How SalesLoft delight and retain customers by building fun, useful tools they give away.

Jeremey Donovan


SVP Revenue Strategy


Jeremey Donovan
Jeremey Donovan

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Jeremey Donovan, SVP of Revenue Strategy at SalesLoft.

In this episode, Jeremey talks about his responsibilities as the SVP of Revenue Strategy at SalesLoft, what the word “Strategy” means to him and how he goes about implementing one. 

We also discussed how building free tools helps SalesLoft with lead gen, customer delight and ultimately retention, and Jeremey then shared some ideas he and his sales team implemented throughout the years to boost retention.

Mentioned Resources



What is the SVP of sales strategy responsible for? 00:02:25
What the word “Strategy” means to Jeremey and how he goes about implementing one. 00:04:03
How Jeremey increased retention at Gartner 15 points being very strategic about what to do, when and by whom. 00:08:210
The Service Recovery Paradox 00:14:07
How building free tools internally helps SalesLoft with lead gen, customer delight and retention. 00:17:54
Tactical ideas that Jeremey and his sales teams implemented over the years to boost retention. 00:24:12


Andrew Michael:Hey, Jeremy.

Welcome to the show. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:01:24] Thanks, Andrew. I'm thrilled to be on because I've been listening to you on my walks as of late and love the show. 

Andrew Michael: [00:01:30] Yeah. Thanks so much. And actually Jeremy for the listeners gave us an excellent piece of feedback recently, which is going to be a big improvement to the show. And really, it was just the last question really asking about what would you do if you had 90 days to improve and retention changes to now I've made a lot more tactical and you should be hearing some interesting insights from the field.

Other than just speaking to customers and know your audience. So thanks a lot for that for the listener as well. Jeremy is the SVP of sales strategy at SalesLoft, the leader in sales engagement platform that transform the way sellers [00:02:00] engage with their customers by delivering a better customer. Prior to SalesLoft.

Jeremy was group VP of marketing, a Gartner CMO in SVP of sales and American management association and head of sales strategy and enablement at CB insights outside of his day job, he's also an author of five books, including the international bestseller, how to deliver a Ted talk. So my first question for you, Jeremy is what is the SVP of sales strategy responsible?

Jeremey Donovan: [00:02:25] Yeah, that's I am asked that a decent amount because it's the title doesn't necessarily exist everywhere. So what I figured out over the course of my career is that I really liked to be the right hand of the executive, interestingly enough, like I guess at my age, I should, maybe I should be the executive.

But I like to be the right hand. And in this case, it is the right hand of the chief revenue officer. So the idea is the CRO is often Very focused on, oh, let's say the next three to six months. They don't they know what they need to get done. So maybe they need to, we need to transform territory or maybe we need to transform [00:03:00] compensation, or maybe we need to transform something to do with customer retention.

Whatever that happens to be. I have the lucky job of getting to work on this stuff. That's six, six months to 18 months out that requires. Fast sort of facets of strategy, which would be changes to people, process and technology. So that's the short version of it. My title is I've kept that title as I've moved through different roles at SalesLoft.

At any given time I may be doing something else, but it's usually some sort of strategic project in the revenue side of the business. 

Andrew Michael: [00:03:28] Yeah, I like that as well. Just having that ability to spend time thinking about future what's coming next. And then back to having been the right hand, man, to your chief revenue officer, I'm interested in the word strategy as well.

Just want to press on this a little bit to get your feedback and opinion because that's definitely like a word that's thrown around a lot. So I think there's a book I love on the topic, which is good strategy, bad strategy. I'm not sure if you're familiar, 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:03:51] already have read it's been awhile, but yeah.

Andrew Michael: [00:03:53] But in your opinion, when it comes to putting together a strategy and what does this typically look like? Like how are you working with the [00:04:00] team to determine what does the word mean to you? 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:04:03] Yeah. Maybe the best way is by way of example. I'm working with or coaching one of the other folks on our team who is trying to build a strategy around making sure that there's more disciplined process around deal inspection and forecasting.

So when I was talking to her yesterday where we know you basically start with what's the ultimate goal you're trying to achieve. And in this case, the goal is probably twofold. It's the ultimate goal is you want to hit your number. But the other thing is you actually want to forecast accurately because if you forecast too high, that's, you will have missed, which is terrible, but it's also bad to forecast too low, because then you would not like if the market is hotter than you think it's going, then you had planned for, you may not have enough sales or customer success capacity to actually serve them.

So the planning part is critically important. So as we're talking through that, as I mentioned, I think a great, there many strategy frameworks out there, but I think thinking about people process and [00:05:00] technology is really important. People being the most important of the three and, but I'm going to actually save that for the last most people, when they think about strategy, they start with process, right?

So in this context, what is the process by which. Deal should get inspected. Should they get inspected every deal every week, certain deals every week, certain deals every two weeks. Like what making that decision. And then within that that's your rhythm or your cadence, if you will.

But then within that, how, like, how do they get inspected? What framework do you use? Do you use medic? Do you use. Bands do you use annum? Do you use whatever? So there's all kinds of different frameworks that you can use. So that's the, those are just elements of the process side. Obviously it's a sort of longer deeper topic on the, then the tech would be where most people go next, which is okay.

Now I need to make sure that my CRM or my other tools support the collection of that data and analysis of that data in a way that hopefully makes an impact or should make an impact on your ultimate goals. And then. They [00:06:00] get to the most important thing last, which is the people side.

And I actually, the course of my career, I've found that's the hard part. The process stuff is easy. The tech stuff is easy, but if you get the process people thing wrong, and if you fail to do the people thing, then that then the, any strategic initiative will fall flat. So in this context I have another sort of learning throughout the course of my career, found that.

The success or failure of any initiative is far more tied to first-line management than it is to anything else. And if your first line managers don't understand what you're trying to don't believe in what you're trying to do. Don't feel invested in what you're trying to do, that it will fail. W one of the things I was talking about with this with my colleague was.

Like you absolutely positively. Yes. You need executives to be behind this and supportive of it, but you absolutely positively need to train the first-line managers on the. On the, on the process and the technology before you train the reps and make sure that they have their questions answered and that they're fully involved.

It is at as an example every strategic problem you work through has a different context and [00:07:00] might require a different framework. And the good news is, again, there's tons of frameworks out there. Oh, we could probably do a whole episode on strategy frameworks. And I'm very much a student of that.

And part of that is because in one of my jobs the entire leadership later got replaced by former McKinsey partners and associates and senior associates. And so I spent eight years. Learning from them the McKinsey way. So I, I can't claim to be a McKinsey consultant, but I actually think I know many of their strategy frameworks.

Andrew Michael: [00:07:29] Interesting. Yeah. We might have to call you back on an episode. It's discussed with a sibling, but obviously today general attention being the first. And we're just chatting before the show. I think you obviously have a very unique background and perspective on the problem. Having worked in roles, in like marketing sales, even success and product you mentioned as well.

Pretty much this as well. Like one of the themes of the show is to speak to people from these different backgrounds and understand the different lenses from which they're coming from. So I want to maybe just see if we could, if there's time to touch on maybe something from each [00:08:00] one of these areas that you've learned and you've seen over the.

Maybe, like you said, we can take a story and, or a project that's been worked on and let's start off with marketing. Cause I think that's a, and your days at Gardner from what I saw from going back further, so on your LinkedIn profile when it came to Turner retention was anything unique that you did at the company from a marketing and perhaps product perspective or even company perspective that you want to show them. . 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:08:21] I'm gonna wind the clock back even maybe a little further than marketing. And I'll preface this by saying I have incredibly deep empathy for people who ultimately they're responsible for churn and retention because by the time retention executive or a customer success professional actually has to renew right.

There so much of the renewal is dependent on the product. So much of the renewal is dependent upon marketing. So much of the renewal is depending on the expectations that were set during the selling process. If I think about my own personal journey through that, I'll actually start on the product side.

I was an engineer as well, but I'll skip that. [00:09:00] But on the product management and marketing side I think, they're one of the most fun parts of my job was when we were developing a new product. A lot of companies. Even now it blows my mind. Like they develop things and they still then go look for the buyers.

Even though the, what was it, lean startup book by Eric Reese has been out forever and ever like oddly, so many companies don't actually follow that practice. And I mentioned, I worked for these McKinsey folks for, for years. And that was one of the things that they taught. They taught me was.

When you have a product concept, go out and interview and talk to existing customers, especially talk to perspective customers who, who aren't your customers today and, design for amongst other things designed for retention. I think that's critical is think about, how is it going to be sticky?

How are you going to meet their needs? So I think the sort of scope the product initially. To be retention friendly, I think is incredibly important to ask yourself those questions as you go. The, and then the, the the other [00:10:00] piece is, you asked about specific initiatives.

I worked on one of the ones I worked on at Gartner, which kind of crosses all of these things, marketing product sales and CS was, we were on a mission to. To improve our retention. A decade, more than a decade ago, actually. And what we did was we did a statistical analysis to figure out what were the levers that drove retention and it turned out like, it's always, it's the obvious, which is engagement drives, retention, right?

Usage drives retention, but there's more subtlety than that. So what we found was there's basically a spectrum of usage. Like profitability of usage. So at Gartner, someone reading a document is a zero variable cost to the company or close to zero variable cost on the other end of the spectrum.

We could let's say invite somebody to a conference and. So there's a real cost to the conference. We could even pick them up with a limo, drive them to the airport, fly them out, pay for their hotel. So you could just [00:11:00] sorta think of a very high cost of retention, but it might be, or a very high cost initiative, but very very, they would actually be very profit effective to do that.

What we did was we figured out, okay, we're actually going to try the low variable cost stuff first. So get them to read a document. But then the question is when, so we broke down to figure out when it was most important for people to consume content. And we found out that it was most important for them to consume content.

And in the last. I think it was like 120 or 90, 90, or 120 days. I can't remember what the it's been a while. So I can't remember the number so that we took our, this is important actually also because it's the organizational people change piece. We took a group of people who were like, they were like sales support people and we transformed them.

Into usage, the terminology was different, but basically it uses drivers that their entire job was to drive usage. Like we said, they would call those people customer success professionals, but they were just that was a hundred percent of what they did. And [00:12:00] then once we had done that for everyone, we figured out okay, what are the other time periods?

It turns out that the beginning right consuming in the very, very beginning is important. So that was the next place we went after. And then once we had everybody reading and consuming content, then we had to start to go to the higher costs both to us and to them, deeper involvement things, and work that up and work that through.

So just being very strategic about what to do. When by whom we rather rapidly increase retention by like 10 to 15 points. So th those are the sort of things that that matter, but again it's like the combination of. Getting back to what we talked about before. It's like people process and technology, all three of those elements have to work 

Andrew Michael: [00:12:41] and to come together.

Yeah. And it came across like different parts of the organization as well, for sure for this to pull through. It's just interesting that you're talking about like the timeframe and timing itself. One of the early episodes of the show, we interviewed Sean class. She was the ex VP of growth at it last year, and then obviously a few other companies, but one of the most [00:13:00] interesting things I think on that show was.

The biggest indicator that Atlassian and found retention was actually the amount of time spent in the first session of the user. The more that first session increased, the more likely they were to retain. And out of all the research, all the analysis, like everything, they looked into this one, Come down to the single biggest deciding factor.

And obviously you don't want to keep them in there for as long as possible and they waste their time. But what that really meant was that if they were spending a big amount of time, was it, they were getting set up, they were starting a different features or services. And so it's very interesting taking this viewpoint as well.

Yeah. And get 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:13:35] people off on a good start. It makes perfect sense to me. Some people will argue, like I have a stats background. So some people will argue correlation and causation. That may be those customers who were, the best customers were more likely to spend more time. But my answer to that is, is.

Like I don't really care. I do, I care whether it's a cause or not, but if it's some data is better than no data. And if that's the thing [00:14:00] then go for it and I'm with you on the, don't force them onto a long time. It makes me rethink. And I don't know if you guys have talked about this on the call.

But one of the things I remember learning about is the service recovery paradox. Have you guys ever talked about that in the podcast? So this will be familiar, hopefully familiar. I Maybe the terminology isn't, but the service recovery paradox is oddly customers who have problems and call for texts.

Renew at higher rates than those who never have problems to begin with. 

Andrew Michael: [00:14:28] We have talked to you about this, but not in that terminology. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:14:32] Academic terminology context. Yeah. So the like the. The dastardly version of that is you create a problem for customers so that you can solve it and get them to renew.

That's just silly, obviously. Yeah. 

Andrew Michael: [00:14:46] But, but it does like hiding the cancel button. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:14:49] Exactly. You, but what it does tell you is it says those customers who have never complained. Are high risk. So that's a strategy also is go find [00:15:00] those people and somebody who hasn't had a question or a support ticket or whatever it, a period of time, you got to go find those people and and talk to 

Andrew Michael: [00:15:06] them.

This point is well, because it's almost counter-intuitive to most people's select general thought process as well. It's just I think as well, typically when people hear the word churn, the most immediate response is to go and see let me go speak to people who've left and see how I can stop them from leaving.

When you actually understand the problem better, like it's really all about making sure you activate and onboard them. And that's where you see the biggest difference. So it's it's one of these counterintuitive thoughts, but actually like a, tends to be a bigger issue of people on reaching out to you rather than if they are solving problems.

Jeremey Donovan: [00:15:37] Yeah. You had a great tip. It was one of the recent shows. I can't remember which episode it was and who the guest was. You'll probably remember better than me, but You were talking about like win-loss interviews. And so often people go and talk to the ones that they've lost and your guest said, actually, what you want to do is you want to do stay interviews and you want it.

When you do the stay interview, you ask them. [00:16:00] What happened that almost made you not renew? I think that's a killer question. I've never done it before, but I think that's exactly the right one to do. 

Andrew Michael: [00:16:08] That's great. This is actually one that came from my days at Hotjar et cetera. I think probably originated from conversion rate experts.

If you're familiar with the company they're measuring conversion rate optimization. They've worked with companies like apple and Google and others. And really that's one of the questions because I just realized is. Getting feedback from the rock. People is critical. And maybe you don't necessarily want to be getting tons of feedback from people who just quit your product because might not have been a good fit, but the ones that might've just nearly not quit on you, but they decided to renew, like that's great feedback.

Yeah, I love that. So let's move forward again a little bit past, gotten an hour, like you ended up working on a great site cross-functional initiative retention across the board increased as a result of this. Let's talk about maybe an experience, not closer to SalesLoft today. And is there anything that you've been working on with your team to try and increase retention in the company?

Other from the sales side [00:17:00] or with one of the teams. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:17:00] Yeah, there's a bunch of things, but I have a fun, recent one. In addition to my sales strategy job, like I do a bunch of other things. One of them is I was given a little bucket of money to build fun, cool stuff to give away for free.

And a lot of times we start out internally as with ourselves as alpha customers. And then we go out from there. Sometimes we build things also just internally that we'd, that never go out there. So one of them that we built recently was our CSMs or our customer success managers were spending tremendous amounts of time building QBR.

Dex quarterly business review decks for their customers. I think they would spend like 10 hours up to 10 hours. Some of them shorter, but some of them more on these QBR decks and much of the work was going into was going into our BI tool. We use Looker and yeah. They would go into the dashboard.

They would export the data, copy paste, format, the charts, all that. And some were proficient in Google slides, some not so proficient. So it would take tremendous amounts of time. One of our, one of our [00:18:00] CSMs built a Google sheet and a Google slide. That sort of talk to each other. And the CSM started to use that they were still copying and pasting.

And I found out about it. I'm like, Hey, like we're in the API world. Now this is a solvable problem. So we did a two week sprint and now the CSM is just enter in a customer name. And Google scripting is slow. So two minutes later, so I wish it was like 10 seconds later, but two minutes later, a fully populated.

Value review deck pops out for them. I don't know if we'll ever commercialize I shouldn't say is that cause it was actually give it away for free. So I don't know if we'll ever put it out in the outside world but it's been it's been a fun project and they went from 10 hours to basically two minutes to create these decks.

I did stumble upon or I should say our head of customer success stumbled upon a commercial solution for this. Cause I would have gone with a commercial solution. Even more than do a two, two weeks sprint. Cause there's other things, it's an opportunity cost. And if there's a great commercial solution out there, I'd rather buy that.

So there is, there [00:19:00] appears to be a pretty cool one called Maddock, M a T I K. That is basically a QBR generator. If you know of any others, I'm interested, but they seem to be a really nice tool. 

Andrew Michael: [00:19:10] Yeah. I haven't specifically heard for QBR services, but obviously there's a lot of different ways on the show we've discussed QPRs and bringing to you the information and insights with customers.

So I'm interested. This is something you worked it's actually sounds like a super fun job just to have a bucket of money, to build stuff for free for customers. I think as like others lead magnet, magnets, or adding additional value, like having add on services that you can provide. Help enable your product to be more sticky and more top of mind when you want to be remembered for 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:19:38] things.

The answer is yes. Yes. So yes, it is a lead magnet. We've had over, we've been doing this for about six, six months and we've had over 200,000 uses of these free tools in the last six months. I think we just crossed 210,000 the so yeah, it is definitely a lead magnet, but it's also. Cause we know who's using right.

It's also, we have a lot of customers obviously who use as [00:20:00] well. And there are things that. They're complimentary to SalesLoft, but they're independent. So for example, we have a subject line grader and everything is named very, in a silly way. It's literally subject line So you just go in there, you type a subject line and it uses data science to figure out what is, whether that's a good subject line or not.

We have email, same thing. We have cadence, which builds cadences. We have fine. This one has a dash in it. So to help you find email addresses. So we have, we now have, I think, six of these six of these out there. So yeah, the, that, that is a fun thing.

And then as I said, there's the remit is absolutely, lead gen. The remit is absolutely customer delight and then the remit is absolutely internal. Internal tool building. We do have an internal engineering team that's separate, but they're pretty, like they're backlogged and the things that I tend to work on are things that require like a deep, deeper domain expertise.

I can I can build, usually I can build and I [00:21:00] code also, I do a lot of the backend work Because I had the domain expertise and the coding, I can often do a very quick and dirty version in two weeks. Yeah. Where, whereas it would take the engineering team longer.

They're also building something admittedly, a thousand times more robust, like my S my stuff breaks but it's going to work. It'll work. It'll, we'll get it fast and it'll work well for a little. 

Andrew Michael: [00:21:21] Yeah. Like I'm a big fan of the sessions or actually went, my previous company started out as just like adding value where we initially started building an ad size guide back in five, six years ago.

Ad sizes kept on changing across the board. And all we did was just put up like a simple way. That gave you different ad sizes for different ad metrics and social channels and stuff. And that sot just blew up to the extent that it was driving 5,000 signups roughly a month. I think, for the product we ended up building.

So we just thinking then after that, okay, what can we build on top of this now? So it actually started artists like one of these free tools. It became a product and a company, a I'm a big fan of it's actually reminded me of the story as well of Zillow and. Thinking a little [00:22:00] bit about the problem of frequency.

So if you're trying to increase retention for your product and you don't really have a good frequency of usage where it's a product where people want to be using regularly or daily or monthly to build a habit out of it, I think Zilla did a really interesting thing with their free service, which was like the home home valuator, I think similarly built a tool to give away.

So they realize, okay, People aren't buying houses every day, but we want them to think of us the next time they buy the next house. We, if they come through Zillow and they buy a house with us, they can also register it and then get updates if the valuation is changing over time. So that way they found a lot of repeat business and like returning visitors because they were able to say, okay, like our product doesn't build up.

But we can find something that is going to build a habit. And people are curious about the valuation of the house and investment. They want to see it go up. And I think just things like this are really smart, where you can tie the value in with your product. They can help increase certain aspects of retention or acquisition.

And I'm a huge fan. I love 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:22:53] the I that added idea of it notifies you of updates. I was thinking about HubSpot has this thing called it's like a website greater. They've [00:23:00] had it for years and years. Yeah. And it's super high value, but it's effectively one-time use. Yes, but but there's no reason why maybe they're, if they're listening, there's no reason why they couldn't.

Then subsequently update you every month or every quarter by running your company through their engine. Again. Yeah. So yeah, I 

Andrew Michael: [00:23:20] think this is, yeah, for sure. Nice HubSpot if you're listening. Cool. We talked a little bit about like a company-wide initiative. Now, this sounds more from your perspective like I don't even know where you would put this.

It's very error. It's very narrow. Yeah. But I'm interested as well now quickly to just touch on a little bit, obviously on this. Side of things as well. So we talked about this, I think either during the briefly, before, was that when it comes to general attention, there's just so many different aspects that have influence and it could be really like your marketing's doing a bad job of pulling in the right customers or they're overselling.

Sales similarly as well, selling to the wrong audience. And I'm interested in when it [00:24:00] comes to sales specifically, is there any area, is something interesting that you and your sales teams in the past have discovered that helped increase retention, maybe a specific problem that the team was doing or a specific change process that you introduced?


Jeremey Donovan: [00:24:12] Ooh, a bunch of them over time. Some of my favorites, one of my favorites was actually. And most companies have this problem with the, like the sales to CS handoff. So at one of the companies we built effectively, it was a, we built within, it was within Salesforce. It was within the CRM.

We built like this section, that was all of the critical information that the CS, the customer success team needed in order to have a smooth transition without having to ask the customer, like the same set of questions again. And in that case, 

Andrew Michael: [00:24:45] Oh, 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:24:46] yeah. And so we needed that. We needed a stick because there wasn't the AEs wouldn't otherwise fill that out.

Like they're moving as fast as they can once they're done, they're notoriously done. So in this case, they couldn't actually [00:25:00] close, close the door. Without having filled out the required fields in those sections, the AEs didn't love it, but it was way better from a customer experience.

Point of view. So I think that's one thing. Another thing is maybe this is obvious is think about the timing of when you pull the CS or implementation person into the deal. So often they don't get pulled in until after the close, but one of the best practices is to pull them in, when it depends on how you forecast, but let's say you have a, I don't know, probable best case commit to your traditional forecast categories.

I think, a good trigger is if the deal moves to. Then a CSM or implementation person gets pulled in with an intro. That should be a required thing to make sure that it's super smooth informed transition. Oh probably, they're probably others as well, but those are, I'm all about tactical actionable advice, but those are two good ones.

Andrew Michael: [00:25:49] Yeah, no, I think that is great. And I think the handover process is definitely for me, like it's a pain pointers, a previous like buyer of software and having to repeat yourself again, I always [00:26:00] found it really redundant. And then at some point I just wouldn't want to speak to the company because I knew okay to new rep, I would need to speak to the new rep again and give them context.

And you're thinking yourself don't you have a good CRM, isn't people taking notes. And I can see to your point as well, like sales just want to close deals. They want to get back to the next one. And just maybe putting a little bit of a roadblock for them to get there really helps improve the experience overall.

Jeremey Donovan: [00:26:22] Yeah, I did have one other quick one, sorry, which is, I've done a lot of work on account scoring. Yep. Yeah. A lot of people, there's different levels of maturity of how people do account scoring the most basic I guess the most basic thing is you don't score accounts, but then if you are scoring, the most basic thing is to put your finger in the air and say, Hey, like our ICP kind of looks like this.

Let's give 10 points for this and 15 points for that. I think that's often good at good enough. But what. What's important. I think also in those models is actually to have a retention factor, right? So you want to know what companies are not only likely to become clients, but likely to renew and I [00:27:00] think a lot of people forget forget to to do that.

And there's some structural stuff like everywhere. I've worked obviously startups renew at lower rates than enterprises. Yeah, but even within, so you have to sub segment is like even within the enterprise world, which ones are more likely to renew within the startup world, which ones are more likely to renew.

So I think including factors in there that are like retention or where will direct your salespeople to be prospecting the right accounts to begin with. And by the way, the salespeople would appreciate that too, because there's definitely a correlation between winning deals and retaining. 

Andrew Michael: [00:27:34] Yeah, absolutely.

That's definitely a really great point. I think when it comes to account scoring and now, so a hundred percent agree, like it's super important to have that in the model. It's what are attending customers? And the other thing I'd probably add to this though, is not only what is the ideal customer look like, but which customers are converting best as well.

So if you have a viewpoint. For what does conversion look like? What does retention look like? What does the ideal customer makeup look like? Then you get a, quite a solid rounded view [00:28:00] of who these customers are and how you can actually maximize the time you're spending. Definitely. It is interesting.

And it's not even that much more complicated to do as far if you're going through the hassle of building a model, it's really just looking at another view on the data and then scoring that as well. So it's, 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:28:15] it's one more factor and it's actually some, data's hard to get. That's an easy to get factor.

So yeah. 

Andrew Michael: [00:28:22] Exactly. Cool. So I see we're running up on time. I'm going to save the question and ask every guest, but with a twist today. So let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. You joined a new company. You arrive Chyna retention is not degraded at this company. The CEO comes to you and says, Hey, Jeremy we really needed to turn things around fast when you have 90 days.

Obviously, we don't want you to garden and spend time speaking to customers. We want to use your past experience. You're going to make assumptions, but what is one thing that you, a tactic simply wants to introduce it? This company from your past experience to reduce churn. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:28:53] I'm going to cheat and I'm gonna cheat in the following way, which is nothing I ever, I think very little of anything I ever do is original.

[00:29:00] So I listened to a whole bunch of your episodes and I'll just cite my favorite one, which is, I think if you have 90 days, I think the best thing that you can do is executive alignment. Get in there, make sure that you have, if you have paired a peer exac from your company with a peer exec, At your customers and especially, you're either high risk or other, or high value customers.

So that would be that knowing nothing else, like not having the time to research, that would be the thing I would do would be executive alignment. And then if I were to take that executive alignment one step further, I would not only introduce like my internal peer executive to their peer executive, I would introduce like customer.

Peer executives to each other. Cause if I could add tremendous value by getting, like my happy customers to talk to two other people, 

Andrew Michael: [00:29:52] Yeah, absolutely. I love that as well. Like nationals who are coming from like a customer advisory board, but it's not really about the feedback that [00:30:00] you can give us also what you can provide the board in terms of the networking opportunities to learn from one another, to become a, it really is it's again, one of those areas where you providing an added service around your service to educate side of that.

And also I think it ties back a little bit to your point earlier on the alignment and actuary, like the points didn't touch on it earlier, which was like making sure you're done. Alignments within the company, but that your frontline managers as well, themselves are super aligned. So obviously now we talking about a cross company between execs, but even playing back to that previous point, I think it's if you work within the company, everybody gets aligned there on the problem and you understand it.

But if it's just coming from the top soften, like when we look at it and we say, okay, we need to have a London from the top down in order to solve for general retention. But if you have that alignment and you still don't have it in the frontline managers, like for example, sales, right? Not selling the wrong deals, they just caring about the commissions.

That's a problem. So I think having alignment across the board, whether it's like cross-company internal, like I think that is like always going to be the greatest place to start [00:31:00] to have an impact. Yeah. I 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:31:01] was gonna add that. The reason I, when I heard that it resonated so deeply with me is I often ask people on the sales side, like why, when they lose, I Al awesome.

What's the deal that got away. And invariably, one of the deals that get away are ones where all the sort of user buyers and technical buyers and all that, they were all lined up and then some exact swoop. The ultimate economic buyer swooped in and said no, or went with a competitor.

And it's the same thing in retention, which is CSMs are talking to the users of the, the power admins, the power users, but they're rarely talking to the economic buyer. And I think when you get some, when you get a churn surprise, it's because you're, some, the exact.

What needed to cut budget or the exact wanted to switch because they went to, play golf or whatever with, back in pre COVID times, but play golf with someone else. So I think that's why I think that resonates so deeply with me. 

Andrew Michael: [00:31:55] Yeah. And especially for bigger accounts, I think it is a problem that I just love because it's something that happened to [00:32:00] me just this week.

Last question then as well, what's one thing you know, today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:32:09] Oh, goodness. I guess it's a secondary piece of that, but I'll, here's a mistake I made at one time. So I was telling you that story about Gardner, where we did like this statistical analysis of what we could do to drive retention.

And I spent I spent a ton of time building this really sophisticated statistical model to prioritize every account. So that we would figure out like where to go to this one. First, this one second. And I was sat down with my boss. Ken Davis at the time was, is his name brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

MIT plasma, physics, PhD, who went on to McKinsey and then gardener after that. And he said, hold on a second. Do we need to prioritize? And I said, what do you mean? He said, maybe we could have the capacity to hit every customer. So I think the thing that the learning, the sort of big aha there is that these are system problems.

They're not like [00:33:00] I was thinking a point related, like I was making all kinds of assumptions, but they're actually system problems. So yes, you need to figure out what you need to do. But I think that the other piece of that, the sort of aha was like how do you think about solving this for everyone?

That, that was the aha that I wish I had known her. 

Andrew Michael: [00:33:19] To do it. Yeah. I think a lot of times, like you just forget that there's people at the end of the points in the numbers and there's one, the thing like I, I was hitting up business intelligence at hot China. I was like advocating a lot to our analyst is get out and speak to customers.

Like the data, can only tell you so much, but if you can actually empathize with it, you can empathize with the data. You might see something odd and not know what it's about, but we've had customer conversations you've actually been able to empathize. And the, like that gives you the insights as well then to make it a little bit better and informed decisions.

Yeah, I know. 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:33:50] I keep saying. And one more thing. So the one more thing here is another book, Adam Grant's book give and take, right? He did his early research work on customer And customer [00:34:00] success environments. And he found that the biggest thing that helped was the people's motivation to help their customers and the way the smart companies did that was to like bring customers in time, from time to sell, tell their stories or to have pictures of customers, in different places.

Yeah, it is, it likes to pinpoint absolutely cannot forget about how. How much motivation, intrinsic motivation matters. 

Andrew Michael: [00:34:24] And one more thing before we end the show, obviously I want to just give you the opportunity. Is there any other final thoughts you want to share with the guests? Is there anything they should be aware of from your work?

Obviously we will include links to the books and to anything mentioned in the show, but is there anything final that you'd like to leave the list? 

Jeremey Donovan: [00:34:40] I think maybe two things. One is if you enjoy podcasts and you want to hear a sales podcast, check out our podcast, Hey salespeople. So I get to geek out there the same way you get to geek out with your guests.

And then the other one is I love to connect with people on LinkedIn. So connect with me and happy to accept your connection. And then I post kind of one [00:35:00] factoid most days, not all days, but most days that is meant to be actionable. And data-driven so. But love to be connected. 

Andrew Michael: [00:35:07] Very cool. They ever to Jeremy, thank you so much for joining.

We obviously will keep notes as well in the show notes. If you want to get up to speed with the podcasts and anything else really appreciate joining us, Greg having a conversation with you today. Thanks again so much for the feedback in your listeners out there. If you have any feedback, you want me to improve the show?

Like this is obviously something that I love, so please keep it coming. Thanks for joining Jeremy. Thanks Andrew. Cheers.


Jeremey Donovan
Jeremey Donovan

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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