4 Undercover Ways to Hack Social for More Sales

max-altschuler-sales-hackerHow often do you hear the term “Social Selling” and either can’t figure out what it actually means or just want to call shenanigans on it?

You know you’re not going to close a six-figure deal on Twitter, right? That’s not reality. But that doesn’t mean that Twitter (or any social network) can’t be leveraged to accelerate that same six-figure, high-touch B2B Enterprise deal.

In fact, this was the subject of a conversation I had the other day with my good friend Max Altschuler, founder of Sales Hacker. We talked about all the super-cool ways you can leverage social these days in both the business/market/sales development phase as well as in the sales phase by the Account Exec / sales person.

As we talked it occurred to me that this would be a great topic for an article, and Max agreed.

I have a couple of things to add in the After Word at the end… but for now I’ll give it over to Max to share 4 of his best social hacks to accelerate sales.

Take it away, Max.

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The Success Gap: A HUGE Opportunity You Haven’t Considered

success-gapThere is often a gap between the functional completion of your product and the customer’s Desired Outcome.

I call this the Success Gap.

And this Success Gap that stands between what your product does and your customer’s Desired Outcome is a huge risk for you.

It’s also a huge opportunity if you bridge the gap for your customers.

This Success Gap also has another meaning… it’s the gap between what you think represents the customers’ successful use of your product and what they think equates to success.

As you’ll see, if you mark a customer as being successful just due to certain use patterns within the product – as far too many SaaS companies do – you could have a distorted view of how successful your customers actually are.

That just expands the risk potential within the Success Gap.

Let’s dig into this a bit more, shall we? We shall indeed.

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Your SaaS Metrics Are Wrong if You Include These Customers

customer-user-definitionA user is someone that uses your SaaS product, right? Or is it someone that signed-up? Or someone that’s active? Or someone that logged-in a few times? Hmm.

Okay, so maybe defining a user is hard, but defining a customer is easy, right?

A customer is someone that pays you for your product or service. Even if they’re still within the legal timeframe for a refund? Or a contractual “cooling off” period? Or if they’re within the 90-day “stick period” (if they make it past 90-days they’ll stick around for a long time)? Or…

Wow, so even defining a customer isn’t as straightforward as it might have seemed.

And it gets even messier if you’re in a market with a more transient customer base (i.e. the level of real unavoidable churn is high), if you offer a completely free or freemium product, if you just launched with a lot of early adopter interest (i.e. the “Product Hunt effect”), etc.

To get honest about what’s going on in your company, you need to modify the customer (or user) definition, which is the main input into how you calculate the core metrics of your SaaS business.

Let’s explore this a bit…

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Active Users are a Vanity Metric

vanity-metricsActive customers churn. And when they do we’re shocked and confused.

How can this happen? Your customer was very active, logging-in several times in the last month.

I think it’s fair to say that if Active customers churn, then “active” – as a customer “state” – clearly doesn’t equate to success.

So if it doesn’t mean your customer is successful, what exactly does “active” mean?

Let’s explore this a bit further…

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CAC Strategy is the Key to Scaling your SaaS Company

aaron bird bizibleStarting a SaaS company and scaling a SaaS company are two very different things.

The same is true for “scaling” a SaaS company in the very early days vs. scaling a SaaS company through the growth phase.

And since every company is different and experiences those “phases” at different times in different ways, you have to be careful with blanket statements about what works and what doesn’t.

Everything is situational, which is why when you read a post where the author says Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) doesn’t matter, you need to understand the big picture.

Perhaps what you missed was when he said they don’t matter in the early days.

Or maybe you missed the part about how that post was talking specifically about heavily-funded startups with 6-figure Annual Contract Values (ACV) and an Enterprise sales model.

The reality is, every person that writes about SaaS metrics is doing so with certain situations in mind and if you aren’t in the situation the author is talking about, then you may wish to consume that writing with a pinch of reality salt.

Not because what the author said isn’t true, but because it might not be true for your current situation… for your current reality.

Which is why when my friend Aaron Bird, CEO and Founder of Bizible (they’ve raised $10.5M since mid-2011), was talking about how a SaaS company’s Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) Strategy (and Efficiency) is key to scaling I asked him if he’d share that with the world… and he did.

I have a couple of things to add in the Afterword below, but for now I’ll turn it over to Aaron…

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Let Your Customers Write Your Marketing Copy

sujan-patel-when-i-workI spend a lot of time talking to SaaS companies about how they should identify their Ideal Customers, understand how they operate, know what their Desired Outcome is, listen to what they say, etc. etc.

Whether it’s a focus on acquiring new customers, working to engage prospects already in the pipeline or customers you’ve just acquired… or nurturing and growing your long-time customers, knowing how they operate and the words they use in those operations is critical.

Well, a friend of mine took this idea of “listening to what your customers say” to the extreme by literally getting his customers to write his marketing copy for him. Genius!

His name is Sujan Patel and he’s VP Marketing at When I Work, an HR SaaS product specifically for companies with hourly employees (and the scheduling headaches therein) and I’ll let him share exactly what he did and how it worked out.

Take it away Sujan…

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Exposed! A Top-Secret “Enterprise Pricing” Growth Hack

enterprise-leadWhen it comes to SaaS, you basically have two sales models: high-touch and self-service. Small, bootstrapped SaaS companies often like to go the low-touch, self-service way.

Large, venture-backed startups often like to take the high-touch, Enterprise sales approach.

And sometimes it’s the opposite of that. It depends.

There are just so many different factors that come into play in making the decision about which model to use – not the least of which is who you’re selling to – that it’s simply beyond the scope of this article.

While high-touch Enterprise SaaS vendors could certainly learn a thing or two about sales process optimization from what’s below, this is more aimed at low-touch or self-service SaaS vendors that have a “contact us for Enterprise Pricing” option on their Pricing page.

But why is this necessary if you have a self-service sales model? Well, read on…

I’ve given this advice to my clients over the years and countless times via Clarity, so I thought I’d just share it here once and for all.

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The Only 3 Acceptable Pricing Page Discount Tactics

discountsI get this question from time to time:

“Lincoln, is it okay to offer discounts right on your pricing page?”

Short answer: No.

The longer answer, with some nuanced yesses thrown in,  along with some tactics that you can employ, is below…

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Engaging at Scale: The Secret to Automating Personal Emails

Customer Success bot transparentAbout a year ago I shared my super top-secret way to automate personal emails more effectively – called the “Customer Success bot” method – with the awesome folks on my mailing list.

Since then, I’ve come up with several new uses for this framework that have proven to be incredibly effective ( I’ve shared those below) that go far beyond just the welcome email that started all of this.

Now some people will wonder why I share these things publicly when they’re obviously incredibly valuable – and make no mistake, they are INCREDIBLY valuable – but releasing them publicly won’t diminish that value.

And personally, putting these things out there for the world to see just forces me to get even more creative to stay ahead of the pack.

But first, let me give you a little context…

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5 Growth Hacks to Supercharge your Invite or Referral System

invite-a-friend-or-7When was the last time you referred your friends or invited co-workers into an app after you just signed-up for the free trial?

When was the last time you imported your address book right after you opened an app for the first time?

Right.

So why do you expect your users and customers to behave differently?

Unless you have specific intel indicating they will share your app with everyone immediately after first interacting with you (like, for instance, my Mom is your target audience), then you should probably assume they won’t.

And if you sell to a B2B Audience, you should double-down on that assumption.

Here’s why and how to overcome that…
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