The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

38. Training and Certifying Your Sales Teams to Speak Your Customer's Language w/ Alex Rosemblat


If you want to learn a little bit about training and certifying your sales teams to speak your customers’ language you’re in the right place. 

Alex Rosemblat, VP of Marketing at Datadog, came on this episode of The Customer Experience podcast to walk us through how he’s training his sales teams to truly understand and speak their customers’ language. 

What we talked about:

  • Your customers speak their own language
  • So, how do you learn it?
  • Listening for ‘the crinkle’
  • Building your curriculum

Resources we talked about:

There's a lot of times that givingsomebody some knowledge without the context about why this is important means that it's goingto go in one year and not the other. The single most important thingyou can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieveddesired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This isthe customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Hey, welcome backto the customer experience podcast. If you want to learn a little bitabout training and certifying sales teams to speak the customers language, you are inthe right place. Today's guest brings to the conversation more than a decade ofenterprise software experience in product marketing and in product management. He spent time atSemantic, v Colonel and Dell. He earned his MBA at mit and forthe past six years he's been at data dog, a monitoring and analytics servicefor modern cloud environments. He serves as their vice president of marketing, AlexRosenblatt. Welcome to the customer experience podcast. Bank something good to be here.Yeah, you know, I'm really excited to get into this idea andlearn how and why you've pursued it around training and certifying sales teams. Partlymy interest is in the relationship between sales and marketing that permits this to happen. But we'll start where we always start here, which is, you know, your thoughts are, your definition or characteristics you think of when you thinkof customer experience? Yeah, you know, I mean, I think that thebig thing that I think about with customer experience when you're working at acompany, I think that you get really bogged down and how you're going todeliver the product of the service that that you're going to be giving to theperson that's going to be using whatever it is that you're offering. But youreally have to turn it around and realize that for the person that is thecustomer, like, they don't know about all the difficulties or everything that's goingon behind the scenes. They only care about what they're going to receive interms of a product or service. We always try to have as a mindsethere is what's going to be the perception of the customer and they're actually usingour product. You know and it's got to be good. I think thatmost industries nowadays there's a lot of options, you know, especially in technology,with the adject of cloud computing, which is the space that we playin. It's amazing to me that all you need is a credit card.You know, anybody with a credit card can start a cloud environment up fornot very much money and, if they know what they're doing, can puttogether a prototype for an application pretty quick and Bam, you can go outthere and compete with a big company if you want to. So, youknow, going back to customer experience, I think that for a lot ofcompanies out there, if you stop really keeping that in mind and you losesight of the customers, of what they are, you know, how they'reinteracting with or whatever is that you're offering, someone else is going to come outthere and compete for them and potentially take them great breakdown there. Ireally like it. I like this idea that we can get caught up inour own tasks and checklists and things and we lose sight of the customer prettyoften. This idea that there is functionally approaching infinite competition because all these cloudservices are built on other cloud services and, to your point, all it takesis the ability to take a credit card number, and so this perceptionpiece is critical as well, because that's what we carry for, that's thefeelings that we have, is the stories that we tell. So love thatbreakdown there. Hey, for context before we get into the primary tapic here, can you share with people a little bit about your background, Alex,and a little bit about data dog as well? Sure. For me personally, I started from, you know, Undergrad, being much more technology focused. My first couple of roles, first and enterprise software and then in onlineday to backup, I'm sorry, online, first enterprise housecare software, and thenOnlin Day to back up. I was much more technology focused, basicallyworking with product teams to make sure that the solution that we were delivering forour customers was exactly what they expect out in. A lot of it requiredcustom development and I actually try to start a company when I went to GradSchool. One of my t and I...

...partnered with with another technologist. Webuilt the prototype for something that was like mind blowing and I was at theretrying to get Beta customers for the prototype that we had and even though everyonetook a look at what we build, they're like wow, that's awesome.Nobody would agree to even try it out for free. And it was,and until we were meeting with some angel investors that you know, one ofthem said, hey, you know what, you guys seem really bright. Yourproduct prototype seems really interesting if I was to just throw you guys amillion dollars just because I can and I have it in the bank and Ithink that you guys have a future. But I said, you could onlyuse it to get customers. What would you do with it? And wehad no idea. So that was kind of my introduction to the point thatI really, you know, hadn't thought about what it would take to getsomebody to part with money and that really started me down the paths from marketingand I've basically been in marketing ever since. In Tech, been through a coupleof acquisitions. I've seen start up Smith size companies, really really bigfortune by a hundred companies from the inside worked with customers and, you know, I think that another part of it. I've been in Techt because, havingcome from being a technologist, I have a pretty good understanding of whatthat specific persona is looking for and what they're going to react to. Butagain, I think that for any customer they definitely have their you know,hot buttons and the same lessons apply. So you know, basically I afterthat experience I dedicated myself to learning a lot more about go to market,both sales and marketing, and have really merged, I think, an engineeringmethodology with what it takes to get out into the market, present your productto people and get them interested to try it out for Daya Dog. Weare a monitoring platform for modern, dynamic applications. A lot of our customersrun their applications on public clouds like Amazon web services or Microsoft assure, Googlecloud platform, but we also do have a lot of customers that are doingsome pretty advanced stuff with all premise servers and, you know, want to. It's dynamic and workflow workloads can just shift around based on the need ofthe application. Things get a lot more complicated. It's really good functionality,but it also makes it hard to keep track of everything that's going on underneaththe application, and we've basically built out a whole platform that gives you ahundred percent visibility into everything that's happening in every part of that application so thatif an issue happens and it's a needle on the haystack, we're able toquickly find it for you. So Good I. by the way, beforewe go further, I have to say that is one of my favorite marketingorigin stories because it's just it's it was such a blunt moment there, whereaslike I don't have any ideas, and the idea that you've continued to pursuethat over the next many years is awesome. And in that that background for youto I'm sure, lends itself really well to being successful as a asa technology marketer. Let's get into training and certifying sales teams to speak thecustomers language, and there are several things I love about this one, especiallynow with the context of your background. But the necessary relationship between sales andmarketing to have that trust in rapport that allows this to be done, raisingup the customers language as a really important factor, as well as creating somecontinuity in the customer experience by being joined at the hip, at least onthis function, if not others. So let's break that down a little bitand start with. You know, why does this matter to you? Whydid you pursue it. What was kind of the origin of this, thisproject or practice for you? Yeah, I think the big thing. Youknow, I don't know if a lot of the listeners out here have seensome of the shows that that really focus around, like the tech community,Silicon Valley and is a really popular one. Mr Robots another one, you know, with developers and site reliability engineers, which are the users of our product. You know, there's a real, I guess, like a set ofvalues, norms, language. You know, they all they all workon similar challenges, they all similar passions... terms of the work that theydo. They're very passionate and there's there's a whole kind of community that existsaround it. And the thing is, you know, know somebody that isnot at that community will never be that you know from that community. ButI think it's almost the equivalent of like if you're going to, you know, a foreign country that speaks another language to visit, if you learn someof the basics, you know, like where's the train station? I'd likea hotel room for, you know, for one person, for two people, you get really far and if you know, you go somewhere and thereand you don't have at least those basics like good luck, you're not goingto be able to communicate with the people that you're talking to. So Imean, I think that there's a lot of that for someone to have agood conversation just to start out and interaction with with a company. So itbecame apparent very early on, and this isn't just at day to dog butin my previous positions and marketing, that you know, you've got people thatare bet are doing sales, as that are doing marketing, and they're verygood at the jobs, but they are not technologists. They didn't go and, you know, tool around with programming when they're in high school or theyyou know, they didn't go through a computer science or some other sort ofengineering degree and in Undergrad. You know they don't have the same background,they don't have the same training, they don't have the same methodology of howthey see the world, and so you know, you need to educate someoneon what all that is, and just telling them about it isn't enough.You have to train them enough so that they can actually speak enough the languageto start a conversation off kind of like the same, you know, equivalentif you wanted somebody to go to a country with another language, you wantto drill them on the basic so that it's in their head and whenever they'reyou know, they go to a restaurant, they're able to order, you know, a meal. So they need to know, like you know,how to order chicken or vegetables or whatever else, so that that's really wherethe impasis for this came from. I love it because when you can speakin a way that that doesn't create friction, right, like they're not using mylingo, they don't understand who I am right, there's there's this trustcomponent in the sales process that is immediately greased or immediately slowed down or youknow, there's friction there if you can't speak that language. So so,really, really important. So for you, you know, as I think aboutyou know, a listener to this and maybe outlining a number of potentialcustomers, like different types of customers. For you, of course, learningwhat the customers language is is very easy because it is, you know,you are kin to them based on your background. But give any recommendations aroundlike process or documentation, around personas or ideal customer profiles or anything like thatfor somebody's listening. Where would they start in terms of trying to capture thecustomers language so that it can be taught and certified? Yeah, I thinkthat the number one thing to do is to get a microphone, you know, by something that that's easy and portable and that you can kind of popdown and then try to find people either from your company, you know,maybe a founder, of you're at a startup, or some sort of subjectmatter expert of you're at a bigger company, or maybe a customer or maybe someonefrom your own from your own network. Find a couple of people and sitdown and, you know, more than just say, just like askhim. I think that a really good place to start is, why don'tyou take me through your day in your life for a week, in yourmonth or a month, you know, like what is kind of a standardunit, where you go through all the kinds of things that you usually dofrom beginning to end and have you walk them through it. You know,an example that I often use is like if you were to ask somebody whatthey did this morning, they probably like, Oh, well, I woke upby a pick shower at breakfast and got you know, and made itover to work, but there's so much more that they did. It's like, what did you have for breakfast? Well, I had exagemicum. Well, I had them scrambled. You know, like just taking kind of the thebullet points is not enough. You have to get in there into therich detail and and understand like, okay, when you were making eggs, thatthey stick to the pan. Yeah, they did, kind of. Thatwas really annoying. You know, maybe if you were selling cooking toolslike that would be the kind of conversation that you have, but I thinka good place to start is just a... in the life or, youknow, a week in the month and try to get into that rich color. You know, it's almost as if you were like a novelist, youknow, like describe you know again, just most novelist. Don't just saywe went to the beach. It's like the deep blue of the ocean contrastedwith the light blue of the sky. You want to get to that levelof color and I think that we're things start to get really interesting. Icall it the CRINKLE, probably other words for it, when people start pausingin the diction and you you can usually hear this really well when you playback the recording. That's when, all of a sudden you fit paid herand I think that they're pausing because they're trying to think about the best wayto say it, or perhaps they're trying to euphamize, like it's something that'sreally painful or hard and they're trying to like color over it. Basically,there's they're not speaking freely and it's because they're thinking about should they cover somethingup? Should they change the meaning of it? Would there's maybe a lotmore information that they have to unpack for you to understand what they're saying.And usually when you start hearing those pauses and conversation you start hit pater andyou're starting to like really understand things that are super important that you definitely wantto be documenting and then turning it around into some sort of training for salespeople or further go to market people. So if they understand these critical thingsin someone's day today that caused problems there or paining or other kind of difficulties. Such a great tip and and if you happen to catch it in realtime prior to playing back the recording, that might be a great spot toask a follow up question as well. So as you organize this, captureit, probably documented in some way, start sharing it around. How formalare we talking here? Like what kind of training and certification are you doing? Like what types of training and what is certification permit like? Are Theirdoors closed to people who haven't been certified? Like how, you know, howseriously are you implementing this? That's a great question. So I thinkthat once you have your list of everything. So I think that that the buildingblock, you know, the individual brick, if you will, isrecordings and, you know, trying to delve into each thing that's important toknow about someone's you know, day today responsibilities, things that are easy,things that are hard, things that make them successful, things that cause themtrouble. Once you have, as as far as you can tell, thewhole list and you're going to keep on adding to the list as your industrychanges or new technologies come out, are you yourself learn more about what you'reworking on and you realize that you missed a lot? But you have tostart somewhere. You have to build out a curriculum, and this this canbe a pretty tough one. I think that sometimes you have to have alot to go goes it it. I think that one pro tip here isthat while you're building out like the name, you know, the name of theclass or the name of the segment, another column to have immediately before itare what are the prerequisites? So if you're building on knowledge you know, it's like you can't have, you know, Spanish one or two beforeyou took Spanish one on one. So you have to basically start saying whatall the prerequisites are and usually once you write those, all those things down, you turn it kind of backwards and you start to figure out what thefirst courses that you need to have or you start to realize that there's additionalcourses because there's some prerequisite knowledge that you hadn't originally put out there. AndI think that with the curriculum that from chopping it up, you probably shouldn'thave a sessions going to go longer than an hour. If it's longer thanan hour, you should chop it up and make it into multiple sessions.But then the sequencing of the session, I think is important. Another importantthing to notice that there's a lot of times that giving somebody some knowledge withoutthe context about why this is important means that it's going to go in oneear and out the other and sometimes people have to struggle a little bit.So we have a couple of really basic trainings, things like teaching kind ofhistory and terminology and just the main things that people do to use our product, that people get within the first week or two that they're out of company, and then we've staggered out other more advanced trainings that happen after they've beenat our company for two or three months or six months, and we don'twant them to have the more advanced training because, like, they haven't yetstruggled and hit a Lante. Oh my God, I don't know how toanswer this question. Is this person's speaking in words that, even though it'sEnglish, I don't understand what they're trying to tell me. Like they haven'thad that struggle and they need to have...

...that struggle a couple of times.So when you present them the information, the white turns out, they're like, okay, great, that's what that person was trying to tell me.And you know, it's tough because you know that it's going to probably bea couple of weeks or a couple of months that they're not fully enabled.But again, almost every single roll out there has a certain amount of onboardingtime and you just had, you know, people managers factor in the fact thattheir people are going to be fully productive for a couple of months andthat's, I think, part of it. But trying to figure out how what'sthe minimum amount of time where somebody has to struggle and not know somethingto the point where they're going to be really enthusiastic to learn that missing piecethe kind of I guess in art a little bit that that's a tough oneto call. You know, I think probably the best example of the modelthere's when I was in Grad School of might, everyone's required to take thislike advanced statistics class, and that sounds you know, that doesn't sound likefun, unless you're a statistician and everyone kind of groans about it and theygive you a real life problem. Then I'm not going to say it becauseof anybody here is listening. Going to the problem. It's a great problem, but it's based on all sorts of real life stuff. They give youall the actual data that that the engineers and business people that were trying tostart out the problem had and then, as a team used to your firstproject, you need to figure out what the solution is, and you knowit doesn't look that applicate at the beginning, but then almost every single team spendslike Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and they finally of class onTuesday and you've spent four days, you know, just basically running against abrick wall. And then all of a sudden the professor pulls out the likestatistical formula that, if you put all this data in there, was goingto give you the exact answer, and you're like begging, you're absolutely justbegging for this knowledge. By the time you get it, and and youknow, when I took a step back, it made me think if this personjust explained the concept, I would be like, okay, cool,whatever. Totally you know, you were so desperate because you couldn't figure thisproblem out and you've been working on it with your team for a long timethat when they gave it to you, is like, you know, beinggiven water after having, you know, crawled in the desert for a day. Such a great analogy and it's kind of fun story to and it reallydoes make a lot of sense. I think. If it is like,you know, you need a rack to hang the code on and so theprior experience in the struggling, in the successes and the kind of soft questionsthat start building in your head that ultimately provide that resolve, you know atmaybe at it's most dramatic point, as you know, water after you've beenwandering in the desert. Really great recommendation there. Speak briefly about what typeof relationship, because this is key, as a fundamental premise of this podcastis, you know, customer experiences built across every team member and every touchpoint. And so how do we work together with other you know in someorganization is depending on the culture, it can get very, very siload andeven potentially antagonistic. You know, I hopefully that's not the case in mostshops, but I have seen things like that before. So can you speaka little bit to how to build the trust and relationship with sales people andsales leaders and sales management in order to build this out and have it takenseriously, because I think it should be obvious to anyone who's listening the valueof putting together some program like this, even if it's not as formal andbuttoned up as what you've outlined here, with some several great tips, buttalk about that trust and relationship component between sales and marketing and what did ittake to get there? Yeah, I think that in any organization with people, you're always going to have a bell curve in terms of some people aregoing to be super invested in want to keep on learning more and becoming betterand better and better, and some people are there, you know, potentiallyjust kind of coasting by. You know, at the other end of the spectrum, what we've usually done when whenever you've rolled out a more advanced certificationand you know, we run we run some things that are pretty, asyou said, buttoned up, like not only will you sit down to learnand some cases you're going to have to do a fair amount of practicing andthen we're going to put you in front of someone that wasn't involved in thetraining, two role player to do some other kind of certification to make surethat you really understood the concepts. And... know, it's can be prettyclose to like a real a scenario and if you if you know how tohandle that, then you're you're good, you're certified. What we usually dois that we find the people that are looking to get a competitive edge,looking to, you know, to better themselves. You know, we startwith a small subset and usually those people. You know, any time you rollon new training there's oftentimes a you know, you don't get it rightthe first time, you have to kind of tweak it a little bit toyou in it right here, and you know, those people also often timesgive you the most leeway. And you know, once those people start gettingthe knowledge, if you hit it right and it's a missing component that they'vebeen really frustrate with because they didn't understand, it's making them better. They becomeyour marketers. They start saying, Oh, yeah, that problem,here's how you solved it, and then all their peers are like, howdo you know how to do that? Oh, you know, the marketingtea gave me this training and well, it's notlved it all, you knowit it give me everything that I needed to know. So we've always usedthe pilot group of people that are that are really enthusiastic and you know,first of all they help us because they give us a feedback to make itright for the broader audience, and then secondly, they usually do all themarketing. And I mean it would oftentimes happens is for something new. We'reall we're still doing our our everything we've been doing before. So we offersomething new, we do it and there's just not that. We don't offerthat many classes, if you will, or the sessions for it. Andthen all of a sudden we start getting the next tier of people. Maybeyou know that they are also on that bell curve more, you know,looking to try to get more knowledge, and then they start saying, Hey, we're gonna do the next one, Caba it. Can you put meon the weight list right now? So we keep working our way from thepeople that are the most enthused in, the most open to learning you stuff, and once it gets to a majority and most people have this training done, the people that have in, they start doing my left out and that'show we usually sweep through everyone. I love it. It's like this ideathat they want to be on a weight list is a testament to the qualityof what you're doing in the value it provides to the salesperson. But italso makes me think about like Baiting, doing Betas with customers and like youknow, these customers that are just super enthusiastic and they want to know what'sgoing on and they want to try stuff out. So great practice there arein terms of getting early feedback and adapting and again creating a weight list.That's so excellent. Hey, this is a really great framework. I loveit. It reminds me of a number of efforts we've done that are havenot been as formal as this. That made that I want to double backon. It makes me think about a variety of our customer personas here atbombomb that, you know, a new salesperson needs to understand and unique waysin order to, you know, build that trust in rapport through common language. So this has been awesome. Before I let you go, though,Alex, I like to give you, because relationships are our number one corevalue, I like to give you the chance to think or mention someone who'shad a positive impact on your life or career and a chance to mention acompany that's doing customer experience really well that's treated you the right way. Sureyou know. I think someone that I definitely would want to give a callout to is, or what we're rather a shout out to, is BrianSemple, who was the person that that taught me. I guess a lotof the basics of marketing when I transition. For me more of the technologist.He's a Cemo ad a company called Mark forged now that does a lotof three printing stuff and you know, he was actually a he's written aninteresting book that I'd recommend to marketers out there about metrics, and he's aformer submarine officer. So he's actually compared how running a marketing operation in today'sI guess high text set it from marketing is really similar to controlling the nuclearreactor for for Stup. So He's a former navy submarine officer and uses technologistto where I was coming from. He sat down and taught me kind ofall all the basics of marketing as I kicked off and transitioned over. SoHe's definitely someone that I'd like to give a shout out to. How doyou spell his last name? And what is his book called? It's sempleBrian Semple and his book is the Digital...

CMOS guide to marketing measurements. Thinklike a submariner for operational success. Awesome. And and how about a company yourespect? I guess I'll go with a cliche answer, unfortunately. I'dsay, you know apple, you know, the thing that they do amazing isgoing back to customer experience. They really we have fought through like whatyou're going to feel like when you experience more of their products. I meanevery like something that I don't know if it's been written about a lot,is whenever you open up another products, even the packaging in the way thatit's that it's like laid out, is like inviting what you want to openit up, you know, whether it's a computer or phone. I knowit's Super Cliche, but they do. They just do a really, reallygood job of making this thing seemed like the Super Special thing that you're unpackingfor the first time. Another area that that I oftent times pull people tois the way that the highlight benefits of a product. I mean, ifyou ever go to their website and you look at like, you know,the the Apple Watch, I mean it's like it's it's always showing off somepiece of functionality and one picture says, you know, as a thousand words. So they do a really good job also, I think, just interms of showing off benefits. And of course I know that there's a lotto say about apple and is probably Super Cliche, but they really do avery good job of it. Awesome, great recommendation. I know I couldvisualize opening a couple different boxes of theirs and even the way they sequence andstack the pieces and layer them in and create that little spot for your fingerto go in to pull that next piece out and all of that. It'sreally really well planned in and designed and executed. Alex again, this hasbeen awesome. Thank you so much for your time. How can someone connectwith you or with data dog? Yeah, data dog. Just go to ourwebsite, day dogcom. If you are a developer or site reliability engineeror CTO and you want to get visibility into your application, sign up freetrial. You can use the whole product for as big environment as you wantto try it out. For me in particular. Twitter handle is Alex RoismLat just Alex. that data dogcom awesome. Thank you again so much. Ihope you have a great afternoon and I need to rethink our internal curriculum. All right, could hear it? Clear Communication, human connection, higherconversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding video to the messagesyou're sending every day. It's easy to do with just a little guidance.So pick up the official book. Rehumanize Your Business. How personal videos acceleratesales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at Bombombcom Book.That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Rememberthe single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver abetter experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribingright now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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