Managing Global Teams w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Managing Global Teams w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this week's session of Customer Success Leadership Office Hours, CS Leaders discuss managing global teams, and managing customers in different time zones.</p><p><br></p><p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:</p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan:</p><p>Jeff Breunsbach:</p>
Managing different time zones and team members located globally
01:59 MIN
Get as much information about customers as you can from sales
02:02 MIN
Open communication and calendar utilization for better customer eperience
01:32 MIN
Rules of engagement
01:42 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain podcast.

Speaker 2: Hey, Gain Grow Retain. Let me tell you about the MarTech podcast hosted by Benjamin Shapiro brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. Episodes are 30 minutes and he talks all about strategies and stories from world class marketers on how they're using technology to generate growth and achieve business outcomes. One in particular of late is unifying and activating your customer data, something that we talk about all the time in customer success. So go listen to the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Effie Mansdorf: Welcome, everyone. So we could go ahead and start. A nice little cozy group we have today. So everybody, welcome. Welcome to the GGR meetup today on Thursday, the leadership meetup. My name is Effie Mansdorf. I am first time host, long time participant, longtime listener. So I'm really, really excited to be hosting today. So what we're going to be reviewing today is really managing global teams, managing international teams and customers. And not just global teams, it could be managing customers in different time zones. I know that I've been pretty much in this industry for about, in a customer facing industry, for about 20 years. And I've been dealing with either global teams or global customers in one capacity or another. I know that, for example, back in the early days, it was really common to outsource, maybe support. It was also a little more common, if you're a smaller company, to have maybe a CSM that has an international customer because you're not there yet for the regional. And of course, during COVID, how many of us, with a show of hands, have not met their whole team in person? Because I definitely... There we go. Yeah. So that brings challenges in and of itself. I have not yet met everyone that I even hired in the past two years. So it brings upon, whether we're dealing with global teams or global customers or different time zones, even in the U. S., it brings upon a lot of advantages but also a lot of challenges. So that's what we're going to be reviewing today. So let's go ahead and... Go ahead and raise your hands, if anyone wants to go and share something that they talk about. And we have a late comer.

Josh: Well, I can jump in.

Effie Mansdorf: Go ahead.

Josh: Josh Moore, I come from ServiceNow. Really big company, so 16,000 employees. So this is a very, I would say intimate problem of ours, right? So we've got different time zones, different languages, different regions, specificity, in terms of how people do things. One perfect example of this is I was organizing a big event and Andrew was thankfully a part of this for us. We had something like, I think we had to have a total of like 1500 people that were going to be involved in this event, all from our customer outcomes organization. And we had to create two separate events, one for Americas and EMEA and the other one for APJ. That challenge in of itself was pretty monumental, right. So not only did we have to deal with the time zone differences, and even within the Americas- EMEA, finding the right time when people were not going to drop off and just say,"You know what, I'm late for dinner I can't be a part of this." But then also for a APJ with language limitations, right. We had to have interpreters. We had to have a different way that the data was presented and the information was presented. And that was a pretty monumental challenge, like I said, to make sure that we got the right information to the right people at the right time for the right reasons. And that was definitely a big thing. Thankfully we survived and Andrew did a fantastic job in presenting to us. But that regionality, that international global community, is something that you have to really be intentional about how you're providing that data, how you're providing information to each of the different regions.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. And I think, absolutely right. And especially these days, I think a lot of people are more mindful. It's more accessible those international customers. And especially, I would say some of us in the US... I'm originally from the US, but I moved abroad about 10 years ago. So I became very, very hypersensitive of," Wow. I never even thought in those kind of terms of international." So it's great that you've experienced it and that you're mindful of it and you found ways to overcome it. Anyone have maybe team members that are spread either across time zones or across the globe? Who wants to share how you manage that?

Speaker 5: So I had a team that was in the UK, I was in Seattle, all of our customers are in the US. And when I first started, there was clearly some insensitivity towards time zones for our accounts team. So they would shove everything first thing in the morning. So as we were building out the team in the US, one of the big challenges was you don't think about if you share a document in Google docs and you forget to set the permissions, the team in the US loses a whole day. And so we had these weird growing pains where which they were all self inflicted and when we'd get together, we had to be really intentional about it. And it took us four or five months to really get into a cadence where we weren't tripping over ourselves. But it was certainly, it was certainly rough, at least at the beginning.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. I could totally understand that. There's these great apps and websites called Time and Date calendar that could automatically calculate best time zones. And if you're in the US and you have someone, let's say in Australia, those can be really challenging. And there's always a time zone that has to suffer, stay up late, wake up early. But definitely, once you have those growing pains, you become a lot more sensitive. And even a team member of mine, she was sending... She wasn't not... We're not always in that mindset and she was sending times to meet in her own local timezone in the East coast, even though her customer was on the West coast. And that sort of created a comedy of errors of really what time are we meeting. So we should always be thinking in our customer's mindset and even sending their time zones in their time and not ours. Anyone else want to... I think, David, you said you were going to say something.

David: Yeah, if... Yeah, I can share. One of the challenges that I had early on in managing a global team was really understanding the cultural norms. Not so... Not as much from my team, but a lot from my customers. How customers wanted to be engaged with, what the right things were that you can say or do with customers that might be okay in one country but isn't okay in another country, like sending them company swag and stuff like that. Sometimes it's acceptable. Sometimes it's not. And then dealing with my team, thinking about the different perspectives of how people think of work life balance in one region of the world versus another region of the world.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. Cultural norms is really something we need to think about. And not even that... Even sort of when you're saying sort of comments or things, like" Let's table that for later," not everyone understands what" table that" is. Some people think that it's off the table, it's on the table, what does that mean? So even in some cultures, it may be interpreted differently. I could totally understand that thing about the swag. I know from my own personal experience, Italian customers are very different from US customers and they're different from any other customer. It's really... The cultural sensitivity is super, super important. Pam, you were going to say something. You're on mute.

Pam: Thank you. So I was with Lynn and we of course had the exact same conversation about culture. And we were saying, even in the US things, you have different cultures, different people. So Lynn said that one way she has overcome it is hopefully your salesperson can give you some insight. Of course, you might need to coach your salesperson to give you that insight. And, but also coming from customer education and coming into a system, especially for startups, you really need to think about your documentation, right? And the fact that you're also going to be translating. So as much as possible... It's not possible, it is aspirational, but get your content simple. More is not necessarily better. You want to bring it under control as much as possible. I mean, just think about all the different ways things are going to get bogged down. So as much as possible, especially when you're younger... When you're in a startup, think about how you're going to tame that content jungle because it's going to get translated and it's going to get... Your people are going to be talking, so they're going to be dealing with it in different ways. But I thought Lynn's idea of making sure that you talk to your salesperson and get as much insight, but the bottom line is be mindful. Right. And start early on that you're going to need to do these iterations.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah, absolutely, Pam. And what you said at the beginning, even locally in the US, I had a CSM who's from the South and he refers to everybody as ma'am and sir as a sign of respect. And someone on the East coast, an executive a C- level executive, got very offended that she was called ma'am. She thought it was a little condescending. So even in the US, we need to be sort of sensitive of what works, what doesn't work. Lynn, did you ever find anything really insightful from a salesperson in the past that helped you?

Lynn: I think definitely... Especially, we talking internationally, someone might be in charge of an entire EMEA region and if they can pass on something where," This guy in Germany is really direct, don't take offense to that." A lot of people in customer success want to be super friendly and have conversation about their weekend. But to them, that might be a waste of time. I think anything you can get from sales, whether it's in the US or internationally, about how this person acts, what type of interaction they're looking for, what kind of relationship, I think that's going to be really helpful to set yourself up from the very beginning that you understand what it is they're looking for in their typical type of relationship.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. It's definitely very helpful. Anyone else want to expand on that?

Speaker 9: I'll jump in just because what I had to say previously was a bit tactical, which was we were talking about aligning calendars. And one of the things that I've gotten into the habit of doing is, one, using a 24 hour clock. So it's not 11:00 PM, right, it's 23:00. And I know, for the people that are not Americans, you're like, of course. Right. So that's one. And two, is also making sure to clearly state the time zone that you're talking about just having that discipline, like thou must include time zone in any discussion. Which, by the way, I find myself doing even when I'm in DC talking to someone in New York. Right. But at least I have up. So that was what I just wanted to say before getting... Next thing, just to kind of talk what was just gotten... Just mentioned was understanding the persona. And especially, for some of us that work in security and tech, there's also a persona of the user and their role, not just the country they're in. So it's really knowing your audience in a more intimate level. The end.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. I could tell... I'm in the security space, the user and their role, that's also, I would say even sort of a cultural thing. Because the security space is a cultural in and of itself. Sometimes you could talk about certain things. Sometimes you can't. You could talk about other customers and sometimes you can't. So that really still translates into the cultural sensitivity or the sort of the best practices of the industry that you're in, in and of itself.

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Effie Mansdorf: How many of us have dealt with internal teams that are either outsourced or in another country? I know a lot of us are in these global companies and that comes with a lot of cultural sensitivity, time zones. Who can who talk a little bit about that? Maneer, do you want to share something?

Speaker 10: Sure. So just to kind of background, I had teams reporting to me over six time zones. That was interesting. And global customer base at that point and also dev in Israel, Romania, and the US. So that was kind of the global setting. The key... Really the key is it depends... I think it came up earlier. It depends on what stage the company is at, whether you have established processes and people in these regions. If you do, then having a local presence helps because it kind of alleviates the time zone issues and so on and so forth. And then it also helps alleviate some of the communication challenges. So for example, when we would talk to the Japanese customers and there was a meeting that needed to happen or something, there's a detailed orient... They would force me to write out everything. Everything. And I was like," Oh my God," it's a great exercise, but I didn't realize I have to write so much. But it's just because they wanted to be well prepared. So knowing that and in the absence of not having a regional team, and this is something that we talked about in our group as well, which kind of worked is instead doing one to one have advisory councils that are regional based. So we'd have like an EMEA, like New Zealand, APJ, and now you're doing... Instead of doing one to one, you're doing one to many as well. So that kind of takes care of it. The second was, if you are based out of the US and you're covering globally, do not mix and match time zones for your team. If you just give them one uncomfortable time zone to deal with instead of giving them, a morning call and then a late evening call, right? So you kind of mix and match it to you until you get a goal in an internal presence. And when it comes to teams, I prefer asynchronous communication as much as possible. So I don't want to talk, waste your time and ask you what's on this update. So we would do a like a Slack thing and by the time I wake up at, let's say, I start early, like five in the morning, I know what's going on to BM and stuff. So go asynchronous and don't waste your team's time. And then you can bond and talk about other things when you're doing face to face, instead of what happened to this account and so on and so forth. So some of the things that from my personal experience.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. I can really understand that. But having that local interpretation, I think a lot of partners... So if you're a little bit bigger in the growth, you have a partner, especially in those Asian countries that really helps. Jeff, you have your hands up and then we'll have Sean talk.

Jeff: Yeah. From having to manage teams based in Estonia all the way to California, spanning 10 hours. The things that I started with were internal. So I'd have someone in each geo on a project, even if it was just to put a flag in the ground, to use that analogy. So you have something internal you're working on, whatever, it's a new process or implementation of a CSP or whatever you're doing, have stakeholders in each geo so that they have to sync. And so that's one thing I did. The other things I did, performance management software call recording or whatever you're using. Once a month, I had individuals again from each location, meet in groups. All different levels, all different positions, but to again, get the sensitivity of cultural, colloquial, location, and to meet and see other things are going on in the world. So that was with a team of 55, had a little bit of movement to it, but it helped round everybody out and keep them sensitive.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah, that's a great idea, having those little pods and groups. That's definitely very helpful. Sean?

Sean: Yeah, there... I think, a few of the things I was going to say were covered. But I think just going back to basics and trying to encourage good behavior that favors a positive customer experience. So where you find that folks have been in the industry a while and get into a particular habit around just how they book meetings, right. Looking at their calendar manually, and I think I saw a comment around adding some additional time zones to your calendar. This is in no way a plug for Mixmax, I think there's a few different tools that support this. But having several calendar templates that you use and aligning those to the different segments that you support. So for me, especially with a fast growing earlier stage company where you don't have the luxury of folks based across different time zones, ensuring that your team has a baseline of, okay, this is a customer meeting template that we're only going to use for customers in the EU or in to APAC, right? So that those early morning PST times are reserved for those customers that truly need to talk to you during those times versus kind of letting it be open season and having local Bay Area customers very quickly fill up your calendar between 7:00 and 10: 00 AM Pacific time. And I think just little things like that help folk change their habit in a positive way and bring quite a few dividends to the customer experience in the long term. So that even though you can't talk to customers for eight hour period, they know that every single day, there's at least a two hour window where they know they can get ahold of you. And if you make that calendar available weeks in advance, I've noticed a little bit less friction in some of those conversations, especially when you're wanting to try to get some of their executive stakeholders to the table for discussions around renewals and things like that.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah, absolutely. All those little tools and Pamich and Calendly. I know myself, again, I'm in a different time zone as many of my team members and customers so I sort of make sure to broaden and broaden my availability, not only in my mornings but also late at night. You have to do that, there's... But those tools definitely, definitely do help to make sure that you're broadening your availability to all time zones. Anyone else would like to mention anything? Anything that came up in the breakout rooms? We have another 10 minutes. I'd love to really hear... It seems like the podcast topic was really popular so doesn't have anything directly to do with our subject, but hey, let's go ahead. Anyone have any good podcasts that they listen to or they recommend? Andrew?

Andrew: Well, I mean, I have my podcast.

Effie Mansdorf: Yes, that's why I...

Andrew: I enjoy it. I enjoy having the conversations. It's very much a unscripted conversation. I think that's why we get so much positive feedback from folks that it's just like... It's two people talking about a topic that they know something about and they're passionate about. And my listeners like it and it's a webcast... Technically, it's a webcast right now. It's only available... It's available on YouTube and through our platform, but we will be at some point, rolling it out as a podcast here, hopefully at some point in 2022 once we get down our priority list to it.

Effie Mansdorf: Cool. Who said the... Who wrote the true crimes one? I'm a big fan of that. Which ones have you been listening to?

Speaker 14: So currently I'm listening to Anatomy of Murder, which is hosted by a New York prosecuting attorney and a crime journalist former police officer. So they break down these true murders into kind of the legal aspect, the law enforcement aspect. And they're always aimed at really honoring the victim and not glorifying the crime per se, and just recognizing that there were families and people impacted. So that one, and then I listened to the 48 Hours and all the other, but Anatomy of Murder is the true crime one I'm listening to now.

Effie Mansdorf: Cool. I got to have to add that. I have to say since I'm hybrid and I haven't been on the road as much, I don't have a chance to listen to all my podcasts as much as I want. I used to being in that hour and a half traffic.

Speaker 14: I listen when I walk at night which is kind of creepy when it gets dark out but.

Effie Mansdorf: That's the best time to listen to a true crime podcasts, crosstalk late at night.

Speaker 14: I'm always looking over my shoulder, like oh my God.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah. Jeff, you just pointed out all the great CS ones. Those are all great.

Jeff: I listen to... Conan O'Brien has a podcast called Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. I'm a fan of his so I enjoy it, but then every other... So every... One week it's the interviews, the guest you expect and he has more time. He talks less about their work. Just more about his banter and things. It's pretty fun. He has his assistant and production manager are on there with him doing it. But every other week, they host a shorter episode, like 20, 25 minutes, and it's called Conan O'Brien Needs a Fan and they interview just a fan. They have people write in and they just... I think they probably say what they do for a job or a hobby. And he interviews a fan for 20, 25 minutes. And of course, Conan O'Brien's such an experienced host, and just such a giving person, in terms of just appreciating the people he's talking to that it ends up being just as good of an episode as it is when talks to celebrities. So it's pretty interesting to see his genuine interest in others and how he handles just a random person talking about their random job, a random life experience. So it's a pretty light podcast. And so if you're looking for some just entertainment, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend is a good one.

Effie Mansdorf: I love that one. I didn't realize he has a fan one too, crosstalk like regular people.

Jeff: crosstalk It's the same... It's on the same... Yeah. I think now they put it together, but it's like every other episode, you'll see there's like a 20 minute one and it just ends up being a fan. You almost can't even tell when you just listen to it because it's the interviews are pretty seamless and pretty interesting too. And you realize like," Oh, this is just a random guy that does CS or whatever," some random person. So it's cool.

Effie Mansdorf: Cool. So Andrew mentioned he's going to be on the Planhat podcast, so that's great. Anyone... Any of us are going to be on any upcoming podcasts or any in the past? I'm sure some of us have been guests on some podcasts we could recommend.

Pam: Jeff just hosted one yesterday.

Effie Mansdorf: There you go. Jeff, what did you host?

Jeff: I didn't host, I just was a talking head. So I'll throw the link in here and there are a lot other minds on there you probably want to listen to it before mine so you can mute when I talk and then go back to it. I'll put it in.

Effie Mansdorf: Stop. Cool. So anyone else want to share anything?

Speaker 15: Katchia had... I don't think she's on anymore. But in our chat room, she had an interesting dynamic, in terms back to the international and challenges there, where if you have a client that's headquartered in one territory, headquarter in the US, but then as their user base grows internationally, you start getting the dynamic of which team or which person... You might have an international employee or team now responsible for a lot of the success of that international division of a company headquartered in the US. And then at those company size, you start looking at rules. Okay, well, the AR technically fits into the US renewal and ARR and they're responsible for it. So they have a renewal management in the US responsible for an ARR for a team that's heavily positioned internationally. And now it just becomes a game of like, who's really responsible, like who, where does this live? And I think depending on your size company, sales people get this a lot where you get like a lead comes from an international territory, but the check is going to get paid by a US location. So now whose sales lead is this really? And so we kind of talk through creating-

Effie Mansdorf: I've had a lot of that. Yeah.

Speaker 15: Yeah. So you start creating rules and say, well, maybe if it's where is the headquarters and where is the bill getting paid from and where do 60% of users live and you start kind of creating rules of engagement around that. But again, those are just rules of engagement that try to help you get around bureaucracy of whose is it and where does it fall. But then you have to kind of build a bigger strategy around how does this now work, when you have headquarters in US but teams international, when you start breaking that out and then how you start separating the ARR and who's responsible for that. It was just an interesting conversation. We didn't have a lot of answers for other than we kind of shared how we've broken, like just playbook rules, just to... At least in the interim, stop internal struggles over responsibility. But it was an interesting aspect of that conversation that I hadn't thought about, but it was very obviously pretty relevant.

Effie Mansdorf: It is very relevant. I've actually had many situations in my current company where a initial sale starts in one country but then there's an expansion to another region. So who, which CSM actually gets it, who is... Is it the same account manager still managing it, and who actually gets the expansion there. So that brought up a lot of conversations and the way that we dealt with it, is that if we have someone in that specific region, we split up the account into two, even though sometimes it's only one ARR.

Speaker 15: Yeah. That's interesting. Yeah. I think as long as you start getting some from where you are today, what are rules and engagement to make it pretty black and white as you kind of fumble into the next challenge and then you start getting real policies in place. But it is tricky. You got a headquarters in one place, the check comes from some other place, and the people are working somewhere else, and you say," Okay, who gets the credit for the win and who gets to do all the grunt work to make it actually succeed?" It's not fun, necessarily. So, and a lot of times the CSM are the ones that end up... And the salesperson's the one that get caught in the middle because the company hasn't thought about it. So it's...

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah.

Speaker 15: Yeah, you want to stay ahead of that.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 15: Any other inaudible.

Effie Mansdorf: Yeah, go ahead.

Speaker 15: We just talked a lot about just at what point do you start making those investments. You have one international client, you probably don't have an international region or territory office or a person yet, but it's like that jump. Like when do you make... Like what signs you look for when you say," Okay, it's time to have an in region person to address that time zone, address that specifics." It's different for every company, depending on their capital and how fast they're going to grow but so.

Effie Mansdorf: Regional is definitely the way to go, if it makes sense.

Speaker 15: Yeah.

Effie Mansdorf: But until then there's growing pains, for sure.

Speaker 15: Yeah.

Sean: On a related topic, we didn't have time to get into this since it was at the very end of our chat, but we touched on the topic of success as a service and when would be the right time to bring something like that in. And would we bring them in as generalists, or bring them in as specialist focused on maybe onboarding per se. Something I'd love to hear y'all's feedback on, perhaps in another session.

Effie Mansdorf: You mean a paid CSM?

Sean: Correct. Outsourced success.

Pam: Wait, paid or outsourced?

Sean: Paying for outsourced customer success managers.

Effie Mansdorf: Oh so Jeff does that now. Okay, cool.

Sean: inaudible.

Effie Mansdorf: You want to... Yeah, you want to just talk really quickly for the next two minutes how that works, Jeff?

Jeff: Difficultly. It goes back to the old on- prem days with partners. Like, do you... Who wants to hand over their customers? Right. And all of the associated issues around that. So difficultly, gently, securely, thoughtfully, empathetically, all the other adjectives you can put around it. So it's a lot of fun. I can tell you that because every day and every customer you're... It's just... If any one of us took a leadership position at any company on a Tuesday, we do it one way, and we had the same exact scenario on Wednesday, it would be different because there's so many different... Which is why we love this stuff. There's so many different ways to cut it up and dice it up and all that stuff. So, but anyways, that's... We're at time and with the details and the blood and guts behind the sausage.

Pam: Effie, great job. Thank you.

Speaker 15: Yeah. Good job, Effie.

Effie Mansdorf: Oh, thank you.

Speaker 15: Yeah, great job.

Effie Mansdorf: Thank you everyone for making this easy on me. Thanks for joining and we'll see you all next week.

Jeff: Awesome.

Speaker 15: Thanks everybody.

Effie Mansdorf: Bye.

Sean: Thanks to y'all.

Speaker 16: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain, Grow, Retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


In this week's session of Customer Success Leadership Office Hours, CS Leaders discuss managing global teams, and managing customers in different time zones.

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CS Leadership Office Hours

Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.


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