Customer Success is a Single Digit Hire (Video + Transcript)'

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 the second of four sessions hosted by Jason, panelists discuss why you shouldn’t make it to nine employees before hiring a customer success lead, and why you can’t let your CEO and co-founders hack the position either. You’ll need the second-order impacts from this role.

Nakul Mandan, Investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners
Blaire Fernandez, Director of Customer Success at Talkdesk
Jennifer Bantelman, Customer Success, Support, and Communications Leader at Zapproved
Katie Rogers, Vice President, Customer Success at SalesLoft

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: Okay, this is a fun one. It’ll probably be even more fun than the title, but, “Customer Success Is a Single Digit Hire.” This is a theme that we’ve chatted a lot about. I screwed this up, everyone screws this up, and I think there’s a couple reasons for it. I think we’ll hear a few case studies from Nakul and the panel here. But if you’re early stage or even if you’re not in the single digit; even if you’re in the double digits, especially these days, a lot of first-time founders, a lot of driven founders think they can hack customer success longer than they should. The simple answer is make sure it’s a single digit hire, don’t get to more than nine employees before you hire a customer success lead. But whatever you do, make sure that the CEO, the founders, the executive team is not hacking this function just because they know the product longer than they should.

00:51 Jason: Best case, you’ll hit a wall, your CEO cannot be the head of customer success for more than a handful of customers. Best case, she or he will be spending 10% or 20% of their time, not 100%. And all of this second order revenue, all this hard work will be impacted. And my one takeaway hack, and then I’d love to hear more from Nakul and the panel is, the key is, as folks know, is it doesn’t have to be perfect. If there’s CEOs and folks here, you don’t… CSM, your first couple CSMs can just love and be passionate for the product and software. It’s far better to have someone that’s passionate, that understands your products and love customers, managing your first half a million or million or two million revenues than having no one there. This is, at least in the early days, a generalist, a liberal arts major can do just fine if they have passion for what you’re doing and some experience. So with that, let me bring out Nakul from Lightspeed who will introduce our panel and we’ll do a deep dive on the early hires.

01:51 Nakul: Hi, everyone. My name is Nakul, I’m an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners. We are lucky to be involved with Gainsight, so we’re really excited to see how far the conference has come, and how far the industry has come. So, customer success as a single digit hire. Jason talked about why it’s important to be a single digit hire, invest early in customer success. But at the same time, being the first customer success hire in the company is not easy. Where do you even start? What kind of processes do you set up? How do you… You’re running into this firefighting every day around managing [02:29] ____ as the only customer success hire. How do you manage your day-to-day while also setting up some institution processes for it to scale? So that’s kind of the topic that we’ll tackle today.

02:40 Nakul: We have a great panel for you. We have Blaire Fernandez from Talkdesk, we have Jennifer Bantelman from Zapproved, and then we have Katie Rogers from SalesLoft. So we’ll address three topics today, three questions, really. What processes can you set up as the first customer success, or one of the early customer success hires? How do you go beyond day-to-day firefighting? And the third is, what productivity hacks can you use if you’re on a low budget? Trust me, if you are one of the first customer success hires, it’s a startup, you want to be lean and mean, you probably don’t have a big budget, so this as important as anything. So, Blaire will take over the first topics, so I’ll hand it over to her right away.

03:35 Blaire Fernandez: Hi, everyone. Just so I have a sense of who’s in the audience, how many of you are your first company’s customer success hire? Okay, good bit, great. So as Jason said, the bar is pretty low. I’m a fine arts major, I came from sales, I knew nothing about customer success, but my goal was to make sure that I did the right things in year one that, as Talkdesk grew, I would actually stay and get to continue leading the team. So, what I’m gonna walk through are some things that have worked out pretty well for Talkdesk. So that, yeah, you can be that customer success hire who’s starting from scratch where the bar is low, but hopefully you’re putting something sophisticated together so that you can see through the end of the work that you’re doing, and actually continue to lead the team as the company scales.

04:27 BF: So first of all, we thought about what experience we want our customer to have, and the first thing was we don’t want our customer to have to repeat themselves. When they go through the sales process and they outline everything that matters to them, why they’re buying Talkdesk, what they’re goals are to the AE, and they close and they talk to their CSM, and they have to start from scratch with that same exact litany of reasons of why they bought, that makes them feel like they’re not valued, that no one’s listening, that no one cares. So we put into place a, “Sales to Success” hand-off document. And in addition to some mandatory input fields that we put into Salesforce, we said, “Okay, what can you get from an interview that’s beyond some simple inputs?”

05:14 BF: So some of those things are like, “What’s the relationship like between our champion and their superior?” Do they have a good relationship? Is the champion really taking a risk by buying Talkdesk? Is their job on the line with whether we succeed or we fail? How much does this matter to them? What are the goals that they have? What are the KPIs that they track? That way when you come into that kick-off call, you’ve got some substance, you’ve got something to talk about. So this hand-off has gone really well, and it’s working so far. And then the next step in the customer journey is that actual kick-off, and so we said, “Okay, what are the things that we wanna instill?”

06:00 BF: Well, it’s customer success, you wanna drive retention, you wanna drive growth. So, let’s keep selling, let’s let our customers know during that kick-off call, that they’re not our largest customer, that they might have bought us for support, but hey, you know what, we work with sales teams, and we work in hybrid situations across companies where Talkdesk can be the end-to-end solution. So, while you might not know everything that Talkdesk can do throughout the sales process, we’re gonna show you starting from day one, what’s possible and how we can help grow in your account.

06:35 BF: The next thing that we focused on was the onboarding. So, everyone I talk to seems to have a different idea of how involved customer success is in onboarding. At Talkdesk, we have a separate team, professional services, who manages this onboarding, but we ended up over time in this nebulous phase of whose responsibility was what, and which check-in is the CSM versus the implementation team. So, finally we said, “Okay, timeout, let’s get really granular.” And this flow chart you see in the middle picture, it looks pretty sophisticated. I guess it is, actually, credit where credit’s due. We’ve done a good job building it out. But we got super granular and said, “Okay, at this phase of implementation, what’s the documentation that professional services are sending out? Who’s sending the email to the customer? Who is scheduling the meeting?” So it was just very clear to both teams who’s doing what. And that’s starting to create a really solid onboarding process. And we’re now checking NPS, or CSAT, I should say, as a result of the onboarding, so we’re gonna start to have data around that, which is gonna drive customer health.

07:50 BF: The next thing that we do is around go live. So, this was pretty cool. We said, “Okay, what are customers excited about, concerned about, fearful about, at each stage of their journey with Talkdesk, and how can we plan our process accordingly?” And one thing that we realized was that there’s a ton of anxiety around the go live, either a sales leader or a support leader has bought Talkdesk, they’ve gone through the implementation, it’s all ready to go. Now they need to make sure that it’s working for their team. And they’re… Like I said, tons of anxiety around that, so we thought, “What can we do to help decrease this level of anxiety?” And one of the team members came up with office hours. “Let’s set up a series of office hours throughout go live week where both our champion, who’s sort of the administrator can check in, the agents and the sales reps can actually check in and ask any questions that they have, and make sure that they’re answered immediately in real time.” And this has helped tremendously. At first I was thinking, “Oh, great, they’ll… Our team is just gonna be wasting time. They’re gonna be sitting on a go-to meeting and no one’s gonna show up.’ They’re packed, they’ll say, “Well, I alloted an hour for office hours today, and I was there for three hours, and everyone had questions, everyone was engaged.” So it was really a good concept that we’re gonna keep doing. So I would encourage that.

09:19 BF: After go live, the customer transitions into maintenance mode. So, as you know, you do your EBRs, you figure out how you handle renewals, which obviously everyone handles differently. We thought about what our customers wanna know in the EBRs, and what we want them to know. So, the foundation for driving retention and growth is value, right? Everyone needs to see value in your product, value in your tool, value in connecting with your team. If you have phone calls with customers and they’re not getting value from you, they’re not gonna show up for that next check-in. There’s no impetus for them to spend their time unless you are bringing something to the table every single time you meet them at every single touch point. So we focus on the ongoing check-ins, the executive business reviews, what kind of data can we show them that they can then use to make an impact in the way that they do their business? So, for us at Talkdesk, a lot of that is around benchmarking their data to their peers. So what I’m showing in the top right-hand side is a temperature gauge, and we’ve got average time in the queue and average speed to answer.

10:30 BF: How much time are your customers spending, or your callers waiting, spending to talk to an agent? How quickly are your agents picking up the phone? These are important metrics in the call center space. Obviously, you’ll have your own, but giving them a sense of how they’re doing on a red to green basis, and then we’ll have at least three takeaways. Okay, so you’re in the red, what do you do about that? Your customers are spending too much time in the queue. Okay, great. I mean, horrible, so what do I do now? Well, you can add more agents to your team, you can train them, or incentivize them on the right metrics so that they’re picking up the phone as quickly as they can. You can outsource, maybe you should consider that if you don’t wanna scale the team as quickly as possible. Now you’re starting to have a real conversation. Now you’re… The CSM is establishing himself as a real partner. Those are the kind of conversations that get your customer to keep answering the phone, and maybe they even call you when they’re faced with a business decision.

11:29 BF: So, I think that’s my advice with the EBR is really think about how you wanna position yourself as the CSM, and then drive your EBR around that. Make sure you’re providing the type of value and creating the type of relationship that you wanna have. And then the last piece is around the cross-sell, renewal. We’ve chosen to reach out to customers 85 days before renewal, it gives a couple of weeks to get everything scheduled, bring in the executive, and then you’re holding that EBR two months before the renewal. So if there are any issues or there has been a change in the procurement process and acquisition, then you’ve got time to be able to solve those issues, deal with any situations and not have any excuses for getting the renewal.

12:16 BF: And so what I’m showing in the bottom right is actually an org chart that we’ve started to use that maybe I should have scrubbed the data off, but hopefully you can’t see it too clearly. But we look not just at our customers’ org charts, but we actually map ourselves against it. So okay, who’s our champion, and who’s bridged to them? CSM has a great relationship with the champion, great. What about the champion’s boss? Does the CSM have a relationship with them? I hope so. If not, do I have a relationship with them? Do we loop in our CEO to meet with their CEO? Let’s think about where we wanna go strategically with this company and make sure that we’re aligning the right relationships internally to drive those types of discussions.

13:00 BF: So yeah, so year one, I probably should have started with this, but I came from a sales background. So in enterprise sales, it’s all about MEDDIC, and these processes that you go through, so that’s kind of what I knew and that’s kind of where I started off for year one. Looking back, I would not have done it differently. I think focusing on process is a really great way to handle that year one time that you have. That way, as you onboard new CSMs, everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do. Now they iterate, they contribute, we change the process all the time, of course, but at least they have got some legs to stand on to get rolling with the customer experience. Alright.

13:43 Nakul: Great. So, Blaire, you talked about being the first CS hire setting up this process. Can you also talk about how did you think about scaling your team? How much ARR for CSM in the early days? Did that change over time as it became more process-oriented?

14:01 BF: Yeah, absolutely. So we started off trying to manage about 80% of our revenue, so the old adage that everyone adheres to, top 20% of your customers bring in 80% of the revenue. And so we set a revenue benchmark in the sand. We didn’t ever change that, and we need to. Right now we’re probably managing 90% of the revenue, which is way too much, so it’s time to go back and refine the model and change it a little bit. But yeah, that’s kind of the way that we started off with that benchmark. Was there another part to that question?

14:33 Nakul: No, it was more around ARR for CSM, and did that evolve?

14:38 BF: Yeah, so…

14:39 Nakul: How many renewals can a person handle on a daily basis? I guess it relates to the ESP also a little bit, right?

14:47 BF: It does, but the way that we look at it, really, the ARR, again, constantly iterating as always, but we initially had two groups of CSMs, so we manage between $10,000 in ARR that customers would bring in to Talkdesk to $50,000, so that was one group. And then we had another group of CSMs for above $50K. That worked well for a while, then we created three tiers within that group. Now we know we need to hire a one-to-many CSM for the under $10,000 group and do some kind of group model for the $10-$20K. So, you can sort of see the stages that we’re going through, but it’s probably gonna continue evolving in that way. So because of those different tiers, ARR is different for every CSM. And if we get one huge logo or huge customer, then a CSM will just focus on them for a while to make sure we do it right. So, unfortunately, right now it’s more of an art than a science. I’d like that to change this year, but right now it’s not quite as scientific as I’d like it to be.

15:48 Nakul: Right. Jason, or Katie, Jennifer, any comments on this piece, or on process?

15:55 Jason: Well, I think an interesting question is, so when you came in to Talkdesk and there was very little infrastructure, but a lot of revenue, relatively speaking to probably some folks here, right? You come in and the company’s got millions of revenue. So were you able to implement all of this? Was this a staged approached? And how is it different when you come in late? [chuckle]

16:13 BF: Yeah, no, that’s a good point. I was definitely… Right, I was late to the game.

16:17 Jason: Yes.

16:18 BF: So yeah, we did this in one year. What we started off with, I’m trying to remember the exact order of operations, what we started of with was the customer kick-off. We knew we had to have meetings with customers and set the stage for what their relationship would be like. So we put together a kick-off deck, then we started to get smart around the hand-off process and what information we’d need from customers. So that we started with Salesforce mandatory inputs, and then I said, “Hold on, time out, I can’t forget everything I’ve learned in sales. We need to have a personal touch here. There’s more that we can glean from the AEs.” So that’s when we put the hand-over in place. Then the executive business review, and we thought about the goals during that time, what value we wanted to drive for our customers. So we started to get smart around metrics there in mapping out the organization. And then the last things were the implementation process where we defined the CSM’s role versus the professional services role. And then most recently was the go live office hours, which are pretty cool, they’re working pretty well. So it wasn’t as linear as those slides suggest, that when you’re sort of taking down the most critical thing first, of course, but we’ve gotten there, slowly.

17:37 Nakul: Great. So with that, let’s hand it over to Jennifer, who runs Customer Success at Zapproved sales, E-Discovery software, to corporate legal teams. I guess you were the first Customer Success hire, and how many people in your team now?

17:53 Jennifer Bantelman: We have just about a dozen now across four CSMs, and then we also do implementation. We do training, and we do support, all within the Customer Success org.

18:04 Nakul: Right. Awesome. So, I’ll hand it over to you and take it away.

18:08 JB: Alright, thank you. When I started, I was not a CSM, I was Customer Success. My business cards for a long time just said, “Jennifer Bantelman, Customer Success” on them. And that was really indicative of what I did. It was essentially just anything that the customer needs, you need to do, and you also need to make sure that you are talking to the right person internally in order to glean that knowledge. Because when one person is managing all of the accounts before Customer Success starts, there’s not gonna be a lot of process, there’s not gonna be a lot that’s written down, it’s gonna be in people’s heads. So, I find that the first Customer Success person is probably going to be dealing with just an information gap where somebody knows something about the customer and you need to find out who and you need to get that information. But the biggest problem is really your time, right? How many of you have those meetings that you meant it to be an hour, but suddenly you’re spending two or three hours on a project? Happens to everybody, right? So, how do you make sure that you’re building your day in such a way that you are able to better justify Customer Success, build out as a team so that you’re really able to highlight the value and make them really glad that they brought you onboard. And I think the best thing to think about is that it’s really exciting to be the first Customer Success person.

19:43 JB: It can be really, really stressful sometimes, and it can feel like all you’re doing is putting out one fire after another after another, but you have so much opportunity. It’s very, very easy to execute change when you are the only person you have to convince. [chuckle] So, every person that you add to your team is going to increase how much effort it takes to do that change management, but it’s not even change management when you’re doing it for yourself. So, really look at it as an opportunity of, how do I want this to look, how would I want to be treated as a customer, and what is gonna bring value to my company? So really think of it as, it’s really three-fold, it’s what’s gonna make you happy, what’s gonna make your customer happy, what’s gonna make your company happy, not necessarily in that order. And really, the earlier you do it, and at least start that process, the better off you’re gonna be and the more fun you’re gonna have doing it. So that’s all well and good, but where can you actually focus? So the first thing is focus on what you’re already doing. What are you finding is taking a bunch of your time? So, you might be doing EBRs, right? And trying to get customers that are not used to EBRs, because you’re the first Customer Success person, trying to get them used to and get them interested in talking to you on the phone. How are you doing those reach-outs? Write up a really good email and save it somewhere.

21:21 JB: And just start using really basic templates for things that you find yourself writing over and over to start. Focus on the areas that you’re already doing, and just make it so that you’re not having to rewrite things every time. Along with that, you mentioned, but you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you’re not going to be able to be perfect because you have too much to do. So, focus on what you actually can do. You might not be able to make a perfect timeline of the customer life cycle, spoiler, you won’t be able to do that, but focus on what you can do because every step you take is going to help you, and it’s gonna make your life and the customer’s life better. Also, make sure that you are taking advantage of your internal resources.

22:11 JB: So, start a stakeholders meeting early with product, if you’ve got a sales team that’s really heavily engaged, if you’re product-heavy company. We’re a product-heavy company, so make sure that you’re starting a good relationship with sales right away. Make sure that you’re communicating with products because you are the voice of the customer. Even if you’re the only Customer Success person, especially if you’re the only Customer Success person, make sure that you are communicating as that customer advocate internally.

22:42 JB: And then also, be a thought leader for your customers. We did not do this as early as I would’ve liked, but on our product side, we did a bit, and Customer Success is taking on more of that now. But find out where there are gaps for your customers. How can they make their lives easier? How can they do their day-to-day? We work in the corporate legal space. I am not a lawyer. I don’t know very much about law at all. But I do know about our software, and I do know, based on our customers, what their challenges are. So, we strive really hard to put together actionable webinars, actionable emails and campaigns that are really gonna help communicate to the customers in a way that’s gonna make their jobs better. And guess what? If you’re doing a webinar, make it an open webinar that your customers can come to, because then you can communicate to 10%, 20%, 30% of your customer base at once, and that comes back to what’s repeatable. If you’re able to do a one-hour webinar that touches 30 customers, you just saved yourself 29 hours.

23:57 Nakul: Great. Thanks, Jennifer. Jason, or other panelists, any questions or thoughts on that?

24:05 Jason: One thing I’m curious, it’s a great point when you come in, there’s no tax, there’s no overhead, you can define it yourself. Did you define your initial KPIs? Did your CEO define it for you? What did you figure out you should be accomplishing quantitatively?

24:17 JB: I’m lucky, our CEO really believes in the value of Customer Success. So, we’ve always been a direct-to-CEO report, which is wonderful. I think that’s incredibly valuable for a company. But we did MBOs to make sure that we had the right general picture, and that helped too, because that helps pull you out of the day-to-day if you have to have these larger quarterly pictures that you’re trying to follow. But literally, one of my personal initiatives was extract data from our VP of Products’ head. I wanted to suck the knowledge out of him because he was really our first CSM, ’cause he was building the product and getting feedback long before we had support, or before we had Customer Success.

25:08 Nakul: Blaire, you had a question?

25:09 BF: I do, yeah. I saw in the first slide, one of your points was around making sure you have fun. That’s one of the three key values of the Customer Success team that talked to us. So what do you do to keep having fun?

25:25 JB: Make sure you believe in what you do; and if you don’t, change it. But don’t do things just because it’s the way things are done. Make sure that you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and if you don’t, get the information about it. ‘Cause customers can tell. Especially in Customer Success, you don’t wanna be doing a job you don’t like, because that’s gonna infect your team, but also your customers are gonna be able to tell.

25:51 BF: Thanks.

25:52 Nakul: Awesome. Well, with that, let’s go to the last section, which is Katie’s section. So, Katie was the first Customer Success hire at SalesLoft, employee number seven. You’ve grown the customer base… Or you’ve seen the customer base grew from 72 to 2,000?

26:09 Katie Rogers: Yes, 72 customers when I first started, all the way to 2,000-plus now. So, it’s definitely been a journey in the past few years.

26:14 Nakul: Awesome. Tell us about the story and how you tracked it.

26:17 KR: Cool. I came to SalesLoft with a passion for sales, and really got my job through Twitter, and that’s an interesting story, I’d love to tell you about it later. But, definitely, I had a passion for sales, and moved from a five-star corporate environment to a startup, and my whole family thought I was crazy. My father said, “What are you doing? You’re throwing your life away.” And I said, “Dad, chill out. I got this.” And so, when moving to SalesLoft, 72 customers, the first day running, first female employee, and there are balls being thrown across the office, paper airplanes, and I said, “Okay, it’s time to dig in to this customer base.” They’re reaching out to a general support handle, so support@salesloft, and we have product guys answering emails. And so, the empathy drastically improved just the first day on the job.

27:02 KR: And so when I started out, there was really no foundation for how our customers were operating. Our CEO, Kyle Porter, was running onboarding calls at the time and that’s what we called them. And so from here, one of my biggest initiatives in coming onboard and scaling out the team was, “What are things that we can do to ensure that we’re not repeating ourselves, and what can we do at scale?” And so, I had a rule-of-thumb that said if we do something more than three times in a day, we have to figure out a better way to do it. And so, today I’m gonna talk to you about four of the top tools that I had, wish I had, or found out about along the way that if I were to do this journey all over again, I would have used and it would have helped us to be more successful than we’ve been. And so, this was me when I first started, trying to eat as many chocolates as I possibly could and place them in the right place in the conveyor belt, and it wasn’t just happening. And so, as I started to build out the team, and find the right tools to help me scale, I was like that.

28:01 KR: Everybody was so pumped. We actually had some kind of process. Things were working. There were less fires. It’s still there, but we were actually making moves, so totally hands all-in, throw them up in the air, we celebrated those small wins. And so, one of the first tools I wanna talk about today… So MouseLight is the first tool. What you’re gonna see here is, all day long, I was giving presentations, and customers kept saying, “Katie, where’s the mouse? I can’t see it. What’s going on?” And I said, “There’s gotta be a better way to do this. This is happening on every single call.” And so, MouseLight is found on the App Store. It’s literally 99 cents, so a shout out to Malcolm over there. But it literally will highlight a specific area on a screen share, so that way your customers will know exactly where you’re referencing on your screen. As soon as we put that up, it’s probably the most asked tool that we have, “Katie, where does that come from? What is that?” I said, “It’s 99 cents. Go on the App Store if you’re using Mac, and you can have it instantly.”

29:01 KR: The next was… This is a tool that I didn’t know about. It’s a newer company coming out of Atlanta, but it’s a company called Trustfuel. So they’re specifically… Have a free net promoter tool. So when we first got started, we didn’t have NPS. We implemented it in my first six months. It was really tough to do. And so, Trustfuel actually integrates into products very seamlessly, everything can map back to Salesforce, and it’s free. So, if you’re operating without a budget, definitely check them out. Alright, the next was Calendly. So, by show of hands, how many of our CSMs or leaders in the room have booked an appointment with a customer, and then had someone else come back and say, “Hey, I’m available at 2:00. Can we meet?”, and now you’re double booked? Alright, so a few of you have been double-booked. For the few of you that didn’t raise your hand, you are so lucky. As you’re growing and starting your Customer Success efforts, I’m literally sending out, “Hey, can we meet at 2:00, 3:00 or 4:00 on Tuesday? Hey, can we meet at 2:00, 3:00 or 4:00 on Tuesday?”, and everybody want to meet at 3:00 on Tuesday.

30:02 KR: I was literally screwed. So, Calendly allowed me to set up my schedule, beautifully integrated with my Google calendar, and they integrate with a lot of different calendars as well, but where customers could go and select simple ways to book on my calendar. And so you can see when it gets here, once it gets back to the beginning, select a 30-minute meeting, pops up where my availability is, pick a different time slot, I can have them populate in 10-minute intervals, 15-minute intervals or hour intervals.

30:32 KR: So make it work for you. Own your days. This is a step in the right direction here. And then with that, you instantly get a calendar invite on your calendar, as well as your customer who’s booking it. And so talk about a seamless approach, and, I had no more double bookings. Talk about working smarter, not harder.

30:52 KR: And so the last one here, I’m gonna take a second to shout out to SalesLoft, SalesLoft Cadence has been a huge value add. And so when you talk about streamlining your emails and reaching out to customers, we launched SalesLoft as it is today in October of 2014 in beta. And the fact that I could send emails out to customers and have a systematic approach while being personable, because I am such a personable person, I wanted my personality, my charisma in there, and this was the first way that I could do it at scale. And we so helped build out workflows at a smaller scale. And as we’ve grown, we are Gainsight customers now. But if we’d that when I started my first day at SalesLoft, oh man, I would have been in heaven.

31:35 KR: And so helping you build out those workflows, and also seeing when your customers are clicking your emails, when they’re opening them, you can see who’s ignoring you or not. Let’s be real, it happens sometimes. And it also helped us, more importantly, stream a lot of our renewals as we were going. And so it helped me create a predictable process that was also personable as well. And so those will be my top four tools if I was looking to start over again. I’d say, SalesLoft, move a little bit faster, I could have used that a year ago. Calendly, definitely helped remove the double bookings. Trustfuel was a free NPS tool. We should have done it sooner, and not waited six months till I was on the job. And then MouseLight is a simple tool, and it really just helps from a presentation standpoint. If your customers were based in Atlanta, our customers are pretty much on the West Coast, so I can’t do the face-to-face meetings. And MouseLight was a life-saver there.

32:23 Nakul: Right. Katie, I’m curious as to… So these get you started. At what scale of number of CSMs do you feel you start needing a full end-to-end Customer Success solution whether it’s Gainsight or one of its competitors or whoever?

32:40 KR: Yeah. I think for every company, it’s a little different. We grew, on our first year, 2,000%. In our second year in 2015, when I joined, we grew another 2,000%. So we were going very quickly. And there was one where we had phenomenal growth, but we did need the playbooks, and obviously the health scores, the churn risk and all that coming in proactively versus being completely reactive.

33:03 KR: And so for us, I think we’re a unique case where we needed it a little bit sooner. We were working off of two million books of business, and so we read your book, and we worked that. And for us, we have some really small deal sizes. And so the two million didn’t quite scale out for us, and so we’re still revamping. And I think one thing to know as you’re building out your processes, you are constantly going to be tweaking and making small changes. So please don’t one it and done it. If you are, we have to seriously talk, and I would love to check in with you later this afternoon because I am changing something. And I’ve got Jason in the audience. Every month, we’re making small tweaks, and we’re constantly innovating. And here we are going on my third year, and it’s still not perfect. It’s not going to be perfect, and I have accepted that, and I am okay with that.

33:48 Nakul: Great. Jason, or Blaire, Jennifer, any comments?

33:56 Jason: I think it’s terrific. My guess is eight. You can’t hack it past about eight.

34:01 Nakul: Eight folks…

34:02 Jason: As soon as you even contemplate hiring another manager, or contemplate hiring folks you’re not gonna train yourself, if you don’t have great systems, when you stop training yourself, it will all fall off. I mean, four would be great, but I think eight is the outer limit that we can hack it.

34:17 KR: And I’d say we got to about nine or 10 when we started to look at a tool. And so it was something where, should we have done it a little bit earlier probably with our growth, but it’s definitely been a game-changer for us. And…

34:32 Nakul: Yeah. And at some point, the cost, if the efficiency is even 20%, it starts like mapping up into a simple ROI of, “You add one more CSM, or you could invest in the solution and scale up a little more of your existing team.”

34:45 JB: We actually did that at Zapproved. I actually decided to champion for a health scoring instead of hiring another CSM right then. Because we’re getting to the point where I couldn’t intimately know every single customer. And at that point, I wanted to be damn sure that the health scores were… That I had some way of making sure that my customers were healthy.

35:09 JB: You’re absolutely right. I went from knowing every customer’s name, their ARR, a little bit about their business, to being like, who? What? Huh? And I mean, that was… It was a scary moment because the business really grew, it was wildly exciting on the other side as well. And so now I’ve learned to embrace that I’m not gonna know everything, and really rely on the process that we built here three years later to help us out.

35:31 Nakul: Awesome. Well, we’ve run out of time, so unfortunately, we won’t be able to take any audience Q&A. But this was great, thank you. Thank you to our panelists.


Published on July 26, 2016
  • Shadi Halloun

    Hello, just wanted to bring to your attention that the video code on this post is broken

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