How retention helped Drift’s VP of strategy, Adam Schoenfeld build and sell 2 companies
VP of Strategy & GM of Drift Video
Today on the show we have Adam Schoenfeld, VP of Strategy at Drift, and GM of Drift Video.
In this episode, we talked about how a customer-centric approach helped him build and scale two successful businesses, why he talks to his customers every single day, and why everyone at Drift has chat duty.
We also discussed the importance of churn & retention when a company is being acquired, and how Adam views churn and retention now as VP of strategy at Drift vs his previous views as CEO of his own company.
Andrew Michael: [00:00:00] hey, Adam. Welcome to the show.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:00:02] Thanks for having me, Andrew. It's good to be here.
Andrew Michael: [00:00:04] It's great to have you for the listeners. Uh, Adam is the VP of strategy at Drift and GM of drift video. Drift is the world's number one conversational marketing platform used by over 50,000 businesses to create pipeline and drive revenue.
Adam joined drift after drift acquired a startup. He founded called Siftrock a tool to help PDB marketers manage email replies at scale and prior to drift. And Siftrock. Adam was the CEO and cofounder of simply measured a leader in social media analytics trusts by 50% of the global 100 brands that was also later acquired by Sprott social.
Uh, so my first question for you, Adam is having built and scale two companies now that were acquired. Um, what do you think was the common denominator in their success?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:00:51] Wow. Good question. Focus on the customer is probably the common denominator on, on all [00:01:00] the, the ups in the many ups and downs that came from those businesses.
But when we really understood our customer's problems and the team was really focused on that, I think those were the most successful times. And, uh, everything else kind of fell from that.
Andrew Michael: [00:01:17] I want to dive into that because I think obviously it's like something that a drift preachers inside and out is like really understanding the person get closest to the customer wins.
And, um, it definitely is like the central theme that keeps on coming up on the show, but I don't think I've ever really gone deep into what that means and really understanding the customer. So maybe you want to talk through that a little bit, sort of, uh, maybe we could start other it's simply measured or Tifft rock and.
What did your process look like as a team to really truly understand the customer and, uh, how religious were you with that process and keeping up to date?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:01:55] Yeah, I can go back in my history a little bit too, of some of [00:02:00] the war wounds I have on this one, cause I founded my first company way back in 2008.
Um, I was really young. I'd been working in a management consulting firm as an analyst and I wrongly thought I was really smart and could start a company, uh, because I had read tech crunch and I knew how to make PowerPoint decks. And so my ability to make PowerPoint decks meant I could raise a little bit of angel money, but the company was a complete failure.
And the fundamental failure, I, I kind of discovered after looking back on that experience was that we just didn't even think from the customer point of view, we thought from our own. Goals to be featured in tech crunch and be this successful startup. And, uh, I laugh at myself thinking how young and naive I was, then I'm sure in 10 more years, I'll look back on me now and think the same exact thing thing, because that's what always happens.
The fundamental thing there was, we just didn't even know who our customer was or focus on the customer, or even understand [00:03:00] how to talk to customers. So when I came in, uh, with my cofounders that simply measured and then later at Siftrock, I brought thatprinciple with me and knew that from day one, I had a really, you know, who are we trying to serve?
What are their problems? What are we trying to solve for them? How are we going to be unique in solving those problems and, and really being objective about. Um, the answers to those questions and really having a lot of rigor about answering those questions and, uh, joining drift, I've seen that come come through again, and that the whole philosophy of the company is built up on top of our first principle, which is put the customer at the center of everything you do.
And I think it's just paramount. It's gotta be a principle. It's gotta be a foundation for, for building any business. Probably the most of your listeners. It sounds obvious, but I think, uh, at least for me, when I was first getting started, I didn't understand that at all. So it was a muscle I had to build, uh, going through a few startups.
Andrew Michael: [00:03:59] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. [00:04:00] It is one of the, those things I think at the surface, it seems obvious. And we talk about it. We preached all the time, but actually living it, I think is another thing. Um, and really like, I I'm interested sort of what your process was going into these next two companies, but having known that you didn't put the customer at the Syntech.
What did you do in the early days of these companies to try and understand your customer, their problems? Was there any specific framework you followed to try and understand them better? And, uh, was it in the form of customer interviews? Like, did that scale of a time? Like how did you make sure that you kept, uh, like understanding and hearing the voice of your customer throughout the journey?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:04:42] Yeah. Great question. So I can speak to Siftrock because it's fresh in my mind. Uh, I joined there, there was a technical cofounder, a guy named Chris Hanley who had started the company and great technologists, great entrepreneur. And he was at the point where he wanted a kind of quote business co-founder to come on.
And [00:05:00] so. I came in and brought in a sales rep that I'd worked with before. And, and at that point, like from that point, we just started meeting with customers and talking to them. I mean, it sounds simple of this, but my philosophy has always, literally just talked to the customers. Every day. If I do that, then the questions I ask and the way I interview them and the things I look at and what I focus on that can all change.
But just building that muscle of like every day, we're going to sit down, we're going to get them on the phone. We're going to ask them about, you know, how they're using the product, what their problems are, what's the context, what's their life like? Um, so I'm, I guess I'm big on the qualitative. Uh, kind of research, like understand what they're doing and yeah.
Where I fit into their universe. And that, that was square one for me. Like when I came in at Siftrock and then we, you know, we evolved from that to ask you more specific questions, but, um, I was on every sales call, uh, in the very early days. Uh, [00:06:00] I read every support email, and then when we hired our first customer success manager, I was reviewing pretty much every email exchange she had for about a month or two.
So I I'm big on like, getting real, really into the sausage making of like every interaction, every conversation. And then just trying to soak all that up.
Andrew Michael: [00:06:20] Yeah, I think, I mean, it's super important. I think actually I've been guilty of this in the past. And the previous company I founded as well was starting out.
Like you only get, you want to learn from the customer. You go out to try and speak to them as much as possible, try understand their problems. And then over time you slowly start as a founder becoming detached from the customer and the start filling those voids and, uh, I know like this for me, this was, I'm very, very guilty of it tonight.
Looking back now, I realize sort of like you get to a point where you think, you know enough about the customer and you start to influence yourself with biases of what the market is looking for and who your customer really is. Like, [00:07:00] how have you seen this in your time? So evolving, like, have you been aware of the biases that you create within yourself and how do you ensure that as the company scales that can it.
Becomes a little bit more difficult to have these one on one conversations that you still have got a good process to really be understanding your customers as the company is growing the market's evolving and your target customer changes.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:07:22] Yeah. I don't know that I'm, I'm graded, uh, at finding those biases and removing them.
It's it's so hard, right? It's a constant battle. Um, I think that for me personally, um, it becomes a problem when I just. Stop the, the stop doing the work. Stop the habit of call downs and listening to recordings and going on ride alongs and reaching out to people in my network. Right? If it's, if it's part of my day and I'm reminding myself who the boss is, That's right.
Which is the customer and I'm having some yeah. Interaction. Then I usually [00:08:00] don't get to far off field where I feel I get off field. It was when I just going through the motions of meetings and one-on-ones and spreadsheets and internal demands that take, take me off of the habit and the practice of.
Really just engaging with my true boss. And when I'm doing that, I feel like I, then I, I can see when, when I'm drifting away from the truth, um, if I'm not doing that, then I, it's just so easy to lose sight. And it's so easy to have either, um, outdated perspective or, or flawed perspectives, or basically fill in holes that, you know, aren't based on facts and reality.
Andrew Michael: [00:08:42] Absolutely. So there's obviously what you're saying is there's no magic formula it's really putting in the work and working on that muscle. Uh, yeah, I was hoping you were going to
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:08:52] No, no, it's one of those non silver bullets type deals,
Andrew Michael: [00:08:56] but it's one of those things it's so hard to do I think. [00:09:00] And, but yet, so important, so valuable as well.
And sometimes it's just good to be reminded. That's like, even like the simple things that how important they can be in. How you should try really to build that habits.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:09:12] Yeah. I mean, there's little things that I try to do. Like anytime I get into a exchange with somebody on LinkedIn or an email, that's a customer, you know, I'll always just try to drop in a question, right.
Just even if it's, it's not really the primary intent of our exchange, always just be like, you know, how's it working out for you with the product or is there something that we could be doing better? Um, Aye. Aye. We have a PR we have a thing at drift where everybody goes on the chat and does chat duty, which is a great, a great little system you can implement company-wide.
So everybody gets to kind of have those real time conversations with people coming to the website, which, which tells me a lot. And when you have to go. You know, troubleshoot a problem or help answer somebody's questions that really, uh, makes [00:10:00] you feel it. Uh, and then another thing we do is we record all of our sales calls using gong.
And I found that, uh, it's not a silver bullet, but it's certainly a short cut because, uh, then you can build a habit of listening and, uh, you cut out a lot of steps on scheduling and, and, uh, the, the normal administrative overhead, it takes.
Andrew Michael: [00:10:20] Yeah. And I'm sure though, listening to those calls will be a lot more interesting and valuable to you than listening to an episode of Churn FM, yeah.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:10:29] I don't know about that. I just listened to one. That was pretty good. So you got, you got to mix it up. We got to bring in the books and the podcasts and get that high level perspective. But yeah, like the customer calls, if I could only listen to one thing, that's probably what I would listen to.
Andrew Michael: [00:10:41] Yeah.
I think that's an excellent format to have, to be able to set your exposure to, um, Listen to a call anytime. Cool. So the thing I had in mind as well, I wanted to chat about today and I mentioned like the first question sort of was having two companies acquired and you showed like the common [00:11:00] denominator they're really getting to the customer.
But the next thing I want you to talk through a little bit is in the context of these acquisitions and talking about churn and retention now, um, What did the process look like? And maybe you can tell me for, is the same for both or in different cases for both. When it came to sort of the point when, uh, your companies were being acquired and, uh, how did these play out?
Like how important was churn and retention as well? When the company's acquiring, you were evaluating the performance of the company. And maybe we can just start there and elaborate.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:11:36] Yeah, well, I can speak to Siftrock cause that's probably the best basis for this conversation. Um,
we were bootstrapping the company.
Uh, so retention was. Paramount for us, because we just knew that the economics of bootstrapping would only work if we could retain our customers and, and, you know, [00:12:00] basically get into a negative churn situation. Um, because that's really the road to capital efficiency, I think goes through retention, especially with the motion that we had.
Cause we had a sales lead motion at a. Relatively low ACV. Um, so then really the exercise was like, how do we retain that, that revenue forever? Cause we're probably not going to have like most efficient, uh, acquisition machine in the universe. So, um, once we landed, we want to make sure that we stuck and we want to make sure that we had a chance to expand over the life of, of our customers.
And so I think it was, it was critical on how we built the business and then it definitely came up in the acquisition yeah. Process. Right. What are the retention metrics? What, what does that look like? Um, and the exec team at drift. I definitely dug in on that because with, with Siftrock they were buying, you know, a team, a technology and a business.
So the. The business that was being purchased was very dependent on like [00:13:00] how much value are these customers getting and, and how well are they being retained? So I think that was really the crux of the whole analysis of like, does this business have value?
Andrew Michael: [00:13:11] And during this evaluation process, like who was doing the evaluation, like what metrics were asked for and who were you speaking to on a regular basis from drift?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:13:23] Yeah, it was the CFO, the CEO and the CTO mostly, um, or kind of doing this, uh, the C the conversation started with David, the CEO, and then, um, Aaliyah's the CTO kind of led to the deal process from the drift side. And then the CFO was involved to look at the financials and look at the metrics and go a level deeper into, uh, churn and what was happening there.
Andrew Michael: [00:13:46] Yeah. How well did you know the guys before? Or was it just something that they approached you with?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:13:52] I had been, had a very, um, light level of interaction with David, the CEO over about a year. [00:14:00] Um, just kind of messaging back and forth, exchanging emails. And, uh, after they raised around with Sequoia, we had.
Uh, we had connected over the phone and he said, Hey, do you want to have a deeper conversation about, you know, something strategic? And we flew out for a day and spent a day and things kind of clicked really quickly. So it was about a year of, of a relationship. Um, we had also been a customer of drifts and kind of a fan.
And so we knew a few people there. Um, but there was no kind of talk of, of. M and a until, um, pretty close to when the deal happened.
Andrew Michael: [00:14:38] Interesting. And then, uh, so when you joined, did you join as the VP of strategy? Like what was, what did it look like? So going from one of the, this year, a founder of Siftrock being acquired, like what was the transition, the journey into the company and how you got to where you are today.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:14:59] Yeah, [00:15:00] you always have to find a place for these early stage specialist type people and I in a slightly bigger company. Right. So, uh, I came in and my role was to transition the Siftrock business into the drift business. And, um, so I spent the first kind of three or four months doing that. Well, starting to take on this strategy role, which is, which is really focused on, uh, defining and communicating our product strategy across.
All of our product lines and all of our use cases and trying to, um, set a unified strategy of, you know, what drift builds. And, uh, so I transitioned to that role and then I've kind of taken on. Newer products or newer initiatives I'm most recent with the video product. So, um, I lead the team that, um, that builds and takes the video product to market as well.
So we have kind of a GM model on our, on our newer products here. Um, and so I'm sort of, I'm responsible for that almost like the CEO of, of drift video.
[00:16:00] Andrew Michael: [00:16:00] Very cool. Um, and, um, I'm interested in, in this perspective, because obviously coming from one side, being a founder, uh, being like the sole responsibility for these metrics, like cell retention, being critical for your truck, with your sales lead model, with having such a, or having a low ACV, um,
How does your perception and how you view, uh, churn and retention differ between the role of a CEO and now in the position of a VP of strategy at a fast growing startup, like drift.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:16:33] Yeah. As, as CEO, it was something I thought about every day and I probably tracked our renewals and our existing customers more than anything else. And I probably spent more of my time on it than anything else today. Um, I'm working in the product function, so. Retention is huge, right? For the product organization.
It's something we think about. It's something we measure in lots and lots of different ways, but it's not my, it's not my daily focus. It's not like the question [00:17:00] that I'm, I'm asking myself. Uh, every day when I wake up, um, versus as being CEO, it really was, I mean, the renewables that were yup. And the new customers that we were onboarding, uh, was top of mind for me every single day, especially like I said, because we were a bootstrap business and I.
I believe that the success of our company was entirely based on serving those customers and making them really happy.
Andrew Michael: [00:17:26] Yeah. So where like it's the be all and end all sort of thing that this needs to work to make the company work. Whereas now, like what, it sounds like it drifted super important, but there's obviously a lot more scale, a lot more people thinking about the problem.
So it allows you to have areas of specialization, um, to serve customers better, I think at the end of the
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:17:46] day. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, totally. And I think my, it is a little bit of a philosophy thing building Siftrock this bootstrapped company. I mean, we, we treated it a little bit like an old [00:18:00] school, uh, you know, story it open down on main street.
And just thought about service above. All right. And I think that, you know, it's funny looking back, cause my ideas aren't super crisp on this, but I think it was pretty ingrained in how we worked. Just we work for the customer. We were very service oriented in everything we did. Um, we actually thought about customer success as the critical.
Component of our marketing strategy as well, which maybe is a little bit contrarian, but the way I thought about it was, well, if these early cohorts can be successful, then we're going to just tell their story. That will be our marketing, and they'll tell our story. And that came true. Um, in many ways, uh, I think that was our best asset was the, the customers that were really happy, um, and really pleased with our level of service became our best advocates.
So. Yeah, I kind of thought about it, [00:19:00] like maybe opening a restaurant or a retail shop of just service above all. And we work for the customer. Um, so that, that was my mindset in Siftrock. And so I kind of tried to carry that as the CEO. I
Andrew Michael: [00:19:14] love that. And it's actually something that Julie Hogan from drifter, when we interviewed her, mentioned something similar in a philosophy that, uh, she introduced at drift, I think was looking outside the industry for inspiration in terms of how you can improve the service that you deliver to your customers.
And if I remember correctly, I think, um, What she did was she got a couple of people from the result of Hilton group, or it was one of the big hotel chains who their business is basically built on service, um, to try and understand like what they do, how they serve customers better, and, uh, really keep that at the core.
And it's interesting that you say sort of like, The model of looking after your customers, making sure they're happy. And then they become the ones that talk about [00:20:00] you. Because I think ultimately once you, at any size and scale in a SaaS business, it's going to be customers and what a Mark, that's going to be the biggest driver for your business.
So making sure you're looking after them and keeping up the centers, obviously it's a no brainer in terms of the value it's going to deliver.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:20:15] Right. And my, my view on service, um, you know, it went beyond. The product. And I guess my view on retention, it went a lot beyond the, I, I felt strongly that, um, every interaction that we had with them was going to be part of that decision to, to retain.
And we, we knew at Siftrock, we were a small solution in side of their large marketing tech stack, but we wanted to be their favorite vendor. We want it to be the vendor. That was just the easiest to work with the most accommodating the vendor that understood them the best and the vendor that, you know, they would just say, I would work with those guys again.
Anytime like w we knew we weren't going to be the most [00:21:00] important piece of technology that they had in their stack. We had a job that we wanted to do really well with the product, but it was a, it's a narrow job. Uh, but what we wanted to be was the best or the most enjoyable vendor to work with. And so that was kind of the bar that we held ourselves to.
And, and it started with. Every, you know, the interaction they'd have when we'd be prospecting to them, to the first sales call and on forward through the journey. Um, so that was, that was how I kind of thought about it in the Siftrock days.
Andrew Michael: [00:21:33] It's interesting that you said that as well, because this is one of the things I think, um, David Darmanin the CEO of Hotjar, it's one of the things he mentioned to me in the early days when I first joined Hotjar was, um, when you think about sort of building a product, you want to think about where you sit on the budget.
And when things get bad, which, where do you fall in that list of tools that get thrown out first and like you, so you might not have been the most important one, but then making sure that [00:22:00] you're the most likable and the easiest to work with certainly helps make sure that you're not one of those ones at the bottom of the list that gets thrown out first, uh, when times get tough.
Um, it's an interesting concept to think about, I think in the early days when you're thinking about a product itself and is trying to evaluate like. How important can this be? Because I think ultimately, uh, the more important you are to companies stack and the more heavily embedded your into the way the business operates and function is just a natural, uh, cause that you'll have lecture and then you become part of the business, but the easier you are to get rid of, then you really need to start thinking about other ways in terms of, uh, delighting your customers to make sure that you keep them and they stick with you.
Um, So, uh, I'm also interested then, uh, from the perspective of drift is that, uh, you're now heading up as like the GM of the video product. And definitely it looks like moving more and more into multiproduct [00:23:00] strategy. Um, How do you view sort of retention in the context of this multiproduct strategy and in your position as VP of strategy?
Like, how are you overseeing sort of the overall product strategy to ensure that it aligns with the company a strategy altogether? And I said strategy about five, six times in one sentence. I think that's a record.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:23:24] Yeah, it's nice. Very strategic. Um, I think there's, there's going to two parts. Yeah. There one is, you know, how do we manage this strategy, the product strategy relative to the cost, but needs strategy.
Um, and the other being, how do we manage the strategy across multiple product lines and use cases? And how do we think about retention within that? Um, On the, I'll talk about the multiple products. We've gone through a lot of different ways of doing this. And I think that any company that wants to be a market maker and have [00:24:00] a big footprint within their customer is going to go through different iterations of.
How do we package the things we're selling, right. Is it a unified platform with use cases that sit on top? Is it a suite of different products? Is it basically separate business units that each stand on their own? And I think we're, we're constantly iterating on that and it comes back to what's going to be best for the customer.
So I think in our enterprise business, for instance, we've, we've gone more and more toward more of a unified. A value proposition of, Hey, you know, as a large enterprise, here's what you can get by working with drift. And you might graduate into different use cases and, and products over time, but we've gone to more of that approach because we found that our bigger enterprises, they, they want to buy that way.
And then on the lower end, right. Enabling people to kind of pick and choose, um, bits and pieces. Like you can sign up for drift radio [00:25:00] video for free, and you can start using that or you can just kind of upgrade. Um, and we have a few, few things that, that sort of work that way. So I think right now, what we've we've done is.
We've, we've tried to just think about the different types of businesses we serve. And now we're evolving our strategy to try to, uh, fit into those what they need and how they want to buy. Instead of just a one size fits all. I think initially with it, we were like, okay, it's, you know, there's these different products and it's kind of one size fits all.
I think now we've. We've evolved it to, uh, have the go to market and the packaging be more specific of who's who's on the other end of it. And who's buying, uh, in regard to fitting it into the company strategy. It's honestly been fairly easy at drift because we have, I have this strong vision and, uh, Point of view on the market.
And, you know, we've been really big on like category creation and, uh, leading with a strong [00:26:00] narrative. And I think at drift, the whole company was founded on the idea of this shift that we saw in the world, right? The world, changing from a company centric world to a customer centric world. And so having the really, really big headline to roll everything up to.
Has made that way easier. So I think the answer to how we fit into the company strategy is, is the ultimate test is, does it fit with the, the vision of why drift exists? And as long as we can kind of draw that out and, and our team, you know, how those pieces fit, it happens has been clear, um, to people then the organization of like how to execute that.
And it's made the job of setting strategy. A lot easier because we have the kind of winning aspiration at the highest level. Yeah,
Andrew Michael: [00:26:50] that makes a lot of sense, having that sort of clear vision of role, and obviously say like this view on the markets really going customer centric, uh, it gives you an easy way to [00:27:00] evaluate sort of different products or different, um, revenue streams that, um, align with the actual overall company vision.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:27:09] Yeah. So I think the one other thing that I'll say on having the narrative is that most companies, they sort of work backwards, right? They have an idea for a product or a solution, and then they kind of retrofit a narrative to it.
And thrift we've really been narrative first. So we've had this idea and being able to articulate what's the shift we see in the market. What's the category that we want to create. And then it just makes it way easier to have your product strategy, um, fall out of that versus constantly trying to like.
Reframe your narrative around the things that you want to build.
Andrew Michael: [00:27:42] Yeah. I think like if we think maybe about the, uh, full fits canvas, I think, um, Brian, Belfore popularized this with Reforge and it is sort of like the product market model channel. Uh, it sounds like what you're saying as well, is that really starting with that markets and what is that [00:28:00] market we want to serve?
And then having a really good understanding of like where the market is moving and where it's going, allows you then to think about the product, whereas most. People start with the problem and start with the product and then try to figure out the markets. And, uh, it's, like you said, it's probably a lot easier, really having the strong, strong narrative to be in with that intuition as well.
I think comes into it in like the direction things are moving. It's not always easy to predict these things and understand which way the market is shifting, but. Having that intuition, I think allows you as well even to get ahead of the game then. Yeah. And then not have to say retrospectively trying to fit your product to narrative, to get the team behind.
And I think narrative and like company vision is often undervalued how important it is as the company scales as well. Um, and how important it is to get people, to buy into it and to want to push forward through it as well, becomes really, really important. Uh, cause ultimately then the day, like [00:29:00] if the people that are working with you and to build the products, don't know why they're there and what they're working towards.
It's when miscommunication happens, it's when bad product decisions are made and it's really, really hard, um, to keep moving in a positive direction.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:29:17] So if you retrofit a narrative onto a solution or an idea you have, and it's. Done to satisfy the VCs you're pitching or to do it because you think you need in there versus looking at the world and finding something that's true.
Uh, I think you're, you, you end up doing yourself a big disservice. I almost think you're better off to just not have a narrative and just be really practical and tactical versus having a narrative that you know, people well don't believe in and haven't signed up to.
Andrew Michael: [00:29:46] Yeah, it's definitely something. I think like I haven't done enough of personally, but it intrigues me and interests me enough.
I really want to learn more about it. We actually had recently a new director join product and, uh, going into [00:30:00] trend analysis, I think is an area I definitely want to spend a little bit more time myself, uh, learning about and seeing and understanding the different trends, uh, in the markets and in the world and how, um, you have micro macro trends influencing one another.
Cause. Ultimately, I think if you can understand the better, you can start to see what's coming ahead better and get ahead of the game at the rapid pace in which we move in this industry. Uh, having the attributor four sites, I think can only be a big advantage. Cool. So I think we're running up on time as well Adam.
I know we tried to before the show is, so, you know, this question is coming, uh, but ask every guest to join the show. And, uh, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now that you've joined a new company. And tryna retention is not doing well. Uh, the CEO has come to you and said, please, we need help. We need to turn this around.
Uh, but we need results fast and we want to see a shift in 90 days. [00:31:00] What would you want to do with those first 90 days at the company? And how would you try and make a dent in churn?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:31:07] Yeah, such a hard question, because churn is one of those things that takes so long before you see the results. Um, but I would probably start at the beginning with the new cohort and I would try to, uh, strip away as much as I could and, and just get into the nitty gritty with them of, uh, you know, what are they expecting?
Versus what are we delivering? And then work really hard to make sure that we're delivering on what they expect for that first cohort. I mean, I know that it sounds so simple, but I think then a lot of the other answers would reveal themselves about. Process or product or people or whatever the root causes, but I'd try to just get a real true Ruth on for the newest cohorts coming in.
[00:32:00] What are the expectations that they have, and then start to think about, okay, well, what is it going to take for me over the next 90 days to deliver for that cohort?
Andrew Michael: [00:32:12] Yeah, I think ultimately that's where you have the biggest impact is rarely during the onboarding phase, during the activation and, uh, what you're alluding to as well, I think is like that's, um, the fits between like marketing and product and you might have these.
Expectations that your product from the outside is setting, but they're not really delivering on once people are getting into it. And interesting religious to try and understand like where that gap lies. You can either maybe close the gap in terms of how you communicating and talking about your product, or really making sure that the product is delivering the value that the marketing's promising and people are coming to you for.
But it probably is one of the biggest areas early days in the startup is all because you want to sort of maybe. Make your product sound better than it is trying to [00:33:00] impress more people. Well, then you really should be in the early days and more often than not, without realizing this can be really damaging because you're setting false expectations for your customers and ultimately not able to deliver that.
I don't know if you had anything else on that, uh, that you, you think what's really important. The early stage focus there.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:33:18] I agree with you. I mean, but it's such a complex thing because the more you sell the harder it gets to retain your customers. Right. And, and everybody wants to have a great sales and marketing motion that.
It tells a big story and makes it a big promise. And then, you know, you close deals at the highest possible price. Uh, but the reality is like, when you're good at those things, you're in, you're making the tasks of retention just harder and harder. Um, so I think nobody really wants to slow it down down, but, uh, somehow I think you have to try to.
At least slow it down or make it seem like you're slowing it down to get into the root. Cause. I mean, it's just so hard to know. Is that people, is it process, is it product? [00:34:00] Is it, you know, something in the selling motion that's broken.
Andrew Michael: [00:34:05] Yes, you have
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:34:05] to that everything is, you know, 10% of everything. Like if you've made a weighted score of which things are influence pausing it, and then you go interview people who turn and it's like, you get 20 different reasons.
So it's such a nuanced problem in that regard.
Andrew Michael: [00:34:18] Absolutely. And that's the whole thesis of the show as well. But anyway, uh, I, it looks like we've run up on time today. Adam, it's been a pleasure having a chat with you, uh, before we go as any sort of final thing, you want to leave the listeners with anything, anything that should be aware of or how can they keep up to speed with what you're working on?
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:34:36] That's the way to stay in touch with me is probably linked. Dan. It's just a slash Adam Schoenfeld. Um, I also have a podcast where I interview entrepreneurs in Seattle. It's called the builtin Seattle podcast. If you search built in Seattle with Adam Schoenfeld in your podcast app, you'll find it. So those are probably the best, two ways you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
If you want to get in touch.
[00:35:00] Andrew Michael: [00:35:00] Very cool. I will definitely drop a couple of those things in the show notes. So if you visit the site, you'll be able to find them there too. But, uh, thanks so much for joining the show. It's been a pleasure chatting today, and I wish you now. Best of luck going forward.
Adam Schoenfeld: [00:35:13] Thanks Andrew.
Andrew Michael: [00:35:14] Thanks.
A new episode every week
We’ll send you one episode every Wednesday from a subscription economy pro with insights to help you grow.
My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.
In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.