I recently re-listened to this episode with Heidi Gardner, Distinguished Fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School and author of Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos.
What blew me away (again) was the point she made about the need for us to be both a specialist in our field AND a generalist. The question was: "Should we be generalists or deep specialists?" Gardner's response was a direct, "Yes, And."
"I don't think we have the privilege anymore of being one or the other."
But there is a trend towards being specialists. We are all headed down that road. And yet, the world is becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). In a VUCA world, there is a huge demand for multi-disciplinary perspectives to tackle complicated problems. Smart collaboration is the ability to bring together a group of specialists to solve VUCA problems. Those who can do that in service of customers are at a huge advantage.
Smart Collaboration is one of my favorite, most thought-provoking reads of the last two years.
Donna Weber, President of Springboard Solutions, is back on the show to pile on the bone picking with too many software companies that don't listen to their customers. This is especially true during and sooner after the handover from sales to service. Donna argues that marketing and sales organizations are good at leading customers through a buying journey, and that when a deal closes, there is no equivalent or leading going on in services. Well Donna is leading the charge to change that by helping companies create orchestrated onboarding meant to bring internal teams together and lead the customer through the success journey.
Donna's blog posts we talked about:
Donna's company (Springboard Solutions): https://www.springboardin.com/
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After Nils Davis, author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, and I shared a panel at the January Customer Success Network Meetup, it seemed natural to further the discussion on the podcast. We go deep into how product management and customer success team can work better together in service of the customer. My favorite part of our discussion had to do with how to say "no" to customers. Actually, we don't say "no." It is more a matter of prioritizing, how to communicate that to customers, and more importantly, how to listen to customers and dig into what they really want when they ask for a feature. Hint: It's not always the feature they are after.
Learn more about Nils Davis:
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As Paul Henderson describes in his book, The Outcome Generation: How a New Generation of Technology Vendors Thrives Through True Customer Success, "customers buy technology products and services to achieve an end outcome. Success comes for a customer when they achieve that bigger outcome. Therefore, customer success programs should focus on enabling that bigger outcome." And yet....as many of us know, few technology vendors focus on helping customers achieve those outcomes. We've been picking this bone with the customer success industry since we launched Helping Sells Radio. Paul is a rare voice advocating for customers...for helping customers deliver the results they're after...which is why they bought your software in the first place. If a customer buys your marketing software and their pipeline does not go up, why keep your software...they should just hire a marketing agency. If this marketing company wants to keep this customers, it better help the customer increase the pipeline....not just "use the product." Who cares if they use the product and sales don't go up?
The Outcome Generation is the best book on customer success. If you want to deliver results. If you want to be ahead of 95% of other customer success leaders, you must read Paul's book. Then you must "do" Paul's book.
Well, actually. Listen to this episode first, then read the book, then do the book.
Then you might even get promoted.
Learn more about Paul:
David Apple, Gemeral Manager of US and VP of Customer Success at Typeform joined the company to run sales. It wasn't long before Typeform didn't have a problem generated new sales. People were signing up for Typeform like crazy since it was such a good product. Typeform wanted to turn it's attention to retention and expansion and asked David to build a customer success function. David was deliberate about what he created, a customer success organization with six distinct teams: support, customer education, customer experience, customer outcome managers, sales, operations.
In that order.
Don't let it breeze by you that customer education came second.
David described this structure quite well on the OV | Build podcast (link below). Of course, I wanted to take the discussion with him about his customer education team further. That's why he's on this episode of Helping Sells Radio.
So, listen it.
p.s. Notice he called customer success managers, customer outcome managers. We didn't talk about that on the show, but that title is worth pondering. Hard.
Learn more about David:
On Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/appledavid/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidcapple?lang=en
We'd love it if you'd:
Thank you for listening to the show.
Thales Teixeira, Lumry Family Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, has a new book out TODAY, as of February 19, 2019, called Unlocking the Customer Value Chain: How Decoupling Drives Consumer Disruption. The book is about digital disruption, but not in sense you might mean. It's not about inventing new, blow-our-minds-innovative products. It's more practical than that. It's about (my words) "interrupting" the customer journey and insert yourself there, and introducing your product or services to one single step in that journey. Win there. Then expand. I loved the framework, and you will notice when you listen to my conversation with Thales, I was a little blown away.
Learn more about Thales:
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Adam Avramescu is back on the show for the third time to discuss his new book, Customer Education: Why Smart Companies Profit by Making Customers Smarter. Adam offers some important advice. If you are thinking about building a customer education function, Adam wants you to ask yourself, "What is your customer education charter?" This matters because education can make a direct contribution to any and all steps in the customer journey. And when you are starting out, you don't want to try to address everything. You want to pick one of the steps, then go make friends with the team that owns that step in the journey (for example, marketing or sales or customer success or support) and together define clearly how education can make a difference. We need to work more collaboratively in service of our customers.
"Make friends with the teams that are actually out in front of customers," explains Adam. "If you don't, you don't have empathy for those teams or for the customers they serve."
Effective customer education requires empathy.
Learn more about Adam:
If you sold sales software to sales people, and the software promised a specific outcome, how would you help customers achieve that outcome? You might publish that outcome on a dashboard in your product and place it in a highly visible location so your customers can see it every day. You might also overlay a target on the dashboard so customers know the number they need to achieve and the gap between current state and goal state. You might also color code the dashboard to make it even easier to understand current state. This is just what Adam Honig, founder and CEO of Spiro.ai does in his CRM product. The outcome Spiro is designed to help customers achieve is having more meaningful conversations with customers. Sales people spend 40% of their time doing administrative work in CRMs when they should be spending more of that time on high value tasks, like talking to prospects. While conversations with prospects does not necessarily lead directly to new sales, it does put sales people in a position to succeed. So Adam's goal is to help customers have more of those conversations and help them track towards that outcome.
Learn more about Adam Honig:
Helping Sells Radio reaches across the pond to speak to David Jackson, CEO of TheCustomer.co following his recent talk at Gainsight's Pulse Europe 2018 titled, How to Construct a Predictive Health Score With or Without Usage Data. David gave that talk with Charli Rogers, Vice President, Client Success at Yext. The subject alone is more than enough reason to have David on the show. But digging further, David has a unique perspective on product-led customer success, which is timely with Gainsight's acquisition of Aptrinsic, and his views on simplifying customer are music to our ears.
Learn more about David:
Jay Gibb is the founder and CEO of a B2B SaaS company called CloudSponge and a partner at a distributed software engineering consulting agency called Arizona Bay. Arizona Bay builds software products for its clients, usually SaaS products. Roughly 10-20% of Arizona Bay's customers are "ideal customers." An ideal customers in this case is defined by someone who comes to Jay and already has pre-sold an unbuilt software product. Think about that. Jay's customer has sold, to their customer, a software product....then they go to Jay and ask his firm to help them build it. Jay, his customer, and the customer's customer get together and start making it happen. But this isn't even the best part of the story.
The next level of customer that Arizona Bay gets is someone who wants to build a software product, knows what they want, but they do not have pre-sales. Jay helps them get pre-sales, so they can become an ideal customers. "I'll give them a bunch of mentoring and advice, and I'll send them down the path of getting pre-orders, and I'll help them do that, at no charge, because I'm trying to be helpful," says Gibb.
Strangely enough. Some customers reject that help. They already know what they want and are perfectly happy to say, no thank you to that help. Jay tells them, "Thanks but no thanks." That is not going to create an ideal customers, and these arrangements can lead to headaches for both parties.
Some prospects love Gibb's helpful approach and very often turn into customers. "The sales process is fun for me," says Gibb. "And when the customer is ready to get started, there is no competition. There are no bids. We are do deep into this relationship that we are just going to get the project."
We talked about many more things with Jay. But that was my favorite part.
My question for you is this, "How you do help your prospects become ideal customers?"
Learn more about Jay Gibb:
If you are a regular listener of Helping Sells Radio, you know that whenever we have a guest on the show to talk about customer success, we challenge them (I'm putting that nicely here in the show notes) on the idea that customer success is really not yet about customer success and more about "our" success. I ask, "When are we going to change that and actually start talking about customer success?" I'm still waiting for the right answer. Well, we have two customer success guests on this episode, and they have an answer to the question. And the answer is: business outcome management. Dave Duke, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at MetaCX, and James Scott, General Partner of the Customer Success Practice at SuccessHacker explain that business outcome management is a core customer success competency (or should be) that provides a team a methodology for helping customers achieve business outcomes.
We are one step closer to living up to the promise of customer success as a discipline.
Learn more about Dave Duke:
Sarah E. Brown, author of Power to the Startup People: How to Grow Your Startup Career When You're Not the Founder, wants to help people evaluate whether and how to build a career in startups. As we talk about on the show, most of what is written about startups is for the founder. Little-to-none has been written to help employees. Until now. Working at a startup can be fun and exciting and enriching and lucrative. Working at a startup can also be stressful and purposeless and cliche and unprofitable. To make matters worse, one startup might be a perfect fit for you, but a terrible match for your best friend, who you think is so much like you. In other words, working at startups is not for everyone. The point is to evaluate what you want out of your career and see how that matches up with what startups can offering. You need to look for a fit.
The most valuable part of Sarah's book is that it helps you think about this evaluation process. You quite literally could use Sarah's book to make a check-list of criteria and use it to evaluate your current role and possible next opportunity to determine the right fit build the right startup career.
Learn more about Sarah:
Chris Yeh joined Helping Sells Radio to talk about his new book, Blitzscaling: The Lightening-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies, which he co-authored with Reid Hoffman. Blitzscaling is written for entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies to massive sizes and understand how to navigate the transitions from small company to medium company to large company. It's not all roses. As Chris explains, "You start off building a company and dream about a day when you've got it all figured out, and it's all going to be smooth from there. It turns out that time never arrives." What happens instead is that once you do have it figured out, you almost have to start again from scratch because your company is entering a new stage of its lifecycle and the new stage requires a new set of beliefs, operating principles, and processes, and sometimes even people.
Companies go through stages. At each stage the company is completely different. And the company should be treated differently. This means founders and executive teams and even employees, need to make certain transitions so that the company can continue to grow and succeed into the next stage.
Peter Thiel helped us go from Zero to One. Reid and Chris helps us go from Zero to One Billion.
Learn more about Chris:
Chris's website: https://chrisyeh.com/
Chris on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisyeh
Chris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrisyeh
The Masters of Scale podcast and Chris's cameo appearance: https://mastersofscale.com/#/arianna-huffington-what-great-founders-do-at-night
Chris's other book with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. The Alliance: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JTJ84EW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
There is a first time for everything and this episode has two first times. First, we took Helping Sells Radio on the road to visit Dustin DeVan, founder and CEO of BuildingConnected at his office to talk about disrupting the construction industry with collaborative software. Second, Sarah E. Brown, founder and long-time co-host of Helping Sells Radio and director of content marketing at BuildingConnected, joins the show as a guest host AND a guest. She even took over the show open.
So, this was an exciting shows on multiple levels.
Riddle me this: How does a mechanical and aeronautical engineer with no aspirations to get into construction or technology, start a technology company for the construction industry? Think about that there for a moment.
In this episode you will learn how Dustin got into the construction industry, and while he was working in it, how he discovered that the construction industry is one of the most collaborative and also one of the most fragmented industries in the world. And with the gigantic number of construction projects around the world, organizing a seemingly endless number of contractors and sub-contractors and suppliers...none of them are connected in any modern collaborative sense. Dustin saw a need to create a network of contractors and sub-contractors to help all of these people work together better. For example, to help sub-contractor win more business, help contractors find the right sub-contractors, and ultimately help build better construction projects.
Learn more about BuildingConnected: https://www.buildingconnected.com
Dustin DeVan on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dustindevan/
This is first in a series of podcasts in anticipation of ClientSuccess's annual CS100 Summit Conference. We are calling this series the CS100 Summit Preparation pack. To kick off the preparation pack, Nils Vinje from Glide Consulting and CS100 Summit speaker, is back on the show for the third time. We talk to Nils about customer maturity impact on what level of services you provide, what he's talking about at CS100 Summit, and you are much better off spending 30 minutes documenting a process rather than perform that process over and over from memory. Because if you take that process and multiply it across a team of customer success managers, you will develop a lot of inefficiencies and deliver widely varying customer experiences.
Even if you cannot make it to CS100 Summit 2018, this episode gives you a taste of Nils' talk.
Learn more about CS100 Summit:
Go download those resources Nils talked about in the show:
She tried. And she succeeded. Naturally. Emilia D'Anzica, founder of Customer Growth Advisors, joined Helping Sells Radio intending to take over the show and interview Bill about his book. We did that at the end of the show, but before we did that, we spent time talking about Emilia and her work with customer success teams. Very early on in the show we talked about on-boarding pitfalls because we all want to avoid them. One of the pitfalls Emilia wants us all to really get is that we assume our customers will just learn how to use our software. And this is not true. Customer needs our help in on-boarding to understand why and how to use our software. But that does not mean turning on the fire hose and try to show the customers everything. Emilia urges us to make sure the on-boarding training is laser focused on the fewest most important task that get customers to perform the one thing they bought our product for...whatever that it. Don't do more that because customers will forget it anyway. Just get them to the one thing first. Then build on that learning later.
Oh, and we also talked about Emilia and the book she wants to write one day. We're going to check in on your Emilie. Write that book!
Michael Redbord, General Manager of the Service Hub at HubSpot, joined Helping Sells Radio to talk about making customers successful. Software companies have to focus on building trust, adding value, and helping people do their job better. But how far should we go in helping our customer be successful? Asked another way, "Should the gym employee come to my house and throw away the cookies?" While Mike doesn't think the gym should go to people's houses slapping cookies out of their hands, we should try to help customers do their jobs better, not just get them to log into our software. Just think about how HubSpot does his. A lot of it is with education: educational blogs, HubSpot Academy, and the book "Inbound!" Speaking of books, Mike thinks the topic of making customers successful more than warrants a book. We agree. Write it, Mike.
Matt Cameron used to hand write letters to prospects to get into their office for a sales call. After granting Matt a meeting, a global company CFO said to Matt, "I need to believe that you know something that I need to know now."
How many SDRs are thinking like that?
At least in part, it seems this experience has driven Matt on his mission to help sales people learn executive acumen and become experts in the domain into which they sell, so that they can help prospects create value. Matt is well on his way. He founded SalesOps Central and created the SaaSy Sales Management boot camp to do just that. His background is as a sales leader at Salesforce and Yammer, two sales juggernauts to be sure.
Are you helping your sales teams development executive acumen and domain expertise?
I bet you have heard of the golden rule. You may have even followed it a few times in your life. There is nothing wrong with the golden rule. I think it's great. But if you think about it carefully, the golden rule is inherently selfish..."treat people the way 'we' want to be treated?" Jeanne Bliss has another idea. An idea that is more personal but less selfish. The idea is to treat people the way you would want your mom to be treated. Whoa! Think about that there for a minute. Then, think about it in the context of business. For example, answer this question: "Would you turn your mom's warrantee down 3 days after it expires?" Not! But companies do that to customers every day. And it's a shame.
Jeanne Bliss, 5-time chief customer officer and 4-time author has a new book that I think threatens the golden rule's reign. We will soon all invoke the "Make Mom Proud" rule for how to treat our customers. And that is the name of her new book, "Would You Do That Do You Mother: The 'Make Mom Proud' Standard for How to Treat Your Customers."
Jeanne joins us on Helping Sells Radio to help us apply this new rule on our businesses.
Learn more about Jeanne Bliss and her work: http://www.customerbliss.com/
According to Ari Hoffman, customer success is kind of like being a professional sports coach. The coach's number 1 priority isn't to fill the stands with fans, help the team get new sponsors, or worry about the price of food at the concession stands — it's to help the players win games. Help the players succeed on the field (or court, or wherever they play).
It's just one of the reasons why Hoffman, Customer Fanatic at MindTouch, spends his days listening to and sharing stories with customers, colleagues, other people in the tech industry, and even his friends and family. He wants to hear it all because he's curious about the stories that "engage people and raise the bar for everyone."
This episode is so good we had to re-air it. Plus, we are going to experiment a little by going back into the archives once in a while and pull out some gems and bring them back to the front of the line. We'd love to know what you think. One of these gems is of course the episode with Catherine Blackmore, GVP of Customer Success at Oracle Marketing Cloud. Three things we learned from Catherine are 1) education is a critical part of customer success. You cannot help customers be successful unless you help them learn. 2) Obviously, education is not all of it. With any software project, people have to change how they work. We have to help our customers through that change. Change management is part of customer success too. 3) There seems to be an endless debate about who should own the customer. Lost in this debate is how and whether sales and service is converging. Some signs say, "Yes." This is also a fun episode because we reminisced about stealing one of Catherine's ideas, which by the way, led to two new customer. Maybe you should steal this idea, too. We hope you like the re-broadcasting idea. Tell us if you do on Twitter using #HelpingSells.
The first thing they did is insult me by telling me my data sucks. Actually, Your Data Sucks: Join the Club was the name of their talk at the 2018 Gainsight Pulse Conference. Patrick Lawler, Director of Customer Success and Services and Dave Derington, Director of User Enablement both from Azuqua join Helping Sells Radio to help us understand how we can use data to help our teams help our customers. Better. That sounds like a worthy endeavor because figuring out how to deliver customer success in a scalable way cab help our companies grow.
It is always a treat when guests come into the studio because in-person interviews are so much more conversational and, therefore, better. Jessica McGlory, director of paid social at the online marketing firm Jellyfish, joins us to talk about how paid media can be helpful. Most of us don't think about paid online social advertising as being helpful, but when it is targeted the right way, contains the right message, and offers something useful, it can definitely help people achieve outcomes.
CSO Insights found that of companies that push through a CRM software implementation, less than 40% of organizations achieve full scales end-user adoption. That is what Brandon Bruce, COO and Co-founder of Cirrus Insight, tells us in this episode of Helping Sells Radio. We talk about why software projects fail and how to turn them around. He details all of this in his book, "The Shelfware Problem: A Guide to CRM Adoption."