The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

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

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 giving somebody some knowledge without the context about why this is important means that it's going to go in one year and not the other. The single most important thing you 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, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Hey, welcome back to the customer experience podcast. If you want to learn a little bit about training and certifying sales teams to speak the customers language, you are in the right place. Today's guest brings to the conversation more than a decade of enterprise software experience in product marketing and in product management. He spent time at Semantic, v Colonel and Dell. He earned his MBA at mit and for the past six years he's been at data dog, a monitoring and analytics service for modern cloud environments. He serves as their vice president of marketing, Alex Rosenblatt. Welcome to the customer experience podcast. Bank something good to be here. Yeah, you know, I'm really excited to get into this idea and learn how and why you've pursued it around training and certifying sales teams. Partly my 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 think of customer experience? Yeah, you know, I mean, I think that the big thing that I think about with customer experience when you're working at a company, I think that you get really bogged down and how you're going to deliver the product of the service that that you're going to be giving to the person that's going to be using whatever it is that you're offering. But you really have to turn it around and realize that for the person that is the customer, like, they don't know about all the difficulties or everything that's going on behind the scenes. They only care about what they're going to receive in terms of a product or service. We always try to have as a mindset here is what's going to be the perception of the customer and they're actually using our product. You know and it's got to be good. I think that most 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 play in. 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 for not very much money and, if they know what they're doing, can put together a prototype for an application pretty quick and Bam, you can go out there and compete with a big company if you want to. So, you know, going back to customer experience, I think that for a lot of companies out there, if you stop really keeping that in mind and you lose sight of the customers, of what they are, you know, how they're interacting with or whatever is that you're offering, someone else is going to come out there and compete for them and potentially take them great breakdown there. I really like it. I like this idea that we can get caught up in our own tasks and checklists and things and we lose sight of the customer pretty often. This idea that there is functionally approaching infinite competition because all these cloud services are built on other cloud services and, to your point, all it takes is the ability to take a credit card number, and so this perception piece is critical as well, because that's what we carry for, that's the feelings that we have, is the stories that we tell. So love that breakdown 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 online day to backup, I'm sorry, online, first enterprise housecare software, and then Onlin Day to back up. I was much more technology focused, basically working with product teams to make sure that the solution that we were delivering for our customers was exactly what they expect out in. A lot of it required custom development and I actually try to start a company when I went to Grad School. One of my t and I...

...partnered with with another technologist. We built the prototype for something that was like mind blowing and I was at there trying to get Beta customers for the prototype that we had and even though everyone took 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 of them said, hey, you know what, you guys seem really bright. Your product prototype seems really interesting if I was to just throw you guys a million dollars just because I can and I have it in the bank and I think that you guys have a future. But I said, you could only use it to get customers. What would you do with it? And we had no idea. So that was kind of my introduction to the point that I really, you know, hadn't thought about what it would take to get somebody to part with money and that really started me down the paths from marketing and I've basically been in marketing ever since. In Tech, been through a couple of acquisitions. I've seen start up Smith size companies, really really big fortune 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, having come from being a technologist, I have a pretty good understanding of what that specific persona is looking for and what they're going to react to. But again, I think that for any customer they definitely have their you know, hot buttons and the same lessons apply. So you know, basically I after that experience I dedicated myself to learning a lot more about go to market, both sales and marketing, and have really merged, I think, an engineering methodology with what it takes to get out into the market, present your product to people and get them interested to try it out for Daya Dog. We are a monitoring platform for modern, dynamic applications. A lot of our customers run their applications on public clouds like Amazon web services or Microsoft assure, Google cloud platform, but we also do have a lot of customers that are doing some 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 of the 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 underneath the application, and we've basically built out a whole platform that gives you a hundred percent visibility into everything that's happening in every part of that application so that if an issue happens and it's a needle on the haystack, we're able to quickly find it for you. So Good I. by the way, before we go further, I have to say that is one of my favorite marketing origin stories because it's just it's it was such a blunt moment there, whereas like I don't have any ideas, and the idea that you've continued to pursue that over the next many years is awesome. And in that that background for you to I'm sure, lends itself really well to being successful as a as a technology marketer. Let's get into training and certifying sales teams to speak the customers language, and there are several things I love about this one, especially now with the context of your background. But the necessary relationship between sales and marketing to have that trust in rapport that allows this to be done, raising up the customers language as a really important factor, as well as creating some continuity in the customer experience by being joined at the hip, at least on this function, if not others. So let's break that down a little bit and start with. You know, why does this matter to you? Why did you pursue it. What was kind of the origin of this, this project or practice for you? Yeah, I think the big thing. You know, I don't know if a lot of the listeners out here have seen some 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 of values, norms, language. You know, they all they all work on similar challenges, they all similar passions...

...in terms of the work that they do. They're very passionate and there's there's a whole kind of community that exists around it. And the thing is, you know, know somebody that is not at that community will never be that you know from that community. But I 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 some of the basics, you know, like where's the train station? I'd like a hotel room for, you know, for one person, for two people, you get really far and if you know, you go somewhere and there and you don't have at least those basics like good luck, you're not going to be able to communicate with the people that you're talking to. So I mean, I think that there's a lot of that for someone to have a good conversation just to start out and interaction with with a company. So it became apparent very early on, and this isn't just at day to dog but in my previous positions and marketing, that you know, you've got people that are bet are doing sales, as that are doing marketing, and they're very good 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 they you know, they didn't go through a computer science or some other sort of engineering 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 how they see the world, and so you know, you need to educate someone on 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 language to start a conversation off kind of like the same, you know, equivalent if you wanted somebody to go to a country with another language, you want to drill them on the basic so that it's in their head and whenever they're you 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 where the impasis for this came from. I love it because when you can speak in a way that that doesn't create friction, right, like they're not using my lingo, they don't understand who I am right, there's there's this trust component in the sales process that is immediately greased or immediately slowed down or you know, there's friction there if you can't speak that language. So so, really, really important. So for you, you know, as I think about you know, a listener to this and maybe outlining a number of potential customers, like different types of customers. For you, of course, learning what 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 around like process or documentation, around personas or ideal customer profiles or anything like that for somebody's listening. Where would they start in terms of trying to capture the customers language so that it can be taught and certified? Yeah, I think that 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 pop down 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 subject matter expert of you're at a bigger company, or maybe a customer or maybe someone from your own from your own network. Find a couple of people and sit down and, you know, more than just say, just like ask him. I think that a really good place to start is, why don't you take me through your day in your life for a week, in your month or a month, you know, like what is kind of a standard unit, where you go through all the kinds of things that you usually do from 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 what they did this morning, they probably like, Oh, well, I woke up by a pick shower at breakfast and got you know, and made it over 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 the bullet points is not enough. You have to get in there into the rich detail and and understand like, okay, when you were making eggs, that they stick to the pan. Yeah, they did, kind of. That was really annoying. You know, maybe if you were selling cooking tools like that would be the kind of conversation that you have, but I think a good place to start is just a...

...day in the life or, you know, 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, you know, like describe you know again, just most novelist. Don't just say we went to the beach. It's like the deep blue of the ocean contrasted with the light blue of the sky. You want to get to that level of color and I think that we're things start to get really interesting. I call it the CRINKLE, probably other words for it, when people start pausing in the diction and you you can usually hear this really well when you play back the recording. That's when, all of a sudden you fit paid her and I think that they're pausing because they're trying to think about the best way to say it, or perhaps they're trying to euphamize, like it's something that's really 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 something up? Should they change the meaning of it? Would there's maybe a lot more 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 and you're starting to like really understand things that are super important that you definitely want to be documenting and then turning it around into some sort of training for sales people or further go to market people. So if they understand these critical things in 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 real time prior to playing back the recording, that might be a great spot to ask a follow up question as well. So as you organize this, capture it, probably documented in some way, start sharing it around. How formal are 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 Their doors closed to people who haven't been certified? Like how, you know, how seriously are you implementing this? That's a great question. So I think that once you have your list of everything. So I think that that the building block, you know, the individual brick, if you will, is recordings and, you know, trying to delve into each thing that's important to know about someone's you know, day today responsibilities, things that are easy, things that are hard, things that make them successful, things that cause them trouble. Once you have, as as far as you can tell, the whole list and you're going to keep on adding to the list as your industry changes or new technologies come out, are you yourself learn more about what you're working on and you realize that you missed a lot? But you have to start somewhere. You have to build out a curriculum, and this this can be a pretty tough one. I think that sometimes you have to have a lot to go goes it it. I think that one pro tip here is that while you're building out like the name, you know, the name of the class or the name of the segment, another column to have immediately before it are 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 before you took Spanish one on one. So you have to basically start saying what all 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 the first courses that you need to have or you start to realize that there's additional courses because there's some prerequisite knowledge that you hadn't originally put out there. And I think that with the curriculum that from chopping it up, you probably shouldn't have a sessions going to go longer than an hour. If it's longer than an hour, you should chop it up and make it into multiple sessions. But then the sequencing of the session, I think is important. Another important thing to notice that there's a lot of times that giving somebody some knowledge without the context about why this is important means that it's going to go in one ear 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 of history 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 been at our company for two or three months or six months, and we don't want them to have the more advanced training because, like, they haven't yet struggled and hit a Lante. Oh my God, I don't know how to answer this question. Is this person's speaking in words that, even though it's English, I don't understand what they're trying to tell me. Like they haven't had 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 be a 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 onboarding time and you just had, you know, people managers factor in the fact that their people are going to be fully productive for a couple of months and that's, I think, part of it. But trying to figure out how what's the minimum amount of time where somebody has to struggle and not know something to the point where they're going to be really enthusiastic to learn that missing piece the kind of I guess in art a little bit that that's a tough one to call. You know, I think probably the best example of the model there's when I was in Grad School of might, everyone's required to take this like advanced statistics class, and that sounds you know, that doesn't sound like fun, unless you're a statistician and everyone kind of groans about it and they give you a real life problem. Then I'm not going to say it because of 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 you all the actual data that that the engineers and business people that were trying to start out the problem had and then, as a team used to your first project, you need to figure out what the solution is, and you know it doesn't look that applicate at the beginning, but then almost every single team spends like Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and they finally of class on Tuesday and you've spent four days, you know, just basically running against a brick wall. And then all of a sudden the professor pulls out the like statistical formula that, if you put all this data in there, was going to give you the exact answer, and you're like begging, you're absolutely just begging for this knowledge. By the time you get it, and and you know, when I took a step back, it made me think if this person just explained the concept, I would be like, okay, cool, whatever. Totally you know, you were so desperate because you couldn't figure this problem out and you've been working on it with your team for a long time that when they gave it to you, is like, you know, being given 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 really does make a lot of sense. I think. If it is like, you know, you need a rack to hang the code on and so the prior experience in the struggling, in the successes and the kind of soft questions that start building in your head that ultimately provide that resolve, you know at maybe at it's most dramatic point, as you know, water after you've been wandering in the desert. Really great recommendation there. Speak briefly about what type of relationship, because this is key, as a fundamental premise of this podcast is, you know, customer experiences built across every team member and every touch point. And so how do we work together with other you know in some organization is depending on the culture, it can get very, very siload and even potentially antagonistic. You know, I hopefully that's not the case in most shops, but I have seen things like that before. So can you speak a little bit to how to build the trust and relationship with sales people and sales leaders and sales management in order to build this out and have it taken seriously, because I think it should be obvious to anyone who's listening the value of putting together some program like this, even if it's not as formal and buttoned up as what you've outlined here, with some several great tips, but talk about that trust and relationship component between sales and marketing and what did it take 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 are going to be super invested in want to keep on learning more and becoming better and better and better, and some people are there, you know, potentially just 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 certification and you know, we run we run some things that are pretty, as you said, buttoned up, like not only will you sit down to learn and some cases you're going to have to do a fair amount of practicing and then we're going to put you in front of someone that wasn't involved in the training, two role player to do some other kind of certification to make sure that you really understood the concepts. And...

...you know, it's can be pretty close to like a real a scenario and if you if you know how to handle that, then you're you're good, you're certified. What we usually do is that we find the people that are looking to get a competitive edge, looking to, you know, to better themselves. You know, we start with a small subset and usually those people. You know, any time you roll on new training there's oftentimes a you know, you don't get it right the first time, you have to kind of tweak it a little bit to you in it right here, and you know, those people also often times give you the most leeway. And you know, once those people start getting the knowledge, if you hit it right and it's a missing component that they've been really frustrate with because they didn't understand, it's making them better. They become your marketers. They start saying, Oh, yeah, that problem, here's how you solved it, and then all their peers are like, how do you know how to do that? Oh, you know, the marketing tea gave me this training and well, it's notlved it all, you know it it give me everything that I needed to know. So we've always used the 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 it right for the broader audience, and then secondly, they usually do all the marketing. And I mean it would oftentimes happens is for something new. We're all we're still doing our our everything we've been doing before. So we offer something new, we do it and there's just not that. We don't offer that many classes, if you will, or the sessions for it. And then all of a sudden we start getting the next tier of people. Maybe you 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 me on the weight list right now? So we keep working our way from the people 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's how we usually sweep through everyone. I love it. It's like this idea that they want to be on a weight list is a testament to the quality of what you're doing in the value it provides to the salesperson. But it also makes me think about like Baiting, doing Betas with customers and like you know, these customers that are just super enthusiastic and they want to know what's going on and they want to try stuff out. So great practice there are in 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 love it. It reminds me of a number of efforts we've done that are have not been as formal as this. That made that I want to double back on. It makes me think about a variety of our customer personas here at bombomb that, you know, a new salesperson needs to understand and unique ways in 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 core value, I like to give you the chance to think or mention someone who's had a positive impact on your life or career and a chance to mention a company that's doing customer experience really well that's treated you the right way. Sure you know. I think someone that I definitely would want to give a call out to is, or what we're rather a shout out to, is Brian Semple, who was the person that that taught me. I guess a lot of 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 lot of three printing stuff and you know, he was actually a he's written an interesting book that I'd recommend to marketers out there about metrics, and he's a former submarine officer. So he's actually compared how running a marketing operation in today's I guess high text set it from marketing is really similar to controlling the nuclear reactor for for Stup. So He's a former navy submarine officer and uses technologist to where I was coming from. He sat down and taught me kind of all all the basics of marketing as I kicked off and transitioned over. So He's definitely someone that I'd like to give a shout out to. How do you spell his last name? And what is his book called? It's semple Brian Semple and his book is the Digital...

CMOS guide to marketing measurements. Think like a submariner for operational success. Awesome. And and how about a company you respect? I guess I'll go with a cliche answer, unfortunately. I'd say, you know apple, you know, the thing that they do amazing is going back to customer experience. They really we have fought through like what you're going to feel like when you experience more of their products. I mean every 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 that it's that it's like laid out, is like inviting what you want to open it up, you know, whether it's a computer or phone. I know it's Super Cliche, but they do. They just do a really, really good job of making this thing seemed like the Super Special thing that you're unpacking for the first time. Another area that that I oftent times pull people to is the way that the highlight benefits of a product. I mean, if you 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 some piece of functionality and one picture says, you know, as a thousand words. So they do a really good job also, I think, just in terms of showing off benefits. And of course I know that there's a lot to say about apple and is probably Super Cliche, but they really do a very good job of it. Awesome, great recommendation. I know I could visualize opening a couple different boxes of theirs and even the way they sequence and stack the pieces and layer them in and create that little spot for your finger to go in to pull that next piece out and all of that. It's really really well planned in and designed and executed. Alex again, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for your time. How can someone connect with you or with data dog? Yeah, data dog. Just go to our website, day dogcom. If you are a developer or site reliability engineer or CTO and you want to get visibility into your application, sign up free trial. You can use the whole product for as big environment as you want to try it out. For me in particular. Twitter handle is Alex Roism Lat just Alex. that data dogcom awesome. Thank you again so much. I hope you have a great afternoon and I need to rethink our internal curriculum. All right, could hear it? Clear Communication, human connection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding video to the messages you'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 accelerate sales 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. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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