Engage in Strategic Conversation w/ CSM Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, Engage in Strategic Conversation w/ CSM Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CSM Office Hours</p><p>Every Tuesday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="https://lu.ma/CSMOH" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://lu.ma/CSMOH</a></p><p><br></p><p>--</p><p><br></p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join <a href="http://gaingrowretain.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Gain Grow Retain</a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Connect with Jay Nathan</a></p><p><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Connect with Jeff Breunsbach</a></p>
Valuable Touch Points
00:44 MIN
Playbook Based on Value Drivers
00:47 MIN
Reset Expectations
00:39 MIN
Getting Into A Leadership Position
00:48 MIN

Jeff: What we'll do for the next, probably about 30 minutes or so is we'll run through each of the groups and whoever your spokesperson is, is going to lead kind of a mini facilitation session. So we'll go about five or six minutes for each group. I think we'll probably get through five or six groups. Just try and have some open discussion. As the moderator of each of these breakout rooms comes on and talks about their topic or question or what the big focus was for them. If you want to chime in, go ahead and use the participant window in the bottom, right hand corner. There's a raise hand feature. Go ahead and do that. We'll call on probably about three people or so, and then move on to the next topic. I think last week I started at the bottom. We're going to start at the top again. We'll go room one, which is Jody, Julie, Matt, Nathan, Rita, and Susan. If somebody from that group wants to come off of mute and maybe talk about what your topic was and what you want to open up to the broader group here, and we'll get a discussion going. Perfect, Matt, go for it.

Matt: Our group as Jeff already delved into is Rita, Jody, Julie, Nate, and Susan was with us. Susan, if you can hear us, hello, we know that your wifi went down. Definitely hope to hear from you, get to see ya. We discussed a lot of personal stuff. Rita is going to be looking to read two books a month. Jody is looking for a way to have some difficult conversations. She was able to nab a book to help her towards that goal, and hopefully be able to help business as well. Julie is looking to develop playbooks and doing more writing for the success journeys. Jeff, you get to hold her to that. She'll hopefully be providing some content for us. Nate's looking to do a great thing for the great, great, huge book of business that he has. He wants to look to form videos for that one, the many touch that, as we had fleshed out, really give some humanity to that one to many, as opposed to just an email where tone is completely absent. The thing that we really honed in on is when discussing with folks" Hey, so how's your day going?", people will tend to respond" really busy." We decided that busy is probably something that we may want to kind of nix from our vocabulary and say that we're trying to be productive, but we also wanted to of course, poll the room and see what you all think of using the term busy. Over the past year, of course, myself being one, many folks in this room and in the rooms that we have a host gain, grow, retain you're all highly engaged in your jobs and escalating through things. I've been looking for the past year. For those of us who've been out, yes, we are a busy or tasked with different things as opposed to the rest of you. Then there are those who in work or, as Jodie had brought up, at a trade show, so to say. Someone comes up to you and says," Hey, how's your day going?" They go" really, really busy." You want to say," yeah, that's great." But think what did they really accomplish? They probably haven't accomplished that much. It's the different aspects of that and just really trying to approach it. Then really think, is it a term that we really want to embrace or is there something that we want to replace it with?

Jeff: I think there's a couple of ways to take that. How are you talking about some of the things you're accomplishing internally? How are you approaching that? How are you making sure to show progress internally and then subsequently, when you're talking with customers and they say that they're busy, how are you approaching that? How are you getting around that vernacular with them? If they are busy, then they're going to say," I don't have that much time to talk to you." Right? As a CSM, how are you getting around that and making sure that you're providing value in your interaction. If there's anybody out there who wants to come off mute and share a couple of examples you'll want to go ahead and raise your hands. About ways that you're trying to approach your customers and make sure that you have valuable interactions, make sure that they're not skipping your meetings. They're trying to move your touchpoints all the time and consistently. Anybody have any ideas or things that you're trying to do there. That would be great to raise your hand. I'll give one example recently, just to get the ball rolling, that we've, that we've tried to institute and tried to work on a lot, which is trying to take some of our one- to- one work and make it one to many. Our CSMs have a lot of times put together a great presentations or decks about kind of industry data or they've put together things that we've learned internally about specific features or tools that we're using best practice methodology for when you're instituting community. What we're trying to do is actually then sometimes, our strategic services team are making those just for one client interaction. Then we're trying to create a library of those and try and figure out then how do you take that to the larger customer base, provide a valuable interaction and then create some sort of follow- up touch point to that. That's one thing that we're trying to work on as we think about kind of valuable touch points with our customers and go from there. I don't see any raised hands yet, so I'm probably going to have to start calling on people and that's always not fun. Rom, it looks like you've got your hand raised. What are some of your thoughts here.

Rom: Absolutely 100%. I agree with you on creating the usable access. A couple examples that we can share is a monthly success called deck. We do that on a monthly basis with every client. Some of the things that we would like to include are just a very high- level overview of an account snapshot. Where are you with your licenses rollout? Where are you with respect to your keys as this month? It's a very quick high- level snapshot. Then the other materials. This is the only slide that people have to update for their client. The rest of the slides are information about events that are tied to industry specific events that they're hosting things outside of that, webinars that they can attend, what's upcoming in our product release. What does that one feature that we want to showcase, whether you're using it today, here are the enhancements. If you're not using it give us the value driver. Basic success call deck that we do on a monthly basis spreads across all of the CSMs, as well as the AMs. Even if a client doesn't join your call, even if they postpone, we send the deck with all the information that need. Usually they come back to us with questions. They're like," Oh, I have a question on this. Can I meet with you?" It's a little bit more involved with that. That's something we've instituted.

Jeff: I think it's a great example. I love the idea of just trying to highlight like one feature, one area that they can explore the product. Keep it simple. Try and get them just to move on one thing. I also like to think about if we're having regular meetings with the customer. I try and break meetings down into three categories. One is, is this an alignment call or is this an informational call or is this a decision call? I also like to try and set expectations with them." Hey, we need to make some decisions on this call in order for us to actually move X, Y, and Z forward." Or," Hey, I just want to align with you on what your upcoming goals and objectives are," or," Hey, this is purely informational. I've got things I'm willing to share about our product or events, whatever is upcoming." I also think about meetings in those three contexts so that the customer then can dictate and choose if it's going to be valuable for them. At the same time, am I thinking about a meeting expectations? That way is that's something that I've used before. Kind of an easy breakdown. Louise looks like you got your hand raised. Oh, did we lose you?

Luis: inaudible

Jeff: Did we lose you Luis? We'll go with Anastasia, you've got your hand raised. What are some of your thoughts here?

Anastasia: I think instead of asking" how are you today" and get the general response of" busy" one way you can break the ice is ask" what's your rock star moment this week" and talk about just both personally and professionally. So you get to established that relationship. You start having some common denominators and you started having those conversations that break the ice and make you get to know your customers a little bit better.

Jeff: I think that's a great idea. I always like to think about different questions to ask. I think I've highlighted some of these in the past." What's one thing that's on your whiteboard that you've accomplished in the last 30 days that you were really excited about", or" what's one thing that's 30 days in the future that you're worried about right now?" I asked my team internally. We have some stand- ups that we do. On Fridays, I ask them," what's the one thing over the past five days that you were excited to accomplish or excited to work on." How do you just try and I think to your point, Anastasia, to get around some of the just," Hey, how are you doing?" And how do we get more into things that are exciting to them? Things that are challenging or stressful, like how do you get into some of these emotions rather than just," Hey, how are you doing?" I think it's a great point to bring up. Josh looks like you got your hand raised and then we'll move on to the next group.

Josh: This is something I wanted to add on to something else that was previously said about going in determining attention and getting focus on one task. That is a concept that I consider, which is a return on attention. If I'm sending out an email or sending a message or holding a meeting, just like your idea of breaking these things into Y it's," what is that one thing that I can go and get out of this meeting and make sure that that's something that they've bought into" because everybody is busy. I think inherently people are saying," Hey, how much effort is this going to take me to do?" If I want to get them to do something more than just flip a switch, metaphorically speaking, if I want them to actually participate, I have to show," Hey, the return on attention. This is why you should actually attend or do or watch et cetera." And return on effort, which is," Hey, I know that I'm asking a big ask of you to go and implement this tool, but you're going to get all these things." If this is the idea of going and figuring out what that person is interested in, speaking to that and engaging that. That allows me to be able to engage them also on that personal level, because I understand for them what they value.

Jeff: I love that return on attention and return on effort. I think those are both... I think it shows that you're putting yourself in their shoes. You're thinking about this from their angle. I think that's the big part. I like those. I like the use of words though. I'm going to steal that potentially. I appreciate that, Josh.

Josh: Be careful because I had some blog content come out today.

Jeff: We'll go to room two. Ashmite, Corrine, Courtney, Laura, Patricia, Tom, who wants to maybe come off mute and highlight the topic from your group that we can all dive into?

Speaker 7: We had our discussion topic coming from one of the habits shared. Just quick recap of the habits Ashmite wants to be more organized this year. Corrine wants to be more about requesting time with clients. Tom wants to make time to build his personal brand and increase CS knowledge. Patricia wants to read more, especially business leadership books and she specifically called out the GGR podcast and the great episode you had where you recommended some good books. The discussion topic that we came up with was kind of bouncing off of Corrine's goal of sort of being more assertive with requesting time and just wanted to get folks thoughts on how to get clients to engage in a strategic conversation where maybe it's not a statement of work situation, it's they don't have to be engaging with you. How can you get them to have those conversations and see the value in getting on a phone call with you to cover something about your product?

Jeff: Man, this is almost a continuation of what we're just talking about. I think it's good because it gets more into" what cadence are we meeting?"" Why are we meeting?"" How are we asking for that time?" We can touch on it just for a couple minutes and see if anybody has any ideas. What ways that they've used in the past to again, try and highlight what the call is going to be about, why we're trying to ask for time when we are. I know I've got some thoughts. Matt looks like you've got your hand raised.

Matt: The one thing that I always love to emphasize to any service provider is your customers do have a goal. They have a reason for doing what they do with calling. And if it were up to them, they would either be doing their calling all day and getting that personal value out of it or spending time doing just personal enjoyments. They would not be engaging with their service provider. Any way to show them the contact with us will be minimal, but the value will be great. That's really just a greatest emphasis in any, as I like to call it personal respect, personal consideration." Hey, by the way, here are just the things that are going to be covered in this five minute call or this hour long call. And the reason why it needs to be an hour long." Always try to overbook because in the minute that you get to overbook them and turn to a person," Hey, listen the rest of the day and do yours." Hopefully you get that joy out of it. Of course, always trying to emphasize the value and really take it to the personal respect of," Hey, listen, I understand you probably don't want to be engaged in this right now, but here's what you can get out of it. And I promise to give you back whatever time you can afterwards."

Jeff: I think starting from the very beginning, taking that point, Matt, how are you from the very moment you're starting the relationship providing value, thinking about time on their end, thinking about how they're going to be engaging the solution, what's going to be valuable for them. I would say nine times out of 10, I'm canceling CSM meetings for some of the vendors that we use. It's solely because they're coming to the meeting saying," Hey, can I have a check- in?" That's like my one biggest pet peeve, first of all, but two, like they have actually haven't done any research. They haven't shown me that they're trying to get ahead. They're trying to help me think about our business strategically. When we show up for meetings for three or four times in a row and you haven't done the research, you haven't looked into our business, you haven't tried to dig into our data that actually tell us what we should be thinking about what we should be doing then I'm inherently just going to think that those calls are not going to be valuable. I think just starting from the very beginning, how are you providing value in every instance that you have with the customer and thinking about, I think almost back to Josh's point,, what's the return on attention return on effort and are you providing that on a regular basis as well? Are two things that come to mind for me. Greg King, looks like you've got your hand raised. What are some your thoughts here?

Greg: Obviously I agree with what you guys just said. One of the things that we try and do with our customers, once we've identified a value driver of why they purchased the software, we have these playbooks based on those value drivers of things that we're going to do to be prescriptive with the customer. When we have these engagements, the things that we're always trying to do is, first of all, share the agenda ahead of time so that the customer knows what they're coming into and they can be prepared to participate. We make it a habit to come into engagements based on some community content. We're a developer tool. We're one of several tools that our customers are using and we try and understand some of the tangential technologies, other things that they might be concerned about. Even if we show up and maybe in terms of our action items and or they need, there's not a lot, we can fill in that time and say," well, okay, saw this really cool blog post, on this APM provider, wanting to get your thoughts on an integration like that." Lastly, just in terms of echoing, respecting people's time, if you have a meeting that can be an email, just send it. I've had customers tell me they really appreciate that when I tell them," Hey guys, I don't have much for today, but I did want to send you the link for our customer conference, check it out and take 30 minutes of your day back." Customers really appreciate that. It also gives you more credibility. I've had customers say they might not need the time. And I'll say," actually I do have a couple of things I want to walk you through today. It's one, two and three. Can we please join?" And that's worked well.

Matt: The Elon Musk way of thinking. Thank you for that.

Jeff: The value drivers piece is great, too. The customer's journey is going to change depending on which value they're trying to drive to or the outcomes they're trying to achieve. I think that is great. You're trying to get prescriptive with some of those. Then to your point too, I always go, I'm sure it's the cliche example nowadays, but if you've seen, I think Jeff, Jeff Bezos and Amazon for every meeting, they always talk about how they have to have a memo, one page memo, everything has to fit on one page of like, why we're coming to this meeting, what's it about what are we trying to achieve? So I always think about the agenda in that way too, to your point, Greg, sharing it ahead of time. What are we going to accomplish? Where are we going to spend time again, just to level said expectations and make sure it's going to be valuable for the customer. Gala. Is it Gala.

Gala: It's Lady Gaga with an L. Gala.

Jeff: Gala. Sorry.

Gala: You're good. Lady Gaga. Just something that I always think about when scheduling a meeting is the three P's- purpose, process, and pay off. I like to include that in the agenda to clients as well. What's the purpose of our meeting? How are we going to achieve that? That's the process. What is the payoff of them even doing the thing. To your point, Jeff, I've also been known to cancel a meeting that doesn't have the three P's like internally so that it isn't a waste of everybody's time.

Jeff: I love that. Another framework that you can use the three P's. Take that with you. Hopefully you don't have that trademarked.

Gala: I got it from the journey method of selling. It was a course I took when I worked at Disney back in the day. I do not own this content.

Jeff: Leah looks like you've got your hand raised. What are some of your thoughts here?

Leah: Some other things that I think of when I'm trying to get customers to engage is in the longterm relationship. When they get handed off to me from implementation, I set expectations up front of what engagement they can expect and get their buy- in at that point. They know when I reach out and say," Hey, let's talk about X" it's something they've been waiting for. They know it's coming. Then if the customer is not engaging, having leadership, buy- in on my side to back me up. Either my manager or the head of the department might send an email to that quiet customer to get them to engage. Sometimes having somebody in an authority position who has a bigger title than myself, will get a response and a meeting on the calendar. Then of course you have to provide the value to make them want to have those meetings going forward and have them trust that when you try to schedule a meeting with them, that there's going to be that value add.

Jeff: I love that point, too. That expectation setting right at the very beginning. I think again on our side as a vendor, we're trying to find the most efficient and effective ways to essentially bring customers to value and to renewal. We're trying to get them through our process typically. And so meeting with them monthly or meeting them on whatever cadence we prescribe isn't always the best for them. So even just trying to set expectations about what they would prefer, how do we level said expectations right from the very beginning. I think it's a great point there, Leah. Just doing that right at the very beginning, even if it doesn't work at the beginning, having a meeting to actually go through that expectation setting again. I think sometimes that, that is also a good exercise to go through," Hey, we've been meeting for six months, let's reset on expectations." I think it's another great point. We'll move to room three. I think we've got time for maybe one more room. We'll go room three, Craig, JC, Leah and Paul. Somebody crosstalk to come up. There you go.

Leah: I'm putting it in the chat as well. This is my current situation, but I'm hoping it's helpful to everyone. I'm in a senior CSM role. I'm hoping to eventually end up in a leadership role. I'm hitting a ceiling with that. So I'm looking for advice. I'm on a fairly small team right now so there's really only one position for me to move up into, which is the CSM manager or manager of the CSM team position. I can't imagine that person going anywhere anytime soon. So either within my own company or moving to another company, how do I get to a leadership position?

Jeff: I'm hoping there's a number of folks in here who've done that before. Who've had to go through that role change. Give some advice. Scott looks like you've got your hand raised.

Scott: I think one thing is look both ways. Always internally share your interest that that's where you want to go. That's probably the biggest thing you can do internally. In a bigger company, although you may think that it may not happen, that somebody may not leave. I've seen it happen all the time. Anybody leadership is generally looking for their next leadership role.

Jeff: I like it. I think one of the things that comes to mind, too, that you can think about as well, Leah, is that I feel like there's more and more roles that are popping up that are within the customer success organization, but are becoming slightly different. For instance, I lead customer experience and education very much tied into our CSM team. I report up to our chief customer officer, but slightly different nuance from maybe leading a customer success management team. You've got CS ops, which is another angle I think to look at as well, if you enjoy the data systems metrics side, trying to figure out how to scale one of many programs. I also think, what are the other aspects of your current job or what you like to do and how does that kind of expand or look at the horizon of what other possibilities are out there? Something that comes to mind for me too, Sean, you've got your hand raised.

Sean: Something that I thought would be worth mentioning is demonstrating initiative and demonstrate leadership. It's not something that I find that a lot of leaders and even folks that I've looked to as mentors have shared too much with me in the past and something that I've found that's worked really well for me is to look for opportunities and to bring solutions to the table. You might see small issues or challenges with your job or what your team is trying to accomplish. Your leader may or may not be aware of those things and pulling that in deeper, may not even have the bandwidth to address those things. Things that show initiative or are you taking the opportunity to bring solutions to the table, not just, identifying problems, identifying ideas, but saying, look, here's an opportunity, here's what I'd like to do to address it. Will you give me the opportunity to bring the solution to the table or work with someone to make this work for the team. Those are opportunities that I've continuously looked for in my career to step up, especially when opportunity wasn't readily accessible. Happy to talk more on that if you like, but I think that's something that's important besides just talking about what you want to do, because a lot of leaders are looking for people that are going to step up, but not a lot of leaders are capable, I think, of coaching folks be able to do that.

Jeff: I don't have anything to add. That was well said, Sean. I appreciate that. Vic, you've got your hand raised.

Vic: I put it up before Jeff started talking to the last time, so he kind of stole my thunder, which is fine, is thinking about potential expansion leadership roles in the ops and focusing on the metrics. I will echo also what Scott was saying with the squeaky wheel gets the oil. If they don't know you're interested in a leadership position, then they're not going to assume so. There are a lot of individuals that are happy to be an individual contributor that want to focus on that. Now, if you're trying to think about the next step, I would think potentially looking elsewhere and that's a challenging decision to make, but if there's not going to be a mobility at your current organization, you're kind of stuck. So unless there is that tangent they can go into a different leadership role. That's fine, but larger organizations certainly have more roles they can step into. It's much harder to go from a non- leadership role into a leadership role outside of your company. Another option could be a smaller startup or a smaller organization where you get to get in there on the ground floor, work your way up and kind of build the team around you with the help of the rest of the organization.

Jeff: Sorry to steal your thunder Vic, but I think you, you saved it well. So you had crosstalk Haley looks like you've got your hand raised.

Haley: I would just reiterate everything that everyone has said, because this is something I'm also looking into. I've always expressed it to our HR as well as my lead so whenever she's looking, which she's currently looking at, who is going to be that next manager or team lead, they already know exactly who to be pointing out within the team to move up and take that position. I also like to join communities. I've actually joined the gain grow retain leadership office hours a couple of times, because I want to start hearing about the challenges that leadership faces, get familiarized with the overall terminology, and just those conversations so when I do look at what does it mean to be a CSM leader I've already been involved in some of those conversations by just attending some of those office hours with those people that I aspire to be like and get their thoughts and ideas.

Jeff: I appreciate the shameless plug. See you guys on Thursday at 1130. We've got Dana. I think you've got your hand raised. And before Dana goes just a quick shout out, I think Patricia, if you were the one who was asking about reading more this year, I believe Dana does a book club every month. I might be making that up now. Dana might have to correct me, but I thought it was every month. So that might be a good spot to look at as well. I get that wrong, Dana?

Dana: You got that. I appreciate the plug. Thanks.

Jeff: You got it.

Gala: Thank you.

Dana: I'm actually writing a book on how to land and succeed in the customer success profession. Part one just came out, but part two, that's going to come out in a couple of weeks is just on this topic, which is what do you need to know to get promoted to the next step? This is like a little, if you guys want to take a screenshot of that on the left, I basically use the correlation to the customer success equation and then correlate it to an employment success equation. Then over here is kind of the journey that you would take, what you need to know to get from one stage to the next. These are just really quick images, but I would say in general it has to be about the employer. We focus so much on customer success about the customer, but those same ideals can be translated to employers. As long as you're making the employer successful, and you're always focusing on how to do that then you'll be able to move up to the next round, whether it's at that company or another. I go into tactics and all that in the book, but at a high level, that's kind of it. You can kind of see how we measure that too. Hope that's helpful.

Jeff: Definitely. We might be trying to find a way to help bring some of those images to everybody too. I think that's a great point that Dana brings it up. Just about employee experience, thinking about when you start to become a people leader, you have to put your team first, so to speak, and put the business first. Something we think about a lot. I know we only got through, I think about four groups, maybe even three groups today. If we didn't call on you my one ask is going to be, if you can go to gain grow retain and just drop your topic into a discussion thread, we'll share those around and make sure people can go in and comment and start some discussions there. Shameless blog go to gain grow retain dot com. We'll have some more discussions that we threw out from today, but appreciate everyone joining. This is always fun to do this. Like I said, Jeremy is going to be helping us lead next week. If you all want to be like Jeremy and take on a session, just reach out to me, happy to find more people to bring into the fold, but always appreciate the discussion and hope you all got to meet one new person today. Hopefully you got a couple of actual things that you can take away and we'll see you on Thursday for leadership office hours. If you want to join Haley in that, she'll be there on Thursday, hopefully. Then if not, we'll see you all again next Tuesday for another session, but I appreciate the time and we'll see you all soon

Speaker 17: 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.


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