Video

Aligning CSMs and Sales on Renewals, Upsells, and Hand-offs (Video + Transcript)

courtney@saastrinc.com'

Courtney Rogin

Gainsight’s PULSE 2016 happened earlier this month, and Jason Lemkin hosted a four-part panel all about Customer Success from initial hire to scaling a team – and everything in between. We’ll be featuring videos and transcripts from each session, as well as top learnings from each.

In this fourth video,  panelists discuss why it’s so important for your Sales team and your CSM team to be on the same page. It can remain informal up to around $4-5 million, but then you need a Chief MRR Officer, which doesn’t exist, and there is no perfect solution. However, through compensation, communication, and cooperation, you can align your CSM team with your Sales team.

Featuring:
Jen Mingo, SVP of Customer Success at Radius
Jennifer Kirkland, Senior Director of Customer Success at Conversica
Antoine Valentone, VP of Customer for Life at Showpad

Want to see more sessions like this? Join us at SaaStr Annual 2017 next February! Click here to purchase your tickets now!

00:04 Jason: All right I think we have one more session in this group. Our best friends forever, Aligning CSM and Sales. This is a great topic. It’s one I think that we’re all continuing to learn from. Here’s my Zen learning from it, which is impossible. This alignment has to happen. It can be informal up to a point and then somewhere at least around 4 to 5 million, you almost need a chief MRR officer, which doesn’t exist. Sometimes you’ll get a chief revenue officer or something, but who owns this middle ground? If sales are closers and customer success owns upsell, how do these folks work together to one large MRR topic and I don’t know the answer. There’s no 100% perfect solution, but I grabbed this one funny thing. Maybe someone did this at PULSE but Dan Stimon did this with me at Dreamforce like four years ago for a Gainsight like the four different types of org charts for customer success. Who do they report into? How does sales work with customer success? I don’t know the answers. I wanna learn today, but what I’ve learned I think is have a clear model of how they work together. Make sure you have the quant goals like we talked about in the last session, nothing squishy, and make sure this relationship changes at least annually. But let’s bring out the panel and learn more. I’m excited to learn more.

[music]

01:36 Speaker 2: Alright. So we know this is one of the later panels of the day. In fact, it might be the last panel of the day and so you guys can’t wait to get back to networking. So we’re gonna pick up the energy here. Here’s why you should pay attention to this panel. The revenue funnel is dead. We live in the era of the revenue hourglass and if you think about that hourglass, that choke point in the middle is where sales and customer success have to come together. How do you align people? How do you align processes? How do you align compensation, tools? All of those ingredients have to be in place to make that handoff work. And it has to work when you sign on a new customer. It has to work when you’re trying to get somebody to re-up on your product. And so we’ve been able to pull together three amazing customer success leaders on stage here today to talk about how they did this.

02:33 S2: So let me go ahead and introduce them. First up we have Jen Mingo, SVP. Alright. You’ve got some fans in the house. I like it. SVP of Customer Success in GTM operations at Radius. We have Jennifer Kirkland. Man, tough crowd.

[laughter]

02:54 S2: Senior Director of Customer Success at Conversica and last, but certainly not the least, Antoine Valentone who is Vice President of Customers for Life at Showpad.

[applause]

03:05 S2: I think we can all agree that Antoine wins the award for most startup speak-ish title.

[laughter]

03:14 S2: So without further ado, each of these three leaders are gonna take you through their customer success models, kind of the quick 35,000-foot fly by and then we’ll turn it over to more of a panel discussion. Jen, why don’t you kick us off.

03:26 Jen Mingo: Perfect. So they wanted us to kind of go through when we first came to the organization what version 1.0 was and then talk through kind of where we are now and what’s next. So when I first came to Radius, we had one CSM who was doing support, Customer Success, pre-sales, onboarding. I’m still not sure how he survived, but everything was reaction, reaction, reaction. We didn’t really have a dedicated customer support so there… When you have one person doing everything, a lot goes unresolved and we had no pre-sales engagement that was in a structured capacity. So it was just kind of as needed. Making sure that our customers had the right expectations was not a part of the process. And we really only supported post-sales onboarding and no time pre-sales to really make sure it was the right customer and the right fit for what we were doing. So what we started to do to focus on version 2.0 is we really looked at the roles and responsibilities across the organization, and one of the reasons I came to Radius is because our Chief Operating Officer genuinely believed that the partnership was the most important thing to make our customer successful.

04:43 JM: So we went through and looked at how as an organization we could structure end to end, a process that was customer-backed and focused on the customer’s needs and their experience all the way from marketing through to customer support. From there, we understood the roles and the skill sets that we needed and we really focused on hiring, because for all of you in Customer Success, it is a very challenging job as you’re trying to continue to meet customer demands, make sure they’re successful, and every customer is different. They always want your time. Their need is the most important thing to them while you might be juggling multiple priorities. So I probably spent 50% of my time focused on hiring, and hiring for the culture that we wanted. And I think that’s really really important and something that warrants really a lot of great focus because once you get the right team, you can do anything.

05:37 JM: The next piece is really implement a process and supporting technologies. So that’s where Gainsight came into place. We had Salesforce. We knew we had marketing to sales covered, but then we wanted to manage post-sales in the customer support side so it was a full lifecycle. And then finally measure, learn, and adjust. That’s really important for us because we’re constantly learning and evolving and if you don’t have the right process and people and you’re not measuring, you kinda get stuck. So the big thing for us, the lesson learned is, customer success is a journey like I said and you really have to focus with the customer-back mindset. What is their experience? What are their needs? What are their milestones? And make your internal milestones transparent. The next thing we’re gonna focus on is really building for scale; you can’t continue to be a cost center to the organization. So you have to focus on how you can grow and get to a model where you’re contributing margin back to the company. And then also brand and market your experience. So once you get your experience down, it is a valuable asset for any company that drives great customer success.

06:45 S2: Great. Thank you Jen. Over to Jennifer for the Conversica story.

06:49 Jennifer Kirkland: Alright. So I started at Conversica a few years ago and when we started, we had about five CSMs. We have now about 15 in our total organization. That’s just the CSM role. That’s not counting our technical account managers, our onboarding reps, or customer service. With our team, the way that we’re split now we’re division-dependent. So we have two different divisions and we have different customer tiers. So our total CSMs-to-account ratio depends on who the customer is and our comp structure is a unique one. So we have a comp structure where Customer Success managers are being bonused for upsells and expansions. At the same time, our sales reps or AEs are also getting comped on those. So we have the double comp component which is actually really critical to our model. So taking a look at the different stages and the players when it comes to the entire customer lifecycle journey, for us it absolutely does start all the way with marketing. And a lot of that is because of our critical product, like the way that our product plays a critical role. We actually bridge the gap from marketing to account executives.

07:54 JK: So with our AI technology, we reach out to leads. We have a two-way email conversation with those leads. We identify, when they’re ready for contact, we send them over to sales. So our whole model is to really make sure that we’re creating that efficiency and that we’re really driving efficiency and we’re having that high touch, that high hand held. We do the exact same thing when it comes from sales transfer to our Customer Success managers. So with this, we actually have implemented Gainsight surveys. In the past, we did a lot through just email template saying, “Here are the questions I want you to answer. Send me the information.” Maybe we would have a meeting. We would talk about what the onboarding plan was gonna be. It generally happened a little bit last minute just because sales people were so busy. CSMs were so busy. We wanted to make sure that we’re moving fast but we couldn’t. With those surveys, we are really able to speed that up. So for one of our segments, one of our tiers, we went from 30-day onboarding to 10-day onboarding and our NPS for onboardings are about 70 right now. So we’ve had tremendous success with the Gainsight surveys. So that’s just the first part of it. The second part of it is really how the Customer Success manager is a strategic partner. Can you hear me?

09:02 S2: Mm-Hmm.

09:02 JK: Okay. How the Customer Success manager is a strategic partner for our customers? With that, we own the entire relationship. So when it does come to the expansion, when it comes to the renewal opportunities, that’s all in the hands of the CSM. For really complex strategic accounts where there’s really big organizations, we’ll absolutely get sales involved, and we’ll partner up together for those. But with the double comp structure, what we found is that we’re able to really drive the relationship. We’re able to drive the fact that we understand their business, we’re doing what’s best for them. Because we aren’t just expansion-based, we’re actually more primarily percent MRR turn-based so we really care about the overall value. So we wanna make sure that we’re driving towards that overall just value proposition.

09:49 JK: You guys have heard it in a lot of other sessions today. And we will only get sales involved when it’s really needed and they really trust us for if we’re gonna be reaching out to them and if we need to get them involved. They know that we’re doing it at the right point and the right contact. Do I have another? Oh, there’s a trust in partnership. I know I had a cue. So if you’re gonna learn one lesson from Conversica, it really is the same thing that Jen said. Make sure that you’re building those mutual goals. We like our sales team to really focus on being those product advocates, being the evangelists, getting people to understand how and when to use our product, bringing them in. And then we’re gonna kinda take it from there and we’re gonna grow them and we’re gonna be that strategic partner to really get them all the value that they can possibly get in the fastest way possible.

10:34 S2: Perfect.

10:37 Antoine Valentone: Cool. Alright. So Showpad Customer Success Model. A few key takeaways I wanna point out here about the way we’ve structured it at Showpad. Number one, I don’t base the number of accounts that a success coach owns based on ARR. To me, the magic number is 50. We wanna build relationships, long-term partnerships with our customers. And in my experience no human being can really build a long-lasting, deep relationship with more than 50 accounts. If you have more than that, to me irrespective the ARR, you’re gonna be more reactive than proactive, which is what we want. Depending on the ARR, of course you might have less accounts. Maybe an enterprise rep has 10, 15, what have you, but never more than 50, even in the SMB space, ’cause again we wanna have the time to be proactive. As far as partnering with sales, definitely very, very important to our success as a Customers for Life team. Sure, we wanna retain customers, and the Customers for Life team plays a big part in that, but we’re actually very much susceptible to sales behavior. So if sales oversells the customer, sells them 5,000 users when they really only need 500, that causes a big problem for the Customers for Life team. So we are very well aligned with the sales team that that’s not good behavior, right? And they’re making sure not to do that type of thing.

12:00 AV: Also, don’t sell something that doesn’t exist. Don’t sell Vaporware sales. Sell what we have. Alright, it never happens, right? Again because if they’re short-sighted in their mentality, if they throw that over the fence, the CFL, that puts us on our heels now. How the hell are we gonna get customers to adopt something that doesn’t exist or that they don’t need? So we are very well-aligned there and I understand the behavior. I get it. Last year for about eight months of the year I managed both the sales team and the Customers for Life teams so it really literally put me in a VP of sales shoes. I walked the walk for eight months and really understood. Okay, I get it now. They’re chasing quota. They’re gonna say and do just about anything to hit their number. And I was very successful in making sure that sales and CFL were aligned because again I was the gatekeeper at the end of the day. I knew that we shouldn’t discount the hell out of the product just to get a deal, or we shouldn’t promise something that doesn’t exist, etcetera, ’cause then we’re setting ourselves up for success down the road.

13:02 AV: And then of course we’re seeing tremendous growth at the second or third deal which is quite typical in the SaaS model. After the initial land you’ll see a much bigger pop if you play your cards right. The other thing as far as alignment goes, as far as sales engineers pre-sales, that’s the Customers for Life person. It’s actually the professional services onboarding specialist that plays a dual role both pre-sales and post sales, so they’re actually acting like police, partnering with sales and just making sure, “Hey don’t say or do anything that is gonna set us up for trouble down the road.” So great partnership there having a Customers for Life person working in partnership with sales prior to the point of sale and then carrying that baton forward after the point of sale. And then the other thing too, by the way, as far as again retention. Yes, VP of sales, great alignment there, but the other teams that I would say, if you haven’t already become BFFs with, definitely you’re VP of product, you’re VP of engineering, you’re VP of QA.

14:05 AV: Because listen, nobody has a magic wand, right. At the end of the day there’s just so much you can do to keep your customers around. If the product doesn’t work, if the product is buggy, eventually the customer will just leave and that’s unfortunate because you’re the one that’s being held accountable and responsible and your job is on the line if a customer churns. But again it’s the VP of engineering and QA again that are ultimately responsible. So I would say get to know your VP of product and engineering and QA really, really well. Jason talked about steak dinners earlier. I would say take them to steak dinner pretty often because your fate and oftentimes your pay is in their hands.

14:50 AV: At Showpad, one of the ways we drive the right behavior is we separate church and state. And by that I mean sales is 100% responsible for anything related to dollars and cents. On the other hand then, CFL, the Customer for Life team is 100% focused on just demonstrating value to the customer. Do we want growth opportunities? Can we create those within our accounts? Absolutely, but they are more like trusted advisors, consultants, value partners that show again continuous value to customers that will help us get to not just retention but then growth. And it’s very much organic. They’re not explicitly chasing dollars. It’s more like “Oh my God! That’s a fantastic new feature. Of course I want that. Can you get me an order form? Please add that to my account.” And then we turn that over to sales. So we wanna partner with sales and of course we want to get growth opportunities but the way we do it is never talking about dollars explicitly.

15:54 AV: And then the other thing, and this is something quite I think unique and special and that we wanna drive a certain behavior and comp plans help do that, right? And from a customer success standpoint with the coaches. And by the way I call the Customer Success coaches because we coach our customers. We don’t manage them so we don’t use the term Customer Success manager. And again little things like that subtly leave an impression in a customer’s mind like, “Oh okay, these guys really do care about us. They really do wanna partner with us. They’re not looking to manage me.” Alright? So the thing I’d say about the compensation, Customer Success coaches get salary 100%. There’s no variable pay. This is something we’ve done in our European team for the last year and a half with tremendous success. We still have metrics that we want to hold them accountable to. Okay. Adoption, utilization, customer engagement, MPSC set, etcetera. But we’re just saying we’re not gonna affect your pay every quarter. The idea is we don’t want Customer Success coaches spending any mental energy on anything other than just driving success within their accounts. If they’re worried about, “Oh my God! Am I doing the right thing? Because I need to pay my bills at the end of the quarter. I want to go to Tahiti, whatever with my commission check.” That’s wasted energy. So we take the issue…

17:19 S2: I wanna come back to this topic ’cause I think this is critical. But first, quick straw poll. Customer Success leaders in the audience. How many of you feel like sales gives you accounts that shouldn’t have been sold in the first place?

[chuckle]

17:35 S2: Okay. It looks like we hit a nerve there. So a question for our panelists. I think Jennifer, you used this phrase which I love, consistent and trusted transfer. How do you get there? That feels… That sounds lovely. Advice for audience.

17:52 JK: So it’s funny. We kind of found out through trial and error that by not having that consistency, it really made it difficult to be able to plan for the customers in the best possible way. So now that we’re getting consistent information from sales and it is specialized, it is customized per customer, we’re getting that detail so we can create a plan for them and drive the relationship and drive the value. We found our customers just starting out the gate so much happier. I can’t reinforce that 70% post-onboarding, would before in our previous NPS surveys we were getting feedback specifically about how arduous the onboarding process was.

18:31 S2: Jennifer, I gotta push a little harder.

18:34 JK: Please do.

18:35 S2: That assumes your sales team is pushing forward opportunities that are already a good fit with the products, with the delivery model, etcetera. As a customer success leader, if you’re accountable for renewals, how do you have a conversation with sales about who they’re actually bringing forward in the funnel? And would love to get thoughts from folks.

18:54 JK: Yeah. So we actually, for the first 90 days we always make sure that our sales team is still involved in the relationship and that there is an escalation path there, should there be a misperception on what the customer is gonna be receiving. We generally get those indicators early on during the handoff process, so we know kind of where there might be issues so we can kind of like have them off be a little bit more proactive with them. But we always have those post conversations with the sales team with a specific sales person. We have a strategic team where if there is a highlighted customer or someone that we really value, or someone we really wanna make sure that it works for, we meet every week to talk about that with the sales, with the marketing, with the product, with the engineering departments so we can have those conversations.

19:35 S2: Great. Other thoughts?

19:36 JM: Yup. So we do something a little bit similar. We have what we call Right Account Process which started as something that we managed post-sales for accounts that were in trouble. And then we ended up moving that upstream because for us we’re involved pre-sales and sometimes there are customers where we know it’s not the right fit, but at the end of the day it’s not our call from a revenue standpoint whether or not we bring them in the door. But what we can do is similar to what Jennifer does, talk about them early, understand the risks, work with product to see if there’s anything we can do in the short term, talk about some things with the customer we can do from a process standpoint upfront so that we can make sure that if we do choose as a company to bring this customer onboard, we’re ready and everybody is on the same page with how we’re gonna proceed.

20:24 JM: The other piece that we’re moving forward to implement in the second half of our fiscal year is that having a common metric across sales and Customer Success where sales won’t get all of their commissions until the customer is referenceable. And one of the Customer Success metrics is reference ability. So by having a single shared metric of reference ability across the customers, you’re able to really make sure that both sales is incented to get the right customers, and customer success is incented to partner upfront to make sure that we can still bring revenue over the line that might not be the perfect fit but we can work together to make them successful.

21:00 S2: Great, Antoine, steak dinner dinner and how else do you drive alignment up the funnel?

21:06 AV: No, really again it starts with the executives, the VPs. I’m very happy to say that at Showpad, very much well-aligned with the VPs product, marketing, engineering, sales, and that’s it… We push that down. We lead by example and there’s no internal energy wasted on silos or breaking out silos or infighting. We’re all very much aligned and on the same page and it’s extremely important we maintain that as we scale. So we just have casual conversations together and we all fundamentally believe that, that’s one of the core reasons why we’re being successful.

21:44 AV: And just last side real quick, and then I’ll turn it over to you, the last thing I just wanted to touch upon really quick is, from a CFL standpoint, obviously we wanna retain customers, that’s our number one objective like most other organizations, of course we wanna help grow customers. But working backwards from there, “Okay, so how do we help make that happen?” Well you drive adoption and utilization. Generally people that are using a product are more likely to continue to use it. And then taking one further step backwards or basically where you would start is, again, the value. And I’m very happy to hear most other speakers today say the same exact thing. You show the customers the value as early as possible, for as long as possible and the renewal becomes like, not even a question. Like duh, of course, I never would ask that question and not already know the answer at T minus 90, what have you. It’s not, “Are you gonna renew? Oh by the way your renewal is coming up and let’s talk about how we’re gonna set you up for success next year and beyond.” So always start with value.

22:43 S2: Makes sense. So…

22:46 Jason: Here’s one question on this alignment question. When you brought up the issue of sales selling product that’s not quite there today or features, I found that that happens all the time, I’ve done it, but I find it’s exacerbated when the VP of Sales is on a bookings versus NMR model. And I found that as my shortcut, I know a lot of folk, for CEOs and others in here, if the VP of Sales for as long as possible is responsible for the ARR target at the end of the year, you inherently have a strong alignment with customer success, and if the VP of Sales has as a bookings target, you’re not speaking the same language. And I hate bookings. I get when you’re at $50, $60 Million in revenue, bookings become very important, so does this weird thing called pipeline. I’m curious what you’ve learned from your companies and to anyone out here I would suggest the best VP of Sales stick with an arrow target as long as humanly possible and half the issues go away, but what have you learned from that? What do you have?

23:42 JM: Yes. So we our, COO focuses on ARR, and it does…

23:47 Jason: Your COO?

23:47 JM: Yes.

23:48 Jason: But is he or she run…

23:48 JM: And he owns revenue.

23:49 Jason: Oh runs revenue, got it, yeah.

23:51 JM: So they have everything except for product and engineering.

23:54 Jason: Okay.

23:54 JM: So yes, so everything because inherently customer success, customer support, and sales roll up to the same individual, they have always focused on ARR versus bookings which is a very valuable…

24:05 Jason: So if he loses the customer then he never had the customer?

24:07 JM: Yep.

24:08 Jason: Yeah.

24:09 JK: We started off with bookings and we actually started putting more emphasis on MRR because we wanted to generate more alignment. We find that especially with our model with CSMs really focusing on, really that retention, that customer driving the value for them naturally expanding the accounts having the CSMs and having the sales department also get compensated when we expand them. They’re really just focused on bringing in the people who are good fits and who will stay around and who have the opportunity for growth.

24:37 AV: Yeah and for me, at Showpad, what I would say is again curious to hear if anybody else is also doing this but. VP of Sales also has a variable component tied to retention. So does the VP of product engineering, QA. So they have skin in the game. Again comp plans are intended to drive a certain behavior. And of course we hope the best intentions would motivate, but sometimes you do have to tie some portion of compensation to it, so VP of Sales, all other VPs do have some portion of their pay connected to the annual retention rate. Because as we’ve talked about they have a significant impact on whether or not customers stick around just as much if not more than the CFL team.

25:24 S2: Totally. So let’s push deeper on the topic of compensation and how that ties to alignment. Do your AEs participate in renewals in any way? And for those of you who are double comping, how do you comp AEs versus Customer Success managers? And I know Showpad doesn’t do that. And so I want to hear in your mind the pros and cons of not doing it. So go ahead.

25:52 JM: So the renewals fall with the Customer Success managers unless there’s an upsell or a growth opportunity. So throughout the year one of the other metrics we have is we look at Customer Success as a lead generation for sales and more so around to your point. They’re not commission-based. But when you’re a Customer Success manager you’re a Trojan Horse, you’re in these customers, you’re identifying use cases and there is inherent value in seeing features that will meet their needs. So we engage sales any time there’s an upsell and then 90 days before the renewal if we think there’s an opportunity to move to a new tier or expand the account at all, we’ll bring them in, but if it’s a net renewal, then the Customer Success manager will own it through. Now they’re based on… Their comp is based on a percentage of renewals not necessarily a commission based on the ARR of the account itself.

26:45 S2: Makes sense. Other ideas?

26:48 JK: On our side the sales team or AEs are commission based and our Customer Success managers, they actually have a bonus. So it’s a 10% bonus based off of a team goal where the team goal is 50% expansion as well as 50% the retention rate, MRR retention. So it’s split in that way so that way we’re really making sure, like I said, that we’re focusing on the value that the customer is getting from our product. We never want to get in a position where as a CSM, they’re feeling pressure to try to drive up the revenue for an account. That’s not what we’re about, we’re really about just driving the value. And if an expansion is part of that, that’s a win-win for the entire department. On the renewal end, that is owned by the CSMs. There may be points where we have large complex organizations where we can reach out to multiple departments, so we could kind of roll in an overall grouping, in which case we may get AE involved, or even vice versa because we have such a strong relationship, if we need an assist. So if we feel as though that they may not get to that point where they want to renew and we find that out early on, the sales team will come in and help us out because they know that we don’t just rely on it because, “Oh, we don’t want to talk about price.” We’re able to have those conversations, but it’s really just strategic as a company. We need the additional help.

28:03 AV: Yeah, and again for me the Success coaches own the renewal. And again anytime there’s a growth opportunity, we’ll partner with the account executive and have them have that discussion. So again to the point of separating church and state. The way we partner is that CFL will make the current land super successful and then the AE supposed to be leveraging that success in other divisions, etcetra, all throughout the customer lifecycle, not just renewal, and saying, “Hey, Division B, we’re seeing great success within Division A, we’d love to talk to you about expanding beyond our current footprint.” So that’s really the way we do it, is we’ll take down the renewal if there’s growth opportunity, though, we’ll bring in the account executive early to deal with that part of it.

28:50 S2: Jason, curious to get your take on this point. As you think about kind of the data across SaaS companies to the topic of how do you make sure sales is focusing on the right fit of prospects to push through the funnel. What have you seen on compensation for salespeople on renewals, peer renewals not upsells and cross sells?

29:16 Jason: Well I’m kind of out there on a continuum. I don’t like anyone to do renewals. What I mean is I like renewal… If you have super happy customers, renewals can become an accounting function. And, in fact, I like upsells that are the best when they have nothing to do with an annual or renewal cycle. Now having said that many of us… The world works a certain way and many folks are comfortable picking up the phone 60 days with a renewal, and more importantly many customers are happy to have that conversation annually. So it’s nutty, but if you want to maximize customer happiness, I like having upsell having nothing to do with the renewal, accounting literally or whatever function you want.

29:55 Jason: It’s an accounting function, a customer success is super aligned in it but only when issues happen, only when you get to T minus 60, T minus 30 and they jump in and hopefully they’re having quarterly on sites, they’re having all these check-ins and I love it when the upsell has nothing absolutely do with a 365 or 730 or whatever the math is. So if you can do that, then you don’t have to spend all this money on renewals and then you can put that money into other places, rather than have everyone associated on something that actually doesn’t make the company any money because this is ARR, it’s supposed to recur. And if I’m spending vast amounts of money just getting my head back above water where it already is, I’m doing a disservice to my limited amount of resources I have in the company.

30:37 AV: And another thing I would say to that is, I absolutely agree with you, by the way. I think the nature of the agreement plays a part in that, meaning if you have auto-renewal as part of the contract, it can be very much… Automated, but if you have to repay per customers, if you need their consent…

30:54 Jason: Repay makes it harder.

30:55 AV: As opposed to them opting out, etcetera. So, definitely agree again, depending on the nature of the agreement.

31:01 S2: You heard it here folks. This is the bar, automatic renewal. I think we had…

31:09 Jason: Do you have customers that have an NPS over 60 that don’t renew? It happens for budgetary issues, but if you manage the process they’re all going to renew, aren’t they? Like almost 100%. You wanna pay an AE a commission on that deal?

31:22 AV: We don’t.

[laughter]

31:24 S2: So I think we have time for one more round of comments. Here’s my question to you guys, if customers… We’ve heard consistently from across the panel to separate church and state, to not have Customer Success managers on a commission structure. Conversely you’re all being very successful encouraging your Customer Success managers to look for upsell, essentially work the account, and then hand it off to sales. How do you drive that culture? How do you enable and push your customer success team to make that happen?

32:00 JM: I think for us, to your point, if we focus and identify opportunities for upsell throughout the life of the contract, the renewal does become a non-event. Because when they do that upsell they are moving into new terms and extending their contract for another year, so that’s really how there’s a big incentive there. And at the end of the day we’re also all shareholders so while we may wear the customer success hat and we may have our own personal goals and objectives, we want to grow our customers because growing customers are happy customers. And I think as long as you make that experience transparent to the customer and it’s not like, “Oh, here’s your hand-off back to sales.” Like it’s, “Here’s the process, you wanna move to this new feature. You have the discussion.” I think it, everybody… The flow just happens.

32:51 S2: Makes sense.

32:51 JK: For us, I can’t stress enough the strategic partner relationship that our CSMs have with our accounts. A lot of times accounts come on to us they don’t really understand everything that we can do for them. So, you know within the first 90 days what they first signed up with they’re like, “Wow this is amazing. What else can I do?” And so it’s very natural for the CSM to just play that role and saying, “Well, here’s where else we can grow. Here’s what else we can do.” To really drive that value long-term, so that way there isn’t really the renewal conversation, it’s just natural, it’s just an organic part of it. So, it’s actually our CSMs just really like making our customers happy and when they can give them something that can make them happier, they just wanna do it.

33:32 AV: Yeah, and if I can build off of that, I think it boils down to hiring right. The people that work on our team as Customer Success Coaches, it’s in their DNA. They look at themselves in the mirror at night and go to bed feeling good about themselves because they’ve made their customers successful, they showed their customers value. And that’s enough for them to feel like, “Yeah, I’m getting rewarded.” As opposed to again for a sales perspective oftentimes, as it should be, is very much tied to, “Hey, did I hit my quota? Am I a member of the quota crushers club?” Whatever. It’s associate and dollars. So I say, as a hiring manager, make sure you’re hiring right. Vet out your candidates, make sure you get people with the right DNA that are doing it because they want to not because you’re asking them to.

34:14 S2: Alright. Well, if you walk away with two big ideas that came up from every panelist, separation of church and state in some way shape or form, and hiring for authenticity in the customer success team. I hope you’ll look for our panelists in the crowd tonight at happy hour or whatever else and talk to them about hiring specs. Thank you, guys, this was a great conversation.

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Published on August 10, 2016
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