What are the common signs of Drift? Depending on where you sit in the organization—sales, marketing, product, etc. There are signs. There is a tension to Drift—a feeling of rushing somewhere (speed). The organization's energy goes from excitement and passion to frustration and even finger-pointing.
The clearest signals come from sales. Drift manifests itself in missed booking targets and financial expectations. There is tension around the pipeline, end-of-quarter stress—a feeling of hope and dread co-mingling.
The number of new customers decreased sequentially quarter over quarter
Deals push, the sales cycles are extended
Poor close rates
High customer acquisition cost
And, if you hit the quarter, you know next quarter will be even more challenging.
Roadmap—Where did it Go?
The tension is felt across the organization in product management—the roadmap frequently changes as it is adjusted based on one-off customer requests or buyer requirements. The need to deliver short and long-term financial results—the need to win new logos and grow and retain customers. All of this —pulls the product roadmap in conflicting directions. Release dates are missed, and product features keep moving into a new week, next month, or quarter.
The product management team is needed everywhere—customer success, sales, and implementation.
The Pressure—for New Leads
The marketing team is pressured to produce new sales-qualified leads quickly. This strategy rarely works. Good marketing takes time—and great content. Putting money or pressure on the problem only wastes money and time—adding to the overall frustration.
Organizations that have a product marketer or product marketing team—have the opportunity to drive alignment around the buyer personas. However, the role of product marketing is often misunderstood, and the product marketer is pressured to build product content—PowerPoints, Solution Briefs, and videos. They are so busy doing—and trying to keep up with the changes in features, sales, and marketing strategies—that the work around customer and buyer personas get put on hold (over and over).
The product marketing team/person feels the tension of Drift early—because of their role—collaborating and working across the go-to-market teams.
Lack of referenceable customers
Pressure on new, sales-qualified leads
Product Launches are not impactful
Poor enablement (sales, customer success, customers)
Analyst relations are tactical, not strategic
The Maker—of Miracles
Have you ever been at the grocery store and heard over the intercom, "Clean up on aisle four!" This is what it feels like for the Customer Success team when a company is experiencing Drift. Every new customer implementation is a struggle. Upon reading the contract and understanding the use case, the customer success team can immediately determine that the customer will struggle. Internal discussions sound like, "Our product is not designed to solve this problem." However, the executive team expects the Customer Success team to work miracles and find a way to make the customer successful. From a metrics perspective, Drift manifests itself as high gross churn rates, sub 100% net revenue retention rates, low NPS and CSAT scores.
Every quarter there is pressure to deliver a solid quarter. This pressure often results in revenue leaders focusing on going fast and not prioritizing foundational work to address core issues—that will benefit the business long term. Bandaids get placed over bandaids, systems are created in silos, and there is a lack of visibility across the business. With a lack of objective data, there is no clear path, and it feels like driving a car while blindfolded. Strategic decisions are made based on anecdotal evidence and intuition. There is a misalignment between go-to-market functions and individuals jockeying to control the narrative—is it a product issue? Marketing? Sales? Customer success?
One of the most successful SaaS companies in the world, Salesforce, grew by keeping its product, marketing, and sales tightly aligned (How Salesforce Built a $10 Billion Empire from a CRM). The vision of Align is to help your teams quickly access data—for day-to-day operations and for making strategic decisions across the organization.