The Digital Customer Success Podcast

Hiring for Digital CS and the State of the Job Market with Sara Roberts of Bayview Talent | Episode 36

February 01, 2024 Alex Turkovic, Sara Roberts Episode 36
The Digital Customer Success Podcast
Hiring for Digital CS and the State of the Job Market with Sara Roberts of Bayview Talent | Episode 36
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Sara Roberts (Bayview Talent and host of Success Unscripted) may not immediately jump out to you as an obvious guest of this podcast. No, she doesn't run a digital CS function nor does she have a rich history in CS.

What she does have is her finger on the pulse for growing and scaling CS teams as that is her recruiting agency's specialty. As such, it was a great opportunity to talk about two specific areas: the state of the CS job market today and how to build & scale digital functions.

In this fascinating interview we discussed:

  • Being part of the Zenefits growth and the evolution into her establishing Bayview, specifically focused on CS recruiting
  • Hiring and the job search freeze are thawing
  • Sara’s motivation for starting the Success Unscripted Podcast
  • The importance of being vulnerable and sharing your hard experiences to help others who are doing the same
  • Building and scaling digital teams from a hiring perspective 
  • Hiring for digital is not just about putting your Junior CS teams in a scaled team but instead looking for technical resources, marketing people, product…etc.
  • Start by analyzing what systems & people you have. What are the skills gaps in relation to what problems you’re trying to solve. That will inform your hiring strategy for digital.
  • For a digital role - you are looking to hire people who can go deep into the data, but can also pull up and see the strategy
  • Practical advice for CSMs looking for their next role: take on projects and prove you can already do the work of that role
  • For those looking for work: Focus on the industry you already have experience with which will give you a leg up over other applicants. Focus on the ACV of the target customer that is within your comfort range. Finally, focus on what stage company it is vs. your experience.
  • Don’t just send in your resume and call it a day - recruiters are likely not looking at those resumes. Find the manager of the team and send them a note on LinkedIn.


Sara’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/saralynneroberts/
Bayview Talent: https://www.bayviewtalent.com/
Success Unscripted Podcast: https://www.unscriptedpod.com/
Resources:

  • Crunchbase for conducting targeted company searches based on your criteria

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The Digital Customer Success Podcast is hosted by Alex Turkovic

Speaker 1:

You need somebody that can go deep into the data but then can also pull out and see the strategy. So how do you understand customer behaviors by looking at numbers? Not a lot of people can do that and that's where like and it's always so hard hard to hire for his team, because he always wants people that like are bad asset sequel.

Speaker 1:

And like most CSMs are not, so that would be the first thing that I would recommend for people who are looking to get it more into. Digital is like really brush up on your Excel skills, because it's not about talking to customers.

Speaker 2:

And once again, welcome to the digital customer success podcast with me, alex Trokovich. So glad you could join us here today and every week as I seek out and interview leaders and practitioners who are innovating and building great scaled CS programs. My goal is to share what I've learned and to bring you along with me for the ride so that you get the insights that you need to build and evolve your own digital CS program. If you'd like more info, want to get in touch or sign up for the latest updates, go to digitalcustomersuccesscom. For now, let's get started. Greetings and welcome to the digital customer success podcast. This is episode number 36. It's actually an off cycle bonus episode for the week If you are listening to it live, and I wanted to bring this conversation to you sooner rather than later because it is a bit of a timely one.

Speaker 2:

Today's guest is Sarah Roberts of Bayview Talent. She is a she basically runs a talent staffing agency recruiting agency that that focuses on building and scaling customer success teams. So she's super niche and has a lot of great things to say about that. But the reason why I mean obviously the conversation is timely is because we all know what a tough market it is out there there's lots of folks looking for gigs and you know, I mean, 23 was pretty rough on tech and customer success. So Sarah shares some wonderful insights about the current job market and just recruiting and CS in general. But add to that there there, there is a mystique that surrounds staffing a digital customer success team or scaled customer success team, in that, you know, a lot of folks seem to think that they can just kind of throw junior CSMs into a scale team, or they may not exactly know what type of talent they need to really build out a solid digital team, and so Sarah and I spend quite a bit of time talking through you know what kind of profiles you're looking for when it comes to building a digital team.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of very timely and a lot of very important information that I didn't want to sit on and I wanted to publish as soon as I could. So please enjoy this conversation with Sarah Roberts, because I sure did. What should we talk about? Like actual stuff, or Sure? Yeah, I mean it's.

Speaker 1:

I don't know. Yeah, I mean I'm this first time I've been on this side of it. I'm usually asking the questions.

Speaker 2:

Right, I was. I was subjected to that experience a couple of times in the last few weeks and it's it's a little bit different, it's a different vibe, and I kept wanting to like take control of this. Yeah, but yeah, it's it, yeah, it's different, it's different, but I'm really pleased to have you on the show.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm really, I'm really excited about it and I'm curious to see how you do the intros because or the kind of first part of the podcast, because I find that mine are always like a little awkward, like it takes a minute to get into it, you know, and like it's never, not awkward. Okay, it's always.

Speaker 2:

And like. But, like, part of me is like well, you know, that's this, that's the stuff that makes it kind of human, you know, because there's so many shows that you know are somewhat scripted and I don't want to, I don't want to do that, Let me don't play that. Yeah, so, but look, I mean, what's funny is I was thinking a little bit, you know, prior to the show we actually first met I don't know when it was, it was a while ago because I mean, you're, you're, yeah, I was like I don't know, last year maybe, Maybe I don't know, I think it was before.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you, you know we had talked about a role and what I loved about that. You know there's recruiters you talk to that are just kind of like recruiters, and then there's recruiters you talk to that are like awesome people and that's what I gleaned from our conversation because you were real with me about it and it was like, you know, you were real with me and it and it, you know, didn't work out for whatever reason, but you know it was. It was cool because that left an impression out. When I saw you started your podcast, which is Success Unscripted, which I love I'm a huge fan of the show I was like, oh, sarah Roberts, right, connect to the dots and it's it's, it's cool that you're, you're doing it. So congrats on the on the show as well.

Speaker 2:

So tell me a little bit about just kind of what. So, for those that don't know, right, baby, you talent is your recruiting agency. You focus primarily on kind of building CS teams and helping, helping to grow CS teams a little bit. But give us a little bit of the genesis of that. Like what, what got you into there and what, what kind of niched you into CS?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So it's kind of an interesting story. I've never actually worked in customer success. I started my career actually in marketing at the tech company.

Speaker 1:

I grew up in the Bay Area and then, like, briefly, did a stint at a recruiting agency and then I got into sales and and and the recruiting that I do is there's a lot of sales. To it, you know it's more sales HR. I would say Absolutely yeah. And I worked at Xenophants. That was my first sales job and they grew from 54 to 1100 employees in the year that I was there and in one year, yeah and yeah, it was yeah. It was like at the time, it was the fastest growing tech company in the history of Silicon Valley and and it was great and I, you know, got to know Parker when it was really small. I used to sit next to him and and then, you know, it grew and grew and grew and I was doing very well there. One, I want to say it was like October of 20, 20, 2015, 2014,. Maybe I was 192 percent to quota, and so we're selling these insurance plans. Basically, you become the broker of record.

Speaker 1:

And that's the way that you, the way that Xenophants at the time, got their revenue, but then we're also having to get them through open enrollment. So it's October. I have all these customers that I've closed and then I'm also doing so. This is November. Actually, I'm doing hour long back to back demos, eight of them every single day could never get my inbox past or lower than 50.

Speaker 1:

And while we had scaled the sales team, we didn't really scale the post sales team and so it was usually took about six weeks to get an implementation manager assigned to an account, and those implementation managers were the ones that really set them up in the system but also took them through open enrollment and help them with their benefits plans.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So after eight hours of demos and trying to get through my inbox, I'm also helping my customers that I've already closed the month before. Go through open enrollment and I'll never forget there was one account in Texas I think the guy's name was Paris and it was. It was a small account, it was only like five people, but he was on United Health Care and because at the time we didn't have territories, we were selling across the country in all at all, with all different carriers and they all have different rules and UHC. For some reason their open enrollment happens two months before it normally happens and so we missed open enrollment and he was so pissed, as he should have been. He was like my wife is pregnant and I probably would have stayed on these plans, but I wanted the opportunity to at least see. That kept me up at night. It was just ridiculously stressful.

Speaker 1:

But that was the first time I really started to understand the importance of taking care of your customers once you sell them. I always became friends with the implementation managers and the CSMs and the account managers and all that. I was also really curious about that handoff and the deal desk stuff and sales force and whatever. That sparked my interest. I then worked at a couple of other startups and sales, then got back into recruiting. I was working for Hunter SF they place investment professionals at private equity and venture capital firms primarily but I realized I wanted to work with tech companies again. I had brought on a couple of clients while I was there and they encouraged that, but I decided I wanted to start my own thing.

Speaker 1:

So 2019, I founded Bayview and I knew I wanted to have some sort of specialty. I knew I wanted to go to market because that's what I know marketing, sales, customer success. I actually hired a guy to do some market research and called a bunch of different VCs. We realized that nobody was doing customer success. Nobody was focused on customer success. You have Bets and Lions and all these different companies that are really focused on sales and do a little bit of marketing, but at the time there wasn't.

Speaker 1:

It was almost kind of a new thing. It had been around for five, 10 years. People didn't understand it as well as they do today, which is not saying much. I reached out to Parker. This is when the Rippling had just raised a $45 million series A. They had one CSM but needed five more. So I found those five CSMs within six weeks and then it just snowballed from there. Fast forward, I've placed over 60 people at 15 different startups, Just as a result of having so many conversations with candidates and hiring managers of what are you looking for? But then on the candidate side, what are you doing? How are you building your teams? What systems are you using? What's worked? What hasn't worked? That's really been helped me get a really good understanding of the market and also advise my clients on market compensation. What should you actually be looking for in this role?

Speaker 2:

So it's been really fun. That's so cool. Yeah, I love that story and the genus and kudos to you for actually doing market research to figure out where the need was. But I love that about you just asking the questions and getting beyond. This is the job description. Go, yeah, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Well, I mean I like to pose deals. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean the reason why. At first glance it may seem odd to the listener that we're chatting on the podcast, but actually I'm crazy excited to chat with you today, because I think that one of the major questions that I get very, very frequently is okay, you've decided to build a digital function team and all that kind of stuff. Okay, how do we hire people for this role? What is this thing? What does a scale team do, and who do I need to run my digital CS team and whatnot?

Speaker 2:

And it's a bit of a mystery out there, and so I'm hoping, through our conversation, that we can dispel the myths a little bit, because there are some pretty unique approaches that I've seen out there, but there's also some standardization of what it is that a lot of people are building with scale teams, which I think is pretty cool. So I guess let's start a little bit from an industry state of the industry kind of perspective right, especially from the recruiting point of view, because it's no secret I mean everybody's been talking about it it's rough out there. There's lots of people looking for gigs, layoffs are still happening and it's kind of dicey out there, and my heart definitely goes out to folks who are on the prowl and have been affected, and so give us a sense for where we are today. This is January of 24, which is weird to say, but where are we today? Excuse me.

Speaker 1:

I have a two-year-old, so I may be coughing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, totally.

Speaker 1:

So if you had asked me that question a month ago, my answer would be different, which is a good thing. Last year was rough. I mean, I'm used to literally turning down clients because I don't have enough bandwidth and getting recommendations from CEOs and BCs Because I also typically work with earlier stage, so series A and prior to last year, if you get a large investment, you're making promises to the board that you're going to accomplish all of these different things and so growth is, and hiring the right people quickly is absolutely required in order to meet those goals, and so prior to last year as a recruiter, it was awesome and everybody was hiring.

Speaker 1:

They had the budget to pay for recruiters, which I get paid a percentage of a candidate's first year's base salary, and last year it was absolutely crickets. I had a couple of searches with my client keeper in the beginning of the year, and then I worked with a bootstrapped company for a little while that I met when I was doing a keynote in New York and we didn't end up finding the right person, but other than that I basically my business was non-existent essentially, which you can imagine how that feels.

Speaker 1:

And I made the decision. I'm not going to do business development. I'm not going to actively reach out to these companies because they don't need me right now. Conserving cash and extending your runway is the most important thing for these companies, not growth. And so, even if they have open roles and companies were hiring, they're not going to pay me 25% of a candidate's first year base salary. They're going to have a hiring manager do that. So it was pretty rough, but I'll tell you you're catching me on a really good week. Just brought on my first big search in a year with my client, gorgeous, who I placed like 30 people there. Just absolutely love working with them. At least the VP of success was episode three, I think of.

Speaker 2:

Success.

Speaker 1:

Unscripted. So helping them with the director of customer success search, I might help them with another one if this one candidate doesn't work out, and then also potentially ahead of revenue, and then I have two other clients that are waiting in the wings as well. So I've also been hearing, yeah, seeing on LinkedIn that you know, I've been hearing other recruiters posting and recruiters have had it really rough. I mean, half of Sequoia's talent team was laid off last year and they're one of the top VCs.

Speaker 2:

Unreal.

Speaker 1:

I mean this just doesn't happen. It's the worst recession that tech has been in since ever, even 2008. So, yeah, so it's, I mean it's good. I think this year, you know, knock on wood, nothing crazy happens globally. I think things are going to be really, really, really different for everyone.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love to hear that because obviously you know, if recruiters are busier, that means the job market is looking more favorable, which is good. Yeah, it's a good sign overall. So I mean, look, you started Success Unscripted. You know a few months ago. But engine, a big part of it was out of just being sl-.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, having a lot of time on my hands.

Speaker 2:

Do some stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure that was part of it. But also, you know what was the impetus behind Success? Unscripted.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So by like I don't know February of last year, I realized that it was going to be slow for a while and I actually tried to start another business. I mean there are so many businesses I've started that have failed. I mean I could mean them all.

Speaker 1:

But this one was called yeah, I mean yeah, if you're an entrepreneur, that's just yeah, that's how it goes. So I started this business, or had the idea and went pretty deep in it for a while called Rocket Launch, and the purpose was, you know, I'm fascinated by what makes people thrive. When I'm talking to an A player or someone who has just skyrocketed their career, what is it about them? And my belief is that it's. Those are the people that are able to find roles that really align with their passions and where they're excited to wake up in the morning. And none of us like every single aspect of our jobs, but if you can get into that state of flow, like 30% of the time, you're gonna be far more successful than doing something that you don't enjoy. So, taking that idea and thinking about our education system and how, like when you're a college senior and you go to a job fair, it's like if you leave the job fair with a job, it's like, yes, I did it, you know like, I did it and that's the goal, and there's no real conversation about okay, what do these career paths look like? What is you know, what's the day to day, what skills are required, how much money do they make? And so I and I've talked about mental health a lot in my podcast as well.

Speaker 1:

My goal was, or the thinking was, I could help college students understand what their options are people a couple of years out of college so that they could pursue careers that are more in line with what they love to do and what they're good at and what they want to learn more of. So I did a ton more market research and I talked to a lot of marketers. I talked to a lot of people that are in the education space. I know the guy heading up CS at USF spoke with. He got me in touch with a professor and talked to a lot of parents and a lot of students and what I discovered was the problem existed, but it was going to be really hard to actually monetize this because, you know, college students are very flaky and they have a million things going on and they just they're not going to sit down and actually do that. Most of them and their parents aren't much easier to lock down and I don't know if I would have really actually enjoyed creating the curriculum, because I kind of took a stab at it.

Speaker 1:

But what Success Unscripted is very much a evolution of that, because part of the course was going to be bringing in people that are inspiring to me and that have had interesting careers and asking them the same questions that I'm asking on the podcast, and so I actually found this note in my Notion to Do list that I wrote about a year ago. Like I need to start creating content and interviewing people, but like I wish I could just you know, like I was so against it because I'm not a content person, and then I just you know, I'm just going to do it.

Speaker 1:

I'm just going to do it and I did my first one and it's been really interesting, and the focus is, I always say, the what is customer success, but the why is all that other stuff that I'm talking about?

Speaker 2:

and helping people really find their passion, because I believe that, one, you cannot separate your mental health from your work and, two, my experience of white knuckling it through all of these different jobs is not uncommon and so, yeah, so I Like workplace trauma is a real thing, like it's not something that is I think, more and more people are talking about it now, which is great, and especially, you know, post pandemic and with all the layoffs that have been happening and all that kind of stuff Like finally there is a focus on mental health and workplace trauma. But I mean you know the I mean honestly, the couple of decades I spent just like grinning and bearing stuff. I mean the circles in my eyes are direct results of that and many people. I mean it's like it's a real thing and so you know, I love that you're highlighting those things.

Speaker 2:

And I wanna go back to one thing that you said just earlier around our education, you know system, around jobs and careers. It's so messed up. I mean I remember this is I'm an old fart, so, like I remember eons ago, when I was like in high school, they did these tests and the tests, like you know, like scored you on what you were good at in school and stuff like that, and they said, oh, you might be good at this and you might be good at had no kind of room for what do you like to do?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know what are the things that, like, you get up in the morning. If you didn't have school or work, what would you be doing? You know and like what excites you and there's like no conversation about that and I think even to this day it's like, it's like you're expected to go to, you know, high school and then I don't know, college is starting to differ these days, but you know, like you go to college and then you know what it is you do, when in reality, like you could figure that out probably way sooner.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So that's I mean, that's really the goal and it's been I even after the second. So the second episode, that's the one with Nicky, where I also drank some wine. Yeah, sure.

Speaker 2:

It was a good one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it was a good one. But we both really talked about some hard times in our lives and you know suicidal ideation and I mean it really went there. And this is my second episode and a guy reached out to me on LinkedIn and just thanked me for sharing and for naming what it is that he's going through and also, you know, kind of lifting that burden a little bit, because I think sharing and knowing that you're not alone and that it's okay to go through those hard times and they will pass. I always said if I can help one person with the podcast, then I've done my job. And so it's been.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's been really, really fun. I just released the fifth episode today, so we'll see. But, like you said, I mean, and thank you for reaching out after the first couple episodes, I know you said in an email, like it's really hard, like the vulnerability required to create a podcast and then put it out into the universe. And people are watching it whenever you know you don't know who's watching it when they're watching it, what they're thinking, what they're saying to other people. It's really, really scary and I there were many times where I almost just scrapped the whole thing after I had several episodes recorded.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a vulnerable thing and you end up saying stupid shit and it's like yeah, okay well, okay, you almost have to at least my experience of the whole thing is like you almost have to separate yourself a little bit and just go. Yeah, okay, I'm going to be vulnerable for this hour and then the next hour it takes to edit it and then put it out there and forget about it. But yeah, it's, it's hard, yeah. So kudos to you for ripping off the bandaid. Likewise, yeah, I do, I do want to, you know.

Speaker 2:

Okay, subject at hand, though, I do want to spend a little bit of time talking about CS and specifically like building and scaling digital teams, because I'm just going to start with the assumption that a lot of CS leaders, when they go to start a scale team which is, I love how you set up straight we got to talking about serious stuff. That was funny. But you know, the assumption that a lot of CS leaders make when they go teams is like, oh, we're just going to stick our junior CSMs into this thing called scaled and just kind of work on that or do that, or you know whatever, and it's it's. I think, time and time again, it's been proven to not be the correct approach, and we can dig into what those. You know what that is. But I think, fundamentally, like the skill set needed to be part of a digital team and part of a scale team, which are two different things, I would say are are, I think, vastly different than what your typical CSM you know role would be yes.

Speaker 2:

Wouldn't you say so?

Speaker 1:

Well, it's certainly different than, like an enterprise, customer success motion the traditional high touch, working with 10 customers or less, working with multiple stakeholders and getting that information from the customer, from conversations, yes. So I think digital, the smaller, the more digital and just the overall CS strategy start to meld in one of the one in the same. But I do think that the, the scale motions and the digital CS strategies that you put in place can also aid those enterprise accounts as well.

Speaker 2:

Totally, yeah, totally. I mean, you know, I see, I see kind of a trend emerging and I'm curious if to know if you've seen the same thing with your clients, which is to say that if you're going to go scale CS, there's kind of like two things, two parts of the recipe from a staffing perspective. One is kind of like this ops thing, where you've got some people plugged in to build stuff, to do the data analysis, to do the automations to build.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then you know you've got a scale team which essentially might be a pooled team, might be regional, specific people who are then taking those automations, reacting to triggers, you know, responding to things and whatnot, and and but. But are you seeing the same kind of trend of those, those two kind of main things, as part of a digital strategy?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I I mean I don't know if I would.

Speaker 1:

I think that's absolutely right.

Speaker 1:

Yes, the ops and then the scale function and and in your definition the scale is like actually those, those CSMs that are working with those larger pool of customers, or sometimes there will be multiple CSMs working with you know, 10,000 customers in a shared inbox or something.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right, but I think, for me, digital customer success and I know you ask all of your, your guest this, but digital CS is really about helping your customers achieve their goals using technology and not the human intervention and their partner together. I think any any good digital or any good CS program is going to have a little bit of both and know when to use the technology and when to use the human intervention, but really needing customers where they are, and customers don't always want to pick up the phone, right? So if they have a question, how are they going to answer it themselves? It could be a chat bot, it could be through email, it could be through self-serve resources content on the website. So there's that like self-help piece, that that digital can can, really that, that digital can pioneer, I don't know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, totally.

Speaker 1:

And so. But then there's also the, that idea of like customer successes, about figuring out who your most successful customers are, the ones that are getting the most ROI, utilizing it the most and use it, utilizing it in the most effective way. So understanding who those customers are and then creating triggers and and incentivize and encourage encouraging behaviors that will make other customers act more like those successful customers. And so that's also a big piece of digital is what is the customer journey? What are those, what are those major milestones that the successful customers are hitting and how do we get others to do that? And there may be multiple customer journeys and different segmentations based on product or size or whatever.

Speaker 1:

But that piece of digital is almost more like marketing. So when I think of digital, there's yes, there's the, there's the more ops, like I often pull people from, like consulting or like a sticks fix or Walmart actually has a lot of people that do a lot of this really, really advanced kind of ops, digital CS. They typically know SQL, they typically. So SQL is more for like pulling and analyzing the data, and then Python can help build custom automations. So that's the ops piece, and then you have more of a content writer right, which is almost more like marketing. That does the customer education and the self serve portal.

Speaker 1:

Then you also have people that on that marketing side are understanding how to how to build marketing campaigns for the existing customers. And then there's all those things that go through that as like a B testing and what subject lines are, are creating more opens and how many clicks, and so there's kind of a science to that. That's a totally different profile as well, totally. And then and then from there there's the actual product work. How are they utilizing our product? You know, and ideally you have some product data around like how many, how often are they logging in? What pieces of the product are they using and then working with product to understand like, okay, we need a chat bot here because people are getting stuck.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, so I identifying those key points where, where customers are being derailed.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so there's, I mean, it's a, and that's what I always say, this is what I love about customer success. And we're just talking digital, you know, and, and there are so many different pieces and then there, you know, beyond that, there's implementation and whatever. So I love talking to my clients about how to build their teams, because it's never a one size fits all and that's the totally like that is crazy.

Speaker 2:

Sorry to cut you off, I'm like crazy passionate about that Because, like everybody not everybody there's a lot of people who think this digital CS thing is like this black box you take this temp, you buy a template from somebody you implemented into your Oregon, then you're done. But that is totally not the case, because there's an crazy amount of variability that goes into it, not only from a step, from a data and a tooling and a. You know who are your customers, who are your, you know personas, what's your product like. The variables are just insane, and so every team has to look different, otherwise you're not doing it well.

Speaker 1:

Right, well said, yeah. So what I typically do with my clients, just for CS teams in general but this applies to digital CS specifically is first analyzing what do you have Right, like what systems do you, what systems do you have in place and who are the people and what are their strengths. And then where are the gaps and what are the main KPIs that you're going for, like are you having a turn problem? Are you having a product adoption problem? And those will start to inform you of what it is that you should be building. And then that's the cool thing about my job is that we kind of have a hypothesis of what it is that that we need. And then I go out and I start talking to the best of the best, and then sometimes we realize, oh, we actually really need this piece of it, this is the priority. Let's find someone who does this really well, and then we'll start to fill in the other things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't want this to come across as a knock against CSMs, because it definitely isn't, but to me I think a well-staffed digital CS function or ops function is filled with individuals who are probably a lot more strategic thinking and just kind of out of the box and creative than, say, your average CSM, just because you have to iterate a whole lot. You got to figure stuff out as it, as kind of problems and things come your way, and to do that even you know you team. You got to think on your on your toes, think on your feet, think on light on your feet, think on your toes, quick in the head, I don't know. You got to be able to react quickly to a myriad of situations with customers that you don't like. You got to think strategically about all of this stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's funny that I think the hard piece and this is something that I used to talk a lot about with Roman, the CEO of Gorgeous is, like you need somebody that can go deep into the data but then can also pull out and see the strategy. So how do you understand customer behaviors by looking at numbers? Not a lot of people can do that and that's where, like, and it's always so hard to hire for his team because he always wants people that, like are bad asset sequel.

Speaker 1:

And like most CSMs are not, so that would be the first thing that I would recommend for people who are looking to get it more into. Digital is like really brush up on your Excel skills, because it's not about talking to customers. And yeah, I mean it was a little bit of a knock on CSMs.

Speaker 2:

I'll say it's just different.

Speaker 1:

You know, it's a different skill set and I think it's a totally different skill set. And I mean I think there are different skill sets for each. I mean the, the scale CSM, that's maybe not doing the automated engagements as much, or maybe they're like leaning on the digital team to set those up. You know the skills there are. You know being really really good at time management and being able to prioritize their day really well because they're talking to so many different customers and understanding Okay, is this noisy person actually? Is that actually a fire or are they just noisy? And so that's a different skill. And then on the enterprise account manager side, I mean I always think of my husband. He's in sales at Salesforce but he has two existing customers that he's looking to expand and the conversations that he he has.

Speaker 1:

When I was in sales I was always doing SMB and I love those. Like one call closes, getting to know people. Like in five minutes he's talking to, I mean, 50 people on the customer side and then he's also managing a relationship with Accenture and Bain and then also working with execs within Salesforce and they all have different priorities, they all have like different side conversations, and so that skill is something that is unique to enterprise. So it's, it's all strategic. It's just what. What type of strategic are you? And that's that's what you know. Building teams is all about is like, again, what do you love to do and what are you good at? And there's so many different flavors and they're totally different people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely Totally different and so kind of shifting gears here from maybe more of a career perspective, like again, like I said in the outset, what I, what I loved about our initial conversations was that you were just very focused on the individual. You were, you listened, you, and then you know, you, you, you were honest and you advised and you're you're kind of a you know very much kind of a partner and a player coach in that way, and so I would. I would venture a guess that you are often in a position where you're asked for advice from, like CSMs, or you know you're, you're asked, you know, maybe career advice or how they can get themselves, you know position themselves for their next role and things like that. And so I'm curious if there are any common threads, especially right now that you advise a CSM on and in terms of their next steps.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there are two things. So, for the person who is in a role that they like, but they maybe want to get to the next level, or they want to specialize in a specific thing within CS or make a transition into ops or whatever, the best thing that you can do is take on projects, take the initiative, think of ideas, find areas within the company that can be improved and then go to the manager, to your manager, go to the CEO, if it's small, and say I think we need to do this and this is how I think we should do it. Some of the best candidates I've worked with and that end up doing really cool things with their careers, it always started with them taking the initiative and finding inefficiencies and then spearheading a project and maybe getting funding for it and then building a team and then, all of a sudden, you know you're leading that team. So I think that's a way to accelerate your career, but also a way to explore new things and figure out what do you like to do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and prove that you're already capable of doing the gig. Yeah, you put yourself in that position. There's a I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but there's a book that I love to give people who've asked me these kinds of questions, called Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Have you heard about this book? No, it's quite a few years old now, but it's a quick read. It's a good read. It's basically it's a guy that was kind of a hallmark lifer and, if you know, hallmark and corporate culture.

Speaker 1:

Like work there forever.

Speaker 2:

Like the corporate hallmark. Yeah, and you know they weren't necessarily known for being a great culture per se, but he, he describes how he was able to build this certain program and this certain thing that was a need within the company, kind of without asking for permission to do it, and created this, his own identity brand within the company by building this thing and owning this thing, and so he was able to basically orbit the Giant Hairball, so to speak.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that.

Speaker 1:

But that relates exactly to what you were saying, yeah, yeah, and that's what I would recommend for people that are currently employed and then for people who are looking for a job and maybe struggling to to get interviews and and find that next role.

Speaker 1:

The biggest thing is taking a step back and really figuring out if you were a recruiter or a hiring manager and somebody looked at your profile, which ones, which types of companies would be like.

Speaker 1:

I got to hire this person Right. So a lot of times, the easiest one to start with is industry. So if you have insight into the way a certain customer works whether it's you know dev teams or HR, or maybe your company sells a you know sales enablement platform who is the end user that you're working with? Because you know about that industry, you speak their lingo and you know their priorities. So right right off the bat, you have a leg up over other applicants and then look for companies that have that same end user, and I always send people to CrunchBase. You can do a premium account for free trial that allows you to use much more more filters and then also be able to export your results and then you can kind of do a backwards lookup and you can even if you have a big spreadsheet and it's taking too much time. Like, go on Fiverr or what do they call it, the one where you hire people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean work or Fiverr you can find somebody that'll, like you know, for like five bucks an hour, we'll do a lot of the data stuff for you and then find those companies. And for God's sake, do not just send in your resume and then like, call it a day, because, like recruiters, a lot of times don't even look at resumes.

Speaker 2:

So I was going to ask you this question because we're in an age where you put up a role and two days later you have a thousand applicants.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and so and so, and I'm also a little bit biased because one of my strengths is sourcing Like I'm ruthlessly protective over my time, super efficient with my searches, and so I would prefer to spend time talking to people that I know are almost like a slam dunk than like talking to people that just because they applied and are interested in, like, maybe can fit. So, excuse me. So I especially don't like looking through applicants, but every client that I've worked with and a lot of times I then take over their applicant pool there are so many that have been sitting there for weeks and it's because it's just you just don't want to do it, and especially now when there are so many, it kind of becomes a waste of time almost because there are so many people that apply that are completely unqualified. So if you find that company that you are uniquely qualified for find like sometimes it on the job rec, it'll actually say who posted it.

Speaker 1:

But you can pretty easily find out on LinkedIn who manages that team or maybe there's an internal recruiter send them a real quick note on LinkedIn Like hey, just want to let you know that I submitted my application for this role. I'm really interested in this company because of XYZ and I think I could be a good fit because of XYZ. Like real short, let me know if you want to talk. Thanks, don't worry about cover letters. Cover letters a lot of times like it's just like people just write a generic cover letter for everybody and then like put in the company. That doesn't look good either, so that I guarantee, if you're not doing that already and then you start taking that approach, you're going to get way more interviews and you're going to get farther along because you're going to be more qualified for those positions.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like get yourself in the system and then go have the conversations with the people that are making the decision, or at least make yourself known. Do you? Is video like loom an annoyance in that perspective?

Speaker 1:

I don't know, I haven't. Actually, when companies try to do sales pitches to me, I'm seeing a lot of loom. I haven't seen loom from candidates. I imagine that will probably become more common. It is nice because then you get a sense of their personality. I'm sure, totally, I would say it could go either way because, especially in startups, founders and founding teams can be a little bit oh, we do this this way. They might not like it. If you're applying to loom, absolutely create a loom. If you're applying to some other media company, if it's a high-tech company, maybe not Just to circle back. One other thing we talked about how CSMs are so different. A scale CSM is different than a enterprise account manager is different than a digital CS person. Like I said, industry is the easiest way to start your search in figuring out who you should apply to or what company you should apply to. I think that actually the company size, the ACV, is even more important, because that's really what drives the type of profile and the skills required for that role.

Speaker 1:

If you're working with SMBs, maybe you're working with dentists, but there's this company that sells to gyms or something. There's a strong correlation there. You're working with business owners, small business owners. That is another thing to keep in mind as well is who is that customer? Then, the third thing that we always look for and again I work with typically like series A, series B my CEOs and hiring managers want people who have worked in a similar stage as well. If you're at a series B company, another series B company is going to be more likely to be interested in working with you.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Well. Look, I've chewed up a lot of your time, but I've really enjoyed the conversation. As we kind of round thing, I always like to ask what's in people's content, diet, what are you paying attention to? Books, podcasts, anything like that?

Speaker 1:

Well, it's a funny question, because I don't really listen to podcasts. I did listen to some of yours which I really liked, but I don't. From an educating myself on customer success perspective, I'm so lucky because I'm talking to the best people all day long.

Speaker 2:

That's how I'm going to answer A lot of it. When you get to a certain stage and you're talking to certain people, oftentimes the people that you're talking to are the experts.

Speaker 1:

That's my content from a CS educational perspective. In my free time I'm reading murder mysteries and listening to music and stuff like that, or playing Zelda, yeah, so I don't spend a lot of time like Playing Zelda. Yeah, I love Zelda.

Speaker 2:

New Zelda or old Zelda?

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, I started on N64 when I was in grade school Ocarina of Time. Then now I have Nintendo Switch and was playing Breath of the Wild, and now I'm playing.

Speaker 2:

Cheers to the.

Speaker 1:

Kingdom, I think. Anyway, whatever the ones are on Switch, it's amazing the graphics, the music. I love those open world games Totally. You get lost sometimes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's good stuff Totally. I love hearing about what folks are kind of, because I think honestly, yeah sure, we all read the business book once in a while and stuff like that and we listen to whatever and we read whatever, but I think sometimes what really defines somebody and what you learn, you learn a lot more about from people, like what they actually listen to or play or do when they're not working, which I think is really cool yeah.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, alex, thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, totally, it's been awesome and you're a real human that I love talking with and sharing ideas with and I appreciate what you're doing kind of with the podcast and just in general, the support you provide to the industry is really cool.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, I love it. I'm sorry for my ugly cough.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I mean kids. Kids are sick. Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Digital Customer Success podcast. If you like what we're doing, consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. It really helps us to grow and to provide value to a broader audience. You can view the Digital Customer Success definition word map and get more details about the show at digitalcustomersuccesscom. My name is Alex Turkovich. Thanks again for joining and we'll see you next time.

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