Ep. 84 | Nils Vinje Says Low Maturity Customers Need You To Do A Lot Of Work. Be Ready for It.

Nils Vinje, from Glide Consulting, just gave me a new perspective on customer success readiness at SaaS companies. Although Jason Lemkin says customer success is a single digit hireand he may be right most of the time....Nils says, "Not so fast." According to Nils, when to hire customer success depends on the maturity level of your customer. "It's wonderful to disrupt a market. However, it's also terrible to disrupt a market." Said another way, it's good to "have the first solution" to a problem because it's a greenfield opportunity. BUT. "If there has been no solution there prior, there is no ownership in that organization for that particular function. There are no processes. There are no people who run those processes. The customer will therefore need a lot more help than a customer success organization can or should provide. 

Nils Vinje of Glide Consulting on Helping Sells Radio by ServiceRocket Media

This scenario is common and begs the customer success question; "How do you help a customer be successful when there is nothing but your software to start with?" asks Nils. A services approach might be a better fit for customers in a low stage of maturity in the function your software helps them run. 

Side Note: Nils spoke of the customer success maturity model that Boaz Maor created. It is useful and something you should learn more about. Coincidentally, Boaz was a guest on Helping Sells Radio Episode 56

Nils argues, and gives examples in the show, that if your software brings an entirely new function (and new way of working) into your customer's organization, you will end up doing much of the actual work for the customer. You will have to teach customers how to use the software, drive the change in new habits and processes, educate customers on this new way of working, and help the customer configure the software in a way that works for them. "It's a monstrous, monstrous task."

It is very difficult for a customer success manager to be successful in a scenario like this because, "You literally have to do the work," said Nils.

If your product is introducing something entirely new to an organization, it might be a good idea to assess the maturity level of your customers during the pre-sales process to assess whether a services delivery model is more or less appropriate than a customer success delivery model. 

"If you have a low maturity customer, meaning they don't have processes, they don't have ownership, and they don't have their house in order with regards to the problem your product solves, you're probably better off focusing on a services delivery model in the very early stages. Because you are going to have to do work for customers, and you are going to know far more about that domain than customers will."

Learn more about Nils:

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Bill Cushard

Written by Bill Cushard

Bill Cushard covers the intersection of learning, software adoption, and customer success. His career has focused on helping companies adopt disruptive software through learning, change management, communications, and implementations that help people get the most out the software.

Bill Cushard is also the author of the 2018 book, The Art of Agile Marketing: A Practical Roadmap for Implementing Kanban and Scrum in Jira and Confluence.