Entrepreneur Launches New Reality For Rehabilitation

Summer is the time when the market becomes saturated with recent college graduates who are eagerly looking to pursue their professional dreams. An increasing number of students in both undergraduate and graduate programs are pursuing entrepreneurship over traditional jobs. We sat down with Brian Mogen, University of Washington Bioengineering PhD student and recent finalist in the UW Business Plan Competition –the state's top business plan contest – to learn more about what motivates him to pursue entrepreneurship and how the value of helping others plays a role in the future of business.What is the profile of the members of your business plan team?

Tell us more about the vHAB team.

We are a unique team in that everyone is either a current or former student. We have one student who finished his undergraduate studies last summer and has been working with us on a fellowship.

What is the technology you developed for your business plan?

We designed a platform that takes people through the occupational therapy of their hand and arm using motion capture and muscle sensing. By turning all the general movements of what occupational therapists use after a spinal cord injury, or stroke, or really any disease presentation that affects arms, we created a series of games that you play that are really therapy. So patients play their way to healing while their therapists and doctors can measure their development with the game scores.

What motivated you to join the business plan competition at University of Washington with this idea?

We are PhD students and most of us were working on related projects that focused much more basic neuroscience and computer science – areas that were many years away from any real large-scale implementation.  We all came into this program with the idea of wanting to help people. This product was a way to leverage all of our learning to develop something with real practical use today.

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is more of a mindset than a label. It’s a way of approaching problems from multiple angles at the same time. I never really had an “a-ha” moment that I wanted to start a company and do everything I could to make that company work. It’s really just about solving problems. I’ve been amazed to find so many resources available to us and have been encouraged by a community of entrepreneurs that have been responsive to our vision. There’s a real supportive culture with entrepreneurs that you fall into when you start to pursue this path.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Time is your most valuable asset. It’s more valuable than money. You really need to be judicious about which aspects of an issue you choose to solve and where you choose to spend your time no matter what you do.  

To learn more about Mogen’s winning project, visit their site.

Are you an entrepreneur? Try PipelineDeals For Free For 14 Days.

Customer Success: Your Secret Formula for Growth

By Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight

Lincoln Murphy is a customer success expert and evangelist at Gainsight, a leading Customer Success solution for B2B SaaS companies. In this blog post, Lincoln explains what Customer Success is and why your business should care about it. Come listen to Lincoln and other top sales leaders at the Accelerate Sales Conference in Seattle, WA on August 18 – 19.

Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight

Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight

What if I told you there was a way to keep customers longer, get them to pay you more over time, get them to tell their peers about your product, and even a way for you to tell your customers they're wrong and for them to love you for it?

You'd either call me crazy or accuse me of selling snake oil because that kind of magic just doesn't exist.

Well I'm here to tell you that it does exist and it's not magic at all. It's called Customer Success and it is ensuring your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.

Desired Outcome is Critical to Customer Success

Customer Success is predicated on knowing what the Desired Outcome is for your customer and ensuring that they achieve it.

Desired Outcome has two parts: Required Outcome - the thing your customer must accomplish, and Appropriate Experience - the way your customer wants to accomplish their Required Outcome (for more details, read here).

The analogy that conveys the meaning of Desired Outcome the best is the commercial airline industry in the United States.

The required outcome for any passenger on a commercial airline in the US is to make it safely from point A to point B. Thankfully that’s pretty much guaranteed.

But how you get from A to B varies wildly from carrier to carrier. For instance, when I fly Southwest, I know they’ll meet my required outcome. However, when I get off a Southwest flight I complain about the boarding process, the absence of assigned seating, the cramped seats, no wi-fi, etc. In other words, they failed to meet the appropriate experience for me.

Even though Southwest met my required outcome, I don’t feel like the trip was successful because they failed to deliver an appropriate experience for me. Virgin America, on the other hand, delivers my Desired Outcome every time.

I believe that if you intend to do business with someone more than once, then ensuring your customers achieve their Desired Outcome (Customer Success) should be your primary goal.

Customer Success Isn’t Only for Technology Companies

This fairly simple concept of customer success started - and is absolutely blowing up -  with technology companies that have a subscription model like PipelineDeals. While it started with these types of companies, the reality is that customer success can help any company, subscription or not.

Customer Success started with subscription businesses because it's just easier to know if a customer has stopped being your customer since they have to actively cancel their account. In more transactional businesses, there’s a gap between purchases and you can’t really be sure if a customer is still a customer.

So customer success started in the subscription business model - primarily in the software as a service or SaaS market - because it was easier to see that customers were churning out.

And when it's easy to see that the customer is not your customer anymore, it's also easy to put a value on that. For a lot of companies that value turned out to be quite high, so something had to be done.

Executives and investors needed a way to keep their customers from churning out, and customer success became the solution. Help make your customer successful and they'll stick around longer.

Customer Lifetime Value

The metric that SaaS companies watch most carefully is Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), but any company should be paying attention to this metric. Whether your company’s LTV is the aggregate value of subscription payments over 36 months in the case of SaaS, or the number of Triple Venti Soy Caramel Macchiatos I’ve bought at Starbucks (that’s a very large number), every customer for every business has an LTV. Customer success can help grow that number.

Targeting and acquiring more of the right kind of customers is key to increasing LTV

Targeting and acquiring more of the right kind of customers is key to increasing LTV

Customer success helps to drive LTV in a few ways.

  • Acquire More of the Right Kind of Customers - Investors and executives realized customer success actually starts with acquiring the right customers in the first place. The right customers are those who could actually achieve their desired outcome through their interaction with your company.
  • Get Customers To Stay With You & Buy More – When a customer achieves their desired outcome, then they’ll stick with you longer. Those same customers can lead to increasing revenue through customer success expanding their use and upselling in a way that was consistent with the desired outcome.
  • Successful customers tell others -  Successful customers who are using more and more of your product are also the ones most likely to tell others about your product. Customer success serves as a driver for advocacy and vitality in even the most boring B2B products and services.

Customer Success First Steps

Customer success is such a simple-yet-game-changingly-powerful concept. I know that it can apply to any business, regardless of business model, and I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about how you might apply this thinking to your business. Below are three steps you should follow to get started:

  1. Get clear on what the Desired Outcome of your Ideal Customers is.
  2. Identify what having customers continually achieve their desired outcome means to your company. This could mean LTV growth, second-order revenue from customers brought in through advocacy, etc.
  3. Determine what your Ideal Customers needs to do both inside of your product and in their everyday lives to achieve that desired outcome. (including bridging any Success Gaps that exist)

If you do just those three things, you’ll be on the path to making your customers successful, driving LTV through the roof, and crushing your competition.

But if you want to take your business to the next level, I recommend a...

Deep Dive on Customer Success

Now that I've whet your appetite on what Customer Success is and what it means to your business, join me at the Accelerate Sales conference August 19 & 20, 2015 in Seattle where we’ll deep dive on the topic of customer success and how to actually implement these ideas in your business in a way that will drive growth regardless of your business model.

How Millennials Approach Job Searches & Why It Matters For B2B Sales

By Chris Carlson, President of Sales Talent Inc.  (

In his first blog on Millennials, How to Recruit Millennials for B2B Sales, recruitment expert Chris Carlson touched on how Millennials in the workplace are different from previous generations. In this second preview blog for his upcoming July 30th webinar (click here to register), Chris shares how the most talented of Millennials approach a job search.  In the webinar, Chris will leave you with several actionable insights into how to attract the best and brightest B2B sales candidates.  

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Today, job seekers are using social and mobile to apply for jobs and gain insight into a company’s culture and values. Ignoring these platforms isn’t an option.

2015 Jobvite Survey

With this as a beginning, I don’t want to discuss Millennials as a homogenous group.  Instead, I’d like to target the most engaged and talented of Millennial sales professionals. The majority of these top performing sales professionals are currently employed, focused on their career and aren’t actively looking for a new position. Understanding the behaviors and goals of these “passive candidates” is the path to making the best hires. With that, let’s begin.

Passive vs. Active Job Seekers

It’s important to distinguish between passive and active job seekers.  Our own recruiting experience has shown us that the most talented of sales professionals (and our most successful placements) come from the passive category.  Buyer behavior is radically different when a potential candidate already has a solid job.  They have something to lose which makes them more skeptical.  

With active job seekers, we find that they are often unemployed or trying to get out of a bad situation.  Accordingly, their vetting process is usually far less thorough, they’re eager to move through the interview process quickly (further inhibiting their ability to determine if an opportunity is a match) and they concern themselves less with potential red flags (such as a pattern of poor Glassdoor reviews).  After all, they really need/want a new position.  With that in mind, this blog is geared towards understanding the behaviors of passive candidates.

Social Networks & Employment Branding

I believe that close to 100% of job searches by Millennials in the U.S. today includes a heavy element of online research and discovery.  Research by Marketo confirms this with their finding that 93% of consumers start their buying journey online.  Linkedin’s research confirms my own experience that people treat their career search decisions the same way that they treat any other purchase decision.  

How this plays out with passive candidates is rather straight-forward.  Before they agree to an interview with a potential employer, their first stop is to research the company’s online presence and online reputation.  What they find there will likely be their biggest consideration when deciding whether or not they’d like to interview.  If you’re a hiring manager that feels like the candidates that you’re interviewing are the best of the worst, you may have your reason.  In my view -

If your online “employment brand” is broken; your candidate funnel is broken.

This belief is supported by a recent survey from Spherion Staffing which states,

47 percent of Millennials now say a prospective employer’s online reputation matters as much as the job it offers.

Survey by Spherion Staffing

So which of the social networks and/or online properties are relevant?  Our experience recruiting Millennial B2B sales professionals at Sales Talent Inc. has shown us that employers need to get the following online platforms right: Linkedin, the company’s own website, Glassdoor and increasingly Twitter. Simply put, we haven’t found other Social Networks to be effective when recruiting B2B sales professionals. 

Millennials are Mobile

Is your company’s website mobile friendly? Here are some sobering stats that might make you rethink this if it’s not:

  • 21% of Millennials almost exclusively use a mobile device to go online. (Source - comScore Media Metrix)

  • Over 50% of social media usage is conducted from a mobile device. (Source - eMarketer)

  • 46% of consumers won’t return to a webpage if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile device (Source - Gomez research)

With outside sales professionals, their sole means of getting online for a big chunk of their day is their mobile device.  If that first impression is bad, there isn’t going to be a second impression.

Social Proof

I introduced in my previous blog on Millennials that questioning is the norm and social proof is key. I’d like to back that up with data. According to extensive surveying by the Nielsen Group less than 20% of consumers trust companies’ claims.  Conversely,

92% of consumers trust peer reviews.  

Here’s a few more sobering facts:

  • 80% of consumers don’t believe a claim the 1st time they hear, see or read it. (Source -  Trust survey, Edelman)

  • 65% of Millennials are more skeptical of claims made by employers now than they were in 2011.  (Source - 2014 CEB Survey)

In short, if your messaging about your opportunity is going to rise above the noise, you’ve got your work cut out for you. In next week’s webinar, I’ll share several way to do just that.

The Game Changer - Glassdoor

With the advent of Glassdoor; transparency into the workplace has arrived and it’s a total game changer. I’ve blogged in detail on Glassdoor which you can find here - Part 1, Part 2. Here’s a summary:

  • > 50% of job seekers in the U.S. now use the site at some point in their career search.

  • 2/3rds of Glassdoor users are Millennials.

  • 2/3rds of reviews are positive and the average company rating is a 3.2 (out of 5 stars).

- Source for above stats - Glassdoor

If your company’s rating is below a 3.5 you have work to do. This begins by listening to this feedback and engaging in the conversation about what it’s like to work at your company. You can get more detail on improving your Glassdoor image from a blog that I wrote previously. If you do engage and respond to reviews, I have some good news:

  • 89% of Glassdoor users in a recent Glassdoor survey reported that they find the employer’s perspective useful when deciding where to work.

  • In that same survey, 69% of users shared that their perception of the company improves when the employer responds to a review.

In short, employers that actively manage their Glassdoor account are seen by Millennials as “getting it” and “listening” to (past, present and future) employees.

In summary, Millennials have been raised in a digital age of big claims resulting in even bigger skepticism. They trust their peers and begin their research into the majority of their buying decisions online. These rules apply even more to the most engaged and technologically proficient of Millennials.  The savviest of Millennial sales professionals fall into this group.  With Millennials expected to make up 46% of the workforce by 2020, companies increasingly will have no choice but to adapt their recruitment strategies.  In next week’s webinar on July 30th (click here to register), I’ll try to pull everything together into a straightforward strategy to do just that. 

Chris Carlson is the founder and President of Sales Talent Inc, a Seattle based National B2B sales recruiting firm. You can click through to sign up for and follow his Blog or view Sales Talent's current Sales Openings.