gonna have a lot of responsibility with all of this, as far as helping to connect those systems, do we have our data going in the right places?

Nicole: Do we need to reconfigure some of what we're tracking and how we're tracking it so that we. Can understand those sales impacts that in the past we didn't look at as much. Cause we were pretty focused on support.

Chris: Yeah. It's, I love it and it's uncomfortable. And I'm sure you and the team are both feeling pretty uncomfortable.

Chris: I'll say both the team is feeling fairly uncomfortable about this in a lot of different ways. You've mentioned a few ways, but at the end of the day, what it does to me is once you start doing it. And you start you're going to have struggles and things like that, but you're going to be like, Oh my gosh, I see this from a completely new light because, at the end of the day, and I've said this a hundred times, but.

Chris: It's so imperative that that we focus in on those high level business outcomes, that community needs to be a part of that. And if we continue to say, communities and [00:21:00] be, part of the conversation, community needs this community. Why does your community need it? Are you part of, are you part of those high level outcomes?

Chris: Yes, we know that engaging users and things like that. We know that's important. It's not that it's not, but. If you, if that's all you're doing is saying we have this many likes, we have this many posts, we have this many, whatever. It's not enough. That's just, it's just not like nobody, I don't think it's enough to say community is just it's this thing on its own and we're doing some really cool things and look at me, I'm doing all this, getting all these 2000, people together at one time.

Chris: It's awesome. So what,

Nicole: Yeah, you really have to do be able to be able. I swear I can speak really well. You really do have to be able to speak to what all of that means. Yeah. You need to look at your page views. You need to look at your likes. You need to look at your posts to know if in your community.

Nicole: Those are your basic operational [00:22:00] metrics, but those aren't the things that are going to move the needle on demonstrating the impact and the value of the program. And so you have to know how the community is actually impacting customer retention, longevity, deal sizes, customer satisfaction, lifetime value, all of these things.

Nicole: But I think in the past, a lot of community managers have been like, Oh, that's not my space. That's for the sales teams. And nope, in the world that we are in and the economy that we are in, we all need to be making sure that we understand how sales and marketing work and that we're connecting that in.

Nicole: And that's, part of the reason that you and I started this whole podcast is to help everybody. Learn these skills and understand what are the different parts of the business. How should I interplay with them? What can I learn from them and apply to my community program? And so as we go forward for our listeners, we're going to be bringing on guests from all sorts of different parts of the business and Everything [00:23:00] that's focused on customer experience that we can learn from these folks and really make sure we're getting that deep understanding of how other parts of business function and talking about how communities can start to be part of all of that.

Nicole: And so I look forward to really exploring those things further.

Chris: Yeah, I'm really excited about. Learning from you and then learning from others that, that are part, parts of different business units and things like that, a lot of those will probably be around product companies just because that's where our

Nicole: connections are.

Nicole: I think B2B SaaS is pretty much where we. Yeah, that's our,

Chris: I'm not, it's our happy place, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's the only place we'll see where this goes, but I know I'm excited about it. And, look, we have to be part of that, those business conversations and the way we do it is to branch out and be a little bit uncomfortable.

Chris: And I think that's. That's going to be what we focus on, is how do we be, stay a little bit uncomfortable in our roles. [00:24:00]

Nicole: I love that. That's going to be our motto. I think that we'll leave it there for today. Of course, we would love it if people would like, subscribe, make sure that you're following us.

Nicole: It's a new podcast, so we would. Love to start to build up our community around this space. Of course, leaving a review is always great as well. And Chris, if people have ideas or questions for us, or interested in coming to the podcast, where can they email us so that we can connect with them?

Chris: I, I believe it's actually cxnexuspodcast at gmail.
Chris: com. And you know what? We'll have that on our website at
Nicole: gmail.

Chris: com and we'll have I'll put all of that stuff on the website. And we're ready to go. We're excited. So
Nicole I'm looking forward to it. So thank you everyone for tuning in to a CX Nexus podcast. I'm Chris
Detzel and I'm Nicole
Nicole: Saunders.
Nicole: See you next time. Bye

The Role of Community in Business Growth: A Look Into Sales and Expansion
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