720: How to Plan a (Literal) Customer Success Road Trip w/ Steve Benson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Steve Benson, CEO of Badger Maps.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

There's a ton of noise out there. So how do you get decision makers to pay attention to your brand? Start a podcast and invite your ideal clients to be guests on your show. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BE TOB growth show. This episode is sponsored by Directive Consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. Today we're joined by Steve Benson. Steve is the CEO of Badger maps. He's also the host of the brand new outside sales talk podcast. Steve, welcome to the show. Hey, Jonathan, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here. I am excited to talk to you because you just you had this incredible experience recently that you're coming on. You're going to share this, this story with with me, we're with our listeners. I think it's going to be very cool and informative. But before we get into all that, Steve, maybe you can tell us a little about what what you and the Badger maps team are up to these days. Sure. So what we do it badger is we have a application for field sale, those people outside sales, people to organize their territory, organize their time, build routes, see all their customers in a map, focus on the right customers when they're planning to be in the field or when they're in the field, all right on there within the browser or on their mobile device. So that's kind of what we're doing. The company's growing really nicely and we're having a lot of fun doing it right now. That's fantastic. I mean, I we've had kind of a bit of an association, with relationship with with you and Badger maps for a while now, so we are thrilled to have you on the show. Recently you had a seven week customers success road trip, so that's kind of what we're going to be talking about today, customers success road trip. Steve. You know, tell us, tell us sort of why you wanted to do this in the first place, like where was your head out? What were your priorities? The trip had a bunch of goals and and in a bunch of reasons why I did it. So we had we kind of identified of our three hundred customers that are sizeable companies. So you know we have thousands of companies using this but a lot of more smaller, but of the three hundred or so they're more sizeable. We try to kind of build a route of see me being able to drive around the country and see as many of them as possible. And you know, we have customers around the world, but the vast majority or in the US and so and even though the US is a big place and seven weeks you really driver on the whole thing right, it's so so that's there were a lot of reasons to do this and the most important of which is just getting to know a bunch of our customers. FACETOFACE and we sell with an inside sales strategy. So most of our customers have never met US facetoface, and so I wanted to meet with them and have them know us and put a name to the face, a face to the name, I guess, of Badger, so deep in the relationship and and help me get a better understanding of what was important to them, how they were using the tool, how they were what they liked about it, what they wished it did, and there's a ton of value of that right like it? I didn't. I guess I didn't have what a lot of people would consider a major reason to do this. was like a Oh, we're launching a new product and I'm trying to cross sell it or upsell this group of customers on to, you know, this service as well. There wasn't anything like that. It was more just I want them to I want to deepen the relationship, you know, move, move those satisfaction scores from eight to nine or tens,...

...or nine s to tens or sevens to eight. So what you know kind of help help move the customer satisfaction up the scale, mitigate risk, you know, around understanding if there was from some kind of pattern like problem that a lot of them were having or thing that the thing that they didn't like, and and know what they like the most so I could guide the engineering team to double down on it. So there were a lot of reasons to to do a trip like this. The reasons not to is that driving around the country for seven weeks is totally crazy, but yeah, yeah, I mean you got, I mean to sort of execute on something like this and to make this a priority. I mean that is a that is a sacrifice, but you know, it's amazing that you did it. You you talked about this idea of putting a face to the name and you know we're obviously we're here at sweet fish and here on the BB grows show you we're in the world of podcasting. So much of what we do is done remotely. It's done, you know, via via the computer. You don't necessarily have that physical interaction. We've got team members, our own team, all over the country, but I do think there is something to be said for this idea of this facetoface interaction being slightly irreplaceable. Right at the very least. You know it's it's very difficult to replicate the the benefit that you can get from that, from that quality in person interaction. Absolutely, I just it's one of the reasons why field sales is so important and why you do have to get your sales team needs to get out from behind their desk and meet with meet with your important customers facetoface. It's just worth it. And you know also the part of this is eating our own dog food right. You know, we one of the core things, our thing is it's for salespeople, field sales people, to get in front more customers and route their day organize their time in the field. So it was a really fun way for me to use our own product and kind of, you know, build a route that lasted a lasted seven weeks and each day had its own route and like you know where I'm going when I'm going there, and there was that element too, and that that was a lot of fun to to actually get because I'm, you know, I'm never out from behind the desk. Basically, I'm kind of Badger. Has Three offices now, or for office is really the European one in Spain and Utah and San Francisco and the Philippines, and you know, I spent all my time bouncing around between those. So it was great to actually but I'm always behind a desk out one of them. So it's great to get out from behind that and get back to my roots, which is really field sales and I guess I call my background field sales and field customer success. You know so, but that was before we called it customer success. Then it was just yeah, you manage your existing customers like don't make sure they're happy and don't quit. Now we have a name for it. Yeah, you have to put a Nanjie everything these days. So yeah, in terms of I'm obviously you did a lot of prep work preparing for this sort of undertaking. Actually, that's a that's a misconception. We did. I did surprisingly little prep work, I said. I said, we kind of we sent an email to our three hundred big customers and it was kind of like Hey, I'm a to be in town around these dates. Do you want to meet and you kind of we kind of sketched out approximately what my what my route would be. So I started in Chicago, got a car there, drove east to Boston, through all the Midwest states, south to South Carolina, West to Georgia, north to Minnesota, south to Texas and then out to California. And that's kind of the skeleton of the route, and so we knew approximately what dates I'd be everywhere and the customers that, you know, of the of the three hundred customers, the the you know, a hundred were like we were able to actually...

...line it up to meet with them and it wasn't as thought out or planned as one would expect. I mean, obviously we have we make a planning tool for field sales routes, so that does help a lot. Yeah, when you are in that business, yes, that helps a lot. I am shockingly good at making routes in my own I can do very few things well in this world, but using using the badger map, I can do you that. You got that locked down good. But yeah, I mean it was surprisingly little set up. I mean I stayed in, you know, kind of low end hotels the whole time and those are all empty now, you know, with the whole world of AIRBNB, the crappy low end hotels or all empty everywhere. So, like you, you can get those everywhere. I didn't like plan meals or anything. I just kind of went to whole foods and grazed upon their wonderful sale salad bar. But Yeah, south salad bars and and cheap hotels that had I would try to set set hotels that had exercise facilities. I wouldn't lose my mind, but you know that. I mean there wasn't a ton of prep work to go into it. Honestly, it was just an email blast and hey, who wants to wants to sit down and and so the conversations that you were having then, I mean we're so even those were sort of they sounds like they may have been fairly natural organic. I mean you probably had a couple of standard questions for everyone, but I mean was this? Was this just you asking about their experience and really just trying to take that feedback to heart? Yeah, and that's kind of how I'd prop hom. I'm just like, yeah, I want to I want to see how you're using this so I can better guide the our engineering team to make stuff that's more useful for you. So I want to see what you like and what you'd like to see more of what you wish it did, you know, what would make you happier, you know, getting kind of taking their temperature on there, on how they feel about the product and about the organization, you know, getting, you know like Hey, I'm here to get your feedback, here to hear how you like us, what you don't like, everything about the team, about your experience, anything, I want to hear about it. And I didn't find and I guess it was risk mitigating, because I could have found some kind of pattern like oh well, every time we try to do this with your thing, we're not happy because of this, or Oh, we really wish it did this, or Oh, it's a like. There wasn't really that kind of feedback, but I did get a lot of great thoughts around new features that we could build, like people asking for kind of things that are adjacent to what we do or additional things that could be added in that we got a whole bunch of those as a result of the trip and and I ended up doing a lot of like I guess I would call it customer success, in the regard of making the customer more successful with the product lil asked. I would ask them to show me. Oh, let's bring it up and show me how you use it hill, let's see what you're doing with it at, well, one of the most important place that things it does to you. And they would show me things and I could ask questions about their business and, you know, the experience of what how they're using it, and often I could make suggestions. Oh, did you know what did this? If you did, you know there was this button over here. It's it sounds like that might be interesting to you. So we ended up doing and running strategies around the plays to like figuring out, oh well, did you you know? One customer that I was just talking to is using it to do this process, you know, this kind of play on top of it, like, have you thought about doing that? There was a lot of that. So it's kind of a as customer success often is. It was a free consulting engagement, creating value for for the customers and in return I got a bunch of a bunch of information deep in the relationship, that sort of thing. I mean to be clear. I would recommend that every software company. You know, obviously this is hard to do. You wouldn't do this before you had customers. But you know what, once you have a decent number of customers, either the CEO or the VP of sales or the VP of product, someone who has power at the company and...

...and you know, can shape the direction of the product, steer the different teams. Someone should be doing this. You don't have to be a lunatic like me and do it for seven weeks, but you know, do it for to do the East Coast and, you know, six months later, do the West. So you know, take a trip to Texas and spend a week there and hit the big cities there. Once you have a sizeable number of customers, it's really you get so much. I got so much from this and it was so valuable and and I think everyone there's it's a really efficient use of your time and even if, even if it feels crazy and and your significant other's going to hate it, but but it's it really is. It really is powerful. I would recommend everyone get out and do a customer success trip of this nature. All Right, today's gross story revolves around search engine marketing and we'll be shining the spotlight on ages software, a company that makes software for manufacturing operations. Ages was one of the first companies in their space to invest in search marketing, but its competition grew their performance plateaued. To counter this, they hired directive consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency with unparalleled experience in in bent legend for bdb companies, directive was able to increase a just as monthly online leads by four hundred and fifty seven percent, while at the same time lowering their costpro lead by a hundred and forty seven percent. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results tree too. So head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. Obviously, you just now you kind of been getting into that actionable pieces of advice for our for listeners, and you know, recommending that everyone definitely does it. We were there any or there any takeaways from this experience or any other small, you know, suggestions or anything that you might have for the listeners in terms of playing their own customer success road trip or things that you things that you unexpectedly discovered or maybe had wished to had done differently, anything like that. It ended up being a lot longer than I expect. It's the plan was for a month and and then, as the responses were rolling in, I was like, I can't do this in a month. I mean, you know, I'd have to. I would have to drive eight hours a day and and and have five meetings a day. It's just it's this is going to this is going to be the death of me. And so so it. You know, I it's that I extended it and I would stay put on weekends. I would try to stay, stay places that I would have friends or family or some of that I wanted to hang out with on the weekends. Saw My mom in Atlanta, saw my dad and Chicago, you know, friends that, friends in Austin, friends in DC, New York. So I try to stay when I when I was staying put somewhere, I would try to be some more fun. But yeah, I mean it's it's easier than it sounds and I know it sounds crazy, but it really is easier than it sounds. Like you just it's a fifty percent time job for someone supporting you. So someone on your marketing team or, you know, a personal assistant and services and someone on the team has to be supporting what you're doing and kind of scheduling things and, you know, responding to people and actually setting the timings of the meetings and, you know, locking in your hotel because when you're driving five hours a day, and that was probably what I averaged for the seven weeks, is five hours a day or so, when you're when you're behind the wheel that much and then meeting with customers and then trying to also do your do your day job, in my case running the company, there was definitely on left time to do, to do anything. So it's more it's very time intensive,...

...but it's also people are like, oh, it's got to be so tiring and stressful, but it's like no, it's so much easier than my regular life. I'm just kind of meeting with customers who like me and hanging out in hotels and driving. It's like actually the least stressful thing I've done in six years. I up. That's pretty interesting. Yeah, that that's it. That's it. That's a tip right, like it was. It sounds stressful and hard, but especially if you travel well and are cool sleeping in hotels and you enjoy driving, it's really it's awesome. Also, driving is so much nicer now at the new cars that like, like they on the cruise control, they can just keep you the same distance from the car in front of you. Like driving is become a very chill experience in the road if you have kind of those car with those automated those automated features. I just got this lexus that like it knows how to follow the car ahead of it and it just kind of matches its speed and see you just like set the cruise control and all you have to do is keep yourself between the lines and the newest ones. I didn't think you have to keep yourself from the lines. I think it'll like guide itself for you now, which is even cooler, but it's not self driving like that is very cool. So, I mean and it's and it's really fascinating to hear you know, sort of for you personally want a non stressful experience. It was you know, to know that, like you know this. This sounds like a huge undertaking, but you kind of you didn't. You know, you didn't. Oh, I don't want to make it sound like you weren't prepared, but it didn't. You just didn't take you a lot of preparation. You had to be intentional about it. You had to obviously do some prep work, but it sounds like it was just important to almost pull the trigger, get it done, go, do it, make it, make it happen. Some of it, you know, you made up a little it as you went along and ended up having a fairly stressful, stress free experience from start to finish. Yeah, I mean you can literally you could leave in three weeks right, like it's just it's really just being like, okay, we're doing it and sending out the email to, you know, to your three, you know, how your biggest three hundred customers or whatever, depending on the stage of your company. You know they are. You know, send out an email. You know, I had someone give them calls if they didn't get back to us and I really wanted to see them, like you know. But you know, if you've got the team, you've got to you need the team around you to support you. But it really does seem like this massive, crazy undertaking. But actually it's like from a business perspective it's amazing because it really deepens the relationships, really gets you super valuable feedback, really helpful to your customers in general to for you to help them use the product. But it's also, I mean, you know, a lot of most startups or companies that have kind of been started up, you've probably been running yourself ragged for five years, I mean, and it is a marvelous little vacation. I mean it was, it was, it's my it's by my biggest vacation, favorite vacation in the last decade. So so just you just gotta, I would recommend to anyone, just jump in and do it. Well, it's great advice obviously, I mean your customers are such a priority for you and your team of badge your masks and again, as we also had mentioned, you know that you're the CEO of Badger maps. You the host of your own podcast. You know, you this is a question we've been asking a lot of our guests on the show and I'm curious what what your response is going to be. But we've been asking sort of in terms of legacy. You know, the kind of legacy you want to leave behind, whether that is, you know, personal, professional, a combination of the two. What kind of legacy are you trying to look at and build, Steve? That's a that's a good one. So I guess your personal legacy and your professional legacy are very different things. I mean personal legacy, you know. I guess you my goal would be to leave the world a far better place than then I that I found it, and to have,...

...you know, may made a mark that is meaningful. You know, we're some indigenous group said you're only you only live as long as the last person who remembers you. I forget who that was, some some indigenous group at some one of their sayings, but I don't know. I'd leave the world a better place than you found it and to the greatest magnetude you can and be. The personal legacy I want to leave behind and professionally I try to take the attitude that Badger Badger is half a software company that makes and sells a product for to help field sales people. The other half of the company is bettering the people that are a part of the organization. So we, I really take employee development very seriously. We try to do things to improve improve ourselves as people, as teammates, as an organization. Education is kind of we're half half software complet company, half career and Personal Development Organization for the people that work here and and that that attitude has served us really well over the years. So I guess my professional legacy I want to start and develop so as many people's careers as possible off in a really good direction and develop as many people, you know, as far down the line as I can take them. You know, I would. I would I try to have people think back to this experience of working on on my team is being the thing that really either jump started their career, took their career to the next level or, with a really learned the things that made them successful, and so that's why that's the professional legacy I would try to leave brilliant. Bryant. We's a great answer and, you know, sounds like things are going really well and that's yet. Definitely you're well on your way. I know again, I mean I said it already, but you do put such a priority on your customers. So I know that sort of this idea of leaving things better than than you found them is also one of your priorities. So we do really appreciate how your time, you know, coming on the show, sharing, sharing this incredible that story that you have about this customer success road trip. If any of our listeners they want to find out more about about that experience, about how to how to plan their own, they want to find out more about batch maps, they want to tune into the outlast single talk podcast. What's the best way for them to go about doing this? Yeah, well, if they do do a trip of this nature, they should use badger to do it. It'll, you know, to buy Badger, to buy badge for for two months will cost them eighteen dollars to eighty four dollars, depending on which which which version they get. So it's not made for CEOS to do this, but it's really Sul for it. It's use, it's we we we sell this to field sales people, but forever. You know, they needed ongoing. But you would only need it for a month or two. So I will take your eighteen dollars and I will buy myself three beers. But but it's useful for this and help yourself. I hope it helps. But I like to offer to people in general when they when they've endured me and in a podcast or or whatever and kind of an air interaction of this nature, I like to offer them to two months free of the product. So just mentioned that. You heard about about Badger through through this podcast, and and my folks will give you two months free. So you which, unless you're a true unless you're more of a lunatic than me, you'd be able to get it done, and get it done in two months and knock yourself out a month. Should be able to do it right. You can totally and totally break this into a few chunks. But yeah, I our websites. Bad your Mappingcom or just google us. Bad your maps, and I'm on Linkedin. Feel free to reach out if if I can if you're thinking about undertaking a I don't even know what to call this, a customer success road trip? I don't know. But if you're planning on taking a customer success road trip and feel feel...

...free to reach out if I can be of any assistance, that's fantastic. WILL AGAIN, Steve. Thank you so much. Genuinely, it was a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you for your time. Thanks for having Jonathan. has been fantastic. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the BEDD growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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