How sale incentives drive net retention in customer success.

Esben Friis-Jensen


Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer


Esben Friis-Jensen
Esben Friis-Jensen

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Esben Friis-Jensen, co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at Userflow. 

In this episode, we talked about Esben’s experience building out the sales team at Cobalt and how they kicked their sales motion off the ground, what triggered the need for customer success 3 years in, and what the benefits are of having sales incentives as a customer success manager.

We also discussed how customer video interviews keep the Cobalt team on the same page when it comes to their ideal customer profile, why product led growth led Esben to join Userflow, and we dove into how being late in the market helped differentiate Userflow from its competition. 

Product-led Onboarding

Mentioned Resources



When and how Cobalt built their sales team and got their sales motion off the ground 00:04:27
The evolution of Cobalts sales team. 00:07:41
What triggered the need for customer success at Cobalt, after 3 years without it. 00:10:57
The skill sets required for the first customer success hires of Cobalt. 00:14:52
The benefits of having a sales incentive as a customer success manager. 00:22:51
How customer video interviews keep the Cobalt team on the same page when it comes to their ideal customer profile. 00:24:19
How product led growth led Esben to join Userflow. 00:25:06
How being late in the market differentiates Userflow from its competition. 00:29:06


Andrew Michael: [00:00:48] 

Hey, it's welcome to the show. It's great to have you for the listeners that's been as the co-founder and chief growth officer at user flow, the fastest way to fast use onboarding for modern SAS businesses prior to use a phone it's spend where's the co-founder and chief customer officer at cobalt that I am, where you still serves as an advisor.

So my first question for you, Aspen is how did you go from finding a business, enabling companies to an undermined penetration [00:02:00] testing and vulnerability assessments to finding a company now adding user onboarding. 

Esben: [00:02:04] Yeah, I think a very good question by the way. Cobalt actually, when we started cobalt and that was eight years ago I actually didn't come from the security industry, so I had no prior security knowledge as, or even when we started cobalt.

I came from outside of the industry. And look then and that actually. Brought a lot of benefits, the entire founding team at cobalt actually didn't come from the security industry. And I think because of that, we were able to look at it with a new perspective which was pretty interesting.

And then as Coldwell grew We we build up a big organization and we can solve them all about that. Both with sales, CS, and all this kind of stuff. And all time we started also looking at this big trend called product led growth which I found super interesting. And we started moving more and more towards product, like growth at cobalt.

And then I had a friend who was actually. Building a startup in that space. And he had asked me if I wanted to join [00:03:00] him. And in the end I found it so interesting. The space that I ended up saying yesterday, even though it was a really hard decision, it's really my operational role at at cobalt. But Coldwell had also grown into now almost 200 people company.

So a very different company and I wanted to. Go back through to the earliest stage roots of building a company. So it was a bit of a mix of wanting to go back and also this really interesting product led growth space. 

Andrew Michael: [00:03:27] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think it definitely is all for a lot of founders.

They get to this point in time in their company's stage of growth when they realized this is maybe not what I enjoy and much that more like the early stage. I like a little bit of the cows, but still the building. Phase and I'm interested to chat about that today a little bit in depth, like your experience through Cobalt's you joined, you said over 200 people now early days as well.

We were chatting just before the show that you actually got started out in sales and setting up that motion and then went on to realize, okay, now it's time for customer success and let's get that set up and [00:04:00] eventually evolving into the chief customer officer role. Spanning across different teams and operations, but I want to go back to the early days.

And I know a lot of listeners as well, looking to get up their first sales team or potentially even then the first success team and just. Talk through the different stages of growth, like when you started opera, opera realization. Geez. That's a bad way. I said these things. And let's go back like early days.

Like when did you first get started? Like setting up the sales team? What did it look like? What is a point in time? You say, okay, like we need sales now let's get a little bit more organized and get structured. 

Esben: [00:04:38] I actually it's so I think we've always been very operational strong at cobalt. So by the way, just to give a bit of pre stock, we were for a Danish co-founders who started the company back in 2013.

We started the company in the us even though we're all from Denmark and we went through an accelerator program called boost VC, and then [00:05:00] we decided to stay around and raise capital here. And actually already from the very early days we were doing sales and I think it was also because we had a bit of the capacity of being four co-founders.

We were, we had the capacity, somebody could do product, somebody could to like more operational stuff and somebody could do a focus on the sales part. So even within the founding team, we had we had a sales motion and it was primarily me. During that. So I was both the PDR and the AA and the customer success manager in the early days, a lot of fun.

But I think being that also taught me a lot that I could take with me that we could then use when we started hiring and building out the functions. So I think within within the first. Year or so it was more or less just the co-founders maybe with support from some interns here and there.

But then over time we build out a small sales team. Initially it was PDRs as we called it [00:06:00] back then. And then and account executive that we basically brought in to help us To do the sales, but we were still leading it as the founders, even though none of us had actually any prior sales experience.

But we were looking at all the best practices, especially from Salesforce, salesforce as. Been driving with the predictable revenue book unrest. That was the Bible. That was the Bible back then. And we did a lot of those things, basically building out a a very kind of SDR to AE driven kind of model.

Andrew Michael: [00:06:31] Yeah, they're definitely pioneered Salesforce, like the emotion and sales and customer success, both her thing when it comes to the software space. It's also very interesting as well. Like I think one thing you pointed out is it was the founders getting started with sales. And I think this is what you hear a lot of sales leaders and S like experienced sales leaders say is that to begin with, don't go out and hire your first sales rep.

First in the first sales person should be you and either the CEO or the founder because it really helps you to understand, okay, what works, what doesn't, what [00:07:00] sells the knowledge you get from it as well, like feedback that gets looped back into the product, then those cycles can be so much faster having yourself.

You got started in like lucky, fortunate position for UCA the freedom, flexibility to give this focus and time yourself. At what point then? Like how big was the business at what point did you decide? Okay. Now we actually need to start hiring let's bring on our first sales rep.

Esben: [00:07:23] So that was within that first year, within the first year, in the end of the first year of the business, we hired our first sales reps. And initially was just one, it was basically 1,000,000,001 one and then we built the team from there. 

Andrew Michael: [00:07:37] And talk us through as also the BDR and AE like their responsibilities.

What were they to begin with? What was the level of experience that you bought them in with. So were there more juniors, were there seniors? Like how did you go about deciding who to hire in the beginning and which were gonna be the right roles to begin with? 

Esben: [00:07:53] So I think it, given that the cobalt was, I think we will coming from Denmark, right?

We had no brand [00:08:00] anything, we didn't know anybody. And then you you cannot go out and find these really strong, super profiles that just, oh yeah. I want to join these four day in the skies. I never heard about them before. Let me do them. So we didn't really have that capability, which I think.

Now as a second time, founder of that is actually up. Possibility I have given my network and so on. But back then we were, we could hire them who we could find. And that was we were lucky to find some more, maybe more younger, kinda hungry salespeople who were looking to make a move in their career.

Maybe they had been a PDR at another company. That's actually what we did with a. That person had been at PDR at another company, but it was looking for that AEU opportunity. And the PDR that we hired had been at a company where they were doing more kind of sales to really small businesses, in mom and pop shops kind of stuff, and wanted to move into the more kind of.

Classical P2P a bit higher up the market selling to [00:09:00] software businesses. And so I think we found somebody who was hungry to move to a next level and therefore was willing to join a company at our stage. 

Andrew Michael: [00:09:11] Yep. Yeah. And just as well for carriers, in terms of the BDR, you talking about business development, representative, like their function, then you're operating more on an outbound sales model.

So they would go out and find to like source leads, bring those in 

Esben: [00:09:25] Yeah, and it was very outbound. And we can talk more about how it is that use the flow today because both cobalt has changed into a much more inbound engine as we grew and build a strong brand, but also today with user flow, that's where we're starting.

We're really. Focused a lot on  and this really product led model. So it's very different. 

Andrew Michael: [00:09:47] Yeah. I think we'll touch on that as well, but I think the product lead model itself, it's really important to understand the type of business as well on top of customers in terms of send what's works. And like you said, like something like Cobalt in the beginning, you really need to get [00:10:00] the sales motion going.

So you could then get the product in motion. I personally don't think you need to have one or the other. I think they need to work together in tangent and they're just figures like which time is it? I agree. It's right for your business. You had your business develop and representatives like they're the ones sourcing leads, accounts, executives, like what was their role then?

Their function in the early days? Was it to look after existing leads? Was it to expand existing accounts? What were you focused on there? 

Esben: [00:10:24] So Nisley any, or iconic sake itself had to do also do meetings, sourcing so similar to the BDR. So they both did that, but then also to the actual meetings, so selling the product, do demos and so on to get out with the founders.

And then the actual back then we didn't have customer success. So the actual delivery. Was actually in the early days, a bit more product led, but also also we had one founder focused on operations, recalled it back then. So we didn't actually have customer success. We had sales and then operations at that point 

in time.

Andrew Michael: [00:10:57] Okay. Okay. And then just talk us through, like, how did the sales [00:11:00] team then evolve? So you started out with initially two people after year one, and I might be pushing your memory here a bit, but how did you then start to scale the team arts? What size did it get to when you got to the point you say, hold on, maybe we need to get customer success involved as well.

Esben: [00:11:14] Yeah. So I think we hired for customer success in 2016. So that was, yeah. For about three years after we have started the business. And until then you can say it was pretty much the founders are doing that from an an operations perspective. We just called it operations. But the sales team as such grew in a very kind of organic way, we hired.

More BDRs to solves meetings because we were seeing that back then. And I don't think it's likely working that great anymore, but back then, at least it's a, it was a great way to get meetings to do email campaigns, to do a LinkedIn and all this stuff. And we saw that it was working. So we hired more BDRs.

We made a good partnership. With a comment that actually sources BDRs and trains them. And [00:12:00] then we hired those. And then we also build out we hired a couple of these. But we, I think the ratio back then was like four BDRs and then three days or something like that. Yeah, when I started, so we had a sales team of 10 people or so when I moved on into into focusing on building customer success and we decided to hire a VP of sales to further scale the sales organization.

Andrew Michael: [00:12:22] Very nice. And then, so it got to this point 10 sales reps or videos are used together three years into the company. What was the trigger that said, okay, like we need customer success now, what. Drove that decision to got, get it set up besides obviously freeing up the founders from the operations roles as you call it.

Esben: [00:12:39] Yeah. I think a big change was actually in 2015, we moved from, we had a more transactional model and we moved to a subscription model in 2015. And as part of that, it came natural to also have customer success because suddenly you were, you had the concept of renewables, right? We moved to an annual [00:13:00] subscription model.

You, you want it to have those customers renew and you knew you could see that. We needed a bit more than just operations. Operations was very focused on the actual kind of pin test delivery, but we want it to have something that we're also understanding does the customer like our product? Is there anything we can do better?

How can we get them to do even more pencils thing and things like that. So that, that kind of drove the need for the customer success function. And I got the responsibility to then build up. 

Andrew Michael: [00:13:34] So let's also just get a little bit of context then in terms of the scale, the team. So three years in 10 Team strong and sales.

What did the rest of the company look like? How big was the company at that stage? 

We were probably 20, around that stage. I would say 

something like that. Okay. So you had a, quite a big sales team in comparison to the size of the 

Esben: [00:13:53] company. It was a big part of what we did but we had operations, then we had engineering [00:14:00] and so forth.

We did not product, but we had engineering. So engineering was also doing the product part cool. And I think. As the early founders, early stage founders are very focused on building a strong product and we were as well. So you can say the first two years or so, we just built the product and then you set a really strong foundation and we actually realized the product.

We were, and that's another thing we can talk about because the market we were going into were dominated by consultancies, where there was no software products in the delivery just by having a product that was a bit differentiator. So in that sense, we saw that, okay, we already have a super strong baseline product.

Let's focus on the sales part because we need to distribute it. We need to get it out to more people and really spread the word. 

Andrew Michael: [00:14:52] Nice. And then, so three years in 20 people now on the team you start hiring for customer success. What were you looking for in the skillsets [00:15:00] from those first few hires yourself?

How many people did you hire? 

Esben: [00:15:04] So we just had one person and actually that person was an account executive at another company. That's not even a customer success manager. So again, we hired somebody, I think, who was hungry to move into customer success. Who had an interest? He he had been doing sales for a long time and now.

He really liked the customer relationship a lot more and wanted to move into that. So we hired him and then I think because of his background and my background it became a Berry sales. Kind sales, savvy customer success team. We were able to, we had a strong focus on both renewals, selling renewals and also selling expansion.

So you can think of it. I think some people wouldn't likely more call it account managers, but that's how we built the team. So a good mix. 

Andrew Michael: [00:15:53] And do you think they're like, what did you see as the positives and negatives or something like that? Cause I think typically in customer success as well, there's always this [00:16:00] should you draw the line between the relationship you develop with your customer being purely about their success or their, once you start to bring in like the discussion of mandatory others on the table, we'll say, okay, like success, it's your job to expand customers to increase net retention.

And this is what you need to be doing. So like, Where do you sit as well? Not having had the experience like coming from sales to success. Like how do you see it? 

Esben: [00:16:23] So I, I think we, we made the right choice actually, and I still think that's a big part of the customer success culture today at cobalt. I don't, I'm not a strong believer in the fact that you cannot support a customer and have a sales incentive I take, then you sometimes do even better support if you have a sales incentive as a customer success manager.

Yeah. So I think that is still a very. Strong part of our customer success today. 

Andrew Michael: [00:16:51] Definitely interesting. Cause I think about it from my own experience, like working with different providers and it always does feel a bit weird when even though you're [00:17:00] trying to avoid this awkwardness created between having a sales function within success, it's almost more weird to spend the whole year talking to one representative, one customer success manager, and then it.

Towards the end of the year, get passed on to get pushed onto calls with salespeople that you have no relationship with that come around once a year to try and close the deal. And. You're trying to maybe avoid and protect the relationship with the house, but you ended up creating like this bad, weird void that you have with your company and your customers.

I'd probably lean more towards having that motion embedded in one, 

Esben: [00:17:33] I was having, there was something else and that's always like how complex is your product? Product complexity matters a lot in that split where I say Coldwell was not complex enough. To justify having separate people focus on one person would.

No enough. And then I could always bring in the odd situation that you needed, something very special, you could bring in somebody a bit more technical. 

Andrew Michael: [00:17:58] Cool. So you hired one [00:18:00] person then let's fast forward a little bit. Like how did the team scale from there, how to grow? What was some of the skills you were bringing into the team?

Esben: [00:18:07] So within one year, one and a half year, I think we hired three or four additional CSMs. Again, Barry. Similar profiles, basically somebody who had a bit of both customer success mindset, but also sales mindset. And yeah, so we basically scaled with CSMs and that was like a natural scaling based on number of customers and revenue.

So it happened naturally when we reached capacity of one season. Let's say they at max could handle $2 million. We needed more. 

Andrew Michael: [00:18:36] And then this was like somewhere around year four and a half, I think, like 20 halfway through 2017, 2018, if the maths is right. I think it was the team then when she had got to about four people.


Esben: [00:18:46] that's a good question. So the way we've grown at Coldwell was I think in 20. 18 where you were. Yeah, around 30, 30, 40 people. And [00:19:00] then we grew like we doubled every year, so it's eh we were 50 and 29, 50 16, 2019, and now one 20 in 2020. And then now we are going towards the 220 21.

So something alone around those numbers. 

Andrew Michael: [00:19:16] Crazy. And then so four and a half, like four people starting to scale things, like you mentioned as well, then at some point you transitioned into this chief customer officer role. At what point was the team at then? Like how big was it? Why did you feel that they 

Esben: [00:19:32] were, they were, I think, five.

People five, six people. I, as a founder, you're you always have to reinvent yourself when something I think my strength has always been take things from zero to one and then hand it over to somebody else. And so what I did was I did that with sales and now the same with customer success, and then there were other.

Challenges in the business that I needed to look at. And one of them being like this all kind of customer understanding [00:20:00] across product, across sales, across customer success. So that was the role I've moved into while also taking on other operational. Kind of responsibilities. So yeah, around 2019, that's when I transitioned and we hired a VP of customer success who has really been able to scale the team even further and really professionalized the function.

So that's also what we see we've done the same with sales, right? We. The founders took it from zero to one, and then we hire some, a really strong VP will, can come in and further professional has 

Andrew Michael: [00:20:36] Playbook. Nice. And then talk us through a little bit about this role, chief customer officer, like really trying to understand the customer at all the different touch points, the silos that exist within the organization.

What are your main day-to-day functions? What were you focused on? Like how are you bringing together all this information? 

Esben: [00:20:53] Yeah, I think for me it was always a mix between some operational role and that, and then that role. And I [00:21:00] think that was good because then I was still in touch with the operational part of the business.

So after customer success, I actually moved into looking at the operations piece. So the actual managing of our pentesters. So the other side of the table, and then. I also moved into enterprise sales, which was a area we were still starting off with taking from zero to one. And so still operationally involved in many ways, but the chief customer role, I think was a great way to kinda.

It take all my experience because I'd done so many things in sales and customer success, and really understood our customer and knew like almost all our customers and very closely right. And understood their needs. I could take that and bring that to the rest of the organization. And especially maybe the part of the organization that are not.

On a day-to-day basis, close to the customers product engineering sales, even you can say sales is, yeah, they're close to the customers, but they handed off at some point and then they might not know what actually happens after that. [00:22:00] So it's good for them to know what I actually, the value of the customer gets after there they are sold.

So that has been my role of spreading that information building. For instance I build a lot of like customer journey or have you built a segment or have you I, I did, in the end of my time at cobalt, I started doing these sessions when it, especially the new salespeople were starting explaining who our customers are, who's ideal customer profile.

Yeah, so basically building. Elements like both documentation and also just doing meetings to spread the knowledge about who our customers so we could. Build better stuff and support them better. 

Andrew Michael: [00:22:41] Yeah. And that's a really interesting point as well as I think the one aspect of it is obviously doing the research, doing the work, but I think the most important aspect is like, how do people actually find out about it?

Like you say, organizing meetings, distributing information, what did you find in your talk to be most effective to make sure that the team was on the same page, had a good [00:23:00] understanding of who the ideal customer profile was at any given time. What did you find worked really well? Yeah. 

Esben: [00:23:05] It's a mix of building like a, so I had a slideshow where like on a high level presented who I is ideal customer profile, but really what I find the most effective, especially when communicating to product teams is video interviews.

Like they want to hear it from the mouth of the customers. They don't want to hear as soon as it goes through somebody in your company. It loses value as it loses effect. And so the more direct you can make it the better. So that was something I found very effective in communicating our customer's needs to especially product I started doing reported into even like what they were, the customers were, screen-sharing how they were using our product, what they were doing.

What are the challenges they were having? And stuff like that. So I think that is a very effective communication method. 

Andrew Michael: [00:23:53] Nice. And how obviously things change all the time. You're moving fast, you're growing quickly. Information is going out [00:24:00] of data as well. Things are changing and moving.

How are you keeping the team up to date with these changes then? How are you making sure that people are working with the right information? 

Esben: [00:24:08] Yeah, I think so. The funny thing is things don't change that fast, to be honest customers, I would almost say Coldwell customers have the same needs now that they had in 2016.

And so it hasn't changed that much. There are, of course some new trends, but in general industries don't move that fast. You can take a thing like agile development, even though a lot of people talk about agile development and you could say, okay, we, we should adjust our testing to really fit with that.

Coldwell has already come a long way. We do a 24 hour on demand pen testing, which is unheard of in the industry. But you can say in a very agile model, you should be able to start a pencil in one minute. But reality is most customers are not obviously like 99% customers are not ready for that, or even looking for that.

So I think actually Kobo has been [00:25:00] driving. More than the customers are looking for. So that, that's a good thing in my room. 

Andrew Michael: [00:25:06] Okay, cool. All let's quickly cause I see we're running up on time. We've been going into this quite a bit. Talk us through a little bit about you and your company now.

Why did you start why have you decided to join Nova's you mentioned the product led growth started being one of its, but what do you see as being the main value and what excites you about it? 

Esben: [00:25:24] So product led growth is this big trend right now. And I think what has happened is you see a lot of these companies, like data docs and assume we're very product led going public and they have amazing numbers.

And and then companies are starting to look at that and say, okay, that's. That's awesome. I would say when we started cobalt back in the days, we were actually more product that we had to sell, sign up and all that stuff. Then we moved to this more schedule at demo kind of model. And I think it was because, and that's also a caveat in pro that we were educating a market.

We were educating a market moving from. Service [00:26:00] industry into assess kinda thinking model, and that required salespeople to explain and educate the market in the beginning. I think now Coldwell is at a stage where we have educated the market to a large extent there. So some way to go, but it's at least more educated and more used to this kinda software driven models. And therefore we decided. In cobalt too for our smaller segments to move to more product led model, as we are going to look at, we're still on that journey inside cobalt. But that, I just found super interesting.

I always been a big product kind of guy by heart. Really like always been the one, creating all the new product ideas from customer success, all that stuff really love the product. And I really found it interesting. How can you. How can you have the product be the onboarding product leader, the retention mechanism, product, all these things.

So I saw the challenges because it's not an easy thing that cobalt we're having and actually moving from having [00:27:00] gone through this very sales led customer success lab. Approach which is likely graded. It brought us to where COBOL is today and it's still great. But transitioning to being a bit more product led, it is a big channel and a lot of companies are facing that chance.

And then I liked that, right? I like these kinds of challenges. How do we solve that? How do we make it easier? And then one of the things I think is key is this, how do you do the initial onboarding for a customer who has never spoken with anybody? And then my friend is Basson. He was actually building a product in that space, a use of law, which basically makes it possible to do onboarding guides.

But also in general tights inside your application without using code, because the big thing here is. When you're transitioning into this like very product led model, you want to iterate on your solutions, right? You want to try things and see, does this work? Can we improve it?

What can we do to improve it? And if you always have to involve developers, when you do that's a pain because developers have a lot of stuff on the roadmap and [00:28:00] typically. You can say onboarding is maybe not the first priority, it might be like a feature the customers is asking for and customers are not directly asking for onboarding.

They're asking for other things. So I think these kind of no code tools, which use the Flores, provides that possibility too, for. For none kind of engineers to build this stuff and iterate and try stuff. And I love that. And that's why I decided to join forces with Sebastien. 

Andrew Michael: [00:28:28] Yeah, absolutely. I like the point you make as well, nobody's asking for onboarding, but it is like one of the most impactful specifically when it comes to general retention, like it's by far, the biggest impact you can have is really nailing down your onboarding to make sure people are getting value effectively.

The one thing as well, I would just like from upstairs. Thinking through how you see competition in the market and the us, because I think on the show, we've interviewed the CEO of chameleon. We've interviewed someone from user pilot you've interviewed like maybe from a couple other companies and also have had many other requests as well to join.

[00:29:00] So what is it you think that you have that's unique in the markets that really differentiates yourself. 

Esben: [00:29:06] First of all, I love competition and competition only makes us stronger. Exactly. It validates the mind, but it also, it keeps you at your feet. So I think yes, there's been a lot of solutions in this market, but it's also a bit market, everybody's moving even like none. Software companies are looking to build SAS solutions. Cobra was actually playing into the same trend that a lot of like traditional business is also building SAS. So the SAS market is just, growing, so there's a lot of room for this, but having said that, I think where user flow is powerful is really.

The product, right? I think we are, we're coming in a bit later Margaret specimen started building the product two years ago, but that also means we're thinking about it in a different way. It's not just a bunch of legal plots that you're putting on top of each other. It's it's for [00:30:00] true from the beginning.

And it's a really strong product. Our customers love the, I think the UX, the simplicity of using it and. While it's still getting the sophistication at offers. So we have things like version control, environment control, vocalization surveys, all the kind of sophisticated occasion that you expect, but delivered in a very user friendly.

Fashion. And that's really, we want to win on having the strongest product in the market. And that's the approach we're 

Andrew Michael: [00:30:28] taking. Yeah. It's interesting that you said coming late to the game, but then having the ability to iterate and build the best products. I think it definitely has some advantages coming in later.

Seeing what everyone else has done seeing the mistakes they've made. And then typically when companies are three, four years in, it's much harder to iterate to move faster because you've built a monolith and you haven't been able to make the right decisions from the beginning. So having the advantage definitely helps you like get set off on the right foot.

But then again, you also, at some point need to be pulling away from the pack and building something as you were [00:31:00] running up at time. So I'm gonna save time for the last two questions. I ask everyone on the show. Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. Now you joined a new company. General attention is not doing great.

This year comes to you. And so that's been, we need to turn things around. We have 90 days, you're in charge. What do you do? 

Esben: [00:31:15] Oh, that's a tough question. All of this of course depends. What is the business doing? Who are the customers? And so on. I think one, one smart thing we did in cobalt was really go out of doors.

I think you should always go out and talk to your customer side and figure out why they're turning. And if you don't know, you should look at the data and figure it out and maybe you want to. Segment your data on what customers are churning, which customers are churning. And why and sometimes you just make a decision that these customers are turning because they're not your ideal customer profile and that's it.

And that's just you have to Excel and then you focus on your ideal customer profile and really double down on how do we. Increased retention. And I think one of the great things we did at [00:32:00] at the cobalt was we rebranded a bit the way we pitched all the way from sales to customer success and and all throughout the journey.

We, because if you go into a customer saying, yeah, you should buy a subscription, but they're really used to buying, just buying princess. But one thing trend that was happening in the industry was compliance was becoming a big thing. And you actually need to do, and your pen says thing you need to have a pen says program.

Really? So we started pitching it like that, right? Like really talking about the parents has program and the fact that you need to do that, especially for compliance and really playing into that whole trend. But that was about understanding. The Margaret and understanding ideal customer profile, which was SAS businesses who have that need.

And then we could all the way from sales to customer success make model that retained them 

Andrew Michael: [00:32:53] very nice. And I really. Totally agree with having that point of locking down who your ideal customer profile is, and then doubling down and [00:33:00] focusing on them. We talked about this quite a bit on the show.

Definitely. One of the interesting episodes was with Rahul Vara, how he iterated his way to product market fit with superhuman by really doubling down and figuring out who that ideal customer profile was based off of what a good fit customer look like? What is the main value they're getting out of the product?

And you've got them obviously to where they are today. Last question then what's one thing you know about churn and retention today that you wish you knew when you got started with your career. 

Esben: [00:33:25] Oh man, that's a really good question. I think. Churn and retention what I would like to know.

Yeah. I actually don't have a super could answer that question. I think it's churn is just this there, there are some customers who will churn no matter what, and you just have to accept that. And I think you shouldn't chase them. I think a good thing to know is you cannot win them.

All right. And that's, again, going back to that ideal customer profile is I think in the early days of. Oh for Coldwell, you've got really sad when somebody would churn or but then what time as we realize why they're churning and maybe they [00:34:00] should never have been a customer that, that is a good knowledge to have.

And there's, there are a thing, such a thing as. A bad fit, right? There are customers that are bad fits to your business. And I don't think we always knew that in the beginning when we started cobalt. So yeah that's one of the answers I would have to think more about that one.

Yeah. I 

Andrew Michael: [00:34:22] think I dunno where I know actually I know where I saw it was there's a course. By Reforge retention engagement, Brian Bell for extra. They just announced a really big funding round. And I think Andrew Chen, Brian Belfor and Sean class in the beginning did the first retention course.

And they also talk about the auntie persona and I loved like framing it in that manner. Who are you? Anti personas, who are not your customers. And it's almost as important to like highlight. Who their aunt is who they are and being really specific. So then it's easy for your team to understand, okay, who are we not building for?

So like an example at the early days at Hotjar we had decided, okay, this is not going to be a support tool [00:35:00] where support teams would use it to watch user recordings and be able to help and support the team. So the anti persona at Hotjar was like a support representative would not be a good user.

So this really helped clarify and frame it for the team so they could say, okay, I'm not going to consider N rates as highly, the feedback from these personas, where if you just only focusing on the ideal customer profile you don't really give good barriers and good guidelines of what to do and what not to do in different circumstances.

But yeah, I love that point you made. Yup. Cool. It's been a pleasure chatting today. It's been, is there any final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with before we finish up for today? 

Esben: [00:35:34] No, I think this has been a, this has been amazing. I love chatting about this stuff. So yeah, if anybody out there want to chat about product led growth or how you build a good customer success in a industry where when you move into an industry that's predominantly led by consultancies.

I would be happy to chat with them, so don't hesitate to reach out, but thanks for having me. Yeah. 

Andrew Michael: [00:35:58] Thanks so much for joining us great [00:36:00] avenue and wish you best of luck now going into 2021. 

Esben: [00:36:03] You too, have a good one.


Esben Friis-Jensen
Esben Friis-Jensen

The show

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.


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