Natasha Evans 0:00
I think it’s part of the beauty of the CS team is that you can hire people from different backgrounds and different skillsets. And actually, it makes the team stronger as a whole. But it also brings that diversity of thought, and people have different humor, and it definitely adds to the character of the team.
Taylor Kenerson 0:19
Welcome to the Hyperengage podcast, we are so happy to have you along our journey. Here, we uncover bits of knowledge from some of the greatest minds in tech. We unearth, the hows, whys, and whats that drive the tech of today. Welcome to the movement.
Adil Saleh 0:38
Hey, greetings, everybody. This is Adil from Hyperengage podcast. We have Natasha Evans from SalesLoft team, she’s leading the enterprise, global enterprise segment at SalesLoft. And we really appreciate you taking the time today.
Natasha Evans 0:51
Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Adil Saleh 0:52 Loved it. Natasha, first off, I definitely want to jump in a little bit about your past, like your prior background with LinkedIn, you, you’ve had quite good some years at LinkedIn serving their, also their customer success team and their customer success frameworks that you’ve worked with, mostly in the London market, in the UK market, so you can start off with that. And also let us, let us know how, like, initially as an individual, how did you choose yourself? And, you know, trying to jump in and stumble upon an industry like customer success and customer-facing role, what motivated you, what kind of inspirations you had back then?
Natasha Evans 1:31
Yeah, got it. Okay, big question. I think when I joined customer success, it was fairly new. Like I certainly hadn’t heard of it before. And I think like most of my colleagues at the time, I fell into it. I wasn’t like, intentionally hunting out customer success. Prior to joining CS, I worked as a recruiter, then I worked in the training and enablement team for recruiters. So I guess my in into the CS world was I trained salespeople or fullcycle recruiters on how to leverage technology to get more sales, more leads and increase their revenue. And that without me knowing it was my stepping stone into the CS world. And so in that training role, I was rolling out some training on LinkedIn, just absolutely loved the product. And I was like, I really want to work here. And as I was scroll- like scrolling through their website, trying to find jobs that would be relevant for me to apply for at LinkedIn, this role came up that existed in customer success. And that is how I fell into CS at LinkedIn. When I joined, they had like segmented specialist roles in CS. So there was a technical team, there was a more kind of consulting team. And then there was an education team, which is the team I joined. And so we had our own specialisms, but we pulled together in terms of serving our customers. And so I worked as an education specialist, I ran the enablement plans, I really thought about the change piece that went into rolling out a new technology. And then after a Rio guy became a full CSM, and to kind of absorb some of those roles into my own head, my own book of business, I worked on our global staffing accounts or strategic staffing accounts for the LinkedIn team in the UK. And then I was lucky enough to move into a Team Lead role and then to a manager’s role. And so I spent my last year or so there, managing their two UK talent solutions, Customer Success teams, across their corporate and their staffing segments before moving on to SalesLoft. I guess that’s a snapshot of my journey so far. Is that enough detail? Anything else you want to know?
Adil Saleh 3:40
Absolutely, absolutely. And a lot of, you know, a lot of folks that come up, and they always say that this is something that we never chose, we kind of stumbled upon it. And it’s something that we never expected. But we, once we got the foot in the door, it’s seems like we enjoy and we love the journey and we, you know, kept moving forward. And, and then they started to excel. And then they get, get into the leadership role. We spoke to the team at Gong, Appsflyer, all these unicorn businesses and I love the journeys, how they all started, like they were, they were so oblivious of the fact that you know, this is for them. And then all of a sudden that they realize that this is something that, that inspires them, and then they can make an impact. And being somebody from the customer experience background, sales enablement background, I always believe that the best way to work with your customer is for their success, you know, making sure they’re evolving with, with- with their, you know, your product technology is evolving with their goals and you’re consistently building relationships and understanding the pains and bridging, you know, all of their gaps. And that’s, that’s- that’s quite amazing. And this has emerged like in the past 7 to 10 years, I would say, as an intern I- absolutely. Now, now customer success teams, they’re looking for their own softwares, their own source of truths and you know, their own infrastructures, and everything revolves around one. So looking at your team at SalesLoft, I’m sure SalesLoft- everybody knows it’s a sales enablement platform. It’s a CRM that is for the sellers, more of a, you know, to automate, to streamline their processes and create opportunities for growth and more revenue growth on the revenue growth side. So what kind of segments are you guys serving at this moment? And specifically, your team?
Natasha Evans 5:32
Yeah, so as a business, we serve all segments, I specifically lead the mid-market and enterprise teams, but I also lead our scale CS team too. We as a CS team kind of have two different ways that we segment ourselves. So firstly, we align to the business segments of commercial, which is like the SMB and emerging, and then enterprise, which is mid-market and enterprise. But then what we’re finding is, because of the way we segment based on company size, that as a CS team, yes, we want to align to that in terms of the complexity of the customer and the way that they work, but we also need to align to the size of the customer and how much we need to be supporting them. So then we have our own thresholds that we, like, layer over that in terms of a support model to make sure that we’re supporting our customer in the best way, yes, but we’re also aligning our resources in the right way too.
Adil Saleh 6:28
Cool stuff. That actually gets me to my next question. And it’s something more pertaining towards technology, like what kind of technology in terms of making sure that this process is well automated, as well as smart enough to, you know, understand the data points and you know, take relevant actions that need attention, like immediate attention, in terms of like, we spoke to team at Productboard just recently, and they, they had their own custom objects inside CRM, as well as they have their own dedicated CRM or sort of engaging platform for their CS team. So what kind of technology are you building across to ensure this, this success? This level of success?
Natasha Evans 7:07
Yeah. It’s such an interesting top- topic. And it’s so timely for us because if I’m honest with myself, the biggest area for improvement, one of the biggest areas for improvement we have as a CS team, right now, is this – automating actions off the back of data points. So right now, from a tech stack standpoint, we have our CRM, we leverage Looker in terms of understanding the data and the insights that we want to show to our customers. We have a super cool tool called Matic that we leverage to translate that data into presentations and just like actionable things that we need to put in front of our customer. And of course, we drink our own champagne, or we drink our own Kool Aid, and we leverage SalesLoft to engage with our customers. But automating those engagements based on the data points is that missing link. And so actually, right now, it’s one of my top priorities and something that we’re working on. And we’re in the process of evaluating a customer success-specific tech- technology to allow us to do that. So, timely that you asked me.
Adil Saleh 8:10
Okay, so this is similar to what app- team at Appsflyer, they had, they had their own custom object integrated with Looker inside Salesforce, is that what you guys are doing too?
Natasha Evans 8:20 No. So we’ll probably, well, maybe. We’re kind of exploring that and then we’re, we’re exploring a standalone technology that will feed the data in that integrates into SalesLoft. So you’ll be able to see as a CSM, your book of business, the health, but you’ll also be able to see key metrics across an entire block of business or within a customer. And you’ll be able to then push certain customers into cadences in SalesLoft, to start them on a journey off the back of that metric, or even automate that process in more of our scaled world.
Adil Saleh 8:50
Oh so you’re, basically working on making it scalable first, like having a strong baseline, having everything pretty much lined to be able to make its- very much scalable across teams.
Natasha Evans 9:01
100%, yeah. And I think, you know, we were looking at that anyway. But in this market, I think it’s one thing that I really want to prioritize is, what’s that baseline offering that every customer should be getting from us? How do we make sure that we’re proactive about starting a conversation based on a certain metric or a certain data point? And so we’re investing a little bit of time on that right now.
Adil Saleh 9:23
Oh, that’s smart. That’s amazing. So just on- let’s, let’s walk our audience through the customer journey like, and also the handoffs, like how the transm- the information gets translated, from the sales team, to the account manager or onboarding managers or CSMs, account executives, all these different segments, just talk about your, your team. So how that data gets translated and like, what does that process look like?
Natasha Evans 9:51
Yeah. So right now our customer journey looks like- salesperson takes it to close, we have implementation, then do the initial configuration, the initial, initial rounds of training. And then Customer Success takes it from there throughout the rest of their journey. And the handover of information probably depends a little bit on the level of customer success support. So they kind of like tear, or the part of our model segment- of our model that they’re in. We use Salesforce, our CRM, pretty heavily in terms of reliance on that, certainly in the scaled world. And then where you have more hands-on CS support, you tend to have more one-on-one conversations between the CSM and the AE or the CSM and the implementation consultant. We’ve actually just redesigned that process from close to kickoff and the implementation team to make sure that we’re tightening up. And we’re being very prescriptive around what does this team need to know to be able to effectively set up and effectively run this customer. And historically, we haven’t really got the CS team involved until the implementation is complete, but we’re changing that too, in their higher touch- in the higher touch world, to make sure that CSM is a part of what we call, like a day zero handover, and they get all of that context upfront.
Adil Saleh 11:17
Got it. And they take along the customer with their journey, all along, like expansion.
Natasha Evans 11:44
Adil Saleh 11:25 Wonderful, wonderful. So when it comes to like, we spoke- you touched a little bit on, on the onboarding, like, let’s say, on the mid-market segment, that you’re also serving your team, also serving- what kind of measures you’ve had in order to indicate risk and health towards the adoption stage, like, which becomes critical for a lot of your mid-market segment, they stop using stuff, they start ghosting, maybe you are absolutely on top of data points, the communication, there’s a lag. So how do you guys measure these kind of scenarios and what kind of technologies or processes are in place for that?
Natasha Evans 11:57
Yeah, so there’s a few things that we do once a customer has completed graduation, when they’re coming over to the CSM, and the implementation team complete a graduation score. So we get a sense of, across all of the metrics that we know matter to us and matter in terms of the health of a customer, how successful they’re likely to be, and ultimately how likely they are to retain and grow at the end of the day, they’ll measure them and that will get passed over to the Customer Success manager. So from day dot, we know what are some of the areas that we immediately need to be focusing on with the customer tactically, as well as thinking about bigger picture. And we try really hard to focus on what success means to the customer, and how they’re going to be measuring it. And we built all of our plans around that and we’re measuring those things. But we also have a list of metrics that we measure fairly consistently, as a Customer Success team. And then we have some pre-built customer-facing templates that sit in this Matic technology that I talked about earlier, that the CSMs on a quarterly basis will download and use to drive conversations and then monthly syncs with that customer. So if the CSM hasn’t caught something in their internal check on Looker or wherever, it will be glaringly obvious when they’re sitting to talk for with a customer in terms of where they’re falling down and what their recommendations are to improve.
Adil Saleh 13:27
Got it. Got it. So you’ve talked about templates, like I’ve heard, and we’ve experienced too, we say that it’s, you’ll have to always revisit your templates, like once every month or quarter. So it can- you can never assume that it’s always going to be perfect. So you need to make sure you consistently trade, based on their customer data that you get for like product uses data or maybe communication data and all the information that you get from the, directly from the customer. So do you guys have any sort of- of course it has to do, it has to be doing manually, but do you have any sort of standardized templates that stick consistently, you have to, you know, just have like 10% or 15% of efforts like manual efforts towards it. When you talk about scalability?
Natasha Evans 14:13
Yes, so in a few different formats. And so we have in our, kind of like mid tier segments, our CSMs use the SalesLoft cadence as their, like bread and butter, and this is their guide for their day, their week, their month, their quarter. Everybody is- every customer is moving through this process that we’ve designed based on the experience we want them to have. And every part of that process, every touchpoint, will have a template that the CSM can leverage. So for example, every quarter, we want the CSM to be having a data-driven conversation with that customer. And so there’ll be a template pre-built in SalesLoft that the customer will come in to that step, that template will pop up with the CSM and it was- it will have, you know 50% templated information, the CSM knows where to go to get the relevant data to spark the recommendations, and then they can kind of plug and play from there. So we do try really hard, certainly in that like mid tier and lower tier segment to leverage, again, our own technology to get efficiency gains there. And then we have in this magic tool, pre-built templates for some of these, like one-pagers around the help of a customer, and things that we should be talking about specific to the tool that we can just literally tick a box and it downloads it with the customer folder and they can pop it in an email. So we’re lucky in that, in that sense, in terms of efficiency through templating.
Adil Saleh 15:38
Hm interesting, interesting. So you’d- I mean, there is so much noise, you know, that like, having dedicated customer success tool or platform that is a complete source of truth for Customer Success teams. What do you think about like- there are loads of like, Catalyst, and Vitally, ChurnZero, Gainsight. You know, we’re always open about these conversations and we encourage teams that need it like, that need scalability, especially PLG models that you have for some good amount of customers like the PLG model, like freemium users, some are pretty much on the scale. So what do you think about this?
Natasha Evans 16:15
Yeah. So I agree with you that there’s a lot of noise. We’re evaluating a technology right now. I guess my advice to anyone listening would be these tools serve a purpose when your team is ready. And so one of the things that we’re evaluating is we’re building out a health score, we’re building out the metrics that influence that health score, the playbooks around how a CSM should influence the metrics that influence the score, and you know, who’s not worked that way, as a CS team before, that’s a lot to get your head around without adding in an insanely complex tool into the mix. And so, you know, I’ve talked about this a bit with some of my CS peers – tools are amazing. But you’ve got to think about the change process for the CSM, and how you can get them the most relevant information and the stuff that you want them to be focused on impacting without overwhelming them with loads of clicks and loads of data. And so I think focus there is key, the thing that you need to focus, is you need to know exactly what is going to influence your customer being successful and retention and expansion at the end of the day. And I’m fortunate enough to have an incredible rev ops team that I partner with that tell us exactly what influences that so we know which metrics the CSM should be focused on.
Adil Saleh 17:35
That’s interesting, that’s very interesting that, that element that you brought, that every tool can be incorporated, but you need to do the change management, necessary treatment and you have to do all the inventory, you need to have all the inventory for it. And that’s why a lot of early-stage SaaS platforms like the first like Series A, Series B setting. And they are now like in the second third year, thinking of incorporating tools like Vitally, Catalyst, Gainsight, Tango, all these tools, because they’ve done all the prep, all the change management they need to do even the right teams with the right, the right skillset to be able to make sure that they understand the data and take actions in the best way possible. Great. So a lot of, a lot of these SaaS platforms like, similar to SalesLoft, similar journey, journey-wise, like sitting at Series E, being like, been there in this bit for about 10, 10-11 years, a family of more than 1000 people, how do you guys measure- like how do you think of a relationship management and what kind of initiatives, investments, you’ve put in place over the last few years? Because we’ve seen people sending cakes, like teams sending cakes to customers, sending cards to customers, meetings, you know, measuring relationship perception score, relationship capital, like CCO at Appsflyer came up with something pretty new that, he said, we care about- the biggest metric for us is the relationship capital, that this is how we measure it. And they’ve taken some initiatives and investments. So what about SalesLoft?
Natasha Evans 19:07
Interesting. So the question is, how do we think about managing customer relationships or improving customer relationships? Okay, so I have a couple of ways that I will answer this. I think the first thing is, cakes and fancy things are all great if you’re already delivering on what a customer wants you to deliver on. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, cakes aren’t a band-aid for kind of like fixing the fact that the customers aren’t happy. So I think the first thing you got to do is build trust with your customers and understand what value means to them and help them deliver it. I think, you know, baseline that’s what all of us should be focused on right now. And then I think where you feel like you’ve nailed that, yes, there is a place for customer love and sales love, as we call it. And we do that in a few different forms. So yeah, you know, we think about gifting, you can, you can build gifting into your process in SalesLoft, which I think is really cool. And we think about the events that we host for our customers, so we held like a “Women in Revenue Leadership” event recently and it was a real treat for the ladies that were there. Yes, it was a networking event, but we really thought about how we took care of our customers, how we created a unique experience, which I thought was really nice, especially when people aren’t used to being face-to-face. We think about gift boxes, we think about like holiday gifting swag, we try really hard and make it meaningful, like, rather than just sending something for something’s sake. And so I love our marketing team for that, for always being really, really thoughtful. Yeah.
Adil Saleh 20:45
Okay, so they basically, they take care of your customers in their own way and they have everything in place when it’s needed to send cakes, when needed to send cards, when it’s needed to use your own software SalesLoft and, you know, congratulate them, have some humor involved into the relationship or communications, it’s always there. So yes, that’s another part like sometimes, especially in these occasions, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, so you need to, you know, make your customer feel heard apart from work apart from, you know, the product apart from professional capacity, you need to, you know, move sometimes, maybe it’s all about that, one thing that we recall a lot is, you know, the world will not remember what you do, or what you say, they will always remember what you make them feel. So it’s just about making them feel different and feel different than apart from work and all the previous channels of communication that you have. Absolutely. So now talk more about your team, because I know that looking at you, you’re a mom too. And I’ve always loved ladies coming over and all the ladies coming over, with you know, that are moms, and they’re having these real conversations, they’re always prepared, and this is so inspiring. So thank you very much for, you know, managing all of this and having really, really genuine and concrete conversation with us. So tell us more about your team, like how big is it right now? And what kind of training initiatives in terms of setting up the right mindset, like operating principles and such, like DNA? And that, that kind of shit.
Natasha Evans 22:18
Oh, okay. Oh, my gosh, this is like such a big question. And the first thing that comes to mind when you say tell me about your team, is I am a huge fan of my team, like if any of them are listening, I am your biggest fan. I’m so proud of the team that we have here. Everybody is just wonderful humans, like first and foremost, and it’s like, a pleasure to just work with like, wonderful people. Everyone is really good at what they do and they are always trying to do more, which I appreciate. The team, so my team- I think we’re like 45 people, something like that. Now, across, we have an EMEA team, we have a few different North America teams, we have a technical team and a scale team, and they’re kind of spread all over. And then you asked me about like the DNA of our team and our culture, right?
Adil Saleh 23:13
Yeah training and- training management or initiatives you- you’ve taken any, if any.
Natasha Evans 23:19
Yeah, so I mean, we have a really robust enablement plan at SalesLoft. We’re really fortunate to have such a wonderful enablement team that supports us, so you know, in the world of CSMs, you’ve always got product enablement, like, you know, just general kind of like company enablement that you need to be on top of. And then the approach that we’re taking this quarter is we’re having team-specific enablement. So we’re taking feedback from the leaders in terms of the coaching they’ve been running from their team, we’re taking feedback from our latest Glint survey in terms of where the team have been feeling comfortable. We’re asking them questions about their comfort in the market right now, every one of them does a quarterly business plan, and they’ll call out strengths and areas for improvement for themselves and so we, we kind of bubbled all of that up, and we create a team-specific enablement plan for the quarter. And anywhere that those themes overlap, will, will run as a, as an entire team. Because that’s how we think about, that training and enablement, making sure that it’s relevant to everybody. And then in terms of our DNA, I felt like this is, it’s really hard to capture because it’s so special. I think we’re lucky firstly as a business, as a whole at SalesLoft, because we have our core values that underpin us. But then in customer success, I think we somehow cultivated something even more special and I think the, this is the- honestly, probably one of the hardest parts of my job is trying to explain to people just how wonderful team I have and what the culture is and, but I think we found a really nice balance of giving feedback to each other, like egging each other on, being supportive, and providing feedback so that everyone can continuously improve, creating a safe space to be able to do that. Just having a ton of fun along the way, I really try hard to capture some of that and post it to LinkedIn, whether we’re creating funny videos, or we’re making up a song, or- we just have so much fun as a team and I feel so fortunate to be a part of that.
Adil Saleh 25:28
Yeah, I see that a lot that you guys are so active, like always moving, having- bringing new things, you know, even in the days when people are least expecting and like even on weekends, like you guys have always been creating fun and stories and, you know, obviously engaging with the community and always open for different perceptions, narratives, and that, that shows that what kind of culture that you have, which is so you know, I would say it’s, it’s not as enclosed like, I mean, is that diversified as well? Like you have people from all regions, it seems.
Natasha Evans 26:05
Exactly. Yeah, I think we have work to do in terms of diversity, I think probably most teams do. But yeah, we have, we have different regions including our teams, people from different backgrounds. And this is what I love about customer success, right? You don’t have to all have come from customer success before, or have been a salesperson before. I think it’s part of the beauty of a CS team is, that you can hire people from different backgrounds and different skillsets and actually, it makes the team stronger as a whole. But it also brings that diversity of thought and people have different humor and yeah, it definitely adds to the character of the team.
Adil Saleh 26:41
It’s all about the character, it’s all about- like your character brings the work ethic, brings the commitment and drives the passion and everything. So it’s all about you, as a leader, connecting with your people on a deeper level, on a personal level. Yeah, they always know you as a person. So yeah, that’s great. That’s so amazing. You have a big enough team and you, you are so certain about, about their character, and you absolutely love your team. And I’m sure they’ll be listening to this episode when once it goes live. Okay, so one last thing before, like, this is something pretty, you know, pretty mandatory for our people to, you know, share what kind of people SalesLoft would love to induce into the team and incorporate, like all the resources that you have, if you talk about your team, what kind of people you’re looking for? Because a lot of people- like we here in Pakistan more have- more than 120 million people that are like they’re under the age of 30 and they’re getting into the SaaS and tech space. And even in the US, we have partners that are you know, pretty much interested in joining the CS role. So you as a leader, what advice did you have? And what kind of advice you would have to be able for them to join the team at SalesLoft?
Natasha Evans 27:55
Got it. Okay. Well, firstly, whenever I’m looking for anyone to join the CS team, I focus much more on attitude, mindset and behaviors than I do on skills. And interestingly, it’s probably the reason that 90 percent of people fall out of the interview process. You know, it’s, it’s important that you have a growth mindset, that you want to like, continuously improve, and you want to do the right thing by your customer, and you want to be a team player, those values that we talk about them all the time at SalesLoft, but they are very important to us in terms of bringing the right people onboard. From a skillset perspective, or an experience perspective, I think that there are so many different backgrounds that work really well in CS. Enablement is one of them, that’s how I got a foot in the door, consulting, project management, sales, customer service. I think as long as you can show that you are a great communicator, and you’re able to use that communication to your advantage, right? It’s not just being about, it’s not just being about- being able to convey a message, but it’s being able to push back and set expectations, to show empathy, to show leadership through your communication, that’s a real skill. You have to be able to prioritize and organize as a CSM, I think, you know, your well can go to chaos if you don’t do that really well and in the right way. And I think leadership is the other one, you’ve got to be able to lead your customer down a path, you’ve got to be able to take control of your success plan and you know, have them own their piece and hold your customer accountable, and so I think that’s really important in, in a Customer Success role too.
Adil Saleh 29:44
Absolutely, absolutely. And also self accountability, like, you know,
Natasha Evans 29:48
Adil Saleh 29:49 You know, that comes with a character, like you need to make sure that you’re responsible enough for- you, you can be reliable, like, people can rely on you. Yeah.
Natasha Evans 29:57
Totally. Can I add one thing that I didn’t say that is so important, I think I’ve written about this before on LinkedIn, is curiosity. As a CSM, you’ve got to be wanting to really understand your customer and I think that’s the easiest thing to be able to show in an interview, and it’s often missed. So, you know, if you’re prepping for a CS interview, prep loads of questions like, show that you’re curious, show that you care about how the role is done, how you look after your customer. And it’s so often I don’t get questioned on things like that when I’m interviewing people and I’m like, I want people that care about how they do CS, that care about what the customer feels, and how’s the CS team internally, and so, such an easy way to show that in an interview by asking your questions.
Adil Saleh 30:40
Definitely, this is so interesting. One thing I would add is ability to say no, courage to say no, sometimes ‘no’ is as good as ‘yes’. So a lot of interviews that I’ve taken from my team, from my businesses, you know, yeah, we have people that are, you know, that have corporate business experience and, you know, they have experience. Some people, they don’t have experience. So they’re always like, okay, yes, I got it. I understand. And that’s the test. I hate that answer, like, so much. So you got to have like, you’ve got to have courage to ask questions, and be curious and be open on asking, like, you know, asking anything that comes into your mind, like there is no right or wrong thing. It’s just about making sure that whatever you have inside, you are, you’re pursuing that, that- that thing. So yeah, that’s great. I really, really appreciate, one more time, Natasha, for showing up today. All that you’ve been so genuinely open and concrete about these, these- these perceptions that you have. Loved it. Thank you very much.
Natasha Evans 31:37
Thank you. Thank you.
Adil Saleh 31:40
Thank you so very much for staying with us on the episode, please share your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
. We definitely need it. We will see you next time and another guest on the stage with some concrete tips on how to operate better as a Customer Success leader and how you can empower engagements with some, building some meaningful relationships with qualified people for the episode just to make sure we bring the value to the listeners. Do reach us out if you want to refer any CS leader. Until next time, goodbye and have a good rest of your day.