When we started thinking about self-driven implementation back in 2017, we had a lot of ideas about what would work and what wouldn’t. We had based all these ideas on an image we had of potential customers, who (for their own different reasons) would prefer to go down the XTRF Academy path, instead of choosing the individual implementation option.
This year, we relaunched our Academy platform in a different form, creating XTRF Academy 2.0. The reason for the changes? Incorrect assumptions we made back in 2017. Let’s see how the market proved these assumptions wrong.
“I know what I want”
Working with clients, you come across this one often. Typically, for the people we’re talking to, this is their first and only time buying such a system. If you’re selling language services, just imagine this: someone buying translations from you and this is their first translation project. Ever. That is the closest to this situation.
Now, let’s change the perspective and think of the sales process as a buyer’s journey. According to more and more studies, salespeople are less and less needed for people to buy. Why is that?
The most prominent research, by Corporate Executive Board/Gartner (CEB), shows that the buyer is already 57% through their journey before contacting the sales team for the first time. That’s because people do research on their own and when they do, they start to think ‘I know what I want’.
It’s probably easiest to see when buying home appliances. A couple of years ago, we’d go to a store and basically say: ‘sell me a washing machine’ or ‘sell me a fridge’. Nowadays, everyone does online research beforehand. Usually, we know the features and our desired specifications well, and if the salesperson’s help is needed, it’s limited to answering questions about availability or the final price.
So, it’s natural that people started to think it works the same way when buying technology – these complex systems with many broadly functional modules and advanced interdependency. Well, it simply doesn’t.
Let us explain why not. Each day, we have conversations with clients and we’ve learned to recognize the symptoms. At first, we see or hear:
Don’t call me – I just want a quote.
We’re a small company. Just give us the most basic package.
In the first situation, there’s no conversation. But, as for the second, in the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that this is not the case after all. We never ask ‘what do you want’, but rather ‘why do you need it’. When you get to the bottom of the client’s motivation – the perspective changes.
What the client actually wants is something that will work in their specific case or environment, supporting their specific scenarios. Without taking the time to learn and consciously understand why you need the system, why it works this way, or why the scenario goes this way and not another – we, XTRF, or anyone in our position, wouldn’t be able to offer the most appropriate and efficient system for your needs. If you fall into this trap, you may end up concluding that only pen and paper could meet your expectations.
“Our processes are simple”
This assumption is a little different. But similarly, changes in how consumers buy may be behind this mindset. The number of stakeholders involved in a decision is increasing.
Of course, this also depends on the size of the organization. Back in 2014, CEB stated that the average size of a customer buying group in a typical B2B purchase was 5.4. This makes sense; if you’re purchasing an enterprise software solution, you’ll have finance, HR, marketing, operations, and of course IT and procurement involved in the decision. When they measured it again in 2016, the number had jumped to 6.8 people. Fast forward two more years, to 2018, and there were up to 10.2 people involved.
This is extreme – imagine starting a conversation with a buyer and then having to satisfy the needs of nine additional people. They each join the process at different stages and sometimes completely change the situation. What seemed simple at the start is no longer simple at all.
In our situation, this is slightly different. The decision-maker is often not the user. This means they often don’t see the full and current picture of their company’s processes.
Therefore, the system needs to be flexible and adaptable. This is key to achieving automation, improved quality, and increased efficiency. While the system is flexible, it is helpful if clients are also open to adjusting their processes.
Often we start with a simple process. However, during implementation, we discuss different scenarios, like ‘how you will work with this client after implementing XTRF’. Will it be as simple as it was before? Maybe it will need to be more complex in order to be more effective.
“Client knows best”
Believe it or not, we often hear:
I’ve been in the industry for more than 10 years, this is just how it’s done.
This is how it has always been done and it will never change.
These are of course non-negotiable statements. But they are also perfect examples of inside the box thinking.
If you think outside the box, you would instead ask yourself – is the ‘best’ in ‘I know best’ actually any good, or good enough?
People always tell us that they buy XTRF to improve things. But as we keep talking, it often seems that they want to improve everything, without having to change anything.
Over the years we have had many different clients and many different experiences. Today we have more than 300 clients in our portfolio – each client is different in the way they do the same things. Not only do we accept this variety, but it is thanks to this that we’ve created our best practices and learned what LSPs expect. We have learned how different LSPs work and where and how XTRF can be helpful. We’ve built on this knowledge over the past 10 years, and it has proved invaluable. Trust us when we suggest an improvement based on our experience, be open to it – you can learn from others’ mistakes and avoid making the same ones yourself.
We were wrong
So there we were. Thinking that clients primarily want the product, while implementation is just an add-on. We released XTRF Academy and sat back, waiting for it to be a success.
And it was. Thanks to XTRF Academy, we were able to bring in 50 new clients in the first wave of this implementation model. It seemed like an outright success, until clients started giving us feedback, and eventually started leaving. Out of the 50 we brought in, we lost 30.
Thanks to their feedback, we learned that clients often didn’t have the time to go through the courses on their own. Also, without a dedicated XTRF Implementation Project Manager, they had no motivation to do it.
XTRF Academy 2.0
We learned our lesson. Based on feedback and the time spent on meetings with clients, we decided to improve the XTRF Academy and to change our approach.
- We have added XTRF Implementation Project Manager support, thereby preserving a balance of responsibility between XTRF and the client.
- We have specially selected a dedicated platform to use as our Learning Management System (LMS), which offers all the desired technical solutions.
- Progress tracking and gamification give us the possibility to react earlier. With the first version of XTRF Academy, we found out about issues too late. Today, we can check the progress and remind clients about remaining lessons, or simply ask why they got stuck.
We have come a long way, from the decision to create the self-implementation platform, to the revised version available today.
We took a risk, but if we hadn’t – we wouldn’t have known what we know today. And we know much more about our clients’ needs and how they work.
Having an LMS deliver the repetitive content and underlying know-how makes consultations with trainers much more productive. The client knows what to ask about, and also knows enough to understand the answers they receive back. Our Deployment Expert doesn’t have to deliver the same training sessions ‘on repeat’. You don’t pay for having them present to you, instead, you get them to think for you – much better value!
It must have been a good decision since other providers are following in our footsteps. The difference is, they are starting in 2019, while we started in mid-2017. So one step ahead means two years ahead 😉 It was worth taking that risk!