PathFactory’s CEO is betting the future of growth in B2B will come from adding more value through post-sale data and taking a more granular approach to customer advocacy programs.
The Toronto-based company, which rebranded from its original LookBookHQ moniker earlier this year, recently landed on the Deloitte Canada Fast 50, a list of companies the consulting firm recognizes for accelerating their position in the local market. While those kinds of rankings look at a broad array of criteria, however, PathFactory CEO Mark Opauszky believes it’s his firm’s decision to focus exclusively on customer adoption as a key growth metric that has led to its success so far.
“Part of the challenge with a lot of SaaS metrics is that they tend to screw you up,” Opauszky told B2B News Network, citing common choices such as topline usage and churn. “They’re all great but they’re all lagging indicators, for the most part. We needed a very solid leading indicator and — forgive the jargon — a real understanding of what our economic engine was.”
PathFactory makes applications that analyze the content in other tools such as CRM and marketing automation and then helps B2B organizations use it to personalize the way they communicate with their own audience. Getting customers to buy in hasn’t always been easy, he admitted.
“What we sell doesn’t replace anything today. We’re not going in and ripping out your accounting system and giving you a better accounting system,” he said. “It was not an understood segment or a space supported by analysts. It made selling hard.”
That meant using customer advocacy a critical factor in driving adoption, Opauszky said, though it goes beyond publishing case studies and testimonials. In fact, while Forrester recently predicted a surge in spending on customer advocacy programs in 2019, Opauszky said other B2B martech firms may have to work harder to bring customers more directly into the selling process.
“We like to get our current customers on the phone with new prospects, and our customers are always anxious to do this, to tell their story,” he said. “Advocacy is going to get commoditized unless those customers can be specific about what they’re saying. Why are they seeing value? It has to go beyond the fact it’s easy to use and you like the service.”
Of course, customer advocacy is somewhat complicated by the fact that one “customer” may be comprised of several individuals on a buying team. Opauszky said in PathFactory’s case there are typically five to six decision-makers, “and oftentimes we primarily focused on one or two and hoped the other ones wouldn’t show up and slow down the sales cycle.” Today, however, the company sets up a sequences of what he called “value-based outcomes” that aim to help different members of the buying team over time. This could include everyone from a campaign manager to a chief marketing officer, for instance.
The other way to fuel customer adoption is to further develop value within existing accounts. As more customers use a product, for example, they can generate data that can then be packaged and resold as a separate but complementary offering.
“There are tons of places to run that are very natural,” he said. “I predict that’s going to be a big growth area in the year ahead. We’ll see if I’m right.”
Earlier this month, PathFactory also announced an integration partnership with Sigstr, which makes a platform for e-mail signature marketing.