Episode No:13

Secrets to Totango’s Success: Onboarding and Enablement ft.

Jeremy Donaldson

CS Leader, Totango

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Ep#13: Secrets to Totango’s Success:
Onboarding and Enablement ft. Jeremy Donaldson (Customer Success Leader, Totango)
Ep#13: Secrets to Totango’s Success: Onboarding and Enablement ft. Jeremy Donaldson (Customer Success Leader, Totango)
  • Ep#13: Secrets to Totango’s Success: Onboarding and Enablement ft. Jeremy Donaldson (Customer Success Leader, Totango)

Episode Summary

In this episode, our host Adil Saleh chats with Jeremy Donaldson, Customer Success Leader at Totango, a Composable Customer Success Platform that provides teams with the flexibility, speed, and agility to create and deliver optimal customer outcomes. The conversation revolves around the processes incorporated at Totango and how various dedicated teams work together to ensure customer success. Jeremy discusses how Totango integrates with all the tools that businesses use to securely connect all their customer data for a single, unified view of their customers. He also covers the tools that are being used by different teams at Totango. While discussing the culture of Totango, he touched on how vital it is to have a good relationship with both the product and the people, as well as to be the change agent when necessary. To conclude the episode, Jeremy talked about Totango’s goal of becoming $100 million in sales in three years and how he believes that their customer centric approach would help them achieve this goal.
Key Takeaways Time
What is the customer success strategy of Totango? 6:41
How compatible is Totango to other tools when it comes to integrating the customer’s data? 11:33
What technology is Totango using for its own teams? 15:37
How is Totango investing into building the right mindset for the customer facing roles?
Role of a CSM at Swiftly 6:44
What goals does Totango want to achieve by the end of 2025? 23:25

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Adil Saleh: Hi, Hyperengage family. Today we have Jeremy from Totango. And, you know, we’ve been talking too much about Totango for all these years. And I’ve used them for my products in the companies that I’ve worked in the past. It is my privilege to have you around, Jeremy. Thank you very much for taking the time out. Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, that’s a long time coming. idios. I really appreciate you having me as well. And I’m looking forward to our conversation today. Adil Saleh: My pleasure, my pleasure, Jeremy, we’ll get straight, straight into the conversation. Initially, I’ve seen you work with different businesses in the past and you have strongly, you know, very much ingrained with customer success and working on customer success roles and customer facing roles all these years. Can you tell us more about how you started as a Customer Success individual? Or how, why? Why did you choose a customer facing role? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, actually, I would say that Customer Success found me as opposed to finding customer success. My background actually was in when I joined SAAS and technology in 2012, doing talent acquisition in recruiting. And it was just through getting to know many of the hiring teams from our engineering teams all the way through our sales roles, and sales hiring managers that have just built relationships and have the opportunity to move from that kind of talent acquisition arm into customer facing sales and renewals. And so 2014 is really the start of that piece of working directly in business to business customer facing roles. And then just from there, I just followed the path of where it led me. So it led me into account management for a couple of years, and then eventually led me into net new sales. And realized that after about a year of doing that, I really loved working with customers and helping them get to the value, getting them to their goals that they were trying to achieve. And so I moved back into a customer success role in 2017. And now I’ve been doing either CS or CS leadership since 2017. So yeah, that’s the long and the short of it there. But yeah definitely don’t, I’m not definitely traditional and said that I sought out customer success, it definitely found me but I love it. And now that I’m here, I don’t I couldn’t see myself doing anything different. Adil Saleh: Well, so that was something pretty inspirational, like, a lot of people, they actually try to, you know, get into the roles and they try to figure out, okay, this is something that I need to just follow, I have the visibility, I have the direction and I need to follow and chase these roads, need to go to customer success. But in your case, it’s more towards, you know, that specific industry that specific roles chose you, in the beginning as a customer success. And beyond that, then you tried to scale it, and you tried to unleash a lot of your hidden talents and hidden skills. And now like totango, like, tell us more about Totango, like you’re building a team. It’s been How long since you have been in that customer success operation for Tango? And what are the high level goals for you as a team there? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, yeah. So I’ve been coming up on eight months to totango. So it’s been a crazy adventure filled, fun, stressful, eight months, but it’s been good. Yeah, so I’m actually carved out a new segment of customers, which is why I came over here. So actually building out a team for basically our 1100 to 1000 employee customers that we have. And so it’s we’re calling a small enterprise. And we’re focused on kind of marrying digital touch engagement with you know, traditional high touch enterprise across our customer segment, because just the purchasing motions, the value motions, right, the the goals and objectives while are similar team sizes are very different from 100 employee organizations versus 1000, employee organizations and the level of resources that they can throw at it. So right now I’m the team lead, I’ve got three CSMs on my team and continue to hire and grow that team. But we are focused on our team, we’re fortunate in that we get to focus on driving the adoption and value for our customers. Right we are focused on making sure that they retain that we are hitting their objectives, right and ultimately, right we want to see your customers grow because that’s how they are if they’re growing, they’re being successful and then ultimately right Totango gets the benefit of that growth as well. But we’re fortunate in that we don’t we don’t sit under and carry you know, large quotas and things like that we really can be focused on driving that value for a customer which I think is the most important, most important piece of being in a customer success management role is that you’re able to do that. But I would also say to kind of going back to what I shared earlier, is around customer success found me I think any role whether you’re a CSM or in a different role, everybody has a part in delivering customer success for your organization and for your customers. And it’s not that I would say this, the beauty of the role that we’re in is, well, CSMs have that focus on adoption and value and achieving customer helping customers achieve their objectives. We can’t do that without our partner, our product managers, we can’t do that without our engineering team, we can’t do that without our support, right? We can’t do that without our sales partners. So you know, we all have to work together to drive that. And if we don’t have that, and you for organization doesn’t have that, then your CSM is going to be ultimately set up to fail, because you’re not going to have what they truly need to deliver that organization wide customer success. Adil Saleh: Absolutely, I love it. That’s an interesting element that you brought, like value realization, like, as soon as you understand what value means to your customer, the better you will be able to, you know, serve as a customer success or even a product manager. So you talked about integration with other teams like sales team, product team, data ops team, if you have even an integration team, and you know, all the configuration, you have a lot of tech involved while onboarding your customer to so how you’re actually what is a set process for you guys, while integrating in the first place? Post sales operationalize onboarding side effects? So what kind of teams are involved? What kind of technologies are involved and how you’re actually measuring it alone? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, that’s for sure. Sounds a great question are around kind of just the end to end process. So as of right now, because we’re continuing to scale our customer success team does come in at the point of signature for contract, we actually, we will be a part of the kickoff call with our onboarding group. So we actually do have a team now dedicated for customer onboarding. And so they’ll handle basically the onboarding project, the enablement configuration. And then we have what’s called the customer success and engineering team, which they’re aligned to our customers around data and integration. So basically, anything that you know, do you are coming to be a customer of ours and you said, Hey, we you know, we use Salesforce for, you know, our account management. We use HubSpot for our marketing stuff, we use, you know, we track, you know, learning courses and webinars through an LMS. Right? How do we get all that data centralized to totango, that’s what our customer success engineering team helps customers enable. So the onboarding project really is focused on that configuration, the enablement and getting the data accurately pulled into totango. So it’s actually valuable for customers to use and can actually build out the things that they want. And the customer success manager or the account team sits alongside that right to make sure that we understand, you know, both onboarding and post onboarding objectives. And so that way, when they come out of onboarding, right, the CSM picks up, we’ll call it basically, we kind of call it the phase two of the relationship, which is that really that first year journey, which is now taking what they deployed in onboarding, and actually start optimizing that right, and then working on, you know, what’s next in their journey. So if the customer really wants to build a really world class, digital onboarding process, right, and then what’s the next logical thing that they want to do? Right, maybe it’s, you know, maybe it’s digital adoption. And that’s the next thing, that’s the next sequence in their customer journey that they will want to focus on. That’s where the CSM comes into enable, right? We don’t necessarily do everything for the customer, but coming in to really make sure that they understand the best practices of how the tool lists so that, you know, they can be enabled to do it on their own, right, and then enable their teams to be able to go and do it right kind of that train the trainer philosophy. So that’s really a part of it. And then when we get down the line, right, when we get to time of renewal or expansion, right, our sales team has been informed on all the things that have been happening along the way, they may not sit in every meeting, but they’re they’re an integral part and copied in on everything that we do. So when that comes up, they’re not you know, they’re not stepping in blind as to, you know, what needs to be negotiated, things like that. And we partner with the sales organization to make sure that the commercial aspects are handled at the time of the renewal. Adil Saleh: Great, but I really appreciate that you actually connected scenarios with this conversation. And that made more sense and it’s more relatable to people listening. So you talked about onboarding, you talked about the tools that you integrate for your customers initially while onboarding and you have multiple teams involved. And then that’s once you get the data inside the tool, you can give them different insights, different recommendations and then you monitor it. And then you make your CS team yours to help and adoptions like like that journey. The customer tries to, you know, stay closer to the customer goals at all times. So now, my question is, once the customer is onboarding we were talking more about Totango, because we know we’ve used it. And we know how powerful it can be for a lot of early SAAS businesses listening to this. So now, for early states that are not using salesforce for let’s say, not using Salesforce as a CRM, they’re not big enough to pay for like that. And then they’re using tools like HubSpot, they’re using tools like there’s another tool, Chris, if you’re familiar with, I’m just talking about on a great lower level, you know, to try and then then build up the conversation. And then talking about intercom the initial like, their, their pricing is pretty confusing anyway, so you have to, you know, see their knowledge base to figure out the price. So for the first year, they’re absolutely free for a small team of like 10 15 and 100 150 customers, maybe 100 customers. So now, once I as an early SAAS, integrate into it, how compatible Totango is, with these tools, apart from you know, segment, mix panel, Salesforce, like segment is for the product teams, salesforce was for the customer facing teams. So is it compatible for all the tools? When it comes to integration and pointing all the events migrating all the events? And then tracking inside? Totango for the customer facing thing here? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, see, there’s a lot we could unpack in that particular question. Deal, because you got you all those different technologies you’ve talked about, right? How do we compare in that regard. And I would say that like if you look at tools like you know since I worked for totango, we’re looking at tools like totango, right? We are focused on helping customers centralize on their entire customer journey. So getting visibility from, you know that the moment they become a customer all of all the way through every step of the way through onboarding, to adoption to risk management, right to, maybe you want to drive a renewal and expansion process, maybe there’s an add voice of the customer and advocacy that you’re trying to drive for. So everything pretty much both sales is really what we focus on. For smaller customers. In smaller organizations and startups, as you’ve described, that I’ve seen, I think it’s I’ve seen this handle 10 different ways at this point, since I’ve been here, we have some customers who really lean in and say, You know what, we don’t do a lot of opportunity management at this stage in our in our business. So we really just want to focus on insights into health and how they’re utilizing our platform, right, and being able to drive, we’ll call it targeted communication to those customers, right, and being able to use totango, to be able to have that visibility, I can actually think of a customer that the CSM on my team has been working with, he has actually, creatively figured out a way to use to Totango for some opportunity management now that that’s not necessarily something that we would endorse, like, Hey, we’re not trying to replace Salesforce as your opportunity management, at least not at this point in juncture. But depending on you know, how complex you are tracking that type of stuff, you may, depending on your use case may be able to use this for stuff like that. But I see a lot of customers, take those pieces of you know, take the mix panels, take their Salesforce, right, take these other pieces that they’re working on. And bring that data which might, you know, one team might only be using this platform and, you know, products only using crisp sales is only using Salesforce, and be able to bring that bring those integrations together into one platform so that they that they have complete visibility without having to go into two or three or four different tools, which is really right. That’s the common thing that I hear from customers, regardless of size, whether you get 10 employees or you get 10,000 employees is: I want to reduce the number of applications that I’m having to go into to be able to actually see the relevant data that I need to be able to take action, whether it’s digital action or manual, you know, that human intervention with my customer. So yeah, there’s a lot more we could unpack with that. But that’s, I would say at site level on that one, right. Adil Saleh: Right. So basically Totango is, you know, not only just centralizing all the data and giving them a 360 view of all of their customer journeys from post sales journeys, but also it is giving recommendation that like data that drives action. So which is a big need for a lot of early stage, SaaS businesses, even mid market, they want their CSMs to be on top of all the tests that need direction, at the right time ahead of time, so that they can not only just react but forecast the customer as well. So that is on data. So now let’s jump into what kind of technology have been incorporated for your customer, your own team, like is that, of course, you might be using your own platform for, for your operations to how you’re, you’re leveraging all of these shoes. I have heard a lot of unicorn businesses, big billion dollar companies saying that we have customer objects we have used, there was one, I wouldn’t name it, they used to totango for two years, and easily wanted to have two years, but it didn’t work. And then they had a custom object inside Salesforce, which is working pretty fine. And then they integrated it with luchar, you know, tools like these. So how are you doing it for your own team? Like technology wise? And? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, so we are so, for sales opportunities, right, we use Salesforce for for the customer success team, right? And that, and that’s broader, right, it’s actually our entire organization uses it from marketing to product, but we obviously use Totango for the customer success side of things, we are in the process of moving, changing on our product management side from like, that kind of I’ll call it product roadmap and tracking those types of things, bugs and enhancements. So that’s not definitive as to exactly where we’re gonna land on that. But, and then we use a number of other things, right, we just bought, we’re using, going to be using skill chart for our learning management system, as well. So I know we’ve got that’s another one of being able to build out, I’ll call that kind of call that we’re using it initially really for customer facing kind of community learning and being able to take new users, right, if you signed up for Totango tomorrow, right? I want to, you know, I want to have, you know, live sessions, but I also want that self paced training, what does that look like and we actually are, you know, building those things out now for our customers so and we’re gonna, it’s gonna be open, right, you don’t have to be, you don’t have to be a paying customer to to use it right and get Learn, learn the technology. And eventually, we’re gonna have certifications that are going to come along with that, right so that you can take that back into the market, and market your skills that you’re learning. Similar to, you know, Salesforce does their you know, Trailblazer courses and you know, Salesforce admin stuff, right, we’re, you know, we’re gonna be following in a similar pattern. Obviously, we’re not as complex as Salesforce. But you know, there’s still value in especially the growing market, that is customer success technology. Having the ability, you know, to be able to put that on your resume, definitely will increase your odds of being able to get into a CS operations role, or, you know, even as the customer success management role becomes more competitive, right, being able to stand out and say, hey, you know, I’ve got, you know, I’ve used and certified and Im using this technology, and I can bring additional value into your organization that somebody who doesn’t have this may not be able to. So, those are, those are some of the high level things. I know, our marketing team uses a couple of the things but that’s more for prospect like this prospect driven, doesn’t have anything, any impact on customer communication, necessarily, which is what we use the think tank, this campaign functionality to communicate with existing customers. Adil Saleh: Great, great, great. I was also thinking more about like, of course, a lot of SaaS businesses fill successful series B, C, SaaS businesses, they’re investing a lot on, on the training, like, of their entire customer facing team like, because it needs an instilled mindset to talk to the customer. So customer facing teams have different mindsets. Of course, you have a culture built, you have a DNA for your business, your vision pretty much mapped out, all the fundamentals, but how Totango is investing into building the right mindset for the customer facing roles. Jeremy Donaldson: And I spoke a little bit to this earlier around just that enablement piece right. It’s not just you know, training, training while training while good right oftentimes leaves gaps for you know, that that training need to be re delivered again or done in a different fashion right versus enablement really is about focused on giving you the tools that you need to be able to take that back into your organization and and change things right for hopefully for the better right but be able to go back and change those things and so for for us right as I think about you know, the training aspect, the enablement aspect that the culture aspect, if any, as any customer in any organization looking at right, where should I invest time, where should I invest resources? If especially as you scale right, you are having to do more with last one look at we know, what are the things from a training enablement that you can do in a one to many fashion, right that you could deliver to all your customers. I was talking with a gentleman yesterday that was looking at you know, we were just talking about working around cs jobs and what he was looking for, and he’d made a really great comment around the fact that like if you can build a training and enablement thing for a small business that will almost always carry across all your customer segments regardless of the size versus if you build it for a big organization, it makes it much harder to scale that across for smaller organizations, because the business needs aren’t the same. And so looking at your long tail segment, right, can you you can use, basically, can you scale that up? Right? Can you take what you’re doing with your small customers and offer that slowly begin to bring your bigger customers in to take workload off of your high touch CSMs? Right, so they can focus on the more strategic items, things like that, as opposed to enablement. But, you know, that’s kind of on that piece of it, and then the culture piece of it right? What do you really need to do around that is, I would say that, if you’re struggling with, you know, the culture of everybody’s kind of in a silo, I have learned that don’t wait, right? Don’t wait on somebody else to kick that conversation off and try to break down those barriers, right? Obviously, you have to navigate the politics of your organization. But if you feel like you don’t have a good relationship with the product, and nobody’s really trying to change that, right? Take, take it, like be willing to take that on yourself and cross those bridges with those people and say, you know, what, I don’t have a great relationship with them. But I’m going to change that, right? And I’m gonna start involving them more, understanding why there’s a breakdown there and then be able to start communicating in a way that’s going to add value to product management. So that at the end of the day, I’m getting what I want for my customers, which is, you know, things on the roadmap or additional value, things like that I’m you know, I’m targeting product management. But that can apply to any group or organization where you feel like there’s friction. And friction isn’t always a bad thing, right. But if it’s one of those things, where the friction is not leading to successful outcomes for your customer, take a minute to pause and stop and ask the reason why there’s friction, and see if you can, you can be a part of a change agent to start changing that. So now, I know, I want to acknowledge and recognize that not every organization out there is fortunate to be completely customer centric, right, or, you know, focused on that. So you know, if you feel that you’re in that situation, you don’t feel that right, being a part of it, and being that change agent and being that first person to be willing to take a step and just see what happens, you have really nothing to lose at that point. So you know, seeing what happens. And that’s, that would be my recommendation from a culture perspective as it should be coming leadership down. But if it’s not right, you can be your own change agent within the boat, you know, within the circle of people that you work with closely. Jeremy Donaldson: Great. Love that I love that point, the way you build it up, the way you explained it. So people, like it’s leadership doesn’t need any role. Leadership doesn’t need any pledge, it is just so everybody can be a leader. Like, if you think there is something wrong, you just raise your hand and you know, just just put it out on the table. And let’s see how we can sort that out. So just like you mentioned, we need to make sure we are all customer centric. And we are laser focused towards the goals and outcomes, and how we can make it better. So on the leader issue, so this one the last question as you do need to push off in one minute, totango, like three years down the road, I’m just projecting three years forward, what are the like high level goals in terms of, you know, scalability in terms of growth? In terms of funding and everything? Like, what is it that you guys are heading to? Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, that’s a great question. And obviously, with the, you know, the economic changes here in the US, you know, that’s always that always I’ll call it puts a little bit of a cloud of uncertainty, right. But we’re working towards and working with our customer towards aligning, towards like a 40, 45 to 60% year over year growth rate. So for over the next three years, we haven’t changed that trajectory, even despite what’s happening economically right now, that obviously could change. But, you know, based on where we want to be three years from now, and that’s part of the reason why I joined Totango is we had a, you know, getting the business to $100 million in revenue by the end of three years, basically, three years from now, which I think is it’s a big, it’s a big goal. But I think it’s, I don’t think it’s one that’s an unrealistic goal. So you know, just working along, and that it takes customer centricity to get there. You can’t, you can’t just do that by saying I’m going to get I want to get to 60% growth year over year. But you, but you can do that, right? If your customers are alongside you and bought in right, and you’re actually supporting their success. So, you know, that’s really truly where we are. And as far as, what my team is focused on it’s continuing to, you know, all the activities and zoom meetings and all the things that are happening both internally and customer facing is all around how we can increase value for customers around what value they define, right? We know what our platform is really good at and being able to get visibility into health and being able to drive that but we, At the end of the day, what the customer is trying to achieve is going to be the most important, and aligning around that, and getting our teams around that is what’s going to make them successful. So, yeah, well, obviously, you know, we’ll have to stay in touch and see where we actually are. But I am excited to see where our team grows. And, you know, for anybody listening to podcasts needs to continue to hire. So, you know, for our customer success and in larger groups, so if you are at all interested in helping, you know, helping Customer Success organizations, you know, build out, you know, what their journeys look like and help them be successful. Please feel free to shoot me a note on LinkedIn, I’m pretty active there. So I would be happy to connect with you. Adil Saleh: Absolutely, why not? Because, you know, Totango is like, you have different options like having while you’re taking as a platform to have a dedicated customer success tool that can enable your team to go digital and have some automation app, some playbooks, have some, do save some time and move things efficiently. But to totango, you’ll have a whole lot more reasons to use totango, it’s an entirely different experience. For especially in the medium, small to medium sized businesses. It’s very big. So I really appreciate that you are taking the time today, you guys are doing incredibly well for the last few years. And I wish you guys really good luck. And people that are listening. Most of them are SaaS platforms, most of them are from your industry too, we have people from the same, there’s customer facing teams, like if you’re familiar with involve.ai , all of these guys have been doing and competing totango, and Gainsight and all these big giants. So we’ll definitely stay in touch and any way we can help you definitely fill a form and I’ll just drop a link to your LinkedIn profile if that’s okay for you for people to connect with you on. Thank you very much, Jeremy, for taking time. One more time. Jeremy Donaldson: Yeah, appreciate it. A deal and yeah, thank you. It’s been a pleasure. And yeah, have a wonderful rest of your week, sir. Adil Saleh: Send my love to your kids. Jeremy Donaldson: Thanks.

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