How Gong’s Product Strategy Cultivates Raving Fans
3 Lessons from Gong’s Chief Product Officer
Eilon Reshef is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Gong (last valued north of $7B). Gong is the leading player in the revenue intelligence space, enabling leaders to help their team members succeed, track deals, and understand the voice of the market.
At a SaaS company, having enthusiastic customers is critical. At Gong, Eilon and his team aspire to have all customers be enthusiastic customers, and call them “raving fans.” During a recent Product Guild event, Eilon outlined how he and his team use the Gong product to drive this raving customer love and specific tactics you can utilize in your org to create your own raving fans.
But turning users into raving fans is easier said than done. Let’s take a look at a few of Eilon’s favorite tactics to enabling this customer transformation.
Be User Obsessed, Not Buyer Obsessed
One of the most important product decisions Gong had to make early on was to focus the product either on its buyers (the economic decision maker) or its end users (the salespeople who would actually be using Gong day-to-day).
Because the buyer and user personas are extremely different, this decision was one that would profoundly change the company’s vision and direction. In the world of classic sales CRM software, the largest players have traditionally focused the product around the economic buyer. However, if you zoom in to look at how users engage with these products, you often find that the end user (salespeople) loathes inputting data into a CRM. So, with this observation in hand and true to its operating principle of “challenge conventional wisdom,” Gong made the contrarian decision to focus the product on its users and prioritize developing customer (user) love.
Concentrating on what makes users tick paid off in the long run. They weren’t stuck using a tool with a confusing UI or burdensome intake process. Instead, Gong made sure users got what they wanted and needed, fueling the flywheel of product-led growth.
Today, customer obsession is the lifeblood of Gong. In fact, one of the key traits Eilon looks for in a potential Product hire is the ability and willingness to understand Gong’s users and their needs. He says that two of the worst things PMs can do are (1) give him their opinion and (2) ask for his opinion.
“The only thing that matters is the customer’s opinion.”
Have Clear Design Principles: Minimal, Efficient, Low Input
In Gong’s product, every detail of the customer experience is designed intentionally and reviewed with a fine-toothed comb. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Remember, Gong is trying to generate raving fans. To do this yourself, Eilon focuses on the few key elements that move the needle most on customer experience. To really impress and satisfy users, you need products that are minimal, efficient, and low input. Here are Gong examples that illustrate each principle:
Minimal: Complex products don’t need complex designs. Minimal is often optimal. For example, Gong converted the flow of email correspondence between a seller and buyer into an experience that looks and feels like an intimate chat experience.
This minimalist philosophy also manifests in how many features the Gong product presents to the user at any one point. Eilon and Gong have a very high bar for “always on” feature visibility. By stripping away as much of the visual clutter as possible, the product feels lightweight and the additional features that exist one click away can be intelligently surfaced at relevant moments as “surprise and delight” tools instead of cumbersome added complexity.
Efficient: People are busy. It’s paramount that they can get what they need from your product fast. At Gong, this manifests as keyboard shortcuts that help users speed up their workflows.
Low Input: The last tenet of Gong’s product design philosophy is limiting required user input, and even making suggestions to the user. For example, Gong builds heat maps automatically based on the data it already has.
“Instead of asking users to input data, I’m actually trying to be sophisticated around what I can intuitively present to the user and get the product to work for them, rather than them working to use the product. People appreciate it because we’re all in a world where cognitive load is everything.”
Focus on the Long-Term Vision
When Gong first started, its product focused on one use case: conversation intelligence. But as the company became a leading player in the space, Gong leaders began exploring other potential use cases, eventually expanding to deal intelligence, market intelligence, and more.
“In the short term, this was arguably a less customer-centric vision. But we had confidence that our long-term vision would delight customers once it unfolded. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Looking (and acting) ahead was a hard decision at the time, but eventually, sure enough, customers understood and appreciated the company’s deliberate product investments, delighted by features they didn’t realize would be helpful to them. Pleasantly surprising your users with features they haven’t even thought of is one of the first steps in the fan to raving fan transformation.
Building Your Own Collection of Raving Fans
Eilon illustrated the result of a product that cultivates raving fans with one of his favorite public customer quotes: “If sales/revenue intelligence platforms were people, I’d marry Gong. Smart, funny, sensitive, do what they say they’ll do, good listeners, offer insightful advice, constantly evolving. What more can I ask for?”
Now, if that’s not a raving fan, we don’t know what is.
Of course, producing this level of user passion and excitement for a SaaS product doesn’t happen overnight. The Gong team had to make a number of tough decisions that seemed contrarian at the time. Yet, by having strong conviction, listening to their customers, finding new and creative ways to delight users, and religiously following their core design principles, it proved worthwhile in the long run. Incorporating these lessons into your product strategy can help you cultivate your own raving fans — best of luck.
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