Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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create that much better an experience when its builder puts herself in the user's shoes," says Kelly. To that end, SPLICE reps spend their time on-site with customers physically observing users in the SPLICE portal. They observe the way users log on, access reports, and navi- gate the site. Time spent doing so has proven priceless. "We were knee-deep in an on-site customer observa- tion, and we noticed how hard users were working to pull reports for their executive team," recalls Kelly. "The us- ers were trying to compare a few different sets of data, a comparison exercise that we didn't know was important to the client." Despite this cumbersome reporting pro- cess, Kelly says every interaction with the client—from the C-suite to the daily users — always yielded a pleasant exchange. "After the observation, we said, 'Hey, it would be so easy for us to give you some toggles and switches that would make that data comparison much more ef- ficient. How about we do that for you?' We never would have known there was room for improvement had we not watched them use the application in their own setting." Kelly's high-touch, hands-on approach to the evalu- ation of her application's performance has earned her more than an earful from venture capitalists, SaaS ana- lysts, and other talking heads in the space. On-site visits and in-context tinkering is the antithesis of automation. SaaS should just run, they say. Kelly says nonsense. She believes that human-assisted AI is critical to the success — and the future — of SPLICE. "I think this is worth it. I think this is a great investment. I think it's worth it to put that employee there for a whole day, with no agenda beyond just watching what the heck is going on." This anecdote is representative of Kelly's philosophy on software development and sales — a philosophy that's earned SPLICE a 92 percent customer retention rate. It's user-centric through and through. It's about value exchanged. It's about living in the application and making the application a seamless extension of the us- er's day. It's about that feeling she got when she built her first program at nine years old and witnessed the elegance of code in practice. Only now, she's making money at it. We're glad her dad wasn't a mechanic — and so are SPLICE customers. S isn't likely to grow, they're just making a huge problem for themselves," she says. "If you take on a new $200,000 cus- tomer, but the customer's product isn't that great in the market, their messaging platform isn't really personalized because they're not committed to bringing enough data to the table, and they don't refer you to anyone, that won't help you sell. Now you have a problem because you need $400,000 the next month, and that guy's not going to help you get it. He's actually holding you back from getting it." Kelly says these days, conversations like this are the exception to the rule, thanks to rigid hiring standards and ongoing training. Still, they happen. "I've pulled up old numbers and said, 'Okay, here's a customer. It's one of those three that we never should have taken. It wasn't a good fit. They dropped out. What happens when you build your lifestyle or you get a new car or you create a payment—based on this customer that you're counting on—and then they disappear? They didn't refer anybody else, because it wasn't actually a good visionary fit to begin with. How is that going to feel? Do you really want this money?'" If too many of these conversations take place, Kelly takes the blame for making bad hires or providing in- adequate training. Mind you, SPLICE goes out of its way to avoid creating a sales culture in which it feels wrong for a rep to want to take a prospect's money. "We simply work through their sales funnel sheet with them. We help them build out their quarters prospect by pros- pect," she says. That exercise includes an evaluation of how each customer supports the rest of the rep's fun- nel and where each win might help secure another win. "They begin to see that a one-time win is a short-term grab, and that short-term grabs aren't moving them to a place where they're getting an annuity going forward and building the overall annual revenue they want." A single paycheck might look better, she says, but if it's not going to put a rep where they want to be, it's usually made apparent in the numbers. EVALUATE RELENTLESSLY Because SPLICE is a company dedicated to improving customer experiences, it's incumbent on Kelly and com- pany to eat their own dog food. It's implemented NPS (Net Promoter Score) among all of its customers, and it's taking the program to the nth degree. "We don't just do it with the executive that signs the bills," says Kelly. "We do it with every operations employee who experiences our brand. We'll take NPS as far as they'll let us." Sur- veys aren't enough for SPLICE, however. The company regularly sends associates to customer sites to observe the software in action. "Even the simplest tools—soft- ware or otherwise — can be made that much better and We've said no to some prospects that many of our competitors might consider really good, juicy customers. SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 20 By M. Pillar HIGH-TECH SOFTWARE, HIGH-TOUCH SERVICE EXCLUSIVE FEATURE Executive

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