From Trials to Triumphs, the Role of Customer Success in SaaS

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This session is titled From Trials to Triumphs, the Role of Customer Success in SaaS by Des Traynor, VP of Customer Success at Intercom.


Today we will talk about the role of customer success in trials for SaaS. We have gone from a world of buy before you try, to try before you buy. With this, there has been a shift from committed, guided and experienced onboarding to essentially a warehouse of information. It is dangerous to think that everyone can work everything out themselves.

In the typical SaaS flow, we usually see pre sign-up, sign up, trial start, trial end, then the lead becomes a customer or a failed trial.

At end of the trial there is a decision point. This is where many decide whether or not they see value. It is important to remember that decisions almost never involve money alone. They knew the price when they signed up. We must add intangible value prior to them reaching the decision point.

When breaking down ways that our trials don’t convert, we often struggle. Our products get better over time (we think), and we continue to add features or other capabilities, but if we make our product more complex, it becomes harder it is to focus on core competencies. It is important to make sure these features are adding value to the customer. Don’t become too bloated.

Additionally, as we add value to the product, we must also capture more value. Don’t be afraid of increasing price. With consumers, value is based on perception. However, if there is a gap between the value they expect and the value they get, trials can be lost. Bloat is a non-monetizable feature.

What can we do to make sure we add value in all forms?

1 – Know what success means to your customer:

  1. Ask what your customers want?

  2. Why did they sign up for the trial?

2 – Have targeted help, support, documents, tutorials, and case studies to help them succeed.

  1. Customer success has to focus on what the customer needs to be successful and fit your plan to that. This will ensure the customer is seeing value through the entire life cycle.

3 – You will see signs of a failed trial before it happens. Don’t wait until it fails to take action. Learn to predict and pre-empt a failed trial

  • Regular users use your product regularly

  • Failed users will not have much involvement with your platform, or will seem disengaged

  • Put your trial users in “buckets” of what they are expecting out of the software. From there, you can determine signs of failure specific to those initial goals.

**Example, if the customer signed up for a trial of your marketing product because they wanted to boost conversions, but they are not messaging users, they may need nurturing or education. This is a good chance to reach out to them with 1:1 valuable resources.

It is important to remember that even with these steps, some you will win, some you will lose.

With these steps, when your lead hits the end of their trial they will have much more information to determine if your product is the right one to help them achieve success.

In Summary:

  1. Know what success is for your customers

  2. Ensure your messaging guides them toward their success

  3. Know what failure looks like, and step in to prevent it as soon as possible

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