I was a pitcher on my high school and college baseball team. I became a pitcher by default because at one point, no one else on my Little League team was able to throw strikes, and as a batter I wasn't able to hit water if I fell out of a boat. It was a perfect fit.

When I got to high school, I started taking lessons from an ex-Major Leaguer. He started by asking me why was I taking lessons. For me, I wanted a way to offset my college tuition and do something I enjoyed to get there. Next, he asked what was stopping me from getting there. I told him I was a right-handed pitcher who didn't throw all that fast, so I needed to find ways to get batters out even if I couldn’t overpower them with a 95-mph fastball.

He would observe my mechanics during practice (balance, position, rotation, follow through), give me drills to help me make improvements, and then we'd track my performance with a pencil and pad during the next game (pitch type, ball, strike, location, result, etc.). If we noticed a trend, we'd make an adjustment — for example, I was more likely to retire a batter if I threw a curveball for a strike on the first pitch instead of any other pitch.

Although my current role has nothing to do with baseball, those early lessons have stayed with me. Here at Salesforce, part of my role involves helping customers articulate their vision and annual goals, and then helping identify obstacles that could get in the way of achieving how they define success.

At Salesforce, it’s not just about selling products; it’s also about helping our customers achieve success. When our customers succeed, we succeed. I have weekly “health check” meetings to ensure the customer is progressing against their goals. Before the meeting, I pull data about their product usage to help inform the best way to coach and share best practices with my customers. This might be showing them how they can use Salesforce in a way that they aren't currently taking advantage of, or connecting them with a customer who has gone through a similar challenge, or educating them on a solution they didn't know existed.

Take, for example, a company that might hope to make customer service one of its key differentiators. If I notice that they have a low volume of support cases logged in the system, I might connect them with another customer who had faced a similar challenge until opting to integrate their phone system and automatically log activity after each phone call. The simple act of connecting these two customers could lead to a valuable, experience-based conversation about the process of implementing such a change.

With today’s connected devices, it’s much easier to track performance toward our goals — and we don’t need a pencil and pad. My Fitbit can tell me if i'm ahead or behind and how I compare to my peers. Similarly, we can use product utilization data as the Fitbit for our customers to help keep them stay on track for their goals. If a customer is looking to differentiate by providing world-class service, are they using the right functionality and connecting their service team with the sales team?

Here is a short list of “Health Check Metrics” I’d recommend:

  1. Is the customer logging in to use our product? How often?
  2. Are they using all of our features or only some of the features?
  3. Have they made customizations to better fit their processes?
  4. How does one customer’s usage compare to other, similar customers?
  5. Are they integrating other applications to get the most of the of system?

Lucas Kuchler is a Strategic Account Executive at Salesforce.

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