Guest: Marty Kaufman – Proving the Value of Customer Success

Proving the Value of Customer Success
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Guest: Marty Kaufman - Proving the Value of Customer Success

Episode Description

In this episode, we sit down with Marty Kaufman, Founder & Pricincipal at Infinipoint. Marty is an exceptional leader in the customer success and customer experience space. This is his second time as a guest on The Jasons Take On…

In this episode, Marty talks about proving the value of customer success. He shares his powerful matrix framework that all CS leaders can use to help others recognize the impact customer success is having for their customers and their own organization

Proving The Value of Customer Success - Matrix
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Meet Our Guest

Marty kaufman

Marty Kaufman

Founder & Principal

Marty operates at the complex intersection of growing companies and the customer experience; ensuring each touch-point is memorable to the customer and valuable to the company in driving sustained revenue growth and customer retention. He has led and advised executive leadership teams from start-up organizations to Fortune 100 companies and government entities.

Throughout his career, he’s operated across multiple industries and functions and brings this diversity of experience in aligning strategy, structure, process, and people to drive organizational performance and deliver proven results to organizational challenges.

About Inifinpoint

Infinipoint is a customer retention consultancy operating at the complex intersection of growing companies and their customers. Navigating this space is especially crucial for B2B and XaaS providers as their eventual success requires–demands–they build customer retention into their DNA.

While customer experience and retention might be one team’s formal “job”–it is everyone’s responsibility. Infinipoint works with all customer-facing teams–sales, support, success, onboarding & implementation–as well as product, marketing, and CX. We help clients align strategy, structure, people, processes, technology, and metrics to deliver outsized customer retention without similarly outsized costs.

Additional Resources

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Success Chain provides the tools, services, and support you need to build your change management, user adoption, and customer success capacity. You achieve greater results faster, more effectively, and cheaper than you can working on your own. 


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Hi everyone. And thanks for joining us for the next episode of the Jason’s take on. I’m Jason Whitehead here in Washington, DC with my co-host Jason Noble over in London.

Jason Whitehead: [00:00:07] Say hello, Jason.

Jason Noble: [00:00:09] Hello, Jason. Good afternoon. Good morning. Good evening, everybody really excited to be here again. We seem to be doing a lot of these now, Jase, this is really cool.

Jason Whitehead: [00:00:15] We do it’s good stuff. And today we are very excited to have Marty Kaufman here with us. Marty. This is his second time joining our team here back in February, 2020 and had some great insights around how marketing assessed and collaborate together to achieve one-to-one influence.

Marty is a CS leader or a performance executive trainer consultant. And he is the founder and principal at Anthony point consulting. And prior to that, Marty was the VP of customer experience at WeddingWire, which is now part of the not worldwide. So really excited to have Marty here. And Marty is going to talk today about his insights around proving the value of customer success, which I know this is a topic and.

Where a lot of CS leaders truly struggle and really getting other people in the organization to understand the value of CS. So real excited to be here. Martin, please just jump right off and go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and give everyone just a quick introduction.

Marty Kaufman: [00:01:05] Sure. Appreciate you guys having me back. I guess that bodes well for the first one or enough time has passed and we’re back at it, but the. The main reason this is, this topic is so top of mind lately, it’s a big part of the work I do at infinite point. I, the consultancy is really about customer and client retention, right?

That’s the main outcome I’m driving for with my clients. And so much of that traces back to among other pieces, but customer success and. Making sure that you’re doing it right and are actually getting the value out of that success function and that everybody in the org actually realizes that and can align around.

It has become such an essential piece of what I was helping clients do that I realized it’s a pretty broad topic. And so I started drilling in my thinking a little bit. So I know this isn’t really much of an introduction of me, but you covered a good amount of that. I’ve probably spent a good 20 years in and around what is now.

Customer success in various different roles and internally, externally, and really just enjoy the space. And in particular the maturation of customer success into its own really into its own function, which comes with both, benefits and and new challenges, which is where some of this topic comes from as well.

Jason Noble: [00:02:22] Monty, I think I’m so excited. You’re back with us and I think you are the first guests that’s come back. So I think it says it’s good thing for us as well. Yeah, I, and I, as I said earlier on in the intro, I can’t believe it’s over a year. It’s just ridiculous. Last year has just flown by. And this, I think the subject about the value of customer success is always something that is front of mind.

We’re all thinking about this. And one of the challenges we have is you have to prove this internally, quite often, not just to you and to your customers. And it becomes really challenging to do, because at times you question, is it, people are asking me to prove the value of this. Does it. Is it real? It doesn’t make sense.

I think it’s really tough, but what do you see as some of the key reasons as to why? Why is it so important to prove the value? Who do we need to prove the value to? And then why is it so difficult? Cause we all struggle with it.

Marty Kaufman: [00:03:11] Sure. I’ll just do that in two minutes and then we’re done, right?

Jason Noble: [00:03:15] We’ll take notes.

Marty Kaufman: [00:03:16] Yeah. The I just breaking that down into its pieces, I think one of the real. Important observations is that and you started down this path, there are multiple audiences for this information, right? You need to prove it, or at least be able to have a legitimate conversation about the value of what you’re doing with, executives and ownership.

And it could be your fellow executives, but I obviously internally you owe your organization some type of definition of value, especially when it’s linkedIn with what the company is trying to achieve. Which if success is not linked to what the company is trying to achieve, it’s probably not really customer success.

It might be something else. But so that’s one, obviously the customers, which you mentioned first and that’s overlooked often, right? That you really have to prove your value to the customer. No, I just deliver, I deliver what I need to, and I don’t have to prove it back to them.

They’ve experienced it. No, it helps to have some legitimacy behind that. A third one is the team, the people that are delivering this neat to know that what they do matters and provides value. I don’t care what your job is, what your career is if it’s missing that piece, you’re probably not that long for it.

And so helping the people, doing the job, understand the value of what they’re doing and being able to prove that back is really big. And even, you, as the leader might be the fourth. Member of that audience, like knowing for yourself that what you’re doing matters and you’re able to measure it and build upon it and provide increase in value over time.

I think all of that is important. So the first piece, I think there’s those four audiences and the there might be others that I’m missing, but I think part of the reason it’s difficult many people leading. Customer success functions came from somewhere else. Many had a support background.

Some had a sales background, some came from other places entirely. But in very few of those areas of background are people asked to figure out on their own what the value proposition is, measure it, prove it and share with others it’s already established. And the life cycle of where customer success is.

There’s still some Greenfield out there that asks, what should we be measuring? How what’s a good benchmark or threshold, like that’s all still happening. And I think that’s part of the reason why it’s difficult is there is not a storehouse of knowledge, just waiting for us to take a class on measuring customer success.

After I hear myself say that’s not true. There are actually plenty of people out there that do at least help and say here’s how, you can help measure key metrics for customer success. It’s all out there. But it’s, they, don’t always, measuring and proving value. They’re on the same continuum, but they are not the same thing.

And so I think that’s also an issue.

Jason Noble: [00:05:43] I think on that, I I love the, there, I was going to say, there are places out there you can do training certifications, but. The different, there is no standard in customer success. There are lots of training courses or certifications, but there is no one gold standard where, I was speaking to someone yesterday where you’ve got pro project management where you’ve got PMP Prince to weave that they’re well-known global standards.

We haven’t got that yet in customer success. I, before we jump onto the next question, I love the point you made about the fourth stakeholder yourself. And it’s a really fascinating thing because it is, you’ve got to. Is this proving value for the organization, for the customers. And you do question yourself sometimes.

And I think what works about it is it allows you to innovate in the you’re asking that question. And I don’t think there are many other professions where you do that.

Jason Whitehead: [00:06:30] Yeah I think even before you get to that point too, there’s the whole, so many organizations still don’t even know what customer success is.

I Even talking to the C suite in the board level, all of a sudden, just customer support under a different name. So before you can even prove the value you’ve got to, you’re still, I think, a big education piece to people on board where, you know, sometimes the prove the value of sales, and I understand the value of sales and I can see numbers.

It is, are they coming in, kind of thing. So it’s still such a different place. I agree.

I think one of the next questions that Marty, just to take us down the path since. Since it is still early days and some people get it, some people don’t and some people I’ve got metrics, but that still hasn’t really proven the value. What do you see people actually doing today and what’s working and what’s not,

Marty Kaufman: [00:07:09] yeah, it’s a really good question.

Everybody is doing something like you’re not allowed to just exist and do nothing. And so I think the understanding what you’re doing today and having a way to talk about that, at least as a starting point is relevant. And I think that’s a. To answer your question first and then I’ll, make my pitch for these four quadrants of of how to measure the value of customer success.

But many people today are relying on numbers that are coming either internally about their own efficiency, which is important, but for a different reason or numbers that are owned by somebody else whether it’s, the success team doesn’t own retention or growth in somebody else might that they’re relying on.

Presumed influence, which is fine, like that is valid, but those aren’t the only ways to go about proving the value. And so depending on what people are seeing right now and what’s working and what’s not for them, there’s a couple of different ways to go about thinking about maturing, what you’re doing with measurement or proof.

I keep saying this with like air quotes, right? It’s not always metrics and measurement, but as long as you’re able to prove. In a way that people just believe and commit like that is good enough. It can’t all be perfectly measurable. And if and I guess I’ll add that’s a failing at times is only giving validity to the things that we can measure, because it takes us down a path of measuring things that don’t matter all that much.

And the big one I see out there is NPS. I’m a big fan of NPS, but measuring it just for the sake of measuring it and putting a number out there every quarter, is it actionable for you or are you doing anything? No, but we ask that of all of our customers all the time it’s available, but it’s not really telling me what my value is.

If my MPS is 24 or 26, I don’t know what additive value I’ve provided to any of those audiences, to my company, to my customers, to my team or to myself. I think one Something else I see out there as a starting point is a big reliance on numbers that are readily available, even if they’re not necessarily the right ones.

Jason Noble: [00:08:59] How do you then, such a great starting point, like you said, but how do you take this to the next level? What are better ways of doing this? He talk us through kind of some of your approaches in the way that you guys are working with your customers there. Cause I think you guys have got some really cool ideas that I’ll listen to be very interested in.

So there was a bit of insight into how they work.

Marty Kaufman: [00:09:17] Yeah, I was just, I’ll give you the headline on it and if there’s no magic to it, so it’s not a, if anybody wants to rip this off, they’re more than happy to, and they don’t even have to attribute it to me. So there’s got to be a magic

Jason Noble: [00:09:27] to it.

Don’t spoil it. There’s gotta be

Marty Kaufman: [00:09:28] magic. Sorry. Yes. The magic is at one point I wrote it down and actually like a matrix out of this, but there’s two big factors that define your proof or your measurement or what that, the data that you’re using. And the first thing I encourage people to do is take a look at all the ways that you currently measure the value of your function or the value that it’s providing to any of those audiences don’t even have to segment by who it’s for yet, take a look at all those and just understand if what you’re measuring is, if you are directly, you’re measuring directly the outcome that customer success is providing, or you’re measuring that indirectly.

So that’s going to be one access of a two by two matrix, right? Is what you’re measuring the direct result of what customer success is doing, or is it an indirect, are you measuring something that indirectly achieves an outcome? Both are valid, but there are two slightly different things. And I’ll give an example of both in a moment.

And the other is whether you’re looking at quantitative or qualitative data. And so if you just put that on another axis, you’ve got these four quadrants, very convenient, where everything that you are using to try and establish the value of customer success for somebody. And have that conversation is either quantitative or qualitative and you’re directly responsible for the outcome or you’re measuring something that’s indirectly responsible for the desired outcome.

And what tends to happen when people start listing that out is they’ll find that they’re very clustered into it. Typically not the quantitative direct measurement people that are already, most of their metrics are quantitative and directly measuring the value of customer success. Those are the people.

Who’s best practices I am stealing from to to learn and help others. Cause there’s a good chance that they’re in those other quadrants too. But what you will see quite often is that the direct value of success is very rarely measured. And what people tend to measure is indirect. I don’t know, we’re not I can’t measure renewal retention or renewals for customer success because we’re not responsible for it.

But we’re responsible for the onboarding and we’re responsible for making sure that we follow up with people who are detractors on the most recent NPS, like, all so that is indirect. That’s important. I don’t know the exact relationship, but I do know that we want the success team doing those things.

And those are good indirect measurements of value that’s being provided that leads to some other metric like retention or renewal rates or anything else along those lines. Now if success is directly responsible for renewals or for limiting in cycle churn. For example, people were trying to get out of their contract early who or who are at risk of falling off the radar.

That’s a direct measurement. You can directly measure how many customers tried to leave us this month and how many were turned around because of their interaction with the customer success function. Just an example there of the direct versus indirect, far more people are starting from indirect measurement and that’s okay.

That is valuable. It’s just not the only way to think about where where your value proofs are going to reside.

Jason Whitehead: [00:12:31] Yeah. I liked that. I think you’re right. It’s very hard for people to say here’s my direct piece. And I think a lot of people struggle. What is that? And if I don’t have that, it’s really hard to justify my funding and my CRO.

And I think some of that comes into the. The executive team really needs to be on board with this concept of customer success though, even though I can’t prove exactly what it is. Yeah. I believe in the long-term it’s going to get there. Do you see any differences in how to measure or how to prove your value in the short-term versus the long-term?

So I’ll, for example, I know of a local organization here that a few years ago, they hired a director of CF. They were sitting at a whole new team. They. The I read it a couple of new staff members, but they brought over some existing staff and prior to moving them in, they train them, they did some process work, and then they were having great feedback from the customers about the value that they were bringing.

But the executive team internally didn’t necessarily see it. So they ended up cutting the team, getting rid of the director, the VP that was also knew that it was over that. And some other teams recently left and just just last week I saw that they’re hiring for customer success again. So I thought it was very interesting how they didn’t quite.

Get down that road and they didn’t see the value. And yet they’re going back in. So I guess there’s the question of, how do you prove the value in the short number four people see the fruits of the labor and then how do you prove it? How do you retain that roof over the long-term we’ve been doing this for five,

Marty Kaufman: [00:13:46] 10 years.

That’s an awesome case study of why, there’s a good chance that happened because the value was not proven strongly enough to people that had to make difficult decisions and it made customer success fall below that line. And that’s happened in a lot of. Organizations, obviously in the last, year and a half year where some difficult decisions have to be made and folks are choosing to retain what is central to the health of the business.

Which is why this idea of proving the value is pretty important, relevant. And hopefully not just timely now, but in general. The great thing about, short-term and long-term is. If you have been measuring something similar over long periods of time, you are able to get very mature where you should be able to, you can do this, whether or not you are slightly different story, but you can get really mature about slicing and dicing some of that.

And even thinking about, customers as cohorts, because the customers that get onboard and this year are going to be different than the ones that come in next year or the year behind. And you’re able to see if you were different treatments or approaches are having a different impact. Or if your second and third year customers need something completely different than the new ones, which is certainly logical, but you are doing different things to ensure their success over time that you’re able to measure and better understand.

And but it’s, having to make a near-term case, which, if it was, Hey times are tough, we need to know why we need. Customer success or success at this level, you might be relying a little less on the quantitative and more on the qualitative. And it’s often there. The almost everybody’s doing surveying of some degree, whether it’s once a year or once a, once every touch they’re soliciting that feedback, but that those open-ended questions that speak to the direct or indirect value of your success team are, can be pretty powerful.

And You have two examples, but the anytime there’s that qualitative feedback coming in a survey, that’s one looking at third-party information like third-party reviews is another, that often you can directly or indirectly to track back to something the success team was doing that led to somebody saying like you’re a five out of five on or whatever on Trustpilot or wherever they’re leaving feedback about your company.

Yeah, so to two pieces of that, I was working with somebody that did not have much internally, that they were using to track the unique contributions of the success team. And when they went, when we did that exercise, I recommended like, great, let’s take all your metrics and let’s put them on this two by two matrix.

And see, where you’re more or less heavy, almost everything was in the qualitative and indirect. And but it was third-party reviews. It was testimonials. They solicit lots of case studies for their website. So they have a website filled, I want to say 25 or 30 case studies that they put out for each of their industry verticals that they work with.

It’s great. When you go back and you read those. The only people being named, like there’s people being named in there, like Trisha was able to do this for me. And it led to this outcome for my company. I’m like, wait back up, like you have all this rigid data right there. Everything that you showcase out to the world basically says you have an amazing onboarding function and people that stay with you for the lifetime of the lifetime of your.

Relationship that’s your success function is not being measured as are you getting success of one, two, three, four, five rating, but there’s this really rich data sitting there that was all qualitative, that instantly clicked with the executive team with product, with marketing in terms of Whoa.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot going on here and it led them to take further measures to keep collecting that. So even without, yeah, even without that quantitative. And if you’re talking short term, there’s often information out there that can be mined that speaks to the value. Even if it is a different type of proposition than saying, we increase retention by 6%, we achieve 22% revenue growth on accounts that we own.

That’s amazing when it’s there and available to you, but it isn’t for everybody at all times.

Jason Whitehead: [00:17:44] Yeah. And you know what I like about what you said about the case studies and pointing to the named individuals at CSL, it demonstrates the value of CS to existing customers. But I think what it omits though is how many new customers closed because of that or closed faster because they have that competence and faith to move faster.

So there’s probably that unsung hero in terms of impact on new business. That’s often

Marty Kaufman: [00:18:03] miss now. A really important point.

Jason Whitehead: [00:18:06] Yeah.

Jason Noble: [00:18:06] How do you go about proving the value of customer success to, to your prospective customers and how do you make sure you is proving it to existing customers is one thing, but how do you build it into part of the sales cycle so that your salespeople understand the value and the prospects do?

What are some of the tips you can use for that? And does the idea of the matrix still apply for that? The matrix, your matrix

Marty Kaufman: [00:18:29] I don’t know if it’s as important to be a starter. She early on in the sales process, I don’t think it’s necessarily that important to have this level of detail with the customers or prospects themselves. But I do think when you’re able well to prove the value of customer success, making your prospects aware of that other people that have been down this path have taken photos, vantage of our customer, of our success function.

And it has helped them achieve these things. That’s a really. Powerful statement. The other piece of advice I think needs to go with that is that’s not just a success thing. It’s great that success takes credit for it. But what that should demonstrate to prospects is not the unique and special value of customer success, but the demonstrates where this company is coming from and what they’re willing to put behind their product and services.

That they’re so serious about making sure that I get off on that get started on the right foot, that I continue to see success and that my purchase, my choice to have a relationship with this company as well founded. And so it’s a repurposing of this idea of proving the value. It just doesn’t have to be as overt and customer success centric when working with new sales, but the numbers, the proof points are the same.

Want to be able to show those prospects that we’re going to be with you, you are going to be successful because we make that our job. And let me show you how other people have done that too. And I’ll just add as a customer success person, it’s the perfect opportunity for the sales rep to talk about shared accountability for your ultimate goal.

Absolutely. Customer success team is not a a service provider. It is. A partner to help you achieve your own goals, not to do it for you. And iStat, it may help establish some of that early, too, when you’ve got good numbers behind it, just to say people that collaborate with us and really take success.

Seriously, these are the outcomes. They see people who don’t, can’t speak to what their outcomes are. So make sure you’re going to be the right kind of person coming in and you are going to see success with our product and services.

Jason Whitehead: [00:20:30] I think that’s such a good point. And, I was in a conversation earlier today with another CS leader for a large global organization.

And one of the things he was saying is that another really important thing is, the impact of your success efforts needs to be one of the central focuses the voice of your customer, how it flipped working. Tell us what’s not, what’s the value to you. And not just for the, give us a quote in a use-case.

I thought that was interesting. I think a lot of people don’t say, thank you. My voice of the customer is how I learn about what’s not working or what I can market to or where it needs to be and learn the product, but using that as an opportunity to really highlight the value of scenes. And I think, not doing that as a missed opportunity for a lot of CS books.

Marty Kaufman: [00:21:05] Yeah. And and for me, some of that goes back to this idea of direct versus indirect and measuring the right things like. The there isn’t a shortage of data out there necessarily. There’s a shortage of like analysis, Intel and impact maybe, but the data is there to do typically do some really specific things about the additive value of customer success, which if you’re leading that function can even give you the insights.

You need to go back and say, if I had 15% more staff, these are the outcomes we should achieve. And. The CFO can then hold you accountable for that. You may not like that idea, but you better get used to that type of accountability. You want to be taken seriously as a, as a partner at the table, this, does customer success or the customer have a seat at the table, they should, but not just on faith, right?

There needs to be a way to to hold people accountable for achieving that outcome on behalf of the company, on behalf of the customer, on behalf of the team as well. And. Moving through this quadrant to make sure that you do eventually have measurements, quantitative measurements, if the direct value that’s being provided by the function, it’s it’s pretty essential.

Even if you don’t own the sales goal or the actual revenue transaction, that direct measurable piece for the parts you do own is the linchpin and improving that value out over the

Jason Noble: [00:22:23] term. I think that accountability is critical because that’s also part of the maturing of customer success as well.

We want to stand alongside sales, support, professional services, finance and be accountable. Like they are, have the same level of accountability, responsibility goals. I think it’s so important. There’s a point that you mentioned earlier on Jason, about that the guys that you were talking to, where they’d hired someone and that person left after a while now that.

That I think shows that people just, that there’s changes in what the value perceived value or acquired value is. The someone comes in, does something, they go through a series of processes, work they’ve achieved the value they came in to do, but then the business realizes there’s something else. So you’ve got to look at, I think the ability for that need for the value to change that value to different, depending on the stage of your business, the maturity of your business.

And sometimes it does require a different team and different processes and people to do it.

Jason Whitehead: [00:23:20] Okay, Mario. I was also thinking about one of things you said a second ago that I thought was very interesting too. How quickly things change now, like with the pandemic and, Oh, we can’t afford certain things that we used to do.

And if we have to cut large swaths of our organization, for whatever reason and that, and how it can turn on a dime, the time to prove the value of customer success is long before those decisions happen, people need to understand right upfront. This is the value that we bring. So I’m wondering from your perspective how much time and effort should see the CS leaders or the department as a whole be spending really trying to, continuing to prove their value or toot their own horn in a way.

So people understand that and to get the resource that they need, versus how much time do they spend getting out of the job and working with customers and maturing their program and things like that. How do you get that balance?

Marty Kaufman: [00:24:03] I might be able to make. A slight argument for, a third option that these are not that those two things are not necessarily competing for the same mind share that they do create a bit of a virtuous cycle.

So as you are going about being a better CS leader and making sure that you’re delivering for your customers and your team and doing the really excellent day-to-day management or leadership of the function you should want and need more Intel on. What’s working, what’s not into what degree, which could dictate a pretty good amount of your time and effort and mental energy going into finding ways to measure things that aren’t currently measured or better understand things from a customer success perspective that are maybe measured elsewhere or in a different way, but being able to tease out either, the unique or additive value of what you’re doing, but.

As nobody’s going to do it for you. So you may have to spend a good amount of time here, and you may not feel equipped to ACE this, right? Not all of us have a minor in statistics and these other things, but so find an ally, right? Find your friendly neighborhood data scientist who like sits a few sits a few tables over whatever it may be just to help you understand.

What is, and isn’t either viable or to give ideas that you hadn’t even thought about. I’ve had some really wonderful, I like to think I’m mathy enough for I get it. I love spreading, I really love spreadsheets. I could spend all day just like tinkering with them. And and so I like to think I get it, but some of the best like non Marti insights have come from my conversations with data scientists and analysts and others who are haven’t.

Th they don’t have the vested interest in seeing the outcome that I want that can help me construct. Good constructs on the questions I’m trying to answer. And so I, I would encourage anybody. Don’t let your lack of, I’m not the data expert and I’m not the that’s okay. You probably have access to them, but what you do know better than anybody else or the questions you’re trying to answer on behalf of your company, on behalf of your customers.

On behalf of your team, what are those questions? And then have people, work with people to find ways to answer those questions. And your answers will fall in one of those four quadrants. But at least it starts that process and you don’t have to become an expert in, the mechanics of putting all that together, but you have to be able to ask really good questions and ask them of other smart people who who can help you with the answering part.

so the short answer is I say the short answer is 15%, 15% of your time. Yeah.

Jason Whitehead: [00:26:46] Jason, you look like you had a question when you were on mute

Jason Noble: [00:26:47] there, Scott. I was just, I was mumbling away.

Jason Whitehead: [00:26:51] Well done. Marty, as we’re going through this a little bit more too, one of the things that I’m seeing more and more people are talking about is customer success as a competitive differentiator, like during the sales process and being able to point to, we have a structured onboarding program, we have these structured self-service resources to enable you to achieve more on your own and things like that.

How should people go about proving the value of CS to prospective customers and also moving. Not just that they’re valuable, but they’re more valuable than the competition from the sale. Yeah.

Marty Kaufman: [00:27:21] I’m going to play with semantics just a little bit but bear with me because it is my main sort of my main point on this, but having a customer success function is not a differentiator.

Having customer success as an outcome is. And being clear about, the differentiator is not this team and that we have this team and these are the tasks they carry out. The differentiator is the outcome of that work. And so if the way that these two things come together then is if you want to go to market with customer successes or differentiator diff you have to differentiate based on the outcome of your customer success efforts, which means.

What ha what do you mean you achieve those outcomes? Prove it. And it takes you right back into measuring what the value was. And I agree with you. I don’t think I’m, I probably don’t have as much exposure to how people are out there trying to sell success as a differentiator early on in that sales process.

But I’m seeing it enough that I would not be surprised if it’s far more pervasive than that success is a differentiator is where. A lot of folks are these days, somebody call it experience, right? We experience will be our differentiator. That’s great. But 80% of that experience, at least in the first year is probably provided by some version of a customer success team as well.

But yeah, being able to have that proof of the outcome is where you need to get to with those measures. Because without that, it’s not really a differentiator, everybody’s going to be able to throw. Customer success as a team at you, but are they able to achieve those outcomes? You’re hoping to achieve that’s where the proof piece comes in.


Jason Whitehead: [00:28:52] I liked it a lot. And I think increasingly in the next three to five years, I think we’ll see a lot more people having to sell on the outcomes that they can prove they deliver because as more and more companies are investing customer success themselves, as they go to byproducts is they’re aware of dysfunction and the impact it can have, then they want to say, okay, How can you show me how you’re going to get me to this outcome?

I’m not going to take it on paper anymore, and this can be one of the questions they ask because they’re just more savvy buyers and will be continued to become the next few years. I think one of the challenges is right now, a lot of sales folks haven’t quite figured out how to actively or consistently use their customer support capabilities as that differentiator.

And I think that’s the buyers get savvier. Salespeople are going to have to get savvier and how they addressed those in

Marty Kaufman: [00:29:33] pride for them to leave at that. Yeah. And Matt can give one example of that, but was the it took a while to do it, but one of the things that we looked at at WeddingWire was alignment of expectations.

And and this was a, this data was totally qualitative. One of the things we looked at onboarding was the CSMs assessment of how aligned the new customers expectations were with, reality. Sure. Every customer is going to come in with a varying degree of what they expect in terms of, delivery, frequency of touches.

If it’s an ROI type product, like how much tangible value where they’re going to get out of the product or service, we all arrive with that. We started tracking just the CSMs impression of after the, after I was able to finish with them where they, where their expectations aligned, mostly aligned or not aligned.

And then we were able to look six, nine, 12 months down the road. The people whose expectations were not aligned failed repeatedly over and over the numbers were so stark that we were able to feed that back into the sales process. And sales was able to say you got to take your welcome call. I’m busy, look, people who take the welcome call, thrive and win people who don’t lose.

I don’t sell to losers. I don’t know if anybody actually said that on the phone, but th they were able to make a very legitimate and stark comparison between people that do and don’t take full advantage of the success function and do their part. And it fed right back into better sales with better expectations set up front, at least about, I am going to take my welcome call.

I’m going to listen to my CSM cause that’s going to provide the outcome that I think that I want to get. That, I’m about to make this purchase. That’s going to help me get the outcome from this purchase and not just giving over my credit card and really made a big difference in terms of the level of agreement coming in about, expectations and readiness for success.

So that one, at least was a a winning example of being able to do that, but feed it back into the sales process right up front about the value of success. Yeah, because we were measuring it.

Jason Noble: [00:31:32] You’re so right, Jason, that we were seeing buyers shifting and customer success is becoming such a key part of a sale and another buy for people as well.

And it’s so critical that we understand where it fits in. I like to say Marty, it isn’t just about having a CST. I think there’s got to be an education piece and it’s our customers educating us. We’ve also got to make sure that the customers. If you’ve got that misunderstanding between what the customers see as the value from customer success and what you think you’ve got a real problem there.

When your customers are saying, have you got customer success? What do you do with it? If there’s a difference there, you’ve got to make sure that you can talk that through and be open and honest with them. I think we’ve talked before about having the right people for the right or the right customer, the right prospects, your customer success team, come into your sales cycle, and you almost get that merging of roles at some point.

Does that customer success person not become a customer success. Typical role, does it become part of the sales team? Hey, and there’s someone there within the sales team, that’s there to ensure prospect success or customer success, but they’re not a customer success manager. And I think it opens up lots of very interesting possibilities about this idea of shifting from just having a team.

Jason Whitehead: [00:32:41] Absolutely. I think we’re seeing a lot more of the role of blending in the years to come. Marty. As we were winding down here, we always like to ask a bold challenge question, as so I want to ask you what bold actions should our listeners to take starting today to better prove the value of customer success within their organization.

And really what would you like to see that be a little outside their comfort zone, but will have a big impact.

Marty Kaufman: [00:33:04] The biggest one is to make that matrix. Yep. And you will probably have a blank quadrant one, which is quantifiable direct value provision by the success team. Not because it’s not there, but because you can’t quantify it, the direct stuff yet, and put in your aspirational metrics for what someday in a perfect world, you would be able to measure.

Nobody’s gonna figure out for you what your ideal metrics need to be. So the bold move, figure out what you wish you were measuring, even if you’re not yet. And then over time, you are going to be able to make that happen because you’ll start to learn the inputs you need to get at that number.

And you’ll start to understand, when do you need to be possibly measuring or asking these questions so that someday you can fill out that first quadrant of. Quantifying the direct value of your success function. If they’re selling anything or preventing loss of revenue or logos, it gets a little bit easier.

But if they’re not a year, that’s going to be your bowl challenge. What can you measure that is direct like that, and has an impact for the business and impact for your clients and let your team know that what they’re doing really matters. I

Jason Noble: [00:34:17] love that. That’s such a cool thing to do is takeaways for us there as well.


Jason Whitehead: [00:34:21] Absolutely Marty, thank you so much for being with us. Love the insights. Before we go, though, please offer up a shameless plug for Anthony point consulting or anything else you’d like to do. Who do you help and how can they get in touch with you?

Marty Kaufman: [00:34:33] The shameless plug is that infinite point is a customer retention, consultancy focusing mainly on the B2B SAS space right now.

And yeah, that’s that? More than willing to help other people, but this B2B SAS and marketplace space, right now, there’s so much happening with with customer retention, tackling it from many angles, whether it’s success, sales product, even bringing all that together is where we’re finding a lot of traction, a lot of tangible value.

And for me anyway, a lot of passion. We do direct consulting. We do coaching for success, sales and other customer retention professionals. And. Above all, really enjoy collaborating and meeting with others in the same space. Just as much as I’ve been able to throw at you all today, I take back even more from the conversations we have.

So thanks for the opportunity. And I look forward to meeting in real life at some point again as well.

Jason Noble: [00:35:26] That’d be great. I cannot wait as well. Really looking forward to them and Marty. This has been a super fun conversation. I’m looking forward to you coming back. Maybe not too long next time, not as long, but really before today, I love these conversations.


Marty Kaufman: [00:35:39] always happy to do it. I think if we can the next one needs to be probably at Jason’s place in the UK. I think the, of the pub in the background,

Jason Noble: [00:35:48] but they invite is there as soon as we could do these things, please come on over and I will, we’ll take you up on this.

Marty Kaufman: [00:35:56] I’m going to put it in my budget for a 20, 21 of it to

Jason Noble: [00:36:00] build it. Brilliant. Let’s get that down. That’s the

Jason Whitehead: [00:36:02] date, right? Thank you, Marty. And thank you everyone for listening. I hope you’ll tune in again soon for another adjacent take on where you’re always looking for great guests as well too. So if you know anyone get in touch with us on our website, the Jason’s take and we’ll be in touch soon.

Take care. Thanks everyone.

Jason Noble: [00:36:16] Bye-bye thanks again,

Marty Kaufman: [00:36:17] Marty. Thanks, Jason. Appreciate it.


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