Episode No:102

Customer Led Growth: Strategies for Driving Success in the Tech Industry

Nir Kalish

Customer Experience Leader, Gitpod

Listen & Subscribe

hyperengage.io/podcast

Ep#102: Customer Led Growth: Strategies
for Driving Success in the Tech Industry ft. Nir Kalish (Customer Experience Leader, Gitpod)
Ep#102: Customer Led Growth: Strategies for Driving Success in the Tech Industry ft. Nir Kalish (Customer Experience Leader, Gitpod)
  • Ep#102: Customer Led Growth: Strategies for Driving Success in the Tech Industry ft. Nir Kalish (Customer Experience Leader, Gitpod)

Episode Summary

Nir Kalish, a customer experience leader at Gitpod, has transitioned from quality assurance into customer-centric roles in the tech industry. He found a passion for customer success and sales engineering and enjoys the challenges and strategic nature of these roles. In his conversations with Adil Saleh, Kalish discusses the importance of understanding the business value of a product in customer success, as well as strategies for improving the onboarding process. He emphasizes the significance of investing in customer education and scaling customer success processes to accommodate growth. Kalish also highlights the importance of tracking usage, engagement, and news to drive expansion, and emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships and human connections with customers. Kalish also emphasizes the importance of personalized interactions with customers to create raving fans, as well as the need to listen actively to data and adapt quickly based on insights. He also discusses the importance of building community in customer success and how AI can help CS teams do more with less. Additionally, Kalish discusses strategies to optimize operations and justify ROI through open communication and involving the customer.
Key Takeaways Time
Transitioning from Quality Assurance to Customer-Centric Roles in the Tech Industry 1:09
Changing Roles and Selling to Technical People: Advantages of Engineering Background 6:36
Improving the Onboarding Process for Customer Success 16:08
Investing in Customer Education and Scaling Customer Success 23:20
Tracking Usage, Engagement, and News to Drive Expansion 29:54
Creating Raving Fans Through Personalized Customer Interactions 36:01
The Importance of Listening to Data in Customer Success 36:42
The Importance of Building Community in Customer Success 39:26
The Importance of Customer Success in Achieving ROI 44:33

Empower Your GTM Strategy

Monthly expert advice and top GTM insights in your inbox.

Transcript

[00:00:03] Adil Saleh: Hey, greetings everybody. This is Adil. Finally, We had this episode with Nir. We took like six to eight weeks break and here we are. Thank you very much everybody, for listening to this episode. We are so excited to have Nair today who's sort of a customer experience leader right now at Gitpod, spent over more than 20 years now. Started as a quality assurance engineer and then transitioned more towards customer success. Customer experience, always preaching customer led growth and has made a huge impact in terms of customer experiences across a wide range of organizations. So thank you very much, Nir, for joining. [00:00:50] Nir Kalish: Thank you, Adil, for inviting me and I'm really excited to see what we're going to talk about today. [00:00:56] Adil Saleh: Love that. And I'm equally thrilled to have this conversation going on. I know that we've been reaching out and coordinating on your schedule for quite a long time and I appreciate that you made time today. [00:01:09] Adil Saleh: So first off, I was looking at your profile, all the notes my team gave me. I was thinking one thing, like for a solution engineer, more like quality shares. Of course, you were pretty much intact with tech ever since you started. But when it comes to roles, what made you transition from quality assurance solution engineering? More on the customer centric approach, like more on the customer voice side of things and customer led side of things. I'm sure along the time, industry trend changed a lot in the tech industry, mostly in the east coast. So how did, could you give us a spotlight of your entire career and what kind of challenges you've had around transitioning from these roles? [00:01:57] Nir Kalish: Yeah, from 2001 until 2011, my career was part of engineering. I built from the ground up. I led, I managed QA organizations, focusing on automation. So we build infrastructures, especially for complex systems like real times, embedded and network. So there was a lot of coding. It was literally coding for quality assurance. And I love that field. I read books and I participate in events and I was really in love in that field. I woke up every morning knowing that I want to find bugs and so on. And then I landed in a startup called Contendo. I was employee number six. I joined before there was even a product, right after we closed the seed round by Sequoia. And my role was to build the QA organization. It was a small startup, very lean. So in the first three years or two and a half years, I did everything. I helped with sales, I did sales engineering, I did customer success support, all the other roles. And during that time, in one point I had a lecture of a CEO of a security company. And one of the things that he said that literally started the process of the change was he shared his story that he was an engineer and that at some point he understood that he needs to touch the business, he needs to move into the business to understand if he wants to explore that world or not. And his recommendation was to all the engineers, try the business, even if you don't like it, you can always go back to engineering. But understanding the business will give you a broader vision and understanding, even as an engineer leader. And it happened, that discussion happened on the same time that I started to feel after almost eleven years that I'm starting to be bored. I'm no longer waking up with excitement. So it took me a bit more time. And I remember that I took a decision that I said, okay, I want to speak with the founders of Cotendo. I was managed by one of them, the VP of engineering and co founder. And I went to my manager and I went to the CEO and I told them, guys, I actually no longer like to be QA and I want to do something else. And I remember the CEO told me, you did a great job, what do you want to do? And I said, I don't want to go to sales. I less fond of that. But I do want to do the customer success in the sales engineering. So I remember he told me, it's yours. And you know what? On the way, I lived in Israel back then, on the way, why not relocate to the US, be with me, manage the Cisco's of the world, Facebook of the world, the Googles. And I opened the opportunity. I spoke with my wife. And I remember that when I landed in the US and I met with him, he told me the first sentence, it only took you three years to understand that you actually can be really good at the business side and not only in the engineering. And since then, I started my path of building and managing sales engineering, customer success organization. For me, both of them are very similar in the approach. It's just a different timeline. But I fell in love. And even today, almost eleven years again, after I started that journey, customer success sales engineer is really something that I wake up every morning. I love it. I think that there is a lot of challenges in those worlds. For me, it's like a game of chess. So it's an endless game of chess. Customer success and sales engineering. [00:06:13] Adil Saleh: Yeah, and it's diverse as well. Like you mentioned, it's like chess. You never know what is going to be your next move. You're certainly dependent on your competition, how the market is moving, what is going to be the next best action for your customers, so how you can play better. So I appreciate that you had a real good analogy on this. [00:06:36] Adil Saleh: Contendo, talking about this product you mentioned, specific to the role like how harder or life changing or sorry, I would say it was more of a strategic decision for you to change the role since you have more intellect in the commercial side and that has been validated by the leadership. So when it comes to products like you are now talking about Gitpod, that is more of a development developers platform. You're doing like on demand, cloud development services, those kind of environments. So how do you see yourself playing differently when you're part of a different, altogether different customer segment, different technology? [00:07:25] Nir Kalish: So I will tell you my approach. So one, most of my career is spent in companies that sold to technical people. And my background as an engineering I think gave me a really big advantage because selling to salespeople is different than selling to marketing people. And it's very different when you sell to engineers. As an ex-engineer, we have different personalities. A lot of strategic sales tactics won't work with engineering because of the dna of engineering and the way that they think. And because I came from engineering, it was really easy for me when I worked in companies that sold to those buyers and champions and users. I had a lot of common items with them, so I could build a relationship very fast. But I also could understand the struggles that they have and connect them to my own struggle that I used to have. And I wish that I had that product that now we are trying to sell them. So that gave me a big advantage. [00:08:37] Nir Kalish: Now regarding coming back to your question, I will tell you one thing that I personally believe after working in give or take, more than ten companies in my career, customer success. I am a driver. I know to drive many vehicles. You need to tell me what is the product, what is the buyer, what is the business value? I will choose the right vehicle. I truly believe that you can teach every customer success, the product and biotypes very quickly. In less than two months, every customer success can really understand any product, regardless of their complexity. It's almost impossible to teach someone how to be a really good customer success or how to be a really good sales engineer in two months. Because part of the learning curve of being customer success or sales engineer is the soft skills. And learning the soft skills is a lot of trial and errors. It's a lot of experience. Right. When I joined CDN, I knew nothing about CDN, nothing. It was a network company. The only thing that I knew about network is to say the name HTTP and TCP and DNS. That's it. And after three months, I remember that my manager gave me the HTTP protocol, the TCP protocol, and told me, you need to know that a to z. And after three months, I knew a to z, and I was the one of the SMEs until the end of the company, until it was acquired that knew the protocols really well, from bottoms to top to every bits and bytes on that. Because you read and you play with the product, but nobody can teach you. There isn't any book, or you can read as many books as you want. How you speak with an executive buyer that doesn't believe in your product. [00:10:41] Adil Saleh: Very interesting, right? You got to make sure that you talk in their language and you know inside out their mindset, how they approach things, how they function. Just like you mentioned that it's easier to speak as an engineer, to speak with an. [00:10:58] Nir Kalish: But. But in the end, customer success for me is a lot of soft skills. It's art and science. Science. You can teach how art, you need to experience it. Right? Nobody knows how to draw. Perfect. If I could take van Gogh from their grave and we'll ask him, did you draw the same way in your last year like you draw in the first year? Polly will tell me, no, I learned so much in between. Right. So for me, many times you ceos that tell me, I want a customer success from my segment, it's always funny to me because you might get a CSM that is not experienced. Yes, he knows security really well, but you can teach them security. You cannot teach them how to build rapport with customers weekly. You cannot teach them how to identify risks, how to mitigate risk. Right. That's something that it's only experience, unfortunately. I wish that there was a book that can tell you if you do ABC all the time, it will work. Because here is the one thing in customer success and self engineering that I think it makes it an endless game of chess. One solution will never walk 100% of the times in the same situation with different customers. So it's always taking what you learned and tweak it a bit to the current personality that you need to walk with in front of you. Different buyer, two buyers, two different personalities, same solution. Might won't work. Same sentence. Might won't work. So that's, I think, the magic, the endless magic for me in the customer success world. [00:12:43] Adil Saleh: I can't agree more on this because you consistently it create. Of course, you can sanitize things you talk about. Go. This happens even more on the platforms. That are more serving towards the engineering teams, developer teams, all these API teams and all. And this happens a lot because they have to make sure what kind of use cases that can come up, the new customer can come up with, and they have to do changes and implementation in a different way. [00:13:14] Adil Saleh: One question that I was thinking while you were sharing this, because I was listening to just a Zoom call, Jason Lipkin and Nick math just a few days ago, and they were mentioning that, thinking about customer success, taking a slight pivot organizationally, they're thinking that, and I agree to it, they're thinking that implementation team will stay more with the revenue teams and customer success teams will be more on the retention side and all the continuous support and business reviews, cadences, all of that. But when it comes to implementation, that should live closer to the revenue team or sales operation because this is so critical. In your case, talking about Gitpal, there's going to be like three different development organizations that you're dealing with at one time, and you got to make sure that you have different implementation onboarding for them. So one thing, just put some more light on this notion and also just tell us more about how you're applying yourself as a customer or a post sales organization, starting from implementation at Gitpod. [00:14:30] Nir Kalish: Yeah. So in every time I join to build a customer success organization, I will say that the first thing is to understand is you need to learn the product. You need to understand the product, its functionality. But then the second thing that you need to understand is what is the business value? What business problems do we solve and what the business value that our product, our service bring and how it solved it. And I think that that's one of the things that a lot of people are not doing the right way. And by the way, a lot of companies don't ask them those questions like what is my business value? Not what is my technical value? You can now record your calls if we're looking at gong, right. That's not the business value. The business value is. I'm taking gong, by the way, which one? One of my favorite tools, amazing company is the business value is me. As a manager of sales, I don't have a really good way to track the calls that my team is doing to give them feedback based on the calls, to get alerts if something happened on the calls. Because of that, I cannot make my team better, I cannot improve them, and because of that, I cannot make my team close more deals successfully. This is the business problem of a sales organization, and this is exactly what Gong can solve right now. Gong knows how to connect it. This is why it's such a successful company, because they know how to talk about it, they know how to demonstrate it, they know how to show the value after one week of using the system. [00:16:08] Nir Kalish: So that's my first thing. Then I always, always start with what is the onboarding process that we have right now and what is broken in the onboarding process. And when I look at the onboarding process, there are three parts. There is the hand check between sales and customer success. Do we have a handshake? Okay. And by the way, I'm using the handshake because it's not a transition. We're not taking the OD potato from sales and moving to customer success. It's a handshake because it means that until we finish the onboarding, both you, the salesperson and me, the customer suCcess, we are in the same boat. And that transition needs to be is why the customer bought us. Business reasons. Are there any things that we promised the customer as part of the agreement? And what the players, what is the champion? What is the buyer? Not, oh, they are nice guys. No, the buyer is new. He has a lot of ego. The champion is there for five years, is very technical. He asks a lot of questions. All those things that can allow the csms to understand what are the risk of the onboarding, how to make the kickoff call the right way, and how to mitigate any risk or opportunities that might happen based on the knowledge. Right. So this is the first step. Then the second step of building the onboarding or improving the onboarding is okay, what is the onboarding lifecycle? Different products, different services, different buyers, different lifecycles. It always start with a kickoff, how we want to do the kickoff, what we are going to present. And the last part, how we go to the end of the onboarding and what happened in the end. For me, I like to have kickoff. So for me, the template of a successful onboarding flow is pre kickoff call with the sales to get all the information, where they fill it up in advance. We can come prepare with questions. We address everything. We share the risk that we see, we share the opportunities. We share, how we are going to do the onboarding. Then we build the kickoff. We meet with the champion and the buyer in the kickoff meeting. We cover, we remind them why they bought, we get the approval that they agreed. So those are the reasons we're asking them how you're going to measure that we achieve those, how we solve those problems, because one of the biggest problems of onboarding is there isn't any agreement. What is the meaning of done? And now you land into never ending onboarding of 7912 24 months. We explain them what will be the timeline, what is their roles, what is our wall? And we schedule the weekly meetings. And we sell them the weekly meetings. One of the things that many times I hear about complaining is, but the customer doesn't want to go to a meeting, of course, because many times, the way that we sell the meetings is, let's do a sync call. But our buyers, our champions, are understaffed. They are over busy. They have 50 other services that they bought all of them once they're a single. Why? Why will I give you my time? Where is the value? Right. So I like to handle it in a different way. My success rate when I started to measure it overall in my organization is 87% of all the customers will agree to the weekly meetings during the onboarding, based on the storytelling, then what will be the steps? Right. In some customers or some companies or products, it will be integration, then settings, then training, and so on and so on. We define the timelines and the important milestones. And then there is always the end of it. And the end of it is an onboarding retrospective. We meet with the buyer. So during the ongoing meetings, during the onboarding, it's only with the champion and the right players. No buyer. We don't need the buyer. We need the buyer in the kickoff. We need the buyer in the retrospective. In the retrospective, we remind them again why they bought. We show them how we achieved the success criteria, because we aligned before that with the champion. And what I usually like to do is I want the champion actually to present how we met it, because it gives more credibility to the buyer. [00:20:33] Adil Saleh: Yeah, that's interesting. [00:20:35] Nir Kalish: We show the Roi, okay. Based on the team that we onboard and everything, what is the revenue that you got from us? What is the return of investment that you got from us? What is your feedback on the onboarding, on the product? It's very important we will deliver that feedback to the product team if it things on the onboarding we need to improve and fix. And in doing that, we also ask one question that I never saw it before. What things with other service provider you liked in their onboarding that we didn't do? And now we can start to mimic other good things that other companies are doing in their onboarding. And then we ask the question, what is your goals for the next six months, champion? What are your goals, buyer? What are your goals? And if everything went well, who are the next teams that we want to onboard. And if the onboarding went well and the meeting went well, there is last slide, which is a very nice picture that we created. Then we ask them for favor. And the favor is, hey guys, we heard that you were happy with the onboarding. As far as we see, you saw the value. We have two tiny requests. Feel free to tell us no. Can you give us a g two crowd review? Can you do a case study with us? 80% success criteria to get the answer yes. So what I'm generating by doing that and by building a very solid onboarding process is that every customer that finished the onboarding generate a case study, 80% of them. Now we have a machine of case studies that we can give to marketing and those case studies generating new leads. Right. So it's a win win to everybody in the company. And this is the contribution. [00:22:18] Adil Saleh: That's what customer-led growth in real meaning is: you are keeping customers at the center of your customer success. Sales, marketing, all of that. [00:22:30] Adil Saleh: So I pretty much like that one question on this. I'm sorry, you want to say something? Yeah. [00:22:35] Nir Kalish: It's part of customer-led growth. Because customer led growth is the approach also means that marketing half of your budget is to hunt new leads. Half of your budget is to educate and do things for the existing customers product. When you build things, you need to put your customer in the middle. Right. It's not only customer led growth is not only CX or CX. Customer led growth is how the company become a customer centric where all the units together understand that there are two revenue streams, one new customers, one existing customers. It's cheaper to sell to your existing customers, but you need all the department needs to be around it in addition to new IOL. But ask the question, please. [00:23:20] Adil Saleh: Yeah. [00:23:20] Adil Saleh: So it's so interesting that you guys are investing more on the customer education and all these processes. So doing it for scale. If I ask you this, how much of this is digital? Of course there is a lot. Early on in the first two years of SaaS business, you can do things really well, you can nail them. But thinking of doing the same thing for a thousand more customers becomes harder. This is the same question I had to Ron when I spoke in the first time, CCO of Gold. And what I heard is quite inspirational. Like ever since they started when they were as small as six people, when Iran joined, they were pretty much investing into data, to standardize, to digitalize, to make sure everything is repeatable. Most of the things are repeatable, so they do it for scale. So how much you guys are investing into that. [00:24:18] Nir Kalish: So we need to remember that scale depends on the product, right. Gong is a very self service product. So Gong has the ability to first go to thousands of customers and then it's much more repeatable. Many times they don't even need a CSM unless it's a very big account. There are other products like Cotendo for example, which was a CDN anodot, which was an AI and anomaly detection that I worked with, where there is a lot of things that you need to train the customer and a lot of settings that without doesn't matter how much documentation you will write, they won't be able to do it or they will do it the wrong way. Right? So it really depends on the business. Right. Some businesses can be very scaled from the day one. In those cases, they need to have really good documentation walk through inside the product. The product itself needs to be a PLG product led growth, right? Where it's very intuitive. There are other products, other services that are more complex, especially those that are targeting enterprises, where you will always going to have iTouch, right? And there are some companies that will be everything. And when you are everything, it makes things much, much more complex. You need to invest in both sides. I will say, at least from my experience, when you are talking about scale, meaning that you have a very solid product led growth. Yes. The data is your trigger when to actually ask for those things, right? Because when you are product led growth, what it mainly means is that you don't need a customer success. Many times to do onboarding meetings, you need to do the onboarding that you think is the best inside the product, inside automatic emails. And if it doesn't work or the email is not open, then you want a manual PSM activities that will send an email to the customer, hey, let's meet. Let's see, right? And if you see a customer that is going up like crazy now, you should have a trigger that will create so called, either automatically or with more manual personalized email or Slack Ado customer. We didn't speak for six months. Let's open a call and during the call you tell them about the product and how you're happy that they are growing and you ask them question, you make them feel that they're in the center and then you ask, hey, can you give me a case study? And then you can scale it. But it really depends on the product, right? In Anodot, for example, not in Anodot, in contender, we had 435 customers. All of them were itouch all of them were required onboarding, where the customer success will be with them, will tell them how to do things. We'll train them. [00:27:10] Adil Saleh: Implementation specialists. [00:27:12] Nir Kalish: Yes, right. And it really depends. In gitpod, we have both. Gitpod is a product that you can start yourself, but with large customers, you actually want to be there, you want to hold their ends. Because here is the thing, when you're selling to enterprises, the onboarding is a key factor, whether they will grow or not. Because unless you really have a very amazing product, like let's take Salesforce, Salesforce, you many times don't need to push because Salesforce, once the cell organization bought it, the entire sales organization needs to use it. But in engineering services, for example, it sometimes makes a bit more complex. Buying engineering tool doesn't mean that all the engineers are using it. Engineering, for example, many times walking away. The way that engineers are being managed is we give you the tools, you as an end user, you can choose which tools you want. We don't force you right now. If you won't have an organized onboarding, if you won't be inside the customer, if you won't help the customer, at least on the first team to make it part of their day to day life, you won't have an expansion. Right? So this is where the customer success leader needs to understand. This is why it's so important to coming back to the previous things that I said in the beginning, when you join a company, you need to understand who is the buyer, who is the department, what is the business value, what is the business solutions? Right. Because if you don't understand the synergy inside your customer organization, you don't know how to build the right onboarding process. And that can lead into zero expansion versus the hokistic expansion. And it's also true to product led growth items like you need to understand the customers and in every customer. In the end, once again, in every customer, if you think about it, Adil, you have three players that you need to really understand. You have the executive buyer. What is it for him? What do I need to do in the product or in my processes, in my communication to work with them? There is the champion, or the team management, the meteor management. What is it for them to shift and to work with my product? And there is the end user, the engineer, the salesperson. What is it for them? If I can build a product and processor that can fit for each one of them, I will be a very successful company. [00:29:49] Adil Saleh: Yeah, I was thinking along those lines as well. [00:29:54] Adil Saleh: Of course, at one segment you're talking about expansion. Let's say a few hundred customers. They bought a git bot cloud that doesn't need installation, that is quick plug and play, that you can instantly get your cloud version of CDE. So how much of your customers, like post sales efforts are more driven towards keeping a track of their usage? The potential, the opportunities of expansion? Of course you cannot have dedicated implementation engineer or solution engineer or customer success manager, but I'm sure you already have data system in place that keeps insights and makes sure that you're staying on top of your activities. So could you put more on that and then we'll jump right into. [00:30:47] Nir Kalish: So you're right. I will say that when we track data, you want to track three things, three families, usage, news about the company and the engagement, right? Because here is the thing, a customer can use 100%. They consume all those seats, but they don't engage with me. Which means that even though on paper they look amazing, I will always going to put them at some risk because I'm blind. [00:31:20] Adil Saleh: You're talking about engagement with the platform or engagement with the team. [00:31:24] Nir Kalish: So the usage measure, the engagement with the platform. If you think about it, when I'm talking about engagement is how they engage with the people on my side. It can be how they engage with support, how they engage with csms, with the salespersons, whether they answers on emails, on slack channels, or they are ignoring us, whether they are not coming to meetings. What is the tones during those meetings? Right? Because here is the thing customer can use, whose story customer use 100% no meetings. They didn't want to meet. Reply to emails took weeks and you had to chase them. Right? At the end of the year they churned. Nobody knew. It came as a surprise. Why? And since then I'm always mark customers with low engagement, even if they're using the system in high risk. Unless the customer at some point told me I don't want to engage, everything is okay. I love you. Don't worry, I love the product we'll continue to use. Otherwise I'm blind. I don't know if that 100% is just because they really need me, but in parallel I'm too expensive for them and they are going to in the end of the year to work with my competitors. Right? On the other end. True story from one of my companies. We had a customer, really big, amazing customer, really important for us, with only 40% usage. Everybody were hysterical. Everybody. The customer engaged amazingly. Not only that, they engaged amazingly. Every year they did at least four to five customer advocacy activities with us. They were a customer for two and a half years. At some point I was tired that everybody was so stressed out. So I did a meeting with the customer and I knew exactly what he's going to tell me because we already covered it multiple times by this time. I took the recording and send it to the executive team. And I asked him, a dear customer, why are you using us only 40%? Explain to me, I know that you are happy. And his mind even said, neil, we already talked about it. I told him, no, let's talk about it again. And he said, here is the thing. We use you only in our production environment. We are a health tech organization. As such, we only release three times a year. Before every release we test it very carefully. This is why we're only using it 40% of the time. Not all our engineers can get access to production. That's a great answer, right? Because the context is important, right? But I knew that because that customer came to meetings with me every month like a clock. He opened feature requests, he opened bugs, he went to webinars. The buyer literally played golf with other ctos. And every time he went to golf games, he would text me after and he said, near, this person is going to ping you tomorrow. I gave him his email. I told him really great things about you, right? That's the difference. [00:34:11] Adil Saleh: But you need nothing that can beat engagements and human connection. [00:34:16] Nir Kalish: Exactly. [00:34:16] Adil Saleh: And relationship. [00:34:18] Nir Kalish: But you need all the three, right? You need to understand the usage in the product, you need to understand the engagement with your employees. You need to understand the news because all of the three will tell you how you need to proceed. Now, some of that can be automated. You can create playbooks, right? So if we're talking about scale, even with high touch, you want to get different smart alerts. Customer is dropping the usage. Now it's going to create a playbook that the CSM needs to act upon it. The action can be automatically personalized. What I always tell my CSMs, “put your customers into Google alerts. Put the name of the customers, you get messages, you get an alert that they're doing layoffs, you get an alert that they raise money that they are being acquired. All of those can help you to come much more prepared to the meetings or to be very proactive”. So every time customer I got in the news that customer having layoffs, I will always wait one day. Then I will literally pick the phone to my champion, to the buyer, to the top users that I have relationship as a CSM, I will tell them, guys, I heard the news. How are you? Are you okay? Are you safe? If not the first thing that I'm telling them. Once you decide to look for a job, tell me what you're looking. Send me your resume. I'm going to activate my network and I'm doing that. And then what happened is that actually will do things for me. And if they are not well impacted first I know that they are sad they lost friends. I telling them the same thing. But for them, I telling them, hey guys, if things change, let me know. I will help you to find a job. I will put your resume in front of our vcs databases. And I'm actually doing that right. [00:36:01] Nir Kalish: If I have a meeting with a customer and the day before they had layoffs, I will come to the call. It's a scheduled call that we already scheduled. I will stop the recording and I tell them, guys, let's forget about work. How are you? And we're just going to talk about them. I can do it because I get the news. I can come prepared to the meetings. They closed another round. I will send them a text message. I'm so happy for you. I will put a post in LinkedIn for them. I will make sure that we are sending them a cake to the office. [00:36:32] Adil Saleh: Yeah. That's a way to create your raving fans. That's what gong has done so good, creating raving fans. [00:36:42] Adil Saleh: So now this last segment, this is pretty much, I appreciate that you had like 10 minutes on top of our scheduled time. One last thing, like how do you see customer success? 24 pivots for good or bad, whatever you think your opinion based on your experience is specifically in your industry, because there's going to be big trends. Because all these developer platforms that we spoke to, they are desperate to have dedicated customer success organizations making sure that all the triggers, data, all this entire process. But somehow they're at a stage that they're not able to do it right or maybe they're not able to do it for scale. So they're just doing it old school way. Whitelist service. They're able to serve handful of customers, but not for long enough. So this is just my opinion in the, most of the platforms that we had that are serving in the developer space for the engineering teams, they have communities, they do customer education all, but they have communities that build up on it on their own. So what's your take on customer success for your industry? [00:37:58] Nir Kalish: So communities, I think it's also important. I think that it's not only in my industry, I think that the recession, the tech recession that started 18 months ago and probably will continue to until the rest of the year at least. My assessment will require everybody to think outside of the box. And what I mean outside of the box is one how you can leverage really data, right? And when I'm saying leverage data. So I walked in one company, I won't mention their name, that the data was there, and the data literally said the product sucks, the product is buggy. People walk with the product and then they leave because it impact their business. And everybody ignore the data. It's not only collecting the data, it's listening to the data. It's listening to the data. Even when the data tells you something that you don't like. Regardless if you are a founder and it tells you that the product that you build doesn't have product market fit or is not good, even if you are a sales and it tells you that you're selling to the wrong people, and even if you're a cs and it tells you your onboarding process is too long, customers are just losing momentum. You need to listen to the data. So collecting the data, listening to the data experiments fast and being able to prove assessments or assumptions or understand that they are no longer relevant, I think that will be key factor for everybody. [00:39:26] Nir Kalish: The use of communities will be important. But in order to do communities, you need to understand what community is and how to build it. A lot of companies try to build community by. Okay, you know what, customer success, sales, engineers, you will manage the community. No, you need to bring someone that knows how to build community. Yes, you need to invest in it. You need someone that will manage the community that is there. If I'm looking one of the best companies, and I do have relationship with the founders of that company and with the COO, it's Catalyst. Catalyst is an amazing CS tool. I love their tool. I love the company. Really. I adore the company. Their community is one hell of community. And the reason is because when they build it, they brought someone that understand communities and it build it and invest in it and the communities give back. It's not only community for how to use the product, it's community for customer success, for customer success leaders. Right. So you need to invest in it. I think that the AI is going to create what I like to call a multiplier of force. CSM needs to understand how to use AI, how to use it right. What is its weaknesses? But if they will use it right, they can do a lot of things that can allow them to do more with less. Right. And I think that the main thing is that we all need. Now I'm old, okay? I'm old in tech, I'm 45 years old. But I've seen 2001 exploding in 2008, and what happened after that with the craziness and money is flowing like nuts, and we invest in startups, even if they don't have any business models. And here is the thing that I learned in 2001. You always need to do more with less. And in order to do that, you need to have solid processors, you need to be able to follow through, you need to use data, and you need to think outside of the box, how you can automate things and make your life easy. So when I'm looking at AI, when I need to write email to email today, I will write the email, then I will go to the AI and I will tell the AIA I need to send this email to a CTO first. Here is the email. Tell me what is how it sounds? What is the tone? Is it too harsh or. Sometimes I need to write a very harsh email. Now, I'm coming from the Middle east. In the Middle east, we can be very harsh and the other side won't take it, won't be insulted. But when you're speaking with European customers, with us customers, you cannot be harsh, right? You need to be harsh. But we call it in the american ways or in the german way, or in the british way. So I will use AI to do that. I will tell him, hey, here's an email. I needed to make it tough, harsh to the point. But the buyer, the person that I'm sending him, is a CTO of Fortune 500 and is actually originally from Britain. Now I get a new email, I read it, I see that it makes sense. Now I can either use it as is or change it to my own needs, right? Sometimes when I need to go and dive into a lot of data, I might leverage AI if my systems have the right things, right? This is the place where I can actually do more with less, right? Instead of spending 20 hours on writing the perfect email, I can spend 5 minutes with AI and get the email that I want. But one thing is to understand its weaknesses, right? I don't send the email as is. I read the email, I understand if it's aligned, because sometimes AI writes stupid things. With all my love to AI. Okay, so this is the things how we can do less with more. And I think the other thing is if we are coming back to, we are selling to engineering. I think that engineering in this recession got a very big impact, right? Companies if in the crisis of 2008, if in Covid, we didn't impact engineers, we continue to hire them. In this recession, it's very similar to the bubble recession in 2001. Engineering are being impacted. Engineering are required to reduce cost to be more efficient. Right. So you need to understand what it means for you as someone that serves them. You need to understand coming back to the business problem, the business challenges that your customers have and to see how you can address it. And part of the thing is to understand your ROI as a service, right? Because if engineers need to cut cost and you don't have a really good way to show them that your service saved them $5 million or increase productivity by 50 hours per month per team, then you will be out, right. [00:44:33] Nir Kalish: And it's coming back to CLG, where you listen to the customer. One of the biggest things, for example, in RoI is that many companies, how they do the ROI, the salesperson or the customer success, feel the ROI. They come to the champion and the buyer and they tell them, we are saving you $50 million. And the other side look at it and laugh and say, oh, you are so wrong. And they don't. Here is how I do it. I never fill up the RoI calculator. I call the champion. We open a call, I close the recording so it won't be recorded, so it will be fully free space. And I tell him, listen for you to hold us accountable on what we promise you. I need us to fill up the RoI calculator. Now. We might be fully surprised, and I hope and I believe that you will see a positive result. But if the results are bad, what I want us to do together then is to understand why and how we can work in order to improve it. And then I'm asking the question e filling the answers. And we look together as the RoI calculator is being updated. And many times he gave me the answers, right. He told me I didn't invent numbers. Then I take this, I put it into a slide before any QBR, before the onboarding retrospective, before the renewal. And when I meet with the procurement, when I meet with the executive, I always invite the champion. And I said the following. Ado buyer. I walked last week with the champion, the person that you trust, by the way. I'm not saying that, but that's exactly what's happening. We fill together the Roi calculator based on the champion knowledge. Champion, do you want to present it? And I prepare them, and I'm telling them, hey, you did an amazing job. Look how much money we saved. I want you to present it in front of your manager. And that's it. Now, what I did, I build the trust because I didn't fill it up. It's the person that the buyer promise is the one that fill it up, right? So it's the true data. And if it's bad, we say it's still bad. And the champion will always, will tell it because I prepare it and we already build a relationship, will say, hey, the results are still bad, but near and I are working to solve it. I need to understand why. And then Neo and I can build a plan, or we know why. Neer is going to do more training or we are going to do office sites. And that gives the confidence to the buyer that, hey, we are on top of things. We know that we failed. We are working to help you. We are partners. Right? So that's the idea about how I justified it. [00:47:20] Adil Saleh: Yeah, I certainly like that it was more on the customer facing side of things like do more with less optimized operations, optimize keeping things as data driven and automated as humanly possible. And make sure you're not only making the system efficient, but you're only also optimizing your bandwidth, doing more with less. So this was quite inspiring, the way you put it in your space and you already explained it, how basically it can be one of the ways that it can be achieved. Also this RoI thing, I really appreciate your time. It was a long time coming and I always found you to be so expressive and everything. And that's what I like about you. And thank you for the time you spent here. [00:48:13] Nir Kalish: Thank you very much for inviting me. Anil. Thank you. [00:48:16] Adil Saleh: Thank you. Have a good rest of your day. Bye. [00:48:22] Nir Kalish: Welcome. Yes.

Keep Listening VIEW ALL EPISODES >>>