Donna Weber  00:00

They think oh my goodness, my job is to make customers happy. I need to delight the customer. And, and so they’re busy running around picking up each interest instrument and playing it for the customer, when really they should be the conductors who are bringing in the right service the right touch at the right time not to be the gophers doing everything.

Adam Avramescu  00:29

Welcome to CELab, the customer education lab where we take customer education myths and misconceptions and give them a right smack across the bow. I’m Adam sq.

Dave Derington  00:40

And I am Dave Derington. And welcome to another great episode of SEALAB today. With this episode, we’re going to continue our focus on customer education as a part of customer success by welcoming Donna Weber back to the show. Welcome, Donna. Just before we give you the floor, you are one of our earliest guests. Oh, happy to have you back, particularly today. That was episode number 20. And now wow, you know, we’re almost at 60. So that’s

Donna Weber  01:11

amazing times. Well, thank you for including me, it has been one of our most popular episodes. Oh, well, thank you. Thank you for including me, it is an honor to be part of the podcast. And it’s so wonderful to see and talk to you both.

Adam Avramescu  01:26

Yeah, we’re super happy to have you on. And like like Dave was mentioning, you are one of our most popular episodes today. So hopefully, this will be a twofer. Since you’re one of our first repeat guests on the show. Hopefully your your next episode will also be one of our most popular.

Donna Weber  01:39

That’s great to hear. Thank you.

Adam Avramescu  01:40

But we’re super happy to have you on to. Yeah, to announce the launch of your new book. onboarding matters.

Donna Weber  01:48

Yes, I guess yesterday went up for pre release. onboarding matters goes live March 30. And I’m really excited to bring this to the world. I’ve been working on it for a while and I’m excited to share why why customer onboarding is so important and how to do it. Well.

Dave Derington  02:09

Awesome. Well, anytime a member of our tribe of customer education professionals, meets the challenge of creating a book which, while we learned Adam, you learned the hard way of how difficult that is. and Donna, you’re right there now. We definitely want to be in that game and promote it. Before we start though, you know what, we missed an important part of our show.

Adam Avramescu  02:30

And that is the National Day of Dave Day,

Dave Derington  02:33

National Day of So today, you know, one of my favorite days of all time. I’ve been looking forward to this forever. Not really. chocolate covered raisins.

Donna Weber  02:45

Very good.

Adam Avramescu  02:46

Like raisinets

Dave Derington  02:49

I love raising it. There’s there’s too much there’s too much. Point, you know, a whole bag a whole box from Costco not good.

Adam Avramescu  02:58

For you know, in Canada, we call them gloss ads.

Dave Derington  03:02

Ooh, interesting. glossy,

Adam Avramescu  03:04

glossy. Yeah, you know, I never know like when I’m trying to make a reference to candy, especially because we you know, things have different names in Canada. So I never know, I never know if I’m talking about a Canadian thing. And people are gonna look at me weird. Or if it’s just like, something will actually resonate. Well, we could talk about lawsuits or raisinets all day, but what we should really talk about is onboarding and why it matters. So Donna noon for it. Let’s Let’s go for it. I think maybe we could start just by learning a little bit. You know, you you’ve been working on this book for a while. And it’s been the culmination of a lot of the work that you’ve done in the customer success, and customer education space. So I would love to hear just to start, what was your inspiration for, for writing this book?

Donna Weber  03:51

Well, I mean, it’s, it’s also the inspiration for what I’m doing in my work today. So do want me to start with that?

Adam Avramescu  03:59


Donna Weber  03:59

Absolutely. Yeah, well, so as you both know, I have a background in the customer education space, and probably about 10 years ago started to see how customer success was coming into the picture. And what I realized was that one customer education teams are often overly siloed they’re kind of in the shadows, you know, and we know how important how much value they provide to the companies and to the customers. And so, you know, I realize there was an opportunity to, to like open things up and be part of a larger umbrella, which is customer success. So I started digging into customer success and diving into that space. But I was really surprised do not go to the gainsight pulse conferences. I think I’ve been to six or seven of them. And I you know, hear them talking about you know how important the customer is, and I never heard anyone talking about customer education. And then I’d go to conferences later on and hear them talking about oh, you know, customers Success in sales, customer success and professional services, Customer Success and Support customer success and product. And I’m like, why aren’t people talking about customer education? So then I was realized how often Customer Success managers are delivering training. And I’m like, You’re acting like there’s never been a thing called customer education that we’ve been around and we have our methodologies and we know how to scale. I know. So I saw this gap in the space that you know, although more and more companies are declaring that their customer centric, they’re still the lens is still very inwardly focused on customer success teams on compensation on account to CSM ratios. Should a CSM sell or not, there’s a lot of you know, they’re still talking about the company. And throughout my career long before customer success, I’ve always been the one to raise my hand and say, What about the customer. So because of that, I’ve dove into customer onboarding, which includes customer enablement. And I developed my six stages, orchestrated onboarding framework and all that after working with companies and, and implementing best practices again, and again, I put the book together to bring this to a wider audience.

Dave Derington  06:25

That’s great. Um, so I think with this with this discussion, like, we’re definitely holding the same kind of space, we understand this, we’re at four for the podcast this year, we’ve decided we’re going to focus a lot more on customer success. So you really fall into this. And this is like a really impactful time, we’ve had two previous episodes, we have Lincoln Murphy on we’ve had Michael horniman, we talk squarely about what customer education can do for our customers success. And I think it’s a really interesting story that you told us like you’ve been, I mean, I was a lot of those conferences with you, not together, but at the same time hearing the same thing, customer success, customer success in. But we, it’s funny, because we’re still in this point where we know that this works, the customer education, motions work, but it just doesn’t seem to be getting to the awareness level of leadership. And that’s why we want to talk to you today. So why don’t we roll in, we’ve got some really good material to talk about. And we know when you reached out to us about talking about your book, you know, Adam had said this as well, like you had us at onboarding. Let’s dive in and talk about like this. This is one of the let’s let’s talk about the first area, the book, why customer facing teams must work together to drive value. You know, that’s kind of like the spirit of it, because you listed off you numerated, a whole bunch of different teams, customer success, sales, professional services, you know, all of these different organizations in both Adam and I know, we’re working with a lot of people, we’re collaborating with so many people, we’re never quite the focus. So let’s talk about this. You know, the, there’s one quote that I read, we both read through your book, without a clear handoff from sales, a way to establish trusting relationship with new customers, or to find account owner. Hope was our strategy when it came to onboarding customers. I love that hope, is our strategy. So let’s dive into this first one and tell us more about this.

Donna Weber  08:25

Sure. Well, first of all, we’ve had some great recent folks on the podcast, Eugene Levy, excuse me, Eugene Lee, Michael Harmon, and Lincoln Murphy. And Eugene was talking about how and I talked about this in my book, how that, you know, if you think back like 10 years ago, that the buyer journey was very ad hoc sales and marketing teams were often at each other’s throats. And it was kind of your, you know, hope you’re used hope as a strategy there. And you had this sales funnel, and you’re kind of throwing things in the funnel and hoping they would stick. And now we have very sophisticated technology, teams work together to provide a cohesive and seamless journey for the buyer, to build trust to deliver the right content at the right time to create a relationship. So that side of the journey has been really developed over the last 10 years. And then the deal closes. And most companies use hope as a strategy. And the customer side of the journey is ad hoc. And that’s kind of a black box. People don’t really know what’s working, what’s going on. And we have traditionally all these customer facing teams, professional services support. Now we have Customer Success teams, education teams, they they’ve been traditionally operated in silos, and they haven’t really thought of the customer journey as a larger, you know, thing that they’re part of. They’re all just like, you know, I’ve worked with customers. You teams and there’s they’ve got their blinkers on and they’re busy trying to keep up with all the product releases, and their heads down doing what they do well, and they’re they haven’t really been brought together from a technology perspective or leadership perspective or, you know, company mission perspective to drive customers to value along the seamless journey.

Adam Avramescu  10:26

Yeah, Donna, I mean, I’m sure this is the case, when you get brought in to consult. It’s certainly the case where when we talk to a lot of early stage Customer Success leaders or chief customer officers, or VPS, or whoever’s, you know, starting this function for the first case, in the first place, you’ve got CSM is doing the manual work. They know that they have CSM is doing the training, but there’s not necessarily a strategy or, you know, real thought put into to your point, like the orchestration of that motion. And that’s, I think, the lightbulb that’s increasingly going off in people’s heads to say, Oh, my gosh, this is why we need customer education. But I think in your book, you’re even going beyond that to say, you don’t just need customer education, you really need a whole customer onboarding strategy. Right? You need a process you need you need a journey in place.

Donna Weber  11:15

Yeah, absolutely. Love.

Adam Avramescu  11:20

Yeah, go ahead.

Donna Weber  11:21

Go ahead. Well, absolutely. And this is why I call call it the orchestrated onboarding framework, because the orchestration means working in coherence and harmony, especially for something complex. And, you know, what I see is that customer success managers are acting like they’re the solo artist, and they’re picking up every instrument. So they think, oh, my goodness, my job is to make customers happy, I need to delight the customer. And, and so they’re busy running around picking up each interest instrument and playing it for the customer, when really, they should be the conductors who are bringing in the right service, the right touch at the right time not to be the gofer doing everything. And I believe that when, when companies can leverage their customer success managers, as strategic trusted advisors, and then, you know, leverage all these amazing other teams, you know, to help scale and to provide different levels of touch, then then companies can be much provided have much more impact.

Dave Derington  12:28

Yeah, you know, Donna, this is really, this really is meaningful, it really resonates with me, even now, you know, Adam, and I, you know, we both, like you’ve been in a lot of places and seen a lot of things. And one of the things that

Donna Weber  12:40

we get around and remember, we’re building the customer.

Dave Derington  12:42

We have an interesting exposure to to the market now, because we are kind of like the underbelly, trying to knit together all this tribal knowledge in such a way that it makes sense to a market, right. So they go, Oh, I get how this all works. But it takes a lot of energy. And one of the least describing this is the

Adam Avramescu  13:01

underbelly. It’s so funny.

Dave Derington  13:04

Okay, the foundation, the core underdog thing going on? So what I was trying to get to is that you talked about heroics. And and this is particularly resonant for me, because now I’ll go back and reflect on the last few organizations that I’ve been in. I see this, this, I don’t really want to call it backsliding, and I don’t want to have a negative connotation to anything that’s happening. CSM are prone to individual heroics, because they’re the first line of defense. They’re the ones that organically start to go, Oh, well, this is a mess. I’m going to take it upon myself to organize some stuff. So they do it and they all do it individually. And then there comes as hard swallow moment where you go, we can’t keep this up. That you know a CSM role is not to train. It’s it’s not to be you burn out. I’ve seen this all the time you burn out as a CSM, because you’re training you’re teaching, you’re doing some technical support. But we have other teams as we start to stratify and layer in other functionalities into organization. And that means you can kind of kick back and do exactly what you love the orchestration concept. Adam, I like you and I are musicians. We’ve been in bands and orchestras and all that kind of jazz. And I think that really lends flavor to what we do because we definitely see this. Now I play saxophone. Adam, you’re gonna be vocals and keyboards. Donna, you’re gonna play trombone, I don’t know. If we are a Celt, we’re not as prone, we’re prone to more taken on ourselves as csms rather than stratified differentiate and use everybody for what they’re good at.

Donna Weber  14:41

Yeah, absolutely. So what I see at companies where the customer success managers are, quote, delivering training, they they’re really, you know, giving walkthroughs or one company I talked with, they have a marketing platform, and so they’re helping their customers do it. Their first campaign and then what happens is that the customer is now forever reliant on the CSM. So, you know, then they’re coming back, hey, you know, hey Adam, can you show me how to do my second campaign? They’re not they’re not they don’t know how to how to do this at scale and how to, you know, terms of a user and make sure it’s instructionally sound. So then the the the customers are forever reliant on the CSM, and how the CSM is going to onboard and drive new customers to value when they’re busy hand holding all their growing install base. And then I see

Adam Avramescu  15:39

issues sometimes. I was gonna say this is why I take issue sometimes with the term customer enablement, because even though enablement has one connotation that is broader than just education, broader than just training, we’re doing what we can to really enable customers to use our products to be successful. It also can have that second connotation have we become enablers, right to our, to our customers? Yeah, we’re,

Dave Derington  16:04

you know, until you said that, Adam, I don’t think I’ve ever really grokked it. Like, I grok it at a different level. Now after you just particularly that again, it’s you’re talking about an enabler like a parent. Okay, right. Or like

Adam Avramescu  16:19

like alcoholism, never.

Dave Derington  16:21

Yeah, you’re just perpetuating something. I had a story I wanted to talk about I had it later in the notes, but I’ll say it now. So I’ll tell you like an honest story I had with skill jar CSM, we use skill jar. And I was going to my CSM Mike. Hi, Mike, you’re listening. And I caught myself in a moment where I had a question. And I immediately thought, oh, I’ll just call Mike, or email, Mike. And then why am I doing this? They have a great Academy, they have support. And Mike tells me to go use this material. And I had to physically stop myself in that moment said, this is dumb. I’m, I’m grown up, I’m going to go to documentation portal. Now I can’t find what I need. I’ll call support, right? Because it’s not Mike’s job. But if I’m thinking that, like that was a good reflection moment for me to say, Oh my gosh, I’m doing it too. This is what enablement looks like. Really interesting.

Adam Avramescu  17:18

Yeah, we don’t want our customers to become too reliant on us or too dependent on us. So I mean, Don, I think the way that you describe it in your book is really helpful. And I like that you come at it from the lens of you kind of first and foremost from the business lens, right? You talk about CAC LTV ratio, which we like to talk about on the podcast, I talk about my book as well, just the idea that you’re not building a healthy business, if your business relies on reactive individual heroics. So I love that you start there.

Donna Weber  17:49

Well, thank you. And I do have a link to your book on the my book resources page. And Adam, and then I, one thing I wanted to add was, you know, so in the world of customer education, things have changed. You know, there was a time when we were like the official knowledge department. And, and if anyone wanted to learn anything about our products, it was through a customer Education team. And things have changed now bit with things called YouTube and Google. So people are looking for information quickly. And addition is so much easier for anyone to create content. And I work with companies where they have, you know, they’re all looking out for the customer, every department is creating content. So you’ve got folks in marketing and in support, and in professional services, and they’re all posting and publishing content. And and they quote, everyone’s an author era. So there’s a huge opportunity there for the education teams, to be the ones who are bringing everyone together to create this curated experience, this seamless experience. When I work with companies, I often call and I have interviews with their customers to learn about what’s working and what’s not working. And I repeatedly hear that the content they find is out of date, or there’s so many different things that are conflicting, what’s the right way, so then they start calling the company, you know, the that the expensive resources, the smart people inside a company, hey, where should I go? Because the smart people know, what’s the current content or what’s the right, accurate material to refer to. And so, the education teams have that opportunity. We don’t have to note we, they no longer have to create all the content that they can help pull it together so that it’s this seamless, prescriptive experience for the customers, which is what customers are demanding, you know, more and more. We’re moving to a consumer like experience, even in b2b high tech, SAS software. And it’s it’s our our jobs to deliver that seamless experience.

Dave Derington  20:05

Why case but that? This is a I think there’s a good natural segue. So good job on this until talking about silos, which was another theme apart in as much as we’re talking about orchestration. Now let’s think about the side effect of growth. We’ve been at hyper growth companies. And it’s actually both exhilarating, and it’s absolutely painful at the same time, because you’re trying to do more with less you’re trying to conduct the symphony, while the players are changing,

Donna Weber  20:39

you know, yeah, on an airplane in mid flight.

Dave Derington  20:44

on an airplane, or on a rocket ship in mid flight, everything’s going crazy. You know, what happens when finally like, we’re, we’ve got everybody’s got a leader, they’ve got marching orders, in their teams, like, let’s think about this. So customer success as a great leader, they’re all doing their thing. They’re getting focused, they’re hyper focused, and naturally, what happens, you don’t think about the outside, you think about what’s on your plate services starts to do the same thing. They’re bringing customers in and enabling them or implementing them, getting them up to speed with a handoff, sales, doing the same thing. I’m closing deals, winning customers, you know, we’re, we’re in even in education, I found I go heads down to initially when we’re building the core content, but then there’s a there’s a moment where we do something else, like we need, we need to think about how do we go look up and look out? And we were thoughts do you have from your perspective on those?

Adam Avramescu  21:42

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, this is a theme that’s threaded throughout the book. But what I’d love to do is, is maybe get a little bit more specific within the model, Donna, that you discussed within the book, because the orchestrated onboarding framework comprises a lot of the book. And what I love is that you include a lot of very tactical suggestions for not only like, what what is each stage, but how do I now go and do it. So maybe we can maybe we can use this as a way to start really getting into some of these early phases. So your orchestrated onboarding model starts with three, three phases that are really kind of leading up to that kickoff, right, you’ve got embark handoff and kickoff. And I’d love to to ask you a few questions around those. And then maybe we can come back and talk about some of the pieces that really happen after kickoff. So so maybe thinking about that embark phase. Yeah, you call out some of the siloing. Right, but and specifically the siloing, between sales and CES. So you address this? Why? Why do you think that he is, or sales teams are typically so reluctant to bring in csms, or the post sales teams during the sales cycle.

Donna Weber  22:58

They are they are so they’re so scared. At one company, as you know, working with a they were just like do not like Do not enter this zone. But actually another company I’ve been working with, they’re like, you know what, the more people who can come in and show the customer the path to success, the better. So they really got it. So, you know, I think sales folks are, are so you know, they’ve got their formulas or their magic and they’re just don’t want anyone to mess with it. They’re worried that things are gonna mess up be messed up, you know. So this one company that were they were reluctant, they were worried that from an onboarding perspective. And let me just take a step back. So the embark stage usually happens, it starts before the deal closes. That’s what I recommend. And at some companies, the handoff stage, you know, where you need to, like, get get to value quickly, in order to recognize revenue, the handoff stage may even happen before the deal closes. So one company that I’m working with the first two stages start before the deal closes, generally embark will start before the deal closes. So the company where they were nervous, they were worried that the implementation teams are going to come in as start talking all technical. And you know, they’re trying to emphasize Oh, our products so easy to implement and use and then they technical team start talking about all the requirements and scared customers away. But in the embark stage is not about technical requirements. It’s about helping customers see the path to success, to know that there’s a journey that beyond the sales cycle, and to start building that that relationship to start establishing, you know that the CSM or the onboarding team, Are there going to be in good hands to start transferring that trusted relationship over and to make sure that everyone’s ready to go, you know, so also some customer success teams they have no idea what’s in the pipeline and then a deal closes and bam they’re supposed to like jump into and make the customer successful really quickly so you know customer success teams need to know what what deals are in the pipeline they need to start having conversations they might need to start assigning resources at the appropriate stage you know not when it’s a 50% sales likelihood but when it’s 80 or 90 like they need to start like getting their team in the in the right you know lanes

Dave Derington  25:35

yeah i know and in services we have pipeline discussions about this all the time hey this has a 50% chance of landing this is 90% we’re doing exactly the same thing and i’m usually part of those meetings in my org where i’m thinking ahead oh these are gonna land these are big accounts or these have these challenges i think that’s super interesting and something that triggered and in my mind as you were talking donna i wanted to open up again adam you and i are both kind of we are in agreement on the term enablement but true to form enablement is almost like level setting expectations right it’s a i want you as a customer to understand the the the flow of the journey the journey and understand the things that we’re going to do to help you be successful from an educative point of view right at this stage we in this is something that happens with a lot of customers and companies as they grow that there’s that work to be done the hard work to be done is between the value prop that i’m like yeah i’m on board i got the budget i love this and using the product there’s that there’s work to be done on both the customer and our side where you actually have to think about okay well i’m just not going to turn the key and it’s going to work i mean some products are like that but there is expectation settings is that you’re going to be a partner in your own exactly and these are the things to learn and to make decisions about and provide input to and that we are a partner on that journey together exactly how education really comes into play it’s getting getting you prompted at these steps so that you know oh i have to think about this cool i got that that’s changed management now i can use that my team enabled then you’re getting true to life okay this is how i use the product from an admin persona this is how i use the product from an end user persona and whatever flavor but that’s all kind of wrapped into onboarding and i think a lot of times it’s commonly easy to miss important pieces and then you’ve got an upset customers like wow i don’t know how to use this thing and then they kind of check out sure

Donna Weber  27:44

exactly so so so onboarding and implementation are hard and it’s also you know when when when you’re most vulnerable it’s when customers are most excited and have high expectations and then what helps is to build trusting relationships and how do you build trust by being transparent by communicating clearly and often by having accountability from your side and the customer side when i talk to customers they tell me that they want to be held accountable you know that they wish that that the project teams of their vendors they’re working with held them accountable so when you start with that bigger picture and you get really clear about who’s doing what when and i even think it’s important to provide visuals you know just show kind of where you’re going with the journey looks like then customers can start to put that buyer’s remorse down that that worry that doubt that rumination prospection which i talked about in the book put those down and start to partner as dave was saying and then and then you know you’re having a relationship with a common goal absolutely

Adam Avramescu  29:02

yeah and you even have a template donna in your book for a joint success plan that can be used both to understand the customer’s goals and to hold them accountable i would i would love to hear and then then maybe we can talk about some of the later phases when you think about that success plan i think we probably have a lot of listeners saying okay i want to get out there i want to do joint success plans i want to hold my customers accountable but where do i start i don’t know if i can do the whole template right now so like if you were to if you were to give them one piece of advice what would be the most important thing to capture in that success plan if they’re just getting started

Donna Weber  29:37

well well i do have a success plan template on the book resources page so you can go to my website and look to share the end and to download a template and i have to tell you i i use success plans when i work with companies and i’ll answer your question in in specifically in a moment adam but what what i found I got into trouble with one company I worked with because I had all these conversations with the buyer. And then we launched the project. And I had conversations with the project team. And at some point, I realized that all of that stuff I communicate with the buyer was never communicated to the project team. So they were blindsided and really important information from the buyer about deadlines, and goals, and was never community catered to me. And I’m like, oh, my goodness, I need to be using my own best practices. And now I use success plans. So I do that during the embark and the kickoff stage of my fate in a framework of working with companies. And what happens is, I have the buyer there. And then I called the core team and the project team, we’re all there, I review, the core team gets to hear what was covered in the proposal, actually copy and paste, like the objectives from the proposal into the success plan. And they can discuss them and argue them and refine them, you know, so we’re doing that together. And then a really important thing is I would say maybe this is the most important thing. But then I’ll say the next things I’m just pointing and capturing, capturing risks and escalations. So part of the success plan is like, how do we deal with things when it’s not going? Well? Who do we escalate to and you get permission. So you have the stakeholder there? If they say call me on my cell, you get their cell number, and you have that permission? And then you’re not going Oh, goodness, what should I do? Things aren’t going according to plan, you have permission set up. So we address the risks and the gaps. So for example, for a company implementing software, you might say, you know, a risk is you don’t have anyone to fulfill an admin role. And you need to assign someone or you need to hire someone, and what are those that you know, that’s a gap. And these are the risks if you don’t fulfill that, or it may be, hey, we have managed admin services, we recommend those. And let’s let’s, you know, discuss getting those kinds of services. And then I get everyone in that team, I get their personal contact info, email, and cell or mobile number. And then, you know, for all these companies who are saying, Oh, I only have the champ, I only got the champ and they leave and I’m stuck. Well, now I’ve got five people’s emails, their roles and their cell phone numbers. And I’ll just tell you, just before we met, I reached out to CEO of a client, I wanted to follow up, guess what I have his cell phone number on the success plan, that’s where it lived. And now I have a way to contact him. So you know, getting that contact info and capturing any risk and will and it’s our job, we’ve all been there and done this, we know what the risks and the gaps are, that are pretty common, you know, oh, we have competing priorities, oh, the head of sales is gonna resist this great. How do we? How do we resolve that it’s not my job to, to address the head of sales. You know, and and we said, we’re gonna escalate to that to the CEO.

Adam Avramescu  33:14

Yeah, and you capture this really well, Donna, in your book with, you have a visual for this. There’s the bow tie model, right, where you actually talk about how often the sales process there’s that and these are visuals for those of you watching on our YouTube channel, we have a we have a video now. So here’s my sophisticated visuals. The bow tie model starts with you funneling down from the pre sales process from the buyer journey. But then you have to start all over again, and enable the actual, like project team or the post sales customer group. And then and so that it spirals back out. But right there in the Nexus, again, I think you’re capturing this so well, right now the idea that you really have to tie both of those threads together and make sure that both of those teams, the buyer and the the users have the same context for what the customer is actually trying to do with the product for what the potential risks are, and be able to capture, you know, any potential gaps and services and additions that might be necessary to actually kind of implement per the buyers vision. So I’d love to maybe use that as a transition point now into the stages of the orchestrated onboarding that come after the kickoff. So your phases here are really around adoption. You call them adopt, review and expand. So Donna, maybe to start here. Go ahead, go ahead.

Donna Weber  34:40

Well, I just want to talk about that the handoff because it’s so important. And you know, from what you were saying, Adam, it The reality is that for most companies 50 to 80% of their revenue is coming from their existing customers. And I believe that from 2020 that’s That, you know that it 2020 was a rough year for everyone, if there’s a silver lining is that companies are valuing their existing customers, because maybe they didn’t get a heck of a lot of new customers in 2020. But if they looked after their existing customers, they were doing well. So that’s why, you know, all of this customer and onboarding enablement, breaking down the silos providing a seamless journey are so important. And then when you do the handoff, well, then you’re handing off from the sales rep to the the the post sales teams effectively, but you’re also handing off from the stakeholder to the project team. So that they know what’s happening and why. And so we start with the the first two stages are very strategic with a embark and handoff stages. And then we get more tactical with a kickoff that’s really, you know, project plans, timelines in technology, so roles and responsibilities, and then we move into adopt, and the adopt stage can be the longest, because if your software’s long and complex to implement, and I within adopt, there’s a lot going on, because you’re not just going live with your product, you’re also ideally getting the users trained, you know that you might have admins, you might have developers, you might have business users, you might have executives, who all need to know, not just how to log in not just how to click on features and functions, but how to do their jobs in your products. As my good friend Adam says, people don’t care about your software. So you need to help them know what value they can obtain. And that might also include some change management, you know, some companies, it’s not just a matter of great you’ve got a product but they really need to know where that fits in with their business processes and and how they work.

Adam Avramescu  36:54

Yeah, Donna, you you were quote, you’re quoting me, I would quote our friend bilka shard, who you know, talks about customer education and adoption as jobs to be done.

Donna Weber  37:04

Yeah, and these he’s quoting it is I think it’s Jim egg. Oh, guy. Thank you, Jim cabbage.

Dave Derington  37:14

attribution. We have to we have to start listing all these out. Yeah. So something I wanted to talk about,

Donna Weber  37:21

hold on, hold on, let me just get that Jim called that call back. And he I include his book as a resource on my site as well. k L. Ba, ch. And he wrote the job, oh, jobs to be done. And, yeah, because you know, it’s not just about our job is not to make our customers master button clickers. It’s to help them get value. And that value might be saving time making money saving money being compliant. It’s not about they really don’t care about awesome products.

Dave Derington  37:56

Yeah, you got in in that. In the discussion, you talked a lot or in the book, he talked a lot about standardizing metrics and goals coming out of onboarding, which I think this concept of time to first value add. And we’ve talked about this a lot, where, how do we get to value? How do we measure that, and that’s going back to some of the things that you’re talking about, and all these phases. What I think I think is really a fascinating is that you pulled through the concept of some of the things that when I was a management consultant, professional, all the things you’re doing are table stakes, for those that kind of work, where you’re setting expectations, you’re, you’re you’re setting up your escalation process, you have a racy for all the people that are important. And you know, this is not a lot of thing. We don’t hear this enough. In our universe. We’re having good business analysts, and business analysis and project management skills really come into play in a serious way through the bow tie model. Because you’re knitting together and orchestrating this entire thing. This is really evocative to me of some of the contracts that that I had been on as a management consultant. Because they were, they were massive, and they took months years to do. And to make people everybody accountable, including ourselves. There’s a lot of work and you’ve articulated this quite well. So now you know, now we’re pulling through. Now we’re getting to the point where we’re reviewing we’re doing retrospectives. Now we want to expand, and that’s hard to and it’s really particular hard, particularly hard. If we’ve not done our due diligence with metrics, like, give you a good story outreach has done a really interesting thing. And you know, I’ve been adjunct to this, but I love the fact that our professional services and CS teams have set the bar and said, these are the baseline metrics for your company. Here’s where the baseline metrics are for all companies. This is where we think you should be where do you want to be? How do we get this is how we can partner with you to get to that point. And that’s a that’s a combination of a lot of different columns. Complicated motion some, many are actually training and education. They’re not called as such. So I love that you’ve given space to this and open this up and kind of pulled it through into this bow tie metal that we can easily reference and say, Oh, yeah, we’ve got we. And I guess before we get on to the next topic, what’s really important in you know, it’s key from your book and great for industry to hear is that we in customer education are not this. We and all these other teams, they’re not this, we’re not in our silos. We are a fabric. And education happens. Adam didn’t even say this at one point you brought brought this comment. Like we’re all educators, we always

Adam Avramescu  40:42

say one of my one of my many catchphrases.

Dave Derington  40:47

And we should double down on that because it’s important. But the problem with it is, is we have this feedback loop that we set up as customer education, we get to a point where like, Okay, we’ve got all this together. Now we need to blow it all out and meet, meet everybody where they are including the other teams, and then we all level up together. So we’re facilitating and curating and making the flow happen. And our role is to like, be there everywhere, fluid.

Donna Weber  41:12

Education teams can be

Dave Derington  41:13

like, I love this concept.

Donna Weber  41:16

Yeah, exactly. And I actually crochet, so I call myself a hooker, because I crochet, did I tell you that last time we met? You know, buddy, you know, they don’t, education teams have such a larger opportunity to roll to play, you know, there’s so much opportunity there. And it’s not a matter of waiting for someone to say, hey, Dave, can you like bring these teams together? It no dive in and do that, you know, when I worked at a previous company, I did not I saw that, that were in silos. And I use this as a case study. Throughout onboarding matters. I saw we were in silos, I saw what the needs were, I saw teams weren’t really focused on the customers. And I just jumped in. And, you know, I didn’t ask for permission. And I didn’t have to ask for forgiveness, thankfully, but but you know, that’s that I believe, education teams have that opportunity to jump in and play a much larger role. And to start looking at the impact on the business metrics, you know, and we covered this in the book and I shared in the book I was laid off, my whole education team was laid off, because I did not demonstrate to the company, what the impact was. And even though I could say, hey, our quarterly eval scores have gone up point 2%. And, you know, for our 10%, and our where our NPS is high, but if I’m not demonstrating the impact on the business, and the impact on the customers, then people wonder what we’re what we’re doing. And so so, so one, we have that responsibility to be larger by showing the impact. And we have colleagues in this in the customer education space who have done that very, anecdotally, you don’t need a data scientist on your team to do that just you know, have a spreadsheet and just start digging around and find out some anecdotal evidence, some correlation, you don’t have to prove causation. And so you can you can start playing larger there. And then you can also start playing larger by like, Hey, have a chat with the head of professional services. I did that at my previous company. And he said, Hey, you know, rather than doing this consulting, where your consultants have to describe the same things over and over, have the customer take this one course first, and then your team can be those awesome experts, and they don’t have to describe the basics over and over. And so we just, you know, built that into the process. So it’s up to you to have those conversations and not hope that somebody notices that that there might be value there or tells you, you know, go go, could you make this a priority, they don’t get that we get that we need to we need to drive that.

Adam Avramescu  44:02

Yeah, in an orchestra. This is music to my ears in an orchestra, like customer education might be something like the, like a cello, because it’s it’s polyphonic. You can play multiple notes at once, right, because you’re doing multiple, multiple jobs at once your bread, but you’re also providing like ground cover for the other people who might be soloists, you don’t usually get a cello solo, in an orchestral piece, but it’s doing a ton of work to lay the groundwork for the other instruments who might end up being the soloists other points. That’s my analogy, and I stand behind it.

Donna Weber  44:38

Very good.

Dave Derington  44:41

We’re, I think we’re about the point to wrap up. So let’s let’s thread the needle and talk about this scale. Like, squarely we’re back to education, customer education. And let’s throw this out there. Customer education is a scale engine for customer success. I think You’re You’re angling in at this and what we mean by this is something specific. Again going back to a quote even you had in the book, CSM are often the ones delivering product training, loading CSM with training responsibilities leads to adding more CSM, every time your customer base grows, that means margins aren’t growing, no matter how many accounts you closed, this is a an endemic problem we have in this space. It’s terrible. We’re, yeah, we’re kind of stealing from ourselves, right all the time and building like, just, I’m gonna get on the phone one on one, can you keep going? When we can offload that have some of our team building the content or an education professional doing that? Well, let’s talk about this and dive in. Like, what is this? What is this resistance? How is it we can help more? What is it? Why are we a skill engine, these are the kinds of things always going through my head because I see the value in this orchestrated approach. And this is the point where we’re able to start amplifying, when a customer success manager anybody in the organization needs to train can do.

Donna Weber  46:05

Sure, well, I attribute I previewed the customer education is the scale engine of customer success to Adam. And I see that we do that in four ways. So one is that we know how to be consistent and repeatable. When Customer Success managers deliver training, generally, it’s very ad hoc, they’re all doing their own thing, customers are not getting a consistent experience. At two, we know about being hands on and interactive. And so we’re not you know, when when Customer Success teams deliver training, it’s much more of a product tour, hey, let me show you around the product. And it’s they might, you know, highlights, features and functions, but they’re not really focused on it’s not instructionally sound content, that’s real focus on jobs to be done. If it’s not interactive, then you know, retention is going to be lower. And then we know how to create a one to many model. So if you’re delivering instructor led training, whether that’s live online, which is the way things are right now, or classrooms, where it may be in the after times, and then you can maybe have people from multiple customers come together. And when you do self paced, then you know, you can grow your reaches, can grow exponentially. So customer education knows how to do that. And then also having learning pathways, role based learning pathways and, and maybe, you know, knowledge checks and things like that. So that’s, that’s how customer education can scale customer success. So that then Customer Success managers are helping customers reach their desired outcomes are helping to drive them to initial value, and then long term value, and are onboarding new customers, rather than delivering training over and over, especially when they work in an industry where there’s high turnover. And they’re not having to train every new user that comes on. And then also, you know, we talked about my sixth stage of onboarding of the onboarding framework, which is expand because in some regard, you’re always onboarding accounts and users to new features, new functions, new products, and to new levels of maturity, so that then you that can really scale with existing counts accounts through an education. And, and so you know, we talked about transparency, communication, accountability, on the side of the customer, well, that needs to happen internally as well. And, you know, I know everyone’s busy, but customer education professionals can start to gather the teams together. In the book, I talked about having our content counsel, or training councils, one company I worked with last year, that’s what they did, they just they they created a training Council, because they had a kind of a mission at that company, that everyone was helping the customer. So there was just content all over the place. And so bringing everyone together and getting clear about who’s doing what when creating some styles and standards, creating a an inventory to know what’s out there, keeping things not just created but maintained. So that’s one way you can really bring folks together and having conversations like with the head of sales, if you have customer marketing teams, helping customers know what’s available to drive them to keep getting value in your products. So that’s a way you know, just start reaching out having conversation, stay curious. And then experiment. This is my new word of the week is experiment. And and and I know I knew I had to say the word hypothesis today, and so have a hypothesis or have a hypothesis and you know, and just say Hey, I think we can all work together and what we know start small, be agile, be iterative, and just start experimenting. It doesn’t have to be, you know, oh, we need this platform, we need that we need a data scientist just, you know, start real simple and, and start talking and listening. I think that’s the most important thing.

Adam Avramescu  50:22

Well, Donna, that sounds an awful lot like the sign off to our show where we say, educate, experiment and find your people. But we would be remiss to finish before we tell you, listeners if you want to improve your onboarding motion and make it more consistent. Or if you’re a customer education leader who is looking to influence the onboarding process and grow your scope. You need Donna’s book. So Donna, where where can people find your book?

Donna Weber  50:47

Well, it’s now available for pre order on Amazon, which and so go to onboard look up onboarding matters. And it goes live on March 30. And then you can also go to Donna slash book and you can get all you need there. And the same, the same URL, a orchestrated onboarding. com goes to the same place.

Dave Derington  51:12

That’s a perfect well, Donna, thank you so much for being on again. We love having you on the show. You’re You’re a light in times of chaos, and your book is great. So I’m gonna I’m ordering my official copy, vari, let us see it. So it’s, it’s wonderful. It’s a great addition to your library. Now to end out the show. Again, if you want to learn more. We have a podcast website at customer dot education. He’s a domain as well, where you can find our show notes, transcripts other material. I am at Dave Derington on the Twitter’s

Adam Avramescu  51:45

I’m at MSU Adam and Donna

Donna Weber  51:48

re on twitter at Donnaweb and on on

Adam Avramescu  51:53

a web easy Special thanks to Alan Kota for our theme music. Yeah. If you’re listening to the audio only podcast know that we are now on YouTube. We have video so go to our YouTube channel search for cielab please consider subscribing as will be placing more video content in the future. If this helped you out, you can help help us out by subscribing, leaving us a positive review. And thanks for joining us go out and educate, experiment and find your people. Thanks so much, everybody. Thanks, Donna.

Donna Weber  52:26

That was so fun. Thank you so much.

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