On Adobe, Change, and Customer Success
Musings from the Worldwide Sales Conference for 2017
They say the only constant in life is change. And nowhere is this more a valid principle than in the world of technical sales.
Adobe’s business model has successfully shifted from one of selling boxes of software to a subscription model; this was evident from the year end reports and statistics presented to us through the conference. Subscription revenue now exceeds perpetual purchase by a large margin. This change in model, now a few years in the making, was a huge shift in direction. And it’s looking like it’s paid off for the company. Change - while often scary - is good, if a person or company is both flexible enough to adjust and dedicated enough to stay on course.
Adobe has done that. And I think it will continue to do so, embracing and creating change.
And just as a company must do this, so must we, as individuals.
So yeah - change. There was a lot of it this week. I’m still parsing the impact of it all, but in general terms I think things work out just fine. I still work for a great company and with awesome, talented, passionate people. Win-win, in my book. But I know there will also be adjustments. I need to maintain flexibility to adapt where necessary, and retain confidence in my skill set.
There were many changes announced to the team I work with. Two of my friends and colleagues, Scott and Ryan, are now part of the Digital Marketing team. All last year, they demonstrated a willingness and passion to learn those new solutions and this effort has not gone unnoticed. I am happy for and proud of them.
With the changes to the Education Solution Consultants team, I and my two remaining friends/colleagues, Steve and Donna, have now been welcomed into the larger Commercial SC and CSM team. The three of us will still focus on Digital Media (Creative Cloud and Document Cloud) for education, but now we’re part of a bigger family of SC’s and Customer Success Managers (CSM’s). It’s a large group, and they are all great people. I look forward to the chance to working, sharing and learning with a larger team. My original SC manager and good friend, Tim, has accepted a new role build up a new team to help focus even more on customer success and value. He will knock this job out of the park, I am sure.
Our Adobe leadership talked about the good, the not-so-good and the way forward into 2017 and beyond.
The 2017 theme for the Adobe Worldwide Sales Conference (WWSC) was Customer Success: Own It! I think this is perhaps the most apropos mantra/slogan/catchphrase that has ever been used at the WWSC, at least in my 5 years of attending the event. Helping our customers to be successful, to be champions for them has always been important, but with a customer base that can more easily than ever vote with their wallets, it’s critical for Adobe to make the customer experience as seamless and enjoyable - and useful - as possible.
Sales conference is a lot of work - on average, 10-12 hour days for all participating employees. Over 3,000 field sales people from across the globe are in attendance. We take in a lot of information both from technical and sales angles. Do we have some fun? Sure. In and out of sessions, there are laughs to be had as evidenced by some of the on-stage performances by Alice Cooper (also known as Jason Levine - @beatlejase here on Behance), and our team antics at the welcome reception.
We were also wowed by even more Adobe magic and Wizardry, like Project Dali - VR painting.
It's also a great opportunity to see faces you may not have seen all year long, to catch up, to laugh. And sometimes, to say goodbye as people move to different parts of the organization. But we are there to work, and to learn and to synthesize this new information into a method for working with our customers, new and existing.
More than ever, Adobe needs to focus on the after sales experience of customers. And to its credit, as a company, from the CEO to the head of the Worldwide Field Sales Organization and other large internal teams, this message is loud and clear and embraced.
And speaking of customer success, who better to tell us how we're doing than our very own customers? Every year, Adobe invites customers from across the globe to talk to the entire sales staff, sharing their success with us and providing advice on how we can do even better.
Adobe is constantly innovating. Far from relying on any previous success, the scientists and engineers and visionaries of the company continually push forward, responding to customer needs, and inventing new workflows to make the jobs of professionals - creatives, business, communicators, and others - easier. Giving them tools to help tell stories in more engaging and interactive ways, whether you're a student trying to get your personal brand noticed on a global scale, or a seasoned professional.
The Game of Demos Challenge
And as much as we are innovating from product and solution perspectives, we are following suit internally, responding to customer pain points, smoothing out the friction in the process of deploying and harnessing these great tools in as seamless a manner as possible. The creation of Customer Success teams is one example from the personnel side. These people are dedicated to help new enterprise customers in a variety of ways, from on-boarding to building awareness and excitement about the tools everyone in an organization has at their fingertips. Adobe doesn't just want to sell software. It is, at its roots, a company that wants to create magical, powerful and useful tools to assist in the success of any person or company who made the investment.
At the sales conference, at Adobe MAX, and at customer visits, these are the values I am constantly reminded of. And it's what makes me so proud and happy to to work at Adobe.
Customer success. Customer delight. Customer happiness. It's not just good business.
It's the right thing to do.