In the early stages of company growth, it might feel like your attention is being pulled in a million different directions; but don’t let that distract you from the benefit that a few great customers can give during pre-launch.
We speak with Jonathan Gandolf, Co-Founder & CEO of The Juice, about his experience in the early days at The Juice and just how valuable customer relationships really are to the success of the business.
- Discussing founder-led sales
- Customer confidence & expectations
- Passing the torch on customer relationships
Discussing founder-led sales
Customers are the driving force behind any business. They’re the ones keeping the lights on through their support; but, even with the best intentions, businesses can stray from what the customer wants and lose sight of the main objective: solving customer problems.
Picture a long-running car manufacturer that has won over the loyalty of its customers through excellent customer service and quality automobiles. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the business spirals. They overlooked how much it would impact the customer when they started buying cheaper automotive parts and cut down the call center staff.
How then, does a company stay on the straight and narrow — keeping customer needs as the focus?
Creating as clear of a brand message as possible.
As a co-founder, Jonathan’s answer to this was reaching out to 100 marketers, collecting data on the biggest problems plaguing the space, and summarizing them into The Juice’s message.
When prompted to answer how he felt about founder-led sales, Jonathan replied, “I never switched into a mode of: ‘okay, now I’m going to do founder-led sales; now we’re doing founder-led sales. It just very organically evolved into that.”
As relationships developed during those 100 conversations, the sales followed. It became so clear what the pain points were for the marketers, it created a huge opportunity to solve for them.
”Those conversations, as we just started to hear the same thing over and over again, just very naturally evolved into ‘Well, I think we can help you with that.’” — Jonathan Gandolf
Customer confidence & expectations
What’s better than a customer that loves your product? A customer that loves your company. When Jonathan talked to the 100 marketers, they brought up pain points that Jonathan knew he could solve.
Because of the trust that was built between them, he was able to sell the customer on the vision rather than the product. Building a relationship where the customer trusts your vision is the way to sell products before even putting them into production.
”We’re going to work on our vision and our product and here’s how we can help you during that time frame and here’s how you can help us and then here’s the benefits you’ll receive once the product is live.” — Jonathan Gandolf
As The Juice’s tech-enabled service developed past the initial sale, the solution became one that worked for many because the pain point was so common among marketers.
Advantages to a smaller company
It’s easy to focus on the advantage that bigger company competitors may have over a newer, smaller company; but, one thing that the bigger competitor has a harder time with? Customer attention. It’s a lot easier to spend quality time with customers when there’s 4 or 5 compared to 400 or 500.
By spending time with those few customers, you can not only build a stronger, lasting relationship, but gain the potential to solve additional pain points for them — leading to more sales despite less customers.
Passing the torch on customer relationships
It’s inevitable that as a business grows, it’s more difficult to maintain those strong relationships with the customers, especially as CEO. The best way to make sure those relationships continue to be fostered is delegating the responsibility. Scaling the business means more resources. Use them to keep the brand message strong and central.
“Hire smart people and get out of the way has been my biggest learning as a CEO,” Jonathan comments.
A key takeaway
Solving customer problems and creating strong relationships with customers in order to solve additional problems is crucial to early success for a business. Be your customers’ biggest advocate; if you feel yourself start to slip due to the company growing, begin to delegate that responsibility so your company can continue to deliver the first-class experience.
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Jonathan is a left-brain marketer with a right-brain problem. Having launched his career in marketing data, a curiosity and appetite for problem-solving has led him from digital marketing, to craft beer (yes really), to healthcare analytics (yes, an even weirder transition).
Now, he’s tackling his most challenging problem yet — helping B2B marketers, like himself, break away from their old school habits. The Juice is a B2B Content Discovery Platform that more intelligently connects content consumers and content marketers. It’s the B2C experience for curated content we all know and love being applied to the B2B space. Stop filling out forms, start enjoying content.
Brett has spent the past 12 years in the B2B SaaS industry in various marketing functional and leadership roles. He wakes up every morning thinking about creating value for the audience he is serving and loves building winning content programs. He believes the content marketing function is the catalyst for change in B2B marketing and spends his days learning from other marketers on the 3C (Curating Content Creators) Podcast. His evenings consist of creating content in the sports cards industry with his show Stacking Slabs and is always looking for rare Peyton Manning cards that he doesn’t already own.