I tend to be picky about my readings these days. Especially when it comes to blogs and tech-related posts in general.
I removed from my feed all the blogs that were not bringing any substantial / actionable insight.
And I also added some, such as the Madkudu blog.
If you have been following this blog, you know that Francis, CRO @ Madkudu, co-hosted a live SaaSCast with me. We talked about ICP.
In a recent post series, they have been talking about sales acceleration based on behavioural data. I highly recommend it.
They also came up with this behaviour conversion matrix:
Basically, there are three event categories:
You get the idea, but I recommend you read it to get into the details of the implementation and the results of their findings.
As Madkudu put it:
Optimizing conversions based on behavior is more effective than using an X-day trial for every customer.
IMHO, a trial period is indeed an arbitrary value based on market averages or "SaaS common knowledge". `
However, there's no one size fits all.
All businesses are different. And your historical customer data has more value than any SaaS playbook rule.
You can picture it this way: imagine you're walking into an Apple Store, you find this amazing new iPhone, you're super excited and you explicitly show signs of buying.
But the store assistant won't come up to you to trigger the sale.
Sounds like a missed opportunity right?
It's pretty much the same with your trials. You have to look for explicit signs of buying intentions to trigger "earlier-than-expected-conversions".
Those explicit signs is what Madkudu calls Acceleration events.
Now, let's picture another scenario: you're in the same Apple store, the new iPhone was just launched yesterday.
You want to test it, but for some reason this phone is locked with a password, you can't test it and you don't dare to ask the store assistant to unlock it.
You did not take that necessary step to really test the product and maybe even buy it.
You could pin the password to wall and show it to everyone or detect when someone is in front of a locked iPhone and help them.
My point is you can detect engagement issues or friction and try to create marketing automation campaigns to push people to engage with your product (e.g unlock the iPhone).
I'll just reuse Madkudu recommendations and show you where to insert your webinars:
"1. Create incentives to complete Engagement events during the trial"
Usually, people deal with this through marketing automation and drip campaigns. Which is great because there's no human interaction and therefore you keep your CAC low.
Problem is, people can have issues to deal with before they actually engage properly with the platform.
There are a lot of micro-barriers to your engagement efforts (e.g the iPhone is locked).
Either they're having an issue with the product, and they need to be trained, or they don't understand the value they can get from you, and you need to show them.
With webinars you can overcome those questions and demonstrate the value of your product for several people at once.
Let's take Livestorm for example, if someone does not know how to create a webinar I can guide them via email or chat.
However, if 100 leads are currently struggling with the same issue then I should maybe host a weekly webinar around this topic to reduce sales cycle and reduce my CAC.
If you have currently 100 users struggling with your solution you can re-engage 30% through marketing automation and drip emails and target the rest through webinars.
If 40% of that 30% actually attend your webinar, you'll be converting 28 more people, that's more than 50% people saved from your initial cohort.
Plus, you'll save some CAC since you managed to scale your human interaction.
"2. Create early conversion and upsell incentives for customers who complete Acceleration events"
From my point of view, I see two scenarios.
If someone triggers an Acceleration event you can activate marketing automation processes to convert/upsell that customer.
For the rest that don't react to your drip campaigns, early conversions can be achieved via webinars to scale your sales reach at low costs.
If you can get some "that s great" from your attendees, chances are that you're doing something right.
If your customer hires someone to specifically work on your solution (e.g a [insert tool here] internal consultant) before the end of your trial, there's a good chance you'll be able to convert and/or upsell that customer.
There are several ways to get that kind of information, obviously one-on-ones sales are great to spot those indicators.
But if you want to scale that process you should definitely consider doing webinars and take the opportunity to ask the question.
In this flowchart you can see the logic based on a CAC scale.
On the far left, everything happens at high speed: the user has triggered an engagement event and an acceleration event.
As a result, you're getting high speed conversions with very low CAC.
In the middle, I have selected drip and marketing automation campaigns over webinars since they do not require any human at all. They're easy to scale and deploy.
So, you're preserving a rather low CAC and you keep your response time short.
The third step is to create/automate webinars to scale your human touch before doing one-on-ones and save/activate the most important leads.
You either create weekly/monthly webinars you can send your leads to, and then do a real live session with one salesperson, or you can host a recorded video to keep things "automated".
There are so much things you can do. But you need to get the right data upfront.
Make sure you have all the customer attributes in your database to segment your leads by ICP.
Finally, check you have identified all the engagement / acceleration events and that you're tracking them in your app.
Behavioural based drip campaigns enables you to keep your leads nurtured without having to interact directly with them.
However, drip campaigns should feel personal. you should be able to develop 1:1 personalisation at scale.
For this, you'll need templates that can be different based on attributes. You won't present the same arguments to a marketer or a CTO. And your email should reflect that.
Make sure your software can support this, otherwise I could recommend taking a look at Intercom or Customer.io.
Real-time marketing plays a big part on reacting properly to the acceleration/engagement events.
To be more effective and cost efficient, you should probably optimise your stack with tools that enable you to react in real-time to those events: live chats, webinars (with real-time capabilities), etc.
Intercom, Drift, Livestorm (strong bias here), Slack, are good options ;).
Getting the right data at the right time is also mandatory to react accurately.
This is where APIs and analytics come to play: Clearbit or MadKudu are examples of APIs that should always help you get in front of the right user and react in a personal and accurate way.
Long story short, to accelerate sales you should look for the right events (acceleration and engagement events), mix them the right user data, and engage them through marketing automation.
If that fails, webinars are the least expensive and easiest channel to scale.