Episode No:56

Customer Success in Buying Intelligence: A Look at PeerSpot's Approach ft.

Jeff Yeager

VP of Customer Success, PeerSpot

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Ep#56: Customer Success in Buying
Intelligence: A Look at PeerSpot’s Approach ft. Jeff Yeager (VP of Customer Success, PeerSpot)
Ep#56: Customer Success in Buying Intelligence: A Look at PeerSpot’s Approach ft. Jeff Yeager (VP of Customer Success, PeerSpot)
  • Ep#56: Customer Success in Buying Intelligence: A Look at PeerSpot’s Approach ft. Jeff Yeager (VP of Customer Success, PeerSpot)

Episode Summary

It is our pleasure to introduce today’s guest, Jeff Yeger, VP of Customer Success at PeerSpot – a buying intelligence platform that helps individuals make informed decisions on enterprise tech software and hardware. Jeff shares insights on the innovative marketing services and customer education programs that PeerSpot uses. He also highlights some of the features that the platform offers and sheds light on the major challenges that they face in a competitive market. Tune in to hear more from Jeff Yeger, a valued member of the team at PeerSpot.
Key Takeaways Time
Jeff’s Preferences in the CS World 1:35
Behind the Scenes at PeerSpot: Services Offered 5:15
Challenges of Balancing Transparency and Privacy in Cybersecurity 13:08
Customer Education at PeerSpot 20:14
Capturing Insights for Knowledge Transfer 22:39

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Jeff Yeger 0:02 The only genuine opinion when it comes to a product is people who actually bought it and used it. Because they take all the risk. They’re the same people who have staked their job and their reputation on it. And it’s either worked for them or it didn’t. Taylor Kenerson 0:15 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 0:34 Hey, greetings, everybody. This is Adil from Hyperengage podcast, I have my co host, Taylor Kenerson. And a very special guest, Jeff. He’s a VP of Customer Success at PeerSpot. It is more of a buying intelligence platform. And they’re doing incredibly well. Thank you very much, Jeff, for taking the time. Jeff Yeger 0:52 Great to be here. Adil Saleh 0:54 love that. So, you know, you had a bit of experience, you know, at Gain Grow Retain, you’ve been very close knit in the community of customer success leaders, you know, over the past three, four years, and then you kind of jump right into, you know, more of a community platform that says, well we’ll explore more what PeerSpot does. So what makes you think that okay, you need to go ahead and make sure you don’t go into core SaaS platform like all of these, that you see in the success space in the in the in the intelligence like data intelligence, data analytics, all of these. What was that reason that you chose PeerSpot? Jeff Yeger 1:35 Yeah, I think it comes down to why do I love customer success? And I think the answer is, you get to spend a lot of time making people successful, it’s in the name, right. And what I find, and it’s not any fault, there’s plenty of places where this model works. But this sort of the tech touch, low touch model that a lot of companies adopt when they’ve gotten millions and millions of users. It is no fun to me. Right? At the end of the day, I don’t, I don’t find it thrilling to write FAQs or to build chatbots or to you know, sort of do grouped CSM models where you get a response in three to five days. I’m I’m thrilled more by the the one on one interaction, the high touch model, where you get to genuinely build relationships, get to know people and then sort of solve their problems based on really understanding them versus a couple of inputs that gave you in your platform. So going into something that is a little bit less SaaS focused and more sort of services focused, gives me the option to build and build a model that works that way. Taylor Kenerson 2:42 And then it’s also fun, just like you mentioned, kind of delivering that value back to someone else watching them grow from maybe nothing to something like exponential and you had a role in that, which is, you know, an incredible feeling. But before we dive a little bit into the CS function of you know, PeerSpot in that, can you give us a little background on what peer spot is and how you guys deliver value to your customers. Jeff Yeger 3:08 So PeerSpot, sort of the boilerplate, we’re the buying intelligence platform for enterprise tech. And what that means is, there’s a lot of enterprise tech software and hardware out there. Probably most of it is really good. Probably the vast majority, it is really good. And so when you’re out there about to buy something where you’re going to spend, likely six more likely seven or eight figures on a multi year purchase for you know, a major bank or insurance company or you know, technology company, whatever it will be, you’re staking your reputation on that purchase, maybe staking your job, and you need to buy the right thing for you. And so we give people a platform to actually get that buying intelligence to figure out what is the right thing for me and my business, what’s gonna be the right long term solution. Let me figure out what other people think about this, right? Because the only genuine opinion when it comes to a product is people who actually bought it and used it. Because they take all the risk. They’re the same people who have staked their job and their reputation on it. And it’s either worked for them or it didn’t. And so we provide that platform for people to come in, figure out what real users of enterprise tech products and services, think of those things, and then give them a bunch of different ways to engage with that information in that audience on the platform. And that way, you’re making really well informed decisions for your company for your work. Taylor Kenerson 4:32 Yeah, it’s really important to like serve them this knowledge and equip them with the information that you know, people might need before they lock into these 678 figure deals that are quite scary, especially when you’re potentially your job to be on the line. So with that, you know, almost pressure in a sense, how do you how does your CS function CS team function? Can you walk us through like what your CS team looks like? How they engage with, you know the customers how they make sure that they’re actually giving the customers the right information because it is the customer’s job that might be on the line. And they do decide to, you know, pair with a software that maybe wasn’t a good fit. So walk us through a little bit of how that dynamic plays out. Jeff Yeger 5:15 Yeah, so let me before that, let me sort of put out the other side of the business model, which is the anytime you spend on the platform doing research is free. If either of you are looking to buy something, I invite you to go there, you’ll find really long in depth, you know, very technical content. That would be crazy for you to read if you weren’t trying to buy something. What because why would you. And so that part is free. And my team doesn’t actually interact with the people who come to the site. Those are buyers. And that’s not who we talk to, we talk to the people who have their products listed on the site. Right, so we’re talking to the IBM’s, and the Oracles and the Amazons, and the HPS. And all those wonderful companies that have their products on the site, their reviews and discussions and posts around those products. And people are coming in to figure out should we buy them or not. And so if we can establish together, that one, the only kind of person that would come to our site and read something like that is somebody’s trying to buy something. And if we can establish that the content on the site is really useful to somebody who’s trying to buy something, then our platform becomes very interesting to people who sell technology, because on the one hand, we offer them an audience of people who are trying to buy something, which is if you’ve ever been in sales, and marketing is the hardest thing to find. And two, we already know what the people on our platform are interested because I know what they read it. I know what they read. They’re right. And so we work with the marketing teams at these companies to offer them a very, very targeted audience, and very, very interesting content for that audience. And based on those two things, we built that a suite of sort of marketing services that we sell to those people. Adil Saleh 7:04 Love that. Now this is similar moderate, as Jeetu does go to cloud. And they also started back from Israel and still remember, folks, their senior leadership from Israel. So now, how do you guys manage the reputation? Like what is the framework for the reputation management? When people can firmly trust and opinions professionals have shared about one tech? Let’s say you have had if I want to decide, okay, I need automation, robotic process automation, what framework would I love? Or would be compatible for my systems? My tech stack? Would there be blue prism? Would that be UiPath? Would that be power automate? Would that be you know, anything? So how does that on the tech side on the on the repetition side, based on the feature set and compatibility side? How does that play out? Jeff Yeger 7:55 Yeah, so I mean, you chose a great example, because RPA is obviously really hot in the world. But on our platform, specifically, it’s I don’t know which number traffic category is, but it’s up there. You know, we we’ve got great customers in that space, who have been, you know, working with us for years who have passed a great example, you know, you can feel free to go read their case studies on the website. But it’s a good question. Because the end of the day? Well, first of all, they trust us to provide them with real content, right? Because it’s, you know, it’s been a challenge in the user review space. Second is, do they trust what’s on the website? And then how do we put it in a framework that’s usable? How do we how do we give it to them in a way that actually helps them make a decision without being too painful? So as far as trusting us, that’s easy. We don’t write anything that’s on the website. Right? We don’t have any writers on staff. We don’t have any, whatever copywriters or marketers working on the website, or enterprise tech, technical writers, they don’t exist by a secret check LinkedIn and the job titles because the point is not for us to educate the market. The point is, for us to provide a platform for the market to educate the market. As far as being able to trust the people on the site, we have zero fake reviews on the platform. And I mean, I mean, zero, and that’s because we have a triple authentication that we do, where first of all, we actually authenticate the people by speaking to them once they leave their review, because we have follow up questions. And we need to make sure that the content is good, we read and publish every single one of these reviews by hand. And then we also go to these LinkedIn profiles and match the job title and the company that they gave us to that person. So we’ve a lot of work goes into the reviews. And then the last thing that we do and this is the simplest one I saved for last is all of our reviews, or let’s say 90 plus percent of them are captured on the phone. So it’s really really hard to fake a review. You can generally probably go to chat GPT and and ask it, can you please give me a really good review for, you know, Blue Prism, you can’t do that what I’m talking to you, right, you need to actually know what you’re talking about. And we record every conversation. And then our team decides, Is this legit? And on top of that, we have a state we have standards, right, you can’t publish review less than x number of words. So if you try to get away with on the phone, UiPath is great. I really like it, you know, the UI looks really good. And I like that it’s, you know, blue and red, you’re not going to make it. So we make it very, very hard for fake content to get in. And then the last bit is like, what’s the user journey? What actually makes this useful? So, I mean, I could obviously talk about this for probably a year now. But I think the the top things I would point out is, one, we try to make it easy, right at the top of every section that you get to if it’s a product or a space, you’ll find we call it an executive summary, which will just give you the basics, it’ll tell you, here’s what it is, here’s the top players, here’s what users think about it. Our AI pulls those out based on engagement. And then it gives you a very easy way to dive further. And then the second, I would say, most important thing is the community aspect, which is okay, you know, I read the review, I still got questions or not really want to spend the time to go through all the reviews to find the one that directly addresses my concern. And so you can go to the discussion board for RPA. And you can write a post that says, can you tell me, you know, if UI path or automation anywhere, is the best, you know, best tool for my size company or for my infrastructure? Or how do they work with Linux or you know, whatever, whatever you might like. And we’ve got, you know, several 100,000 users on the website, the ones that have shown interest in those products in the space will get notified. And then they’ll come answer your question. Adil Saleh 11:53 Love that. Love that. Because if I want to, of course, decide I would rather trust. Of course, I would trust your platform. That’s why I’m on there. However, I would more be interested in what other customers what opinions they have while making the same decision in the past? Or maybe they can if we can have real time answer to it that would that would even be better I can communicate with instead of stay tuned in the roadmap. Oh, great. Love it. So you know, what has been the most challenging? Like, of course, this is one of the challenges of boarding pass atomies there are so many competencies have a business modern it. So I know, bits of knowledge on on the RPA side, because we are building bots for some mid to medium sized enterprise businesses. However, you know, what is the most challenging tech when it comes to enterprise solutions? And how did you overcome that challenge? With the help of AI, I’m sure that you have these AI models and all these cures pretty much built conditions pretty much built on the back end. So it gets the right data across the right curious people that people are searching. So how does that play out? Sitting on your platform? If I be here, visit? What’s what goes into Backstage? Jeff Yeger 13:08 I’ll answer your question, but differently. So right I’m out of the product team, I wouldn’t call myself an expert in AI, or what I can, I can’t tell you what’s the most difficult part about being a platform like ours, and that cybersecurity, not for ourselves, rather, cybersecurity industry where, number one, it’s very difficult to get people to leave reviews of cybersecurity products, because it’s kind of hilarious to tell the entire world which product to use, that’s I would say the central challenge is trying to find meaningful, useful content about cybersecurity for you sort of without compromising certain organizations. And I can’t say we figured it out perfectly. But that’s that’s one of our number one traffic, sort of, we’ll call them categories or sort of larger spaces. So the easiest thing that we found to do is give the people leaving the reviews the option to be anonymous, right? Just don’t tell us who you are. I don’t really need to know the org you’re from, I need to know a couple of things. I need to know your job title, because I need to know exactly what you do. And if I’m somebody reading the review, am I compatible to you. Number two is I need to know what industry your in because if I’m in healthcare, and you’re in I don’t know, insurance, maybe those two don’t overlap well. And then I need to know the size of your org. Right, I need to know. All right, well, if you deployed this in a 400 person company, and we have 100,000 employees, I don’t know if it scales that well. And once we got that right, not only did we get a significant influx of cybersecurity traffic because obviously we have more content but we got more content so chicken or the egg. We got significantly more more content and more in depth content about cybersecurity and now we are the leading reviews sort of. For the cybersecurity community, and we work with a very large number of the cybersecurity companies. And I’ll add one thing in there is the beauty of the reviews is not just for the community and for the audiences, if you are a cybersecurity company, and we are gathering 2, 3, 4000 word reviews from your users, you have to be reading those, you need to understand what what is the voice of the customer? Yes. Right. What do they think? And so obviously, I’m very biased towards appreciating that fact, from the customer success side, what does your customer actually think they’ve just given it just put their heart you know, out there to the world about what they think about your product, even if it’s even if you don’t love everything they had to say, product needs to know about it, marketing needs to know, sales needs to know exactly I wish I wish CEOs were reading these, maybe they are. You’re getting raw, unfiltered third party content about exactly what your customers think about you. Adil Saleh 15:52 Absolutely. And also the competitive side as well, like you have people that are fishing in the same water, and they have similar customers. And it is so essential for you to you know, see how they’re serving their customers, what is their customer voice? And all of that. Jeff Yeger 16:10 I’ll take that one step further. By the way, I think that’s a that’s an excellent point. If you if you were so inclined, you can either pay us to do this, should you choose to order yourself, go to the website, go through all of your competitors reviews, and start building stats. Right? Okay. 41% of my closest competitors reviews hate their UI. Okay, well, now, when we go to, you know, build our battle cards for our sales team, we know are you Why witness how we can send out? Yes, yeah, or you know, 80% of them, instead of your competitors, users love. I don’t know how easy the onboarding is, whereas only 10% of ours do. Okay, product listen up. You got work to do? Adil Saleh 16:50 Yeah, yeah. Yeah, of course, customer centricity is super important. And that’s how these platforms even do crowd all of these platform marketplaces, they come into play. And even, you know, when I was working at these tech companies, I used to, you know, it was more on customer facing teams. And I used to read all these reviews of competitors, and some of the similar text technology platforms. And it helped me like, Okay, so now sitting as a VP of Customer, So how big is your team? Jeff Yeger 17:22 We are 14 right now. Adil Saleh 17:26 14? Okay, so what kind of technologies you have incorporated to make sure you stay on top of data, of course, you’re more into high touch motion, as you said, You love it. So now sitting in a high touch motion, what kind of training initiatives have you taken for your customer, like talking on customer education? And on the flip side, what kind of initiatives have you taken for training and management inside your team? And how you’re equipping them towards making sure that they work with the customer goals along the journey? How you’re mapping it just a regular customer success Ops? Jeff Yeger 17:57 Yeah, so you said three things, I only remember the first one. So we’ll, we’ll start there. And then I’ll ask you the first one, about technology. So I have a deep and loving relationship with Salesforce. That is, as our company that’s our main hub. On top sitting on top of that we have Snowflake as our data warehouse. And then from analytic standpoint, we have Tableau connected to that. So we get, we get all of our inputs from both our platform from Salesforce, other data sources into snowflake, and then Tableau gives me incredible analytics from that. So I have all sorts of lovely Tableau reports that I like to use. Additionally, we have gone like everybody else. You know, we, as a voice of customer platform, if we weren’t listening to our own customers will be embarrassing. So very heavily used tool for us. Up until now, and I’m not sure we’re keeping it, but we use a tool called Dooly, which has become very popular on my teams where it essentially gives you sort of inline editing of Salesforce. So you can basically take your accounts and upload them in a list instead of scrolling through them in Salesforce. On top of that, just the regular sort of G Suite, type things we end we have an NPS live CSAT form called AskNicely, which is great for gathering survey feedback. I think that’s the what’s nice about sort of the high touch non SaaS motion is you don’t need sort of the Pendo or like any any, you know, any of these other sort of usage based tracking technologies, because it doesn’t quite work like that makes it more difficult in some cases. But we do have, I would say a smaller tech stack than the majority of teams. We don’t use any particular CMS platform. And because they don’t generally support non SaaS companies. So that’s it. And then there was you actually buy customer education. Adil Saleh 20:11 Okay, yes. Jeff Yeger 20:14 So as far as educating customers, we have the benefit of talking to them all the time. Right, one of the top line metrics for my team is how many customers we speak to every month? The answer is, the answer is, well, it’s I should say specifically is how many calls do we do with customers every month, a call is a 30 Minute zoom session, together with them. So it’s, I mean, it’s in, it’s over 1000 a month. So we genuinely talk to customers constantly. The average customer is with us, we’ll have a bi weekly call. So every other week, 30 minutes with our CSM, which we take great pride in not because we’re putting in the work, but because they want to talk to us. Right? Meaning that there’s there’s interesting information being passed back and forth, that they want to keep engaging. And I don’t know of anybody besides like, maybe my wife and my mom, but I speak to that frequently. And so it’s, you know, it’s a compliment for us. And so what, from the education standpoint, that’s gives us a tremendous opportunity to speak to them and talk to them. So we don’t have those struggles, let’s say that, if it’s customer advocacy, marketing products, they want to go in front of a customer, I will talk to them Tuesday, jump on a call, right, we don’t have those issues. And so anytime there’s an initiative, if it’s rolling out a new product, if if we’ve discovered a new use case for an existing product, because some other customer came up with it. And it was amazing. If we released a new feature, and we want to show people how it works, if we’ve done some analytics, and we want to show it to them, and explain to them how important it is, we have sort of a constant opportunity to do that. And so we sort of have the benefit of not needing a regimented customer education sort of cadence where you know, an email or something like that, or a webinar goes out every, you know, six weeks or you know, however you want to program it, because you know, what, we’ll have our weekly CST meeting, we’ll say, Okay, guys, we have this great new use case and customer X, on your next call, bring it up, and then happens. Adil Saleh 22:20 Love that. Love that. So And what about, you know, it goes both ways, like, your team is consistently talking to the customer and taking notes and, you know, creating some of the takeaways on weekly, bi weekly sprints. And that creates knowledge base for them about the customer and industry, is that right? Jeff Yeger 22:39 Exactly, we’ve got all sorts of obviously triggers set up disappointed or, you know, whatever we get important information. From these hundreds of calls that we do, you’ll have raw things that happened on the call, and then there’ll be section there for feedback, depending on which product they gave the feedback about. And then you’ll have a section for well who attended and you actually need to tag in Salesforce, the contact that attended that call. And then we basically all of the information that happened live on that call gets put into the database, and then can be used after. So if we and then myself, actually my CEO, as well as other members executive team, and get a notification, every single time we log a call with a customer, they get the notes in email, my CEO reads every single one of them. I don’t know how he’s been doing it for years, I have no idea how he pulls it off. And it keeps it makes knowledge transfer around the org very efficient. Because there’s an automation aspect to it. And then I obviously read every single one of them. And I can act as that hub to say, hey, these notes are great, you brought up a certain point there, I just saw that in, you know, Josh’s notes, you should know it’s coming up in a few places. Here’s the solution to that. And then I can also from internal training standpoint, I can start to notice these themes, and then say, All right, well, four of my CSM struggled to answer that question, I gotta do a training now. Or, you know, a few of our customers have mentioned the same thing. I gotta go talk to product and see we can do about this, or, you know, a few of our customers are seeing a lot of value in this new use case. Like, let’s make sure we get a case study so we can do more education externally. So from a purely getting the information that happens on these calls back into the org. It’s a good system. Adil Saleh 24:31 Interesting, interesting. Great, Jeff. Yes. So we’ve got a lot of SaaS platforms. They are trying to partner up with these kind of some because they have like SaaS bedrooms that are serving more than the enterprise segment. They want to facilitate their customer as much as possible. They are doing investing a lot in customer education, advocacy, community building network, so I’m sure a lot of these would listen to this episode. We have a Jeff from PeerSpot, the way they are trying to bridge this gap, a huge gap, especially in the enterprise. I’m glad that we have it for the enterprise more than enterprise because it is even a bigger problem for enterprise because the first thing that they won’t understand even marketing professionals, even professionals that are dealing with enterprise tech, on the compatibility side, on what if they use UiPath? Or power automate or automation anywhere? What constituencies are those going to be? And what how compatible these platforms are? What are a range of differences they have? In terms of tech in terms of size, there are so many moving parts. So I love that we are we are talking about enterprise tech. So thank you very much, Jeff. I’m sure a lot of these folks that are serving an enterprise segment would consider pure spot as one of the market fit, they already know I’m sure it’s big enough. And and they’ll definitely check on you and your team. So how they can you know, partner up and maybe joint venture or maybe see how they can create a training of sorts around pure spot, getting their enterprise accounts. There’s a lot of gap ICNC and we spoke about it a lot today. Thank you very much. Jeff Yeger 26:16 Yeah, my pleasure. Taylor Kenerson 26:18 Thank you so much. Adil Saleh 26:20 Have a good rest of the day. Jeff Yeger 26:22 Oh, you guys are easy. Yeah, good to meet you. Adil Saleh 26:28 Thank you so very much for staying with us on the episode, please share your feedback at adil@hyperengage.io. We definitely need it. We will see you next time in 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. We qualify 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

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