Amazon solved the customer experience puzzle. Can you?

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Inc. here. One of the biggest mysteries in business right now is why so many companies pay lip service to the customer experience, but don’t practice what they preach. Brands undo millions in advertising spending by often intentionally making their customer service as unpleasant as possible. Surly staff undermine top retail brands. Product manufacturers continue to print long user manuals that no one reads. Things take weeks to arrive by mail when Amazon would have shipped it in two days. Such common failures are one reason that Amazon, Apple, Uber, Expensify, Calendly and Nest, to name a few, stand out. In an attempt to catch up, the industry has quantified many aspects of customer experience. As a result, companies with terrible or mediocre customer service can make big improvements. But the leaders tend to be companies run by fanatical people who are obsessed
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Creating the Right Agenda for Data-Backed Quarterly Business Reviews

Many organizations have adopted the practice of hosting Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) with each of their sales professionals to review what happened the previous quarter and to, perhaps more importantly, look ahead to future quarters. While QBRs are often dreaded by just about everyone in the sales organization due to their reputation for being incredibly time consuming and invasive, they can be very helpful for not just the sales leader, but the team of sales professionals as well. In order to host QBRs that are viewed as invaluable, it all comes down to preparation and constructing just the right agenda that packs quantitative and qualitative data points into a succinct time period. In this article, we’ll provide some guidelines about preparation, and will share a sample agenda that strikes a balance of examining KPIs without abandoning qualitative learning.

QBR Preparation Guidelines

Hosting an individualized QBR with each sales professional can
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5 Keys to Unlocking Negative Churn in B2B SaaS

Retention, retained revenue, gross churn, negative churn, expansion…in 2018 the SaaS gods will surely create at least 5 more terms for the concepts of keeping and growing recurring revenue from an existing customer base. Whatever you may call it, as a B2B SaaS leader how to achieve negative churn is what should be keeping you up at night. Here are some ideas to help you get back to sleep:

1. Make Customer Adoption a Top 3 Strategic Priority for the Entire Company

A quick one to start: Establishing and maintaining customer adoption of your product is THE core-prerequisite to retaining customer revenue and expanding that revenue i.e. creating negative churn. That being agreed, we need to define what ‘adoption’ is and isn’t so we can measure its achievement and status.

2. Recognize that Usage Does Not Equal Adoption

Adoption is NOT a customer achieving utility of your SaaS product.
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How to Be a Leader that Inspires Your Sales Team

As a sales leader, you are evaluated by the success of your team – for better or worse. As John Greene at PhoneBurner put it:
“Sales managers must take ownership of the success or failure of their sales team…As the leader of your business unit, it’s your job to educate, motivate, and provide a productive workplace…This is critical for your company’s growth and success.”
I want to focus on those four words I set in bold. Ownership, educate, motivate, and provide. If you can get these four things down, you’ll be well on your way to inspiring your team to new heights (and your business and career with it). When people think of being an inspiring leader, they usually think of lofty speeches and pep talks, which is really just the superficial piece of the motivational puzzle. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place
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Three Metrics to Measure Sales and Marketing Alignment & Improve Organizational Transparency

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Forbes here. Getting sales and marketing to effectively team is the lament of just about every CEO. Achieving alignment goes beyond just getting these two groups to get along; growth depends on them working productively together. If sales and marketing are at odds it impacts the whole business, most notably revenue, customer satisfaction and company productivity. Add to that the reality that discord between these two groups damages the company’s culture, it’s easy to see why alignment is on the top of every CEO’s agenda. But why is alignment such a persistent challenge? Part of the reason lies with the CEO. While they are experts in measuring the effectiveness of sales, these same leaders are at a disadvantage with it comes to evaluating alignment. Most are unclear as to what the right questions are to ask in order to understand how well
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GE’s CIO on Transitioning to the Digital Age

Many people still think of GE as a classic manufacturing organization, but the 125-year-old startup has a history of strategic evolution and is currently several years into a major transition from an industrial to a digital industrial. I spoke with James Ross, CIO of Global Functions for GE, to learn more about what prompted this initiative, how they’ve taken on the challenge, and what it’s meant for the business. As the person responsible for managing all corporate functions – HR, payroll, workforce management, digital learning, legal, etc. – for 300,000 employees worldwide, James oversees a portfolio of about 150 different technologies across 17 global product lines. Understandably, transitioning such a large and complex entity into a new way of working is a huge undertaking. “We started transitioning to digital in a very focused way about six years ago,” James recalls.
“Even after doing ERP implementations, lean, and overhauls of core
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