Ted Blosser  00:00

When we look to get into the market, the way I did my research was listening to see, oh my gosh, I was like I needed basically I was like, hey, I need to learn this persona better and I I literally never heard of it I was just doing a podcast search on customer education. And that’s when I stumbled upon so thanks for educating me. And now I can actually put a face to the name because I just listened to you on walks.

Dave Derington  00:35

Welcome to CELab, the customer education laboratory where we explore how to build customer education programs, experiment with new approaches, and exterminate those myths and bad advice that stop growth dead in its tracks. I am Dave Derington. And today we are rebooting and reinventing our former CEO series with a special guest, Ted Blosser. CEO of WorkRamp, you tout your product as the modern LMS for your employees, partners and customers that they’ll love it right. Welcome, Ted. How you doing today?

Ted Blosser 01:10

Good Dave. Thanks for having me. Excited to be on here big fan of the show.

Dave Derington 01:15

Thank you very much. We’re glad we’re glad to have you. But before we get into this, we want to learn all about you, we want to learn about your thoughts and and kind of peel away the veil of, you know, internal enablement. Now we’re going to branch out a little bit with this, so this should be really cool. Before we do that we have a tradition which is the National Day of… so today are to two National Day of’s… one struck my attention the other is weird. First one National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Oh, wow. I didn’t even know that. I chocolate covered education. No. And then the other one is, it is Barney and Barbie Backlash day. Cultural Icons.

Ted Blosser  02:00

I wonder where that originated from. But I can relate to the chocolate now because I’m binging way too much during COVID here literally just scooped a handful of M&Ms a few minutes ago.

Dave Derington  02:12

I dig it. I do that too much. Yeah, apparently December 16. But the Barbie and Barney backlash day allows parents to take a vacation from all the repetitive singalongs and story telling I don’t know how this is enforced, but cool.

Ted Blosser  02:27

Well, I will tell you a funny story. My you know, I have two young two young daughters one that said 20 months and she is in that stage where you can only play ring around the Rosie on repeat in your car. So I’m in that repeat repeat mode. What I do… I feel their pain

Dave Derington  02:44

I feel their pain too I’ve got three kids two in the house, one in college and yeah, it’s it’s crazy. But they’re they’re getting out of that Barbie and Barney phase. Now it’s Paw Patrol and yeah, stuff. Okay, Ted. Again, I’m going to reframe this, I’d like to frame up this discussion, because I’m really excited to talk to you, I think we’re going to have some really good, meaty subject matter to to peel apart. Again, going back to what we used to do, we’ve done a series of a CEO level podcasts. So what we want to do is really get inside your head. I mean, you’re a leader in the industry, you’ve got an amazing product, you also have an important perspective. That’s where where I really want to open up a conversation and learn about you, learn about really, as a practitioner, leader, expert in the field.

Let’s get into like what’s happening here. And I like to set this one up, in particular, because we’re- where we have been coming at, from the angle we’ve been approaching with this podcast is, we’re talking to people in the customer education category, we call it a new category. Because it’s kind of emergent from customer education and other fields. And we’re seeing this gravitas of of interest. And and all of these people kind of congregating. They could be vendors that can be software developers that, you know, they’re they’re always people going, “Hey, we have a problem. We’re trying to educate a whole person about a product. And we’re in the subscription economy”. Right? So we’ve been hitting that and now we’re coming in, we’re looking more inside and what I’m interested in learning from you, and you and I’ve had talked before and we’ve got some great bullet points.

We’re gonna talk more about the divide and how we bridge that we’re going to talk about that experience that we have. I have this I have a lot of good and painful things to talk about, about working cross departmentally. Working with HR, working with enablement teams, sales enablement. We have professional services and customer success enablement at Outreach. And I like I’m pulling this out. This is a teaser. I like your phrase consolidated learning strategy. So I’m excited. You ready? Cool. So, let you have the mic right now. I would really like to first learn about you. You’ve got an interesting background. I love the fact you’ve come in as a product manager, you’ve come in with account executive experience. You’ve you’ve been an engineering, which, hey, I’m a scientist by education. I was a chemist. So something about that DNA, I’m really intrigued by So tell us about yourself and tell us about your journey to where you’re at today.

Ted Blosser  05:29

Yeah, for sure. We both both probably have an eclectic backgrounds. And so yeah, so I did engineering and undergrad here at Santa Clara University here in the Bay Area. And one of my first jobs or my first major job out of college was working at Cisco, which kind of gave me a good perspective on- If you think about Cisco is like one of the ultimate bundlers of technology. They just bought, it basically bought their way into being. I think they’re quite 200, $200 billion market cap company. And they just figured out how to bundle the entire networking space. That was a really great time I had there that was really where I learned sales, I went through, basically a sales training program, where they send you off to North Carolina and you live for a year as it was amazing. It was like, I equated to that old show Real World. Except it’s tech edition, where they just send you out and you’re with a bunch of roommates for a year. So that was a blast.

And then I really got into the world of SaaS, with my time at Box. And so I really enjoyed my time at Box, I got to do sales there. So I was when I really learned SaaS sales, all the ins and out of I don’t even know what ARR was before, before I got into into Box, because I was so used to selling essentially large pieces of hardware. Right and, and then about halfway through my tenure there, and I had a technical background, I used to code at night, I used to love developer developing little apps, I was really into iOS development. And, and then halfway through my five year tenure there, one of my friends recruited me onto the product team. So I went on to the platform team got to understand how to build products at SaaS scale basically at an enterprise scale. And that was a really good foray into how to build great software products. And did that for about two and a half years. And then towards the end of my tenure there, I always knew I want to go back into the startup world, because I’ve always been enamored with, with wanting to build my own company again, one day. And that was really hard, we stumbled into WorkRamp.

And so we could talk about that history a little bit as well, too. But that’s been a really fun journey over the last five-ish years here. And so took a little bit to get started, like all startups, but I think once we got to that product market fit, it’s been a really fun journey ever since. So, really excited about talk a little about what we’ve what we’ve done at WorkRamp, and also what we’ve seen on the market itself too.

Dave Derington  08:13

Cool. Well, let’s dig into this. Again, the DNA that you’re expressing here is, you know, you’ve, you’ve seen software development, you’ve been at great logos, you’ve made the bridge over to SaaS, or XaaS we’re starting to call it now. And you know, like you really get it, we’re up against different things from, you know, what the industry used, when I started in software, it was big box, you know, you didn’t use it, find it shelfware. We don’t have that luxury with our customers, either they’re going to use it or they’re going to turn on us. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit more about your entree into the world of customer education. And I guess what you could do is help frame us up and, you know, what’s the the locus or scope of your product? And, you know, here, it’s, you’re coming into a crowded space is an internal first provider. Now, and let me pepper this with a little bit more.

We’ve already talked with a lot of people that represent vendors who have been in the customer education space first. So they haven’t been internal as much they think about it, right? And as we start to talk about this whole character, what I’m- what I’m intrigued by, and again, this, I’ve always had to set it up. We’re not here to be a commercial, but we’re talking about real stuff. And we’re going to talk about your product, and that’s totally okay. What I’m interested in here is like learning more about, you know, where you’re coming from. And again, for us, it helps to frame up customer education, what it means. For us, it’s a strategic function, and we’re here to accelerate account usage growth by changing behaviors, reducing barriers to value, right, yeah, and improving the way people work. That is not specific, just to a customer really, when you think about it. And maybe that’s where we should turn our attention to start- start our chat here. So question one. Let’s talk about your trends and trends. You see that as you’re entering into the customer education market, what are the kinds of trends that that you have been experiencing And seeing?

Ted Blosser  10:15

Yeah, for sure. I’ll give a little bit of history to of when we say kind of internal first, and then the trends we’re seeing now too. So we started internally, actually, with a sales enablement use case. So if you if you think about when we found ourselves in 2015.. 2016, 2017, is really heavily ingrained in delivering value to sales teams. And so as a very easy ROI, you could reduce onboarding time, you could sell to the VP of sales, VP of sales enablement. And it was a great place to get a brand foundation and learn about the market. Yeah.

And then there’s this interesting crossroads at that time, where we said, “hey, there’s really two things you could do at this point, you could either go best of breed and go become this great sales engagement platform”, it’s a very large space, you have like your mind tickles of the world there, a Lego, sales hood, all these LMSs that kind of web, straight up sales enablement. And they now you have Highspot and Showpad, they all have their own learning platforms now to do and so that space takes learning very seriously. So that’s kind of one path. We thought we could go down in that 2017 timeframe.

Then the other path, and this comes back to your question on the on the trends that we saw was, hey, there’s this other path where you go end to end and provide value to the entire organization. And one really appealing part of that was not just the end to end internal enablement. So that’s like HR, support, sales, compliance. But the one big trend, we saw that we were super excited about what’s customer education at that time? Yeah. And so we saw a growing, you had a lot of these great leaders on on your podcast with thought industries and skill jar and and tell them and they’ve they’ve, they’ve seen it too, obviously. Yeah. And so we were super excited about that.

So we said, Hey, if we can go end to end, we have confidence, we could do internal? Well, because we’re kind of already doing it. But can we do external really well? And what are the trends of what we would need to do there to actually succeed. And so we obviously took took the ladder path, and we’re excited that we took that path. And then we saw a bunch of trends. And I think I told you this earlier, your your podcast was one of the reasons why we got really excited about the space, I’ve learned a ton about this space, as well, too, was really understanding what what this customer education persona needed, and what the gaps were, what the strengths were the existing providers.

And so then we basically came onto the market, we came onto the market, we actually sent all of our, we literally sent all of our engineers off to an off site location, is a really fun, fun experience. We got them all packed together, we rented a few homes, and they just cranked on building a best in class customer education product from scratch, literally from the ground up. Wow. And we took specs from the market, we took tips from your podcast, literally. And we said, Hey, this is how the how the product should get built. And then we brought that to market in the latter part of 2019.

And we could talk about this too, is back to your original question on the trends. The main and we could do deep dives here that we saw a bunch of big trends that on the market that made us want to do this. And that made us excited about one big one was the consolidation trend from a a both personnel and ROI perspective. So that’s one big trend, which we could do a deep dive into, right. There’s another big trend we saw on the content creation side, which was really interesting, too, because that was one of our big strengths, too.

So we were really excited about this content creation, disruption, we can have as well, too. And then, essentially, we saw a big trend on the end user side. And so what we mean by that is really Hey, can we make this experience as good as as making a Wix site in five minutes, right? And can we make it so that you don’t you don’t have to hire an army or go go get budget as a customer education professional, to actually go get something launched here. And so those are probably the big three trends that we saw overall, that made a super exciting we could deep dive into all of those probably more Their own conversation so we can deep dive do they do

Dave Derington  15:03

actually, let’s do that? Because so let’s scroll up. So I think I see how you would naturally progress, it actually opens up a really interesting conversation for me at least, because I am. Well, let’s get into the first one because I’ve actually put some notes and some thought into some of the things that you were talking about. content creation, democratization of effort, anyone become can become a Smee. Yes, yes. 100%. Because that’s really resonant with me. And I think a lot of people in our emerging field would say the same thing. Here. Here’s where I come from Ted, that I am a democratic type of employee, I am I to a fault. I love to collaborate. I love to connect with other people and learn about stuff. And when you talk about that content creation, I think anybody in here, here’s the experience, come into the org. Let’s imagine you don’t have anything, you have no enablement, you have no customer enablement, no customer education, first principles you’re trying to figure stuff out? Well, that’s one thing I’ve been at that place, and it was me, I was user enablement and that that I owned internal and external and HR. It was refreshing, it was fun. It was a lot of work. But now I’m at outreach was a completely different scope and scale. You know, now we’re 600 plus employees, we’re big growing, going getting escape velocity, in other words, and now I’m, I have a team, that’s great. They’re amazing people. But we don’t even have enough time to deal with what all is coming at us. So it’s more like I need. So I’m separate and distinct. From enablement, teams, we have sales enablement, we have customer customer success. We have customer professional services engagement, we have support enablement. So we have all these folks. And now we’re starting to see an alignment between all of us, because I’ll you know, be transparent work ramp is a product that we’re adopting. Right. So now I’ll become involved in that. And this is interesting, because I’ve got this bolus of content for education, how can we move that internal, but because of the merit of the product that we’ve create, I also can benefit really strongly from from really good sales enablement content that we’re developing, and push that back out towards the customer. So it’s a seesaw kind of a swing and a relationship and a partnership that I’m super excited about. So maybe you can talk about that a little bit more like what your thoughts and like how this all interweaves into what you’ve created.

Ted Blosser  17:38

Yeah, that’s, that’s a, that’s a great point, Dave. And so and by the way, we’re really happy to customers that outreach to so thank you for providing a great, great product dude. And you’re spot on, I kind of get this analogy of where if you think about your environment, you wouldn’t have multiple CRMs in your environment, you have silos of customer data, right? You want to have Salesforce sales, cloud for sales, but then have HubSpot, CRM for marketing. And you wouldn’t have another one for your business development or partner team, right? You want to have one fundamental customer layer and customer data across your organization, right? And then everyone kind of becomes experts in that world of how do I use the CRM to further my personal needs and an agenda for my department, right? And do it. And I think that analogy sticks for learning, too, right? If you think about if your CFO remember hearing the CFO saying like, I do not want for LMS is in my environment, one, and you guys figure this out, right? Like, I don’t even want an LMS is probably what they’re saying, because they don’t get it. But you have to get over the hurdle of educating them about that. And then let alone have multiple versions of that. So I think coming back to your original statement is that if you can align using the technology align people, then you’re going to create essentially this, this that this bus, in the kind of the data bus terminology, this bus of I love this analogy learning across the org, where you also we talked a little about this almost a center of excellence where all of you are learning from each other because you all have your strengths and weaknesses in terms of what you’re great on delivering, right? Like sales enablement, might be really great on on on reducing ramp time, right? And how can I share that out to support enablement, right? Because they might be so product focused, and not so much on ramp reduction time. Right? Right. And customer education might be great on product and we’ve seen this a lot of our customers, they know products so well that that the other departments intern like I need that for our own sales reps or our own partners, right. And so if you This kind of learning bus across the organization, and you kind of use the technology as the enabler, we think you can see huge gains across the org. And so in my mind’s eye when when you have you have a people when they’re, you have an ROI when they’re, and the but the downside is, and I’ve and I’ve heard you guys talk about this the downside of and this is why the market kind of unbundled I think for a while, is you might have to make some technology sacrifices like you there isn’t the unicorn solution that is everything you want it to be for everybody. And and that’s kind of one of the sacrifices you might have to make with with some of these gains. And we think the gains could outweigh some of those technology sacrifices long term.

Dave Derington  20:48

That’s huge. And I think we’re going to talk about that a little bit more in depth. But I want to bring you back to the Wix idea, the the beautification idea. Yes, you said something about? Well, let’s go back to the, the, the manifesto, our Manifesto, and one of the tenants of that is basically rapid go to market. Right? The thing, one of the challenges that I’ve had, every place had that I’ve done has been this, this the DNA of an instructional design minded individual. They are perfectionist to a fault, because you have to cover everything, you have to make sure we’re great. And to make sure that the messaging is right, the brand is on spy, the, you know, all the content is the best foot forward for on demand content or training, right. And so when we go on demand, a lot of times, this takes months to build a one simple module. And I go, this is absurd. At Outreach at gainsight, at izuku, all the places I’ve been you talked to Adam Slack, he’s been at Optimizely. And he’s been at checker, each one of those places had this economy of speed, we had to scale we have to scale we have to we have to get this stuff out here. So there’s a fight. And that fight is okay. Well, I’m not going to put as much time into this. I’m going to get it out in the market. Now. It looks like crap. We need to use agile practice says to to scale quickly and deliver to market quick. So tell me more about the beautification thing, because I agree with you, I’d love to have something where I can go, Hey, just use this. It’s really quick. It’s like Wix for education. Internal extra don’t care, you can quickly put something together and we think Yeah, what are your thoughts about that?

Ted Blosser  22:33

Yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s a great topic. And, and it was one of our core 10. So we went and built this really built this product from scratch was, which was a great model. Shopify is another great model give you a great story. I know for our VIP community, I told our marketing team, I was like, Hey, we need a a Warcraft store right away. And if you think about it, in 24 hours, we had a full store set up on shop on Shopify looked amazing. We could do discount codes, and we had all on the back end with all of our great customers and Dosso as well feeding the battle cat, right. And that rapid time to deployment for these fast growing companies like us is amazing, right. And so in the customer education landscape, I think that was one of our core tenants. And so I’ll give you a great example of something very tactical is, is we have a whole wizzy wig front end creator, that allows you to theme it however you like you don’t need a developer, you’re not touching the CSS and it looks beautiful out of the box, we actually one of our great customers and also services, we use intercom, we love the model that they had with when they release knowledge basis for their essentially support product. knowledge bases, you can get up and running in a snap, and it provides value to your customers in 24 hours, right? And so right that was our mindset is how can we show value within 24 hours, to our customers, customers and our customers partners, make it look beautiful, and be proud of sharing that internally. And so we had all these great stories of clients saying, hey, look, I got this up and running. And they send it to their CEO and they send us a slack message back from the CEO saying that looks amazing. And they got that whole thing up and running in a matter of days. Right. And so that time to value, especially customer education, because as you mentioned the top of the call, people don’t know the ROI at the executive level. So when you can show them this tangible URL they can go to that looks beautiful, and they didn’t have to have to spend a million dollars to launch it. Everyone’s gonna be happy there. So anyways, that’s been our mindset with that rapid kind of speed to market. And but it’s not everyone’s mind says some people might have an army of people that can go develop this custom. And so there’s definitely definitely some stakeholders who want that as well too. We just think This kind of mass market approach could be a little bit better here.

Dave Derington  25:04

I agree with you, I it’s every company is different, every, every organization you enter in is different. But the one resonant theme that I see, and I hear from everybody is, well, I’ll talk about my team later. But my executives are like, Hey, we were putting your resources into do what you need to do to make sure that we have a great scalable education program. We need it really bad. Often discussions that I have with people who and I make myself available, if if you’re listening to this podcast, I usually try to make time I’m talking the audience now that you Ted, but any of you who are listening to the podcast right now, if you need some objective neutral third party, you know, brainstorming, call me or text me and we’ll set up a call, it’s really important to really understand what you need. Most people I hear to say, Hey, I gotta get something stood up right away, I don’t have time for this. I’m already behind the ball. And that that’s really resonant to me if we could have a Wix like, or Shopify, like interface for customer education, and that can grow and mature with you. So that’s huge.

Ted Blosser  26:10

Yeah, especially if you need prove it out. Right. I it with a lot of our SMB and mid market clients, I was just talking with this great person, Chauncey Ford, from quantum metric there, I think 100 150 people, she moved on to the werkraum platform, she had to prove it out herself for a year and she got amazing returns that her customer conference, she got amazing returns in terms of the revenue influenced by customer and education. And then sure enough, just shared this on a podcast recently, a year later, the CEO says, Hey, here’s for headcount, here’s your budget, go go 10x this thing, right? And so but she was able to prove value first and then ask for the investment after so versus the opposite of that.

Dave Derington  26:57

That Oh, yeah, that is massive. That is massive, I get it, I get incredibly excited about that, Ted, because if you can show our initial ROI, ROI, and you have time to the first value as a customer of customers, right, you’re trying to present if I can show that and I can put something up quickly, the pain point that I keep seeing, and this is really hard for our audience, as they’re new, that those of us who’ve been there for a while, get it. Start with something anything, even if it’s painfully raw, because customers will inhale it, and they will give you a lot of free license. Right? They’ll say, I don’t care. You misspelled that don’t care. Oh, that screens wrong, don’t care. I’m learning. And that’s all I want. And I know that you’re giving that to me, and that it’s so much helps. Well, let’s, let’s go deeper. So what what I’m, we’ve already been talking about some of your learnings, right, the things that you’re done, want to transition a little bit to talk about those interesting things in your customer base, where, you know, people are doing things or they’re questioning things or exploring things. You know, we’re talking about this internal external play. I’m really curious about that. And with workgroup I see, you know, we’ve already talked about this, you’re marketing, both internal engagement and l&d and customer education. This is novel, right? This is a very new thing. So let’s get let’s begin with more about your examples of how your customers have been successful with this consolidated approach. let’s let’s let’s talk about that this all all grouping in what kind of pros? What kind of cons you saying, Tell me more? Let’s dig into that.

Ted Blosser  28:36

Yeah, for sure. I would say and this is actually some of the my personal DNA from box. One big thing from the I always learned from Aaron levie, is, he was so big on collaboration, right. And so you see that with slack and Salesforce. Now that collaboration, I think, in this next next generation of modern enterprise, it’s going to be huge, especially with remote work. And inbox, we baked in collaboration into everything we did is really the the function of it was the folder structures and the files and you’re collaborating and commenting on items. And so when we, when we built work ramp, we built collaboration in from kind of the ground level, and it was kind of different than what most LMS is, I’m actually glad we didn’t look at a lot of LMS is when we first built the product, because I would have just built it like everyone else. But when we first built the product, we said hey, let’s take a content management centric approach. Whereas most LMS is if you look at them, whether its internal or external is like a very tabular based approach, like show me my table a file of lessons or courses. Yeah, let me go find it and that table, but we did the exact opposite. We said let’s go build a folder structure and think about permissions and how you collaborate and have waterfall permissions so multiple people can come in and collaborate on That content. And so we kind of got lucky in that realm where when we built that in from the start, now we see these are larger clients, who can have people in India, in London in the on the East Coast come in, collaborate at any time on that great learning content, and then share it with whichever stakeholders they want, whether internal or external. And so I think one of the big things that we saw on the customer education side is the the content collaboration with multiple SMEs in a department will accelerate how fast you can get things out to market. And so I would say that’s one of the big trends that we have double down on is saying, hey, how do we make content collaboration key to your customer Education Strategy, and let’s get everybody into the LMS that wants to create content that we can, because that is what flows the flywheel is great content. If you can create great content, people consume it and love it, and then you’ll get more investment to make more content. And then that’s the flywheel of both internal and customer education.

Dave Derington  31:13

That’s so this that concept of a Learning Center of Excellence more than anything, right?

Ted Blosser  31:18

Yes, exactly, exactly. But empowered with the, with literally the features that make that collaboration possible. Right? And so that how do you drive that Center of Excellence? What are the features you would use to drive that back collaboration internally as well to?

Dave Derington  31:36

Okay, this fascinates me and let me share some of the mental meanderings that I’ve had about this very subject. So again, I’ll frame it up in terms of outreach, because that’s where I live right now. But I’ve done this at previous jobs to including gainsight. The thing that I’ve been an advocate a very strong advocate for is coalescing a lot of our work into a pooled model where we’re partnering directly, right? It’s not Dave as over here in the land of customers. And then we have Whitney, who is leading our sales, enablement. org. And then we have others that are kind of reporting around, but they’re all working on the same problem. And that’s enablement. And sometimes we would have a multi threaded approach, like all of us would sit in meetings with product to learn. But then why, right? The intake process we’ve been working to model is, let’s think about all of our roles as enablement. Generally, like together, and my team is really good at saying, Okay, I’m gonna break down into and work with product in the early phases before beta before alpha. Right now I’m running with Kaia is on right now listening to our call. And you know, we’re wanting to understand her more. So we do things like those, we actively use the product. And then we start taking that information and wrapping it in great product training material. Now that material immediately goes in should serve enablement, in many different facets. So sales enablement, is a little bit different sales enablement needs to know how am I going to sell this thing, I need to know enough to be effective, not dangerous, because that’s bad. They want to be effective to be able to say, Okay, I see your need, and I see your pain, I understand how our product can adapt to that. And I can show you enough. Now we need to get you over to training because you’re more interested in let’s go deeper. And I can give you more of the information or your enablement internally in customer success or professional services work with one of my favorite people, Shawn Ray, who is our customer professional services enablement. And he’s got even a harder task because he not only has to do the sales, but more of the technical, right technical enablement of people who need to become those, basically, you know, customer engineers, the the implementation specialists. So it’s this dissemination, this democratization of work, I wouldn’t be working with all of them and say, Hey, Shawn, hey, we got this new product, I’ve got this button, I need a little bit of the narrative about how we’re actually approaching a sale of that. And then we trade in, it’s just amazing. So I want to be that, like an I have instructional designers where these other teams do not. So I could say, well, if we can collaborate on some intake, and maybe, you know, two or three of my team members who are enablement teams are developing other content, we could take point on certain things and swap. So I love the concept of a CMS for education with stubs out that go to the right audience. I mean, that’s, that’s fascinating to me. Ted is really cool.

Ted Blosser  34:32

Yeah, and and i think you’re, you’re spot on in that sense. It’s not just subject matter experts. Like we’ve been talking a lot about different roles. But yeah, think about every country and outreach is going to be at this scale soon, too is every country and region has different cultural values. They sell differently, they educate differently. And so in what from a technology standpoint is how does the LMS equip each of those regions to let’s say, if you want to know Let’s say if you want to spin up a call center, right? In the Philippines, it’s gonna be very different than a call center here in, let’s say, Texas, right? But how do you let them create their own mini Center of Excellence as well to educate that call center, but then still share from the kind of greater hole of the broader organization too, so, and back to him not to talk too much about the technology today. But we’ve also equipped it so that people regionally can literally spin up their mini LMS to train their teams in the way they want to train, train them, but also still collaborate back with the mothership. So

Dave Derington  35:38

yeah, and that’s the I need the data, I need to know who is doing what and how they’re doing and how well they’re doing it and all this stuff, which is, that’s a it’s a fabric type approach. Yeah. Yep. Cool. Um, so before we leave this thread, we are also talking if we’re going back to, okay, um, I need to get I’m not going best of breed necessarily. I’m early phase, I’m getting something that will solve the pain point. So maybe you talk a little about sacrifices, because you mentioned that I think that’s a big important topic for our audience. because, frankly, I’m in the discussions with two or three people who are my peers, who are going through this analysis process right now, and say, Well, what LMS? Do I choose? And most of them tend to gravitate to? Okay, what’s the best? Okay, well, that’s not necessarily your answer. So So tell me more about sacrifices that that you think, for customers to think about?

Ted Blosser  36:29

Yes, I was talking to this founder of a really popular HR tool. And he and you and you’re seeing this in the HR landscape, not not not in the HCM landscape. These are like kind of HR tool like engagement type tools and performance management, cuz that whole space is consolidating. Right? Yeah. And he had this and he was one of the ones that convinced me that this end to end model works really, really well, is he said, hey, look, we’re not, we’re not going to be 100%. On the new add ons we have into our suite, our goal is to get to 80%. And, like, my bar is 80%. And it is very explicit about that. And they say, look, we’re gonna get to 80% of the functionality. But that last 20%, you might be missing a few integrations, you might not get to that edge case, you want to get to with your live training scenario, you might not have conferencing capabilities, I’m talking about customer education, pain points that are extremely advanced, or you might not have crazy nesting, and you’re testing structure with with a ton of branches that you can go off into, right, right. But you’ll get 80% there, right? And so and you can fill in the gaps with with integrations or the API, but but I think that’s what you kind of have to be willing to sacrifice. So you say, hey, look, I rather go for the high volume play in customer education. I think one of the fallacies I see is like people try to create like the perfect program. And they won’t buy the software unless it’s perfect. Right. But then if you put yourself in, let’s say the CEO shoes, the CEO is probably saying, I want everybody to know about our product in the world. Yes, I left to have like advanced certifications by probably one more people knowing about our brand to fill in top a funnel to get more customers. And then over time, we can make this perfect, right? Yeah. And so I think back to your point is that the the things you will sacrifice are having those very top tier, top top tier customer education programs. But you will I think with 80% there, I think you will get a lot of the ROI. And then if you want you can grow into that later on and maybe go best of breed later on. But at least you can can get 80% there and prove your value, and then continue investing in the programs to so yeah, and you’re seeing that, and I’ll give just one other analogy. It’s like, it’s like trailhead. trailhead has really pioneered at a massive scale, customer education, right? Where Salesforce has done that with trailhead, and trailhead really loaded up the masses with just kind of general education. And then they kind of added on the very top tier Salesforce certification pyramid, I think there’s like 1000 people that are at the top of that pyramid, right. But they kind of want to layer this out first, and then kind of double down in the very high end certifications. And you could do both, but you kind of grow into it organically.

Dave Derington  39:37

Yeah, I can actually speak to trailhead directly right now, because last night I stayed up way too late. Working, but I wasn’t working because I had to work. I was working because I wanted to work. I ended up creating reports that were showing all things like you know, attach rates to accounts and and, you know, how are my trainers doing what’s their volume of stuff and I got stuck. And I got stuck doing like a chart or something arcane and I’m not a basic Salesforce user. I’ve been done admin work before. And I go, darn it, I’m stuck. I went online. I just googled something real quick. I ended up on trail trailhead, and what you know what blew me away? Ted was, it was that just in time type education that I needed. I have the I was talking with some friends of mine from intercut leis, we were talking about neuroplasticity, we’re talking about how our minds work as learners in SAS. And one of the things that we’re good at now is because we’ve seen so many products, we can switch channels, switch from one product to the next and really understand the basics of how that should work. And where we get stuck is where it doesn’t work, like we’d expect. And that’s in the moment, like, Oh, it’s just in time training. I don’t need all of your onboarding stuff as usual. I can like Smartsheet, for example, got that. And you know, there folks will yell at me for saying this. It is it has aspects a persona of spreadsheet, it is not. But what it can do blows me away. So anyway, that that I’m really impressed with Salesforce trailhead. But then there’s a whole spate we talked about the space market being crowded, I don’t really actually think it is Ted, I think we’re starting to see a constellation of different options to those of us who are entering in at different points in our maturity cycle. So you know, where I see your product fitting into that ecosystem is, okay, it’s, I need to get going. But I have all of these personas internally who need to be a part of the equation. And I really like that approach, because now we’re bringing all the voices to the table. And we’re collaborating. And that’s, that’s huge, has really huge.

Ted Blosser  41:49

Yeah, and I think one one big comment you said at the top of this interview is is and you guys are pioneering you guys are personally pioneering this with this podcast is really elevating the customer education profession. Right. Right. And I think we still have a long ways to go on, not just see professionals, but just learning professionals in an org. And in when I talk to investors, I say, look, there’s major categories in software, right, you have your, your CRM, which is owned by the VP of sales, you have your ACM, which is Oh, by financing chro. And I think what when we know I think the learning space has made it is when you when you have elevated someone in the organization consistently to really bring learning to the seat of the executive table, right. And so the dream and I think, who’s that going to be? I think, even and you could probably ask any LMS vendor out there, it’s like, you have so many personas that you sell to right. And I think if if all of us do our best effort, just like you guys are doing, I think here in three to five years, you’re going to have someone at the table. And I think personally, I think it’s either going to be the chro or the CIO. And I think they will just consistently owned the learning technology and really put that as one of the core software tenets or core infrastructure components you need in every company. And so hopefully, we all keep fighting that good fight to, to get that get that big seat at the table, because I think now it’s easy to kind of put learning at the wayside. And kind of let let the different stakeholders kind of fight it out.

Dave Derington  43:39

It is and let’s let’s pivot I want to do is, we’re coming up on time here, we’ve got about 10 or so minutes. So I think what what Adam and I normally do at this point is go lightning round mode. And we talk a little bit and then we open up space at the end to close out. So let’s do that. So now I’m interested Tad, in carrying this conversation more into the CEO to CEO, your peers, people that you’re, you know, obviously you get in the sales cycle, and you’re talking with people or you’re hanging out, you’ve got friends, I’m sure that are at your level that you talk with all the time about, you know, how do we do better? How can we grow? Like all this stuff? Let’s frame our discussion up in terms of Okay, I’m talking, you’re talking with another peer? What are the kinds of conversations like you’re having? And one of the questions and say, Where do you see this corporate learning market? And I think that subsumes customer education to to a degree. Where do you think it’s going to go over the next 10 years and and where does our audience where can they find themselves fitting into that niche?

Ted Blosser  44:47

Yeah, let’s say that’s a great, great question. Um, there’s probably two big trends. I’ll talk about short term and long term. Okay. I think short term I Think the bundling is going to accelerate across all software categories and including learning, right? So you’re gonna see, you’re gonna see bundling of even your space to Dave, where outreach, you guys are bundling everything in into your platform. And it’s just this great sales engagement platform now, right. And so I think in the learning space, and we’ve talked about this enough, probably today is I think, the bundling, but also rethinking the bundling. And we talked about internal and external buy, do you think there will be other parts of the bundling added on top of that in the learning stack, so the content I think, can get bundled more like, what you’re purchasing off the shelf like grey companies like the no befores, than the LinkedIn learnings of the world, I think you’re gonna see a bundling of content as well. I think you might see bundling of other applications, like secondary education, like what guild education is doing, getting bundled, I think every company is just going to want one Learning Portal, they have access to everything, internal external partners, I think that’s on the short term horizon accelerated through COVID. And the digital digital transformation plays we’re seeing over the next three days. And then I think long term, this is more more fun is on top of that bundling, I think you’re gonna see a lot of advancements in tech, in terms of the teaching styles, and what you can do, now that you have this learning bundled in one place in this learning platform, and so, like, I’ll give you some great examples. So I was introduced to the startup the other day, where they had this new API where you can feed in text, and they feed back a synthetic face of this very human looking person who is giving you that text back to you in a training capacity. And it just blew my mind away is like watching x x mokena. If you’ve ever seen that movie with with Eva. But watching that, I’m like, wow, this is the future. Imagine you you don’t need to hire that training staff. You just need to type this out. And they they but, but it’s a great example. And they had some great stats on their sales pitch of like, hey, people learn way better when someone’s talking to them. Right. And and we can automate this almost like a Twilio have synthetic training, which was just amazing. And so that I’m really excited about things like call analytics, koshering analytics being brought into the platforms as well to you guys are doing some of this as well, too, probably with Kaia, but you could see like, like, Gong, for example, which we use is how do you analyze things like pitch certifications, what customers are sending you if you want to, let’s say, certified partners, for example, to sell your product? How do you analyze that more closely. So I think that tack has a long life cycle here over the next 10 years where I think our training content back to the content discussion we had earlier, the contents only going to get better because of the tech. And I think the delivery platforms always gonna kind of innovate, you’re always on mobile, you’re always gonna see it on the web. Like there’s not a crazy amount of innovation there. But I think the content play and then having the central source of truth is kind of where we’re where I’m personally talking to a lot of other learning founders about over the next five to 10 years.

Dave Derington  48:33

Oh, that’s, that’s just incredible. These are the kinds of things that I obsess over, particularly like, I have Kai are running right now. And the goal with caya is that it’s that coach, it’s that mentor, it’s they’re there to help you out, right. And Kai is transcribing my entire conversation with you right now I can put that in my show notes, I have reference of it. But it could also do other things. We use Gong as well. And what I really like about the gong product, is I can look at my training team, and I can see okay, over all of our trainers, how long are they talking? What topics are they covering? How is how is this all coming together? And it’s super helpful. I mean, the analytics on what we’re doing is amazing. Seeing more products come out for instructional design to there was a platform called video eight that I just talked with another leader in about and it can really speed up delivery of content by feeding it in and then it does like what you’re saying Ted that it could have a voice and it could have narration it could have video so coming along with it, but it’s done automatically. Yeah. And that’s a these are scale plays. These are democratization plays. These are broad plays. We’re getting close on time. So I wanted to ask one more thing. This is a B round these series funding. And I’m assuming you have a really good sense of the venture market and you’ll be happy to know that coming up on the podcast, we have had a recent discussion with some venture capital folks and to get their thoughts on what education is about how does that roll into acquisitions and, and, you know, helping companies out. In fact, I talked to a friend of mine, kaelin Carter, who’s in venture capital just moved to a new became partner, a new organization. And he’s like, this is so fundamental. So I found this to equity who just acquired gainsight. I was one little site yesterday. I mean, you could see a trend. Yeah, they actually came to us and asked more about what are you doing to enable your customers? What are you doing to enable your team? How are you treating? Oh, my God, this is amazing. So we’re all thinking about it. So So tell me more about your background? And like, what venture is thinking about it? What’s the take on the market? Like, let’s think about an investor? What are you seeing an investment like in your own company? What are they saying to you?

Ted Blosser  50:57

Yeah, so and yeah, we just closed on our 70 million be with led by omers ventures. So we’re really excited about them, and Bo also participated. And in as a pre emptive, round, but but we had gotten a lot of good glimpse into how investors were thinking about the market, I think, I think the thing I’m constantly fighting for you and I are fighting that good fight is that when you look at the market, every investor first thing they say is there’s 600 competitors in here. That’s probably what what zoom was going up against, there’s probably a million conference services back in 14 1314, when they’re getting started, right. And I think when you kind of look at the signal from the noise, it’s actually a really exciting market. And I think it has a potential to hang with the quote unquote, big boys have kind of Salesforce ServiceNow and workday. And, and I read this blog post the other day, from cemal Shaw, where he’s saying, hey, everyone’s on the hunt for their next DocuSign. Or in similar terms, their next Shopify, because they don’t seem big on the surface. But if you really dig into it, it has a ton of spin around it, and a ton of customer value it provides, right, Mm hmm. And so I think the investors are starting to see that. And you kind of have one school of thought, which is, this is just gonna get subsumed by workday. It’s just this little learning thing that’s on the side of your ACM and talent suite. And as really kind of what happened in the cornerstone era of the market, right? It’s just like, oh, that’s just kind of ACM thing. And Cornerstone built out their whole kind of talent suite. And Brian probably distracted themselves a little bit. And I think the future with with what how investors see this, as there’s 20 billion in LMS spend per year, there’s 170 billion plus of just like general corporate training spend per year. And if someone can provide the right solution for organizations, it gets to be a really exciting market. Like I’ll, I’ll just give one more analogy is when I, when I worked at Cisco, they’re dropping 10s of millions of dollars on contractors coming in to train third parties to train on training content, and just all over the place, you can’t derive the value, they got the reseller program training just all over the place. But think about if you could provide a centralized place and deliver that value from partners, from customers, from partners, to vendors, to multiple stakeholders, see the ROI across those those groups. That’s when you can I think build a platform as big as the service now is of the world that docky sides of the world. And so that’s a long winded way to say that, I think if you can kind of knock back those naysayers who don’t really understand how big learning is and really focus on the potential of the market. The investors who get that I think gets super excited about it. And even with Pluralsight just doing content, alone, technical content alone, and they were hovering in the four or $5 billion market cap and they probably saw better exit with VISTA. But like that’s just a small sliver of the market and being that big already. And I think if you can do this, right, you can you can make category, not just category defining but SAS defining learning technology play here. I think that’s what excites investors. That was our pitch.

Dave Derington  54:19

Oh, no, I love it. Thank you. thank thank you for that. I’m very thankful for you sharing that with the audience. Because I think many of us in the space come at education from an entrepreneurial point of view. And those of us that arrive in join the the movement of customer education and enable internal enablement enablement, in general, actually kind of like going up market and calling it enablement. Although some people would argue and Adam and I might get to a fight so we’re not going there. But the I like to say natum likes to say that we’re all educators, we’re all teaching when you get into a company, I love early phase companies in particular because you’ll see a CSM or an implementation person. Let me teach you all about this. I’m so excited about this product. I can’t wait to share this with somebody and they keep doing that with everybody. But you’re doing that one on one with every customer. Yeah. And that doesn’t scale. So where you I, all this community comes into play is that our job is really like farmers in a way actually, we’re like a, like a focal point like a wizard or something and harnessing energy from all over the place. And some magical conduit, I watched Harry Potter way too much. But you’re you’re bringing this all from seemingly nowhere at all. And you’re sharing this knowledge and just blowing out to the world. And everyone’s like, this is amazing. But what what’s happening underneath that is this tribalism, that happens in startups, that you see it all the time that somebody has knowledge, and they don’t share it, because that makes them valuable. And what we need to get this democratization in this collaboration, so that we can explode all this content out and share it with everybody. And then channel it like a laser beam. I used to study physics in undergrad and you know, you’re getting everybody lined up in the same way. And they’re trying to say like it, you know, what outreach, what our what our job is to explain to the world, how we’re the industry leader in sales engagement, and what does that even mean? So there’s thought leadership, there’s evangelism, there’s tactical stuff, functional stuff, and then workflows, and all of it comes together, and then you get informed from everybody. And if you’re not fluidly working with all of your other peers, it doesn’t work, you end up getting a stale, dry product nobody ever wants to look at. So anyway, with that, I think we’ve covered we’ve covered a tremendous amount. And this was really interesting to learn from you. And I feel like our bubble has expanded. And I would like this as an opportunity to open up for again, I’ll talk to the audience now that if you’re in, you know, an internal enablement role, maybe you’re in HR, or maybe you’re in sales, let’s join the conversation, because we want to talk to you, I think we’re all in this education. You know, we’re kind of on the bucket of customer education, ultimately, we are all doing the same thing, which is, our focus is getting that customer to understand your product. We all have to teach them in different ways. So any any last thoughts, Ted, before we start wrapping,

Ted Blosser  57:13

I’ll tell you a fun story to help help solve that debate between you and Adam. So we for our VIPs, we were giving them a holiday t shirt. And we had, we were debating it was it was blank heroes. And we were debating between enablement and learning heroes. And we actually went with enablement heroes, for for the more, I always call it a high level name of what we’re trying to do now. So we set a lot of weight, how you debated that is calling it enablement. So let’s send him a T shirt might rub it in a little bit.

Dave Derington  57:49

Love it. Okay, so Ted, with that, let’s, let’s go ahead and wrap up. Again, I have to thank you so much for joining us. And even more, I’m glad you’re a listener, thank you so much for that. It’s this is a journey that we’re taking together, we all want to learn together. And the more we can act the dots, we’re building a category. So we all have a philosophy and understanding in to kind of frame up this conversation. While I’m really intrigued by what what you had said. And what I’ve learned out of this is that in customer education, we need to expand that fabric, we understand we’re a part of a fabric. And to make the whole picture we need to work with, we need to look at enablement across the board. So hopefully this opens up space to that. So again, thanks Ted. Like you we’re super passionate about customer education, we are committed to growing our audience of leaders professionals, and giving them the ideas they need to understand like did you know there were 600 LMS is well I probably should it’s out there there’s a lot it’s it’s actually very hard to navigate. So let’s go ahead and wrap up if you want to learn more. We have a podcast website at https colon slash last customer dot education or just customer dad education will get you there. There you can find show notes and other material in fact, we are starting to introduce transcriptions of all of our episodes word for word. So you can enjoy that too. If you need to reach me. I am on the Twitter’s at Dave Derington on also on LinkedIn. Ted, how can we reach you tell us more about where we can go to learn about you and about workroom?

Ted Blosser  59:24

Yeah, for sure. Workramp.com easy to find. And then personally you can always send me an email Ted at work ramp calm and we can even even move to text to so we love communicating with our customers however we can so thanks for having me on Dave

Dave Derington  59:39

fabulous and I’m a customer of yours as your of ours. So it’s we’ll continue the conversation. To wrap up Special thanks to Alan Coda for our amazing theme music. And if this helped you out you can help us out by subscribing in your pod catcher of choice or leaving us a review on iTunes that actually really helps more than anything in the world. To show that we’re a valid thing we’ve been out here two years that over 50 episodes, we’re cranking them out to help you out. So to our audience, thank you for joining us. Get out there, educate, experiment, and find your people. Thanks, everybody.

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