In the early days of Eric Farr’s company BrainStorm, Inc. a client came to them about a problem with an order. Their client needed the order for a training meeting the next Monday and Eric’s company promised they would have the order in their European office in time for the training. Later the BrainStorm team discovered that the only way they’d be able to get the order to the client in time was to fly there themselves, bringing the order with them.
Eric, the company CEO, bought a last-minute flight on the Friday morning before the training with almost too many layovers to count. Eventually, he and the order ended up in Scotland, where the client was. He delivered the order and stayed in Scotland with the client for about two hours before flying back to the United States.
That client then became one of the top five clients of BrainStorm for several years. This story has become company lore at BrainStorm. The company teaches and strives for this kind of dedication to their commitments in dealing with all their clients.
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” -Ken Blanchard, author, business consultant, and motivational speaker
Eric Farr is the owner and executive officer of BrainStorm, Inc., a software company that offers a SaaS platform that helps large organizations manage employee change, providing solutions and methodology that not only help employers train their employees but also enact real change in their organizations. Eric received his Bachelors in economics from Brigham Young University and went on to receive his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
1. Provide Much More Value Than the Cost
One of the goals of Eric’s company is to make the value their business provides clients much greater than the cost of their products or services. Because of this goal, they strive not only to follow through with their commitments but also to go above and beyond what their clients expect from their commitments. As in the story above, their client likely didn’t expect Eric to personally haul their order across the world. But Eric had made a commitment, and he was going to follow through with it because it was the right thing to do.
This legendary story has sparked many other stories of how the company has provided value to its customers by exceeding expectations. Because the company has Eric’s story to live up to, they keep going the extra mile because it is a part of the corporate culture. This culture of providing value by exceeding expectations creates meaningful relationships and builds trust with our customers.
Eric has spent thousands of dollars making sure the value was high enough for clients that he was certain weren’t going to come back. He did it because of who he is and not because of the payoff. Eric is all about doing the right thing, regardless of how it can help him.
2. Build Client Relationships through Recurring Revenue Streams
“Recurring-revenue business models, also known as a subscription or usage-based models, are creating new opportunities across all industries—even in sectors where they haven’t traditionally appeared before. Advances in social media, mobile devices, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are now enabling businesses to leverage these new models to generate entirely new revenue streams… 52% of the CFO Research/Salesforce survey respondents have companies where at least 40% of revenues are recurring” (Source: cfo.com).
Recurring revenue streams make planning and budgeting easier, raise the value of a company, and create predictability in our revenue. Everyone is jumping on the recurring revenue bandwagon, so it is more important now more than ever to show our clients how we value them through our recurring revenue streams.
Eric doesn’t consider someone a customer until they have renewed with the company. This attitude ensures that he, and everyone in the company, don’t forget about his customers in the time between renewals; he’s thinking about the lifetime value of a customer. When a customer buys something we owe them value the whole time they are using our products or services. Whether we have monthly renewals or annual renewals, we need to take care of our clients through that whole time. This all starts in the sales process when we set expectations and then consistently provide value.
“We want customers. We don’t want transactions.” -Eric Farr
3. Improve through Month-to-Month Contracts
“There doesn’t appear to be a correlation between length of contract and lifetime retention of a client. In fact, there seems to be quite a bit of evidence that month- to- month agreements last longer and have a higher sales close ratio.” -Danny DeMichele, Marketing Consultant
The client that stayed with my company for the longest amount of time was with us for 11 years. Their contract was month-to-month and could be canceled at any time. I believe the month-to-month aspect was the reason for their longevity. The month-to-month contract forced us to maintain the relationship and keep the client happy every month.
4. Come Together to Meet Our Clients’ Needs
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” -Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist
BrainStorm had a deal with a Fortune 10 company to create software for them. It was a great deal because BrainStorm could get paid to create the product for one client and then monetize it through selling it to other clients. Their client, in turn, would be able to give their input on the product so it would be exactly what they needed. In January of that year, their clients said, “We’ll buy this from you now if you can deliver it to us in December.”
The year went by and they made great progress on the software. In the first week of December, however, their client came to them, saying they needed the software to be ready in about a week. The software was not ready to be delivered that soon, but Eric and the rest of the company came together and decided they were going to try to make it happen.
They set to work, operating 24 hours a day and staying at the office all night, only leaving to shower or get food. They hired about 40 new people to help. BrainStorm finished the product on time and delivered it to the client, never telling them what it took to get it finished. Now their employees who weren’t there at the time want to have a moment like that where they can all come together with a common goal and work hard to achieve something amazing.
5. Help Our Clients Achieve their Most Important Goals
BrainStorm is a software company that offers solutions and methodology not only to help employers train their employees but also to enact real change in their organizations. One way they do this is by focusing on their clients’ goals. If a company wants to reduce costs by $20 million, BrainStorm focuses on that. If they want to get their products to the market faster, BrainStorm shows them how to utilize their technology to do that. BrainStorm finds the client’s highest priority and sells them a solution to that.
For example, they had a client that said they had chosen a specific way to store documents and data to the cloud. BrainStorm gathered data about the company, and they had billions of records of how people were using the company’s software. BrainStorm was able to see in their data that the company’s employees were using 15 different ways to store data on the cloud including using their own personal Dropbox accounts. The client had no idea, but BrainStorm was able to help them standardize their data storage.
The information that BrainStorm provides allows their clients to make good business decisions about the technology that they’re using in line with their business objectives, whether that be increasing revenue, decreasing costs, or dealing with security. Because of this, BrainStorm’s clients are extremely satisfied with the service BrainStorm provides. Likewise, we can have satisfied customers if we focus on helping them achieve their most important business objectives.
Connect with Eric
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Eric or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/eric-farr-402141 or visit his company’s website at BrainStormInc.com.
Thank you so much Eric for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode to help us provide greater value to our clients:
- Make the value of our products and services much greater than the cost.
- Go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations and make them happy, as Eric did by personally delivering the order to Scotland.
- If you haven’t already, consider implementing recurring revenue streams into your business.
- Take care of our customers throughout the time between renewals in our recurring revenue streams.
- Consider using month-to-month contracts so we are motivated to provide value and keep our customers happy every month. We may be able to keep our clients with us longer.
- Create a culture that when a client needs something that seems impossible, our team can come together and make it happen.
- Focus on helping our customers reach their most important goals.
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