Technology is an awesome and horrible thing. It can be positive and elevate your business or it can be negative and drag on your bottom line. I like to think of this as the Iron Man – Borg spectrum. On one side you have the newest and best technology integrated together to make a better man for the betterment of society. On the other side you have a writhing patchwork of wires and hoses that assimilates all it comes across – resistance is futile.
The obvious strategy is to stay on the Iron Man side of the spectrum, but that is certainly easier said than done. As companies grow, the natural tendency is to assimilate new technologies without (re)evaluating their value or to keep old technologies simply because of the technology debt. But resistance is not futile!
In 1984, Eliyahu Goldratt published the bestselling novel, The Goal, detailing common process struggles and the inherent theory of constraints. While this book focused on the manufacturing industry, the theory can just as easily be applied to any industry.
As a gross boil down (we are talking molasses here), the theory revolves around the redefining all aspects of your business in terms of throughput, inventory and operational expense. One then repeatedly measures and optimizes the entire process by maximizing productivity at identified constraints as opposed to maximizing productivity at each step in the process.
I can’t count how many times my team has scrambled to manage client expectations and/or delay an implementation to give the dev team time to throw together a solution to fulfill a sales promise. These often half-baked solutions then wreak havoc on your code base. …which wreaks havoc on your implementation team … and CSMs … and support team … and ultimately results in lower NPS and higher churn.
So burn all Account Executives (“AEs“) at the stake, right? AEs, don’t worry, I’ve got your back…
I have a friend with a Lamborghini. His social media is filled with photos of him in and around this mean looking vehicle. But that’s about as far as the envy goes. This “Lamborghini” is actually a kit car built on a Fiero frame and 2.6L engine. As long as his car is not running… and viewed from a distance… under soft lighting… by a non-car person… everything is good. Otherwise, even racing against a Yugo would be ill advised and laughable.
Many of today’s SaaS companies are operating on this “kit car” approach. They know the right things to say and the right way to position, but when it comes to putting the pedal to the metal, there is a lot to be desired – without the right engine, you won’t go far.
While attending a holiday party filled with Michael Bubble cheer and red wine, enduring small talk and multiple rounds of group selfies, I was happy to find myself in a discussion with several SaaS colleagues over the merits and future of Customer Success.
The crux of the debate centered around if Customer Success was a rebranding of existing functions (account management, sales, support, training, etc.) or if it truly had a revolutionary impact. It’s hard to tell if my wine-enhanced argument held any weight at the party, but perhaps I can help clarify it here.