The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

10. Does Your Sales Team Hurt Customer Success? w/ Nick Hart

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sometimes it’s a bad thing when the sales team closes the deal.

Customer experience often starts with the sales team promising something that the customer success team can’t deliver.

We asked Nick Hart, Customer Success Manager at Outreach.io (a sales engagement platform), how to make sure that the sales team and customer success team are all on the same page.

Salespeople frequently have the mentality of just getting deals across the finish line.

From a financial point of view, the sales team needs to be incentivized to prioritize prospects who are most likely to renew.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The Perils of Productivity
  • Customer Success Metrics
  • Where Sales Causes Problems
  • Who Should Send Marketing Materials?
  • Bring Your Executive to Work Day

I'll hop on calls of our sales people and I hear them say things and say we should not be selling that. That's really difficult to set up, if not impossible to set up, and that's just making sure that there's good communication throughout the organization. You're listening to the customer experience podcast, a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businesses restore a personal human touch throughout the customer life cycle. Get ready to hear how sales, marketing and customer success experts surprise and delight and never lose sign of their customers humanity. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Hey, welcome to this episode of the Customer Experience Podcast. Thanks so much for clicking play. Here we're going to go deep on customer success with the CSM At outreached out. I Oh Nick Hart, two and a half year member of the team. They're also a tech Seattle organizer. Maybe we'll get into that as well. He's been working at as a CSM on the market leading sales engagement platform. Nick, welcome to podcast even thanks for having me excited to be here. Yeah, so I open this always with with the same question and I'll ask it of you because I want to know how different people in different seats in the house see it differently. What to you, when I say customer experience, does that mean to you? What does it conjure? Oh, that's a great question. The first thing I'll say is it definitely sits outside of just the world of customer success. I really think it's the end to end experience dance that a prospect or customer has with your organization. So it starts from their first impression that they get with your marketing team to that first conversation that they have with sales, all the ways through their hopeful expansion but also maybe potential turn. So you really have to be thinking about that experience throughout the full life cycle of customer it's Great. I think a lot of people want to just kind of lay it into the C as well. We'll put that over there, but, to you pointed, is truly end to end this tell me a little bit about outreach, dot Ioh so that as we get into some of the customer success metrics and how you manage those, so there's some context for it. Talk a little bit about outreach. I oh how you found them and which you guys are trying to do in the world. Yeah, absolutely. So outreach is a sales engagement platform. So it's a new space that we we're defining ourselves. But what we do is we help sales people engage with their prospects in a way that's, I guess, more efficient, more effective, telling them when they should be engaging with what types of touch points at which which times. They don't have to do all of that manual work, the data entree, all everything that was involved in the sales process before. We're getting rid of all of that, streamlining it so they can actually have more hours in their data actually sell. Awesome. So you're doing things like helping them manage cadences, track activity, look at the effectiveness of activity, etc. Yeah, exactly. So what we're doing is we're taking your best performing rep and we're building a structure for which they're engaging with their prospects and then we're allowing you to repeat that across everybody else on your team. So one of the driving functions or or ways that we do this is via what's called a sequence, which sounds fairly simple and concept but it's amazing the organizations that I work with how much strategy they put behind this, as they should, but it is essentially what a sequence is is you predefine the series of touch points that it's going to take to engage a prospect and then you can put your prospects through that and then you can start to measure what's working and what's not, so you can see, does it take seven touch points, does it take three emails, three phone calls, or does it need maybe some linkedin steps and social touches? All of that can be measured through outreach so that you can refine your process and become more effective over time. That's awesome. So you're helping sales professionals and sales teams improve their share of the customer experience for their customers. You got it. Yeah, exactly, we gotta. We're going to fine tune your craft, make it as good as it possibly...

...can be so you can have the best messaging to engage with your your prospects in the right way and hopefully landom's customer. Awesome. So is a CSM. I assume that you're working a lot off customer success metrics. Give me a little bit of a framework for how you and your team do it there. You know, how do you gather the right metrics. How do you know they're the right metrics? How do you put them into play right it's one thing to have a I know we all have dashboards in front of us off and on during the day, but how do you bring it to life and make it valuable? Talk a little bit about the customer success metrics that you all use and kind of a process maybe that other folks could use to get stronger in that area. Yeah, great question. The interesting thing about this is this has been quite an evolution for us. When I first started here over two and a half years ago, this concept of success metrics was completely new. What we've learned over time is that it's very easy and success to be sucked down into the weeds have a really like a support level conversation with our customers, but that's not how you drive business value, and that's the business value that a lot of times your sales people are talking about and selling up front. We need to make sure that we actually deliver on that. The analogy that I always gives your salespeople are selling the gym membership. Customer success is responsible for actually getting you in shape. So you need to know what what those end goals are. But when you're thinking about how to aggregate these success metrics, ones that actually matter to your customers, there's a couple different places that you can go. First, ask your customers. They obviously, or they hopefully know what what they want. You can talk to your customer success reps, CSM's. They obviously talk to your customers every day and they know what types of projects that they're working on. And then also ask your sales people. They're the ones that are selling the vision. They hopefully know what's resonating most. You're not going to get it perfect the first the first time around we've definitely put together success metrics that either we don't actually know how to measure them, which is its own problem, or ones that customers don't care about. So it's a bit of a it's always a moving target, it's always evolving. What we found is really helpful is you start to curate this list and then you can suggest them. The way I always explain this as we try to build a menu for our reps that they can then take when they go to their ebrs, executive business reviews with with their customers, and they can show their customers this menu of options. One thing that we've we've learned through this process is that a lot of times customers think they know what they want but they don't actually know what they want. Are you'll come into a meeting and they say, Oh yeah, we're so excited to discuss success metrics, and then we just ask them, and I've done this plenty of times when we were first in this process, I'd say great, so what are some success metrics that you want to track? And they go I got nothing. More calls. Okay, but that's is more calls really going to move the need on your business? And they go on, I don't know. So that's why it's helpful to have a menu and be able to come to them and say here's some other things that we've been working on with other similar customers that we think would be relevant to you and let and then let them pick. Yeah, I love it. So you curate from customers, your fellow CSMS and salespeople to generate a menu. I'm sure there's some kind of process of winning that down a little bit, because you don't want to zillion things on the menu. So in this many concept apt you know, what are a couple choice items, about how many items are on the many like it's someone's someone wants to do this process because it seems very seems like something you could get downe over the course of, you know, thirty days or so. If you put a couple people on it, have some conversations, talk to some customers and some some fellow team members, you could generate a raw list. Like from that. What are we looking at? Are we looking at it a dozen or we looking at a hundred, like, yeah, great, Qu might someone land after after round one? Yeah. So what I can tell you is what we've done and what's worked for us. Sure, and this is also a great segue into once...

...you've built this list you have, it has to be easy for your reps to consume, because just a static list somewhere, they're not going to know what to do with it or it's going to be too much leg work to actually implement it into their process that they won't. So what we've done is we've actually just simply put together a repository of slides that our reps can pick and choose from and use those in their ebrs. There's probably about, oh, I would say probably two Thousan two hundred and twenty five success metrics in all. We wouldn't take twenty to twenty five to a meeting with her, with with a customer. So the REP to the best of their knowledge, will grab for maybe five at most and put those into one one deck and say here's the metric that I think makes most sense for your business. Hopefully they're putting metrics in there that are relevant to the customer based on the conversations and the relationship that they built so far. Put Four or five in there and will spend most of our executive business review on that one slide. I got a a ninety minute meeting with a customer. Will probably spend thirty to forty five minutes on one slide only is talking through success metrics. So the success metric being really like this strategic initiative that they're working on. You can think of success metrics and in two different ways. There's the actual metric itself, but then there's what is the strategic outcome or goal that you're trying to achieve, which is really the two should be thought of in the same in the same light. So yeah, so we so we have this goal in concept, a qualitative goal, let's say, and then how do we know we got there? Is the actual metric part, the quant side of it. So they mean they're that's the number representation of the idea we want to achieve. It's exactly it. Yeah, and so the way that we lay this out to customers, as they might say, we want to have a higher conversion rates on prospecting emails. Great, the success metric there is going to be the actual conversion rate, but the goal who are trying to achieve is more effective prospecting messaging, right, and so that really helps us kind of frame what is the goal, how are we going to measure against this goal? And then, in that same motion, we actually talk through what are the what are the projects in order to get in order to get us there, so by the time we leave that meeting you know exactly how we're going to track it and how we're going to get there. I love it. I think one of the places where a lot of folks fall down on customer experience in general is not having that explicit a conversation about what does success look like for you? Cool? Here are a few different ways we could paint it. Here's how we're going to measure it, and then we're going to check back in on it. You know, I think a lot of I've been in this position before where, you know, I think I know what success looks like for him or her, but when it finally bears itself out, I was off the mark or we just saw it completely differently, or I thought they were successful but they didn't, or vice versa, and so I love being really explicit and having a menu to choose from and that you, as the CSM, prior to going into the review, are narrowing that down so that there can be a very targeted conversation around it. Any other best practices here around success metrics? Review them often, so we use that. Will do our quarterly, usually quarterly, check in with our with our customers, and then that becomes your project plan for the next couple quarters, or a couple months, I should say, and then you review them at the next and just make sure that you're tracking progress for sure. That probably that probably my big one. We're in we're in the motion right now of doing a better job of centralizing this and tracking it internally and figuring out which customers actually have defined set success metrics and how are we measuring against those? That's kind of a work in progress for it. But yeah, most of all, as you to find these make am easy for your reps to use and then track them ongoing. It's excellent. Now you came a little bit from the world of sales. You've had some sales roles in the past.

In fact, you are an outreach customer before he became an outreach team member. Talk about that transition, but then also speak to this is I want to cover this a few different ways. Having been a salesperson and having been a customer success professional, what do you wish more salespeople knew about the CS function, either in the context of customer experience or just in general? So again, talk a little bit about your transition from sales to see us, and what do you wish more salespeople knew now that you've worked both sides of the fence? Yeah, I love I love that question. This isn't there are plenty of nights that I stayed up, or a sleepless nights I should say, debating whether I was making the right decision and and still to this day, I I often feel like I have to put my sales calf back on. I do miss that side of the house a little bit. But for me the decision to move over to sales is because I wanted to have more strategic conversations with customers and I wanted to be a little more technical. I think that was part of it as well. But yeah, just working, being able to unplow all the conversation, the type of person that I was, that I was speaking with in the path for me to be able to do that was quicker, honestly, through customer success. I know problem solvings a lot of what you do in in sales as well, but with customer success I got to see that further through, which was fun for me. I guess there's one thing, well, maybe there's a couple things. Let's see. Let's see how many come to mind for my sales counterpart, is that I wish, I wish that they knew, or just that I wish I knew when I was in sales. First is if you cut any corners, it doesn't just disappear customers, customer success is going to have to pick that up. So if you sell a deal that that you're maybe over promising in a little bit, it's not that. Once you get it over the line of that that problem just disappears. It means that somebody else in your organization is going to have to pick up the slack on that. That's that's generally customer success. And then the other is at least I know this is the case for our business, but really in the SASS world, your CAC payback period is generally for most startups, is more than it more than one year. So I know when I was a salesperson there is always that mentality of like, if I can just get this thing across the line, will be good to go every everything, everything is smooth saling from here. And from a business standpoint it's not really the case, because if you're overselling deals and they churn out after the first year, you're most likely losing money on on those customers. So from a financial standpoint it just makes sense to really look big picture and try not to cut corners. So yeah, I love that. I could feel heads nodding to by from collectively the listeners of of the show who are and see us were collectively nodding. He's you're like if you got it. If someone cuts a corner up front, someone's got to clean it up in the end. There's there's no hiding like the bill will come do and see us tends to have to pay that bill. I coulds you see a lot of people getting behind that idea. Yeah, and one thing I will throw in there too is that it was really difficult for me in the sales world to know these things because I didn't have the visibility that I wish I had into customer sixtens. For any organizations out there that are not in their heads saying yeah, we completely agree, you can't completely blame sales reps if they're left out of the loop. So I don't whether it's a monthly meeting or a spreadsheet or review, make sure that when customers do turn out or when there's problems that you're seeing in success, that that gets back over to sales, that they know not to sell those deals. All sometimes hop on sales. No organization is perfect when it comes to this. I will all hop on calls of our sales people and I hear them say things and say we should not be selling that. That's it's really difficult to set up, if not impossible to set up, and that's just making sure that there's good communication throughout the organization. Getting back to those sales people. So job. Yeah, that's killer. It's so good, it's...

...so it's so funny. How much can be resuct second I can see, you know, couple C s people sitting over at lunch and, you know, cash. I wish they would step up a the you know, like they like that kind of like. And likewise, on the sale side. They don't understand the pressure we're under. They don't know how hard is to take quota. And just how much just simple exposure, I mean you just said just better communication throughout the orientation organization. How much just basic exposure really washes out a lot of the a lot of the problems of weaknesses. Switching it up a little bit, marketing for the marketers listening. What does a marketer need to know about cs that he or she probably doesn't know? I could speak in terms of customer marketing. A couple things that we've learned is we love to have resources and assets and communication to go out to our customers. It needs to be really easy to actually get out there, and what I mean by that is we have in our organization are our product marketing team. Every time we release a new feature, and not every feature, but the bigger releases. We like to push it through customer success because as we find that our engagement and emails coming directly from our success reps versus sending it out through our marketing automation is drastically higher. In fact, little shameless plug here, we use our own our own system outreach in order to do this. Where our average, we think you're are average open rate on an email from coming from customer success is like forty five plus percent, whereas if you were to send it through marketing automation, your open rate would be probably in the single digits, maybe into the teens. So we find it's a lot more effective. Now where I'm going with this is the only the way that you can ask your success reps to do this, if you is if you make it really easy for them to communicate. So you have to either draft the email that the reps are going to send or, in our case, we draft an entire and entire sequence, which is several emails, and all of the reps will have their list of customers that they want to send it to. So it's really just a couple clicks to get that communication out there. So I guess the high level theme there is marketing. If you want success to push anything to their customers, you have to make it dead simple for them to do I love it. So for us, you know we work, we do have a ton of larger accounts, but we also have a even more very small accounts and so wouldn't be practical to do that. But I can think of, you know, several hundred accounts of ours that we should definitely put into play what you prescribe there, which is it builds the relationship. That creates another opportunity to get back in front of the customer with a message of value. Instead of, you know, a he is everything okay, it's like hey, you know, here's more value that we're building onto your account. You know, if you have any questions, let me know. It just open gives people a reason to get back in front of a customer, which is awesome. I wrote that one down and started I'm writing a lot of stuff down, but I wrote that one down and start it because I'm going to pitch that one internally. Last one in the series of questions about what should people understand a little bit better about about CS? Speak to the executives, like the VP of engineering or a VP of product or see EO or somebody else that isn't in the guts, probably hasn't been in the guts of a customer success, customer support, Customer Care Organization. What would be helpful for them to know about the customer success function? You know, that is a good question. Nothing on honestly, nothing really comes to mind. That's that's a real stand out. I guess the one that that I found has been really valuable internally that I think we do well is just bring your executives to customer meetings. We do this really well. We have for all of our accounts we have what we call it an executive sponsor, outreach executive sponsor. So for all of our all of our at least all of our strategic accounts, so probably our top hundred, two hundred accounts, we have a designated assiigned executive on our team. We try to...

...align an executive who either like our engineering. VP of engineering, would probably be aligned to one of our customers who sells a product that would resonate with vpees of engineering, so they can help build report that way. And I'd say, as you're going around and doing on sites with these customers, or even if there are smaller customer and they don't warrant an on site, even an email introduction to one of your executives. We found that to be hugely, hugely successful. It also helps you up level the conversation within an organization. A lot of times you can spend your entire day having conversations, at least in the success world, talking with your ops and enablement's team. Those are the primary personas who administer our tool. By bringing in our executives, it's done wonders for us to up level that conversation to the executive level on our customer side. That's killer. It also lets the customer know how important they are, like if a if an executive from the company showing up at just a sign another sign that I care. It also keeps the executive team in touch with what's really happening out in the field. So just another great tip. Hey, before we get to the way I always like to close the show, you've spent time with one of the brands it's regarded as one of the most excellent in terms of customer experience. That company is nords Trem. I believe they're paid based up in the Pacific northwest. As you are. So you spent a little bit of time there. What did you learn in your time? They're like, how are you on boarded or trainers ers? There something that you took away from that, just because it's such a legendary brand, from the way that they treat their customers? What was that expect? Now we are getting going back about a decade. So you know, bring forward what you can, but I just saw that on your on your linkedin profile. I thought you nords from his worth a mention. Yeah, it's funny. I think I can sum this up in one sentence really, and this this stuck with me and my time. They're they said we will not fire you. Everybody. First off, everybody knows Nordstrom has one of the most exceptional return policies out there and that just says something about their customer experience. And I remember one quote that somebody said to me was you will not get fired for doing a bad return, but you may get fired if you don't return something. It's not just it just says you always put the customer first and we would rather we would rather take the loss and take a return that maybe we shouldn't have or maybe it's going to hurt our business a little bit, but if it helps our brand and our it makes our customer experience better, than do it. So that one, that one really stuck with me. I think that just kind of emulates the way that they think about customer experience. It's so good because it's all about repeat and referral and and that's the kind of thing just so many stories come out of that. As a policy, when you train everyone on the way in the door that that's how we treat people, you just giving customers, as soon as they experience this, easy ways to talk about the brand in the company. Hey, here on the podcasting and at bombomb where I work, we're all about relationships. It's our number one core value. So I like to give you the chance to think or mention someone who's been really important or valuable in your work or in your life and in a company that you personally have experienced excellent customer care. Yeah, absolutely. There's actually two people that come to mind. The first is my former svp of revenue and that would be Matt Milan, and one thing that I learned from him that really stuck with me is the power of being prompt and won't one story in particular that stands out. We were doing was it was a customer event over on the East Code Post who we were catching an early flight back the next morning and we had been out with customers and doing the whining and dining thing and having a great time and if there were any morning to have an excuse to to meet in the lobby at maybe a few minutes after the time that we had we had specified, that would have been the morning to do so. And, to...

Matt's credit, every time we're supposed to be somewhere, he was all. He's always fifteen minutes early, always, and this this morning was no exception. that. That'll stick with me for every t taught me the power of being prompt and I've definitely tried to take more of that into my life. It's had a it's had a big influence. The other the other person that comes to mind that's had a huge influence on me is I haven't talked to her probably five or six years, but Lori glory small. When I back in my Jama days, I remember this is like my first real career job and it was at a tech company. It was really cool and they had the whole laidback lifestyle or culture with the kegs and the kegs in the break room and they had the popa shot and they had the ping pong and I was fully embracing this, this lifestyle, as you could say, and I remember her pulling me aside and saying, nick, I know how hard you work, but not everybody at this organization does and you should really know that appearances are our reality. And I see you playing Ping Pong and Papa shot with your co workers and it's great that we have this culture here, but just don't forget for those other people who may not work with you and as close then at a relationship that I do, they may not realize how hard of a worker you are. So that's that's really stress stuck with me throughout my cur and maybe that it might even be the reason I'm the guy that is coins is wearing the tie every day to work. But yeah, so those those two have definitely stuck, stuck with me over my career. It's good stuff and great tips there to talk a little bit about a company that you really respect for the way that they have treated you. Or could be it could be a restaurant, it could be a brand it could be a corner neighborhood's shop. I've had. I've had all kinds of responses to this one and they're all very interesting. Could be software that you use. Oh, that is a great question. Oh, you know who's does a really good job at this is Alaska Airlines. God, they've got just a great customer experience. I've I fly almost exclusively with them now and any opportunity that I that I have to to sing their praises, I do. I think the way that they do customer service is phenomenal. The fact that you can still pick up the phone and call somebody and answer and one little thing that they do that has always stuck with me. As they say, when their customers support answers the phone, they say this is nick and Seattle, Washington, and it just gives you it just humanizes the person that you're talking to and gives you some some sort of icebreaker to talk about. So I think they do a really great job with customer experience. It's cool. Thank you so much for taking the opportunity to prop them up and your informer coworkers who whose lessons still stick with you today. I always enjoy those questions because I always get great answers like yours. Hey, nick, your time has been so valuable to me. I hope listeners have enjoyed it to thank you so much for doing it. If someone wants to connect with you or without reach, we're a couple ways they might do that. Yeah, Linkedin is a great way. You can shoot me an email specifically if you want. It's Nick Dot heart at outreach dooh, check out our website at outreach dot ioh yeah, there should be all of the necessary channels if you want to get in touch with us. Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for your insights. I really enjoyed it. Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me. You're listening to the customer experience podcast. No matter your role in delivering value and serving customers, you're entrusting some of your most important and valuable messages to faceless digital communication. You can do better rehumanize the experience by getting face to face through simple, personal videos. Learn more and get started free at bomb bombcom. You've been listening to the customer experience podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit bombombcom thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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