No fluff – this blog is all actionable advice that’s proven to work. Plus, I’ve got a handy Video to help you out with what you’ll learn. So, are you ready to dive in? Trust me, it’ll be worth your while. More referrals, more growth – that’s the promise!
Now, we all know how the world of Business-to-Business (B2B) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) spins around. The golden rule is simple: customer referrals are key. For example, if you sell to schools, and one school recommends your product, others are likely to jump on board too. And that’s the same if you sell to CEO’s. They have CEO friends and they talk! That’s the beauty of referrals.
Plus, that means less money spent on marketing and fewer hours chasing leads. Customers will find their way to you, warm and ready to engage. Perfect!
But hold on! Before you start dreaming of scaling your referral programme (I’ll be sharing the ones that have worked best for me in the coming weeks), there’s something you need to figure out. How do you make sure your new customers see the value of your product sooner rather than later?
You might have heard this referred to as ‘time-to-value’. The shorter it is, the better.
In this blog, I’m going to let you in on the best time-to-value strategy I’ve used in my two decades in the industry. It’s a 5-step process that’ll help you understand your time-to-value and use it to build a top-notch referral programme.
I hope you find this useful. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Use these links to jump straight to the part of the article that interests you most.
> Step 1: Survey All Your Customers
> Step 2: Analyse What The Best Have In Common (with video instructions)
> Step 3: Implement To All Customers
> Step 4: Measure Time To Value
> Step 5: Put What You’ve Learnt Into Your Sales Process & Marketing
> Then: Referrals, Referrals, Referrals
Step 1: Survey All Your Customers
If any of my old colleagues come across this blog, they’ll chuckle at this bit. Why? Well, I have a confession to make: I’m a bit obsessed with customer surveys. There, I said it! I just can’t help myself. I’m fascinated by what our customers think, what they feel, what makes them tick.
Now, don’t roll your eyes just yet. Surveys are actually a crucial part of the process I’m about to share with you. Here’s what you need to do: Ask each and every one of your customers this all-important question:
“From the first day of using [insert product name], how long was it until you felt a positive impact?”
When it comes to response options, group them together. If you’re in the education business, you could base your options around an academic term (up to 12 weeks, for instance). So, your answer options might look something like this:
- 1 to 2 weeks
- 3 to 4 weeks
- 5 to 6 weeks
- 7 to 8 weeks
- And so on…
But you need to do tis based on what makes sense for your business and product.
Next up, we roll up our sleeves and get to work. But remember, we can’t move forward without this crucial piece of data. So, start sending out those surveys.
Bite-Sized Training Course
Mastering LinkedIn: Asking for Meetings With the Right People
Step 2: Analyse What The Best Have In Common
Once you’ve got your survey results, here’s what you do: Look for the customers who reported the quickest positive impact. Let’s say no one chose ‘1 to 2 weeks’, but 75 said ‘3 to 4 weeks’. Now, these folks, they’re the ones you need to concentrate on. You’ll learn so much from these people, and they’ll be the key to motoring your referral programme.
Now, this is where the magic happens: get on a call with them. Zoom, MS Teams, old-school telephone, a coffee shop chat – whatever works for you. But make sure you have a real conversation with them. And here’s what you ask:
- What features do you value most?
- Why do you use each of these features?
- What problems do those features help you solve?
- What actions did you take in the first [number of weeks they entered in the survey]?
- What could we do to shorten that time-to-value?
Record this info. You need to get this information from all the top time-to-value customers that you have.
Use Thematic Analysis Techniques
Before you can analyse the information you’ve gathered from these conversations, you need to shorten the answers into short phrases or codes.
So for example, if an answer from a customer was: “The feature is a huge time saver for teachers, it saves them hours each term.” – shorten that to something like: “Time-saving for teachers” (this is research method is called Thematic Analysis, you can read more about it here).
It seems like a big job at this point. But believe me, it’s well worth it. When you understand this stuff, you’re well on your way to getting more referrals.
Once you’ve done that, for all the questions, you’re ready to analyse. This is where you get amazing insights! Insights that will skyrocket your referrals.
You don’t need to be a super-duper data scientist to do this. I do it in Excel. Yep, honestly… Excel! I use Pivot Tables in Excel. Simple! Ha. If you’re unsure how to do that, check out the video below.
Here’s what I do:
- From question 1: Count up the most valued features by this group of users.
- From question 3: Count up the most common problems your product helps solve (this can sometimes throw out some big surprises!)
- Compare questions 1 and 2: This will tell you why people use those features.
- Compare questions 1 and 3: This will tell you the best features to use to solve common problems.
- Compare questions 1 and 4: This will tell you what actions people are doing to get value from each feature.
- Compare questions 1 and 5: This will tell you where there’s room for improvement to get people to love your product even faster!
Now you’ve got a good understanding of:
- Which features to push early in a customer’s time with you
- The most valued features
- Which features solve which problems
- The most common actions successful customers take
- What you can do to improve
Check out the video below to see how I do this.
Step 3: Implement To All Customers
Without knowing your product and your business, I can’t write too much about this step. But basically, you need to work with the team that onboard your customers.
Map out their first X weeks. Where X equals the top time-to-value from the survey results.
Using the data you got together in Step 2, make sure that all new customers are forced to use the most valued features in that time. I know, I know, “forced” sounds a bit harsh. But think of it more as a gentle nudge, a friendly push in the right direction. We’re simply ensuring they use these features because we know they’ll love them.
And remember, it’s not just about using these features; it’s about understanding them. It’s about showing customers how these features will solve their problems and the best way to do that. It’s about guiding them through the actions they need to take.
Step 4: Measure Time To Value
For this step you need to implement an ‘end of onboarding’ meeting for each new customer. In this meeting, ask the customers the same questions from step 2.
Remember, this is now only for your new customers, at the end of the onboarding period.
Keep analysing this data as shown in the video. Keep learning and keep on top of any changes.
A key question in these surveys is: “What could we do to shorten that time-to-value?”
Take your time to really understand this one. This will help you refine what you’ve done up to now and see if you can get your average time-to-value down. Customers realising value early is a good thing! A very good thing. Because it’s at that point you can ask them for the referral.
Step 5: Put What You’ve Learnt Into Your Sales Process & Marketing
OK, step 5! It’s time to take all that juicy info you’ve gathered and infuse it into your marketing and sales materials. You now have a deeper understanding of the problems your product can solve. And selling becomes a whole lot easier when you’re offering a solution to real problems!
But, don’t stop there. Put this newfound knowledge into your daily social media posts and your overall marketing.
If your current users are facing a certain problem, chances are there are tons of other organisations grappling with the same issue. So get out there, find them, and make their lives that bit better!
Referrals, Referrals, Referrals
So, here’s the deal. You’ve done your homework and now you know your product like the back of your hand. You understand your customers on a deeper level, and you’ve got valuable data at your fingertips.
So now you know the perfect time to ask for a referral. This is the prime that when they will shout from the rooftops about how fantastic you are and the incredible value you bring to their organisation.
So, go ahead and ask for that referral. Don’t be shy – actively encourage your new customers to introduce you to another organisation or two that could benefit from your product.
It’s a win-win situation! Actually, it might even be a win-win-win! Amazing!
Get More Meaningful Conversations
Do you need more meetings with your ideal customer profile? Check out our ‘Conversation Revolution’ training course.
Learn how to get 5+ extra meetings, per week, per person.