Sam Cummings  00:00

Interesting. And I think this should be official. I just turned it off. So let’s see if it works or not. All righty. We are on.

Dave Derington  00:09

All right. I don’t know, I’m going to do it. As I’m recording just for a reason just to be aboveboard, I thought, can we talk we come up with just gold. So I’m not going to jinx it. I’ll just record it just in case. But I had some questions of you and this song were educational, you know. But now you’re at LinkedIn, and you’re doing cool stuff. And if I can pull something out of that, I will and we’ll work with it. But I’ll let you know what it comes

Sam Cummings  00:31

I’ve got my cell turned off. Let’s party!

Dave Derington  00:35

Cool, man. So tell me tell me more. I think we talked a little bit a month or two ago. But you got a lot of stuff going on. Loved your article, and your site looks neat. As one more a little bit more about what you’re doing and in specific, I’m super excited about your transition to Customer Success. And like, now you’re taking all of you that has been this like evangelists for data science with respect to our industry. And now you’re going up market a little bit. I don’t even want to I just want to know what you’re what you’re up to that you can say to like, let’s let’s pretend this as a public audience, so anything that you might say might it might we might use? And if there’s dirt, like just just cut it out. But But what’s what’s up with my friend, Sam, how are you doing here?

Sam Cummings  01:25

So a couple things, you know, just coming from the experience being in data science, and convenient data roll, one of the big challenges, that’s a key part of serving people with data is understanding what it’s like to walk in their shoes, I can’t understate enough how much value there is, and people experiencing even if it’s for a short amount of time, a chance to be in the positions that they serve, if I’m providing insights to customer success managers on how to use their data that they have available to them to make better decisions. One thing that make that insight even that much more applicable, is if I understand what problems they’re grappling with, if I can have empathy. And so the big word, I think that I’ve learned over time here, that all data people and all people that serve customer facing roles can benefit is the understanding that empathy is going to be your biggest tool, being able to put yourself in their shoes, understand their experiences, and really let that shape what you’re defining and what kind of solutions you propose. Number one, I couldn’t have gotten that as well, if I didn’t become a CSM. And so I’ve been on this journey myself coming from Hana data science, being someone that was factoring in tons of different data points and use cases, to create offerings that will help CSM leaders build out stronger programs, being a CSM in a big program. Again, LinkedIn is a phenomenal organization. But what’s really unique is well, that’s again, something I experienced that Gainsight is that they’re on the edge of social selling, just like gainsight was on the edge of customer success. So that’s that thought leader leadership role that again, just gives you so much visibility into how all companies are dealing with these challenges. Organizations are trying to grapple with these problems. And as data people, a lot of times, we’re operating in a sea of ambiguity. And that’s really where, again, empathy, understanding and taking time in the discovery phase, to truly understand who you’re serving and what they need. I can’t I can’t recommend that enough.

Dave Derington  03:39

That’s really exciting. And, you know, when we talked, we were talking before, we weren’t recording it. And I was just thinking, Oh my gosh, oh, my gosh, this is so great, because the transition that you’ve made is, it’s kind of different from a lot of people. And I think it brings a lot of meaning to the industry that you and I have actually like you tell if we tell them our story of how we became friends and co workers, with co workers for as friends now because we move beyond gainsight into different companies. And it’s an interesting journey. We’re still connected. But we bonded over that. The fact that data data was so pivotal to customer success. And at the time, this was several years back we were struggling with. Okay, we’ve got this, like I was struggling with one challenge, which was how do I help teach somebody to understand the value of getting clean data, getting in and, and merging and joining data and getting these visualizations that you wouldn’t normally have all about customer success activities. That and I was the educator, you are very you’re an educator to your you’re a practitioner educator, you know, one that’s like I’m sharing and evangelizing for what I’m doing in this space. And that’s why I wanted to reconnect and see the and here’s the hook, and I’m kind of like we’re kind of like doing an organic as you go podcast. Yeah, the thing that struck me That, Okay, I’m gonna tell everybody that’s in my audience, the thing that I really valued that you have done for me that I feel like it both is a customer success play, one to one and a scale play. From an education perspective, as you unblocked me from understanding the actual value of signing up for a premium subscription for LinkedIn. Makes you go, okay, Dave, I can convince you and you got on the phone with me, and you told me a little bit about it. And then I gave it a shot, and really understood it. And then I went back for a while to the free plan. And I really like oh my gosh, there’s a lot of value here. And the value is that I get a lot more insight introspection, and that the university, the Academy is there in my in my environment, so I’m getting a lot more value out of it. And, and now I’m coming back, like thinking about all the stuff you’re working on, I’ve got a bunch of questions now to have, because I’m kind of in a weird place. Dude, I’m, I’m an Outreach. So part of my day to day is building a program building education. But the thing that I have a challenge with is a lot of the times I need to surface that outside of my domain, and say, we’re building all this great stuff. I want to talk to you customers. Let’s get out there. Let’s get on LinkedIn. And you know, the the coolest thing we did lately is we launched our certification program. We have badges and the badges go on LinkedIn. And LinkedIn is really huge. Some other programs that we’re seeing friend of mine, Sam, and other Sam, Sam Nelson, one of our influencers, and he is doing he’s using LinkedIn live. And I after talking with him, and after getting into it and seeing what’s goin g on, it’s like Twitch for business. Yes. It’s what what I was talking about with twitch before I was trying to get on Twitch’s radar, like oh my god, oh my god, this is such a great platform. Why can’t we use this for business too? Well, Sam showed me how and now, I’m like, “we’re gonna be doing a lot more things with LinkedIn live!” Yeah. And that the you’re in and this is all social selling. So I’m just curious, I like I wanted to just get you on and just riff on one of the all the cool stuff you’re seeing in both from your job and from your personal projects that you can tell us about because all of that has the spirit, this thread of education all the way through it as well. I really dig about his

Sam Cummings  07:15

Love, love that. appreciate those kudos again, number one, what you guys are doing at Outreach and what you’ve done in creating a certification program. I cannot second that enough. Great work. Building on some of the learning that I’ve that we’ve had is something that what I’m going to say is not a surprise, the b2c-ification , I know it’s not a word, we’re gonna …

Dave Derington  07:37

b2c-ification. I like it.

Sam Cummings  07:40

It’s been huge over the last couple months, especially coming of on 2020 changes, meaning the way that people typically did sales, and b2c motions now where b2b is moving, and that change in that fundamental shift has different names under different umbrellas. Some people call it social selling, some people call it digital selling a framework that again puts the person that you’re trying to sell to at the core of your sales efforts. That shift that change, again, has happened already in b2c right? When you’re getting advertisements were saying LeBron James is drinking a Sprite. They’re calling out to people who you think as thought leaders are you see as critical celebrities in that term, but really, as people that I would take buying into their effort in their say, that push a coupled with when they craft that commercial, they know their demographic, they know their age group, their desires, what’s going on in their life, that level of understanding and putting the buyer first is what this new wave is all about. And what COVID in the whole lockdowns did was add acceleration to already moving vehicle, you know, it was already happening, this transition …

Dave Derington  08:56

“Pedal to the metal”

Sam Cummings  08:57

Full steam ahead. And that shift essentially has created over the last year, tons of new best practices, frameworks and insights that again, being in the rollout map, I got a bird’s eye view, right, I get to meet with tons of organizations, I work as an enterprise CSM today. And so in that role, right launch it of scale, large enough size, to truly see how different organizations are all again, from private equity, right down to the companies that are getting more, you know, straightforward, two big names, as you might have heard of, right. And so that structural change, it’s affecting everybody. So that’s where we know just coming out of that kind of that kind of change. When is industry wide change, there’s opportunity. And so that’s the opportunity that we’re in where that b2c-ification happening is was created the new wave of people that could become thought leaders, leveraging these tools that again, we’re already common, and on Instagram for example, everybody knows about going live, right on Twitch. Everybody’s been going on for a while. But now you see people like Nick Mehta, the CEO of Gainsight, going live doing sessions where him and another CEO, talk about the industry. It’s these types of things, that they, when you think about it, everybody who watches that live video is a warm lead for your sales team. And so it’s that natural shift, that, again, is all about value first. So putting the value and the buyer first, and really leveraging a way of sales. That’s not as much as like me pushing my stuff to them. Yeah, but really finding what’s important and valuable to them. And being a partner. Same way, if you go to the airport, right, and you get the course yes, person that kind of helps you with the machine, they kind of point you to the buttons tell you what to do, right. If you go to buy a high end handbag, for example. You get that person’s eye, how can I help you? What are your interests are? What are you trying to do? They asked you these questions, because they’re putting themselves as a partner to you. And that’s the big shift that I’ve seen just between successful and people that are still trying to get our hands around it. That gap that difference?

Dave Derington  11:08

So from from your perspective, Sam now so you’re, you’re an enterprise CSM? I mean, again, I don’t want you to, to share any company details or secrets, but what what is the real motion? What is the partnership that you have with people? Is it more like, Okay, I’m gonna put myself in, in the, in the hot seat, okay, I have this little podcast that I do. But the reason that I do it is for my job. So, you know, I’m being transparent here with my employers listening, of course, that that I learned so much by saying, Sam, I’m going to pick up the phone, I’m going to call you, you and our friends, but we’re also working the same feeling. We’re trying to learn things, I want to bring that back. And then what I’m trying to do with that function again, we’re on it CELab. But I also represent Outreach and these fluidly kind of merge together because I’m actively learning and doing things and applying them back to work and then cycling back through and sharing that with other people. You know, so I look at myself as kind of an influencer practitioner. Yeah. Now, when I looked on LinkedIn, I continue to see so much more capabilities and things like, okay, for example, one of the things that I’ll go back to our friend Sam, Sam Nelson is a great influencer. He just started, just started doing this, right. He just started getting out there. But he’s not necessarily completely on brand, meaning at this moment in time, is he on the on the outreach LinkedIn domain? No, he’s on his own brand, right. But he wants to be, and those are the kinds of plays that we’re going to kind of pull through to say, let’s partner you up with our brand, our marketing team. Now you’re representing let’s layer in some other things. Let’s take you up market, let’s resonate and ,what’s the word I want, amplify your message. Because the thing that I see the value in and I could use your help and other people’s help to say, you know what you do this? Like, you know, when you’re going to go before you go live, make a post? And like, what were all the tactical things. I’m like, really curious to see what are the things that you’re working on? That will help me that I’m I’m putting my outreach hat now. I’m thinking now I’m the Education team and outreach. Now I want to leverage all that’s LinkedIn, to really amplify my message. You saw that with a certification as soon as we start doing that, the coolest thing ever is that we were partners with pride lay right there. There are a vendor that that services us in when we released this program and my hunch, no, my guess, as a scientist, my, my hypothesis was that if we get badges, and I give you a badge, right, Sam, you earned it. You can put it on social, you can put it on LinkedIn, you can put on Facebook, you can put on Instagram, you put whatever you want. But when they when an individual sees that and clicks on that might like, I see you having to go, Oh, cool. Yeah, I could go after that now. And then you open up and you go to the cradley site, and you see all this information about our curriculum, and what’s meaningful and how this makes value. And why Sam got this? Well, because he’s a data scientist. And you want to do data science for outrage if we had that. Right. that expresses so much it extends social selling so much more. Because now I have the use case in the value add right there in front of me. And I don’t see a lot of companies really adopting this yet. Although now I’m now I’m like watching my LinkedIn feed. And I’m seeing Ungerboeck, and Tableau, and Smartsheet, and Zendesk, and like all of our friends, if I call them friends now, because I know these people that are working most of these places. It is just like a festival of excitement is so cool, but yeah, I’ll stop talking because like, when did you riff on that and tell me what it is that what what your mission, man? Sure,

Sam Cummings  14:51

Good, good, good, good points. Now from a structure of it like just as a CSM. We’re doing a lot of things in watts. Education, alignment planning, program management. So there’s so many hats that you’re switching on and off to drop a program. It varies throughout the lifecycle, right? The things that a company needs on onboarding are a little bit different, obviously, than someone who’s in their 3rd year, right difference in needs, different ends in goals, and overall tools that you need as a CSM to be successful. But the one thing that’s underlying, the one thing that connects all is the focus on success. And so again, I’ve been a customer success person, you might have saw this in my article, where I mentioned this a little bit on my LinkedIn page. And that is, again, I came from focusing on the customer, being an analyst working and looking at customer behavior, customer outcomes, customer experiences, and trying to glean insights, I was all about the customer, being an actual CSM and working in trying to not only roll out programs and roll out insights to people that in an actionable way, but now educate them on how to be better sellers, how to truly engage better how to take what they’re good at. So what’s your natural style is because everybody has a different style, right and right now is your strip. And if you accent if you accent, what activity you can do for your company, with your strength, it becomes your superpower. And so really inspiring people to take on new ideas, new concepts, and a lot of times these sellers are super successful. They’re working on a large company for a reason. And they’ve delivered success over the career. So you know how it is we have veterans, right learning new tricks, new ways to do things. It’s always something that can be either a challenge or an opportunity, kind of how you look at it. And so inspiring people to really take on new things and learn them. Success is that timepiece between everything. What I mean by that is I’m inspiring success, cultivating it, and then distributing it throughout the lifecycle. And what that looks like is a lot of what you described with Sam Nelson, and also what you’re doing with your program, you’re educating. But then you’re also giving things that allow people to see their level of success, what they’ve done, I’ve achieved and became an Outreach professional, I’m certified. That success mantra. And that success focus has a lot of unintended effects that are super powerful. The number one that I’m a point on too, is that by creating these programs, you’re allowing for the market to have clear understandings of value. So when it comes to knowing, hey, I want to hire a person that can run our programs, we use Outreach as a core program in how we enable and drive our sales efforts and our engagement. I’m not going to hire somebody that might have that skill set. But is it outreach certified? Or am I going to hire somebody that’s Outreach certified. And so it’s that piece that again, by focusing on success, inspiring it, cultivating it, sharing it, that there’s all these other things that come with that, that generate organic sales. So again, people having wonder on LinkedIn, that makes it as a branding opportunity beyond anything, right? This person took the time energy, and finance, you know, investment to really get this certification as they knew it was going to be valuable. And so there’s some of that, that as you reach a certain critical mass of people in the marketplace and do the job that you serve, also have your certification. There’s a watershed moment, similar to what happened with the TI calculator back in the 80s. Right? A bunch of competitors, all these different calculator companies, the reason why TI became the word is because they merged into college programs. Right? It was became the standard calculator of training, whatever industry you’re in, again, it comes back to that success by cultivating, creating and then  defining ways for that to become an industry standard. Man, that’s really what it’s all about.

Dave Derington  19:11

That is that yes. Oh, all that. That’s fine. Yeah. So So now I’m really curious in your role as an enterprise CSM? What is it that what are the kinds of motions that you have? Because, you know, we talked about in in customer success, I’d be a bad evangelist for customer success, had I not paid attention to what to learned from Mr. Nick Mehta, and you and others? Well, while tenure at Gainsight. And you know, we’re focused on scale. We’re focused on adoption, we’re focused on retention. We’re focused on call deflection. We’re focused on all these things. It’s the life cycle of an organization and I look at our CSMs as a you know, they’re kind of an influencer. And I keep I’m gonna I’m gonna ping pong on that. That’s what we’re doing here. That, you know, I go I look at you and I look at our Sam and I look at others that the success of the future is social. The success of the future is being online and visible video, things like LinkedIn, live Twitch, YouTube live all those different assets, that my hypothesis is that we’re, we’re you’re doing kind of what you said, you know, now our CSMs are kind of like being more evangelists and getting out there. And now we need to like resonate and get a lot of the content, but get a lot of that activities, those small successes. In other words, which come through a badge, which show up on LinkedIn, amplify so much of the CSM’s work, because now you’re saying, okay, you play roleplay with me, I worked with you and I did this. This is just friendship. Right. But actually, you kind of played my CSM, even though that Well, actually, I don’t know, if you go round robin, we’re both customers. We we have a relationship anyway. But I know, I can tell you that outreach depends upon tooling that that LinkedIn provides. So we’re and I’m a raving fan. And I have been since day one, the beta launch. And I’ve used it every single day of my work career mostly. Right. So now I’m seeing like, it’s really locking. It’s really coming in. I’m curious, like, how do you help large businesses grow? From an enterprise perspective? with an eye on sale? sales? I’m sorry? When I an education to like, what is it you, Sam are doing?

Sam Cummings  21:34

Sure. And so I’ll give a little bit of flavor here. And then you know, some of the secret sauce, right, protecting all?

Dave Derington  21:39

We always have that agreement here. Yeah.

Sam Cummings  21:44

Just universal troops. And so when I think about the enablement, the key thing that’s here is that there is a lifecycle to this, right? where people are in the continuum, there’s different types of strategies that work, when it comes to the actual way that my role is situated. It’s unique to my role, but I’m gonna speak to it in a more general space where people can really take this across the life of their own way to apply. And so I put it into categories of enablement. And that education framework fits is like an umbrella of this. So I have different categories along the way, the whole thing is educating them on how to use it, and put it to practice. So how I educate people in the beginning, is fundamentally different than how I’m educating people at later stages.

Dave Derington  22:35

Because it’s a lifecycle approach, right?

Sam Cummings  22:37

Yes. And so I’m enabling and engaging people more hands on in those beginning times. So say you just go live with a tool, you just started using it, I’m leaning in heavy with my goal is to inspire, educate, but primarily inspire behavior change, people should leave that call, or leave those series of enablement, sessions, excited, revved up, ready to go. And one of the tricks I use to really make that possible is one tell really human stories that are anchored in data. So in my slides, I’ll share here’s some of the data what’s going on in the ecosystem. And then I’ll always have a slide is either a quote from somebody who posted on LinkedIn, or another executive, some human element, so we go from the data down to the humanity. And then on my third slide, use a third or fourth slide in that conversation, I’ll share some of their specific data, meaning, what is their current level of adoption in platform? What are they seeing what is their level of understanding and social selling so far, and so that really coming from the high end, this is what the data at a macro says, through the human element to the action of like, this is what’s relevant to you, I then couple with a workshop format, type of kickoff training. So even in the first training, again, I’m assuming that they’ve consumed some of our on demand resources, I send that off and say, Hey, this is some of the power from the course making bite size five minute videos, no longer we can kind of get familiar on the call, we actually do it in a workshop format, where I show a little bit of how our process works. And then they get to take action on that process. Yeah, what is the fundamental formula for inspiring action? Because again, it starts from the data down to the human down to your personal world, to real world action that you’re taking on the call, right? That formula I found works really well for inspiring success and inspiring people to take on the new practices, frameworks and ideas and to try and to educate them on from there. That’s that first chapter. You can pause me if you want to dig in anywhere deeper. Yeah,

Dave Derington  24:55

well, so so that I just have to ask so I can frame up mentally Kind of like, what kind of aspects or attributes of your product is that that you’re educating and you’re enabling somebody on that you’re

Sam Cummings  25:07

So I’m in the Sales Navigator. So sales solution space, okay, sellers on how to use Sales Navigator.

Dave Derington  25:14

So now we’re really talking because we’re talking on three levels at the same time here. And this is why I really wanted to connect with you personally, because, you know, we’re talking at like, number one, I love what LinkedIn does. And I’m really curious, on a personal level, and a professional level and a work level. Because educationally like we talked about Sales Navigator in our, our training, but that’s actually kind of weird, then because I’m not here to train other people on sales, and I’m gonna pull them back to you and say, if you don’t know about Sales Navigator, please talk to our friends over at LinkedIn, here’s our academy, or contact your CSM, and they’ll be happy to get you to that. So you have a, you have your own balance of educate, like for us at outreach, we have, you know, different categories, different sizes of scale, from enterprise all the way down to an emerging kind of, of group. And then, depending on where you are, in that we have a different strategy. So we’re not going to get Assam on a on a, you know, more of an emerging account where we are, you know, like five seats, but we have a university, and we do have people that you can talk to if you need to. So okay, so that’s that’s helped me a lot, Sam. So you got the floor … continue!

Sam Cummings  26:23

A few points there. And so thinking about that first chapter – Inspire. Inspiring people, it’s, I recommend, there’s a mix of on demand, and real life enablement, that works really well in inspire. The big challenge with just on demand only is it’s hard as a human to inspire somebody was just watching a video. Yeah. Now there is an element where again, you can do a lot of that as long as you supplement that video with activities. And not just like most the time, what you’ll see is do this activity where it’s like, check off this box, in the tool, answer some questions, pretty much as a check and tell you that I did I actually watched the video, great depth beyond that having those actions, have them actually do something in the platform. One really powerful trick is have them take action in the platform. And then one of the actual quiz questions is submit a screenshot of your finished workflow. And again, that’s a way to still get your checks and balances. Because again, we want to make sure people are completing the content, especially when it’s heavily reliant on demand. But it makes it so it’s still inspirational. Because once if what you’re giving is really valuable. And people actually take that action, see it for themselves right

Dave Derington  27:39

… right there, right then!

Sam Cummings  27:42

They see they feel that they experience it, that understanding is there. And so that’s for me, closes out my Inspire goal. Inspiring someone and giving them that understanding. That’s what really opens up that door for the next stage, which I’ll define more detail.

Dave Derington  27:58

Cool. Okay, well, I want to hear it because that’s everything you’re doing there that this is one of the things that I always struggle with, particularly engaging in a new role. And a new company is showing where that glove fits. Right. And I’m using my hands for people on the audio, that the interrelationship between customer success and education, there is none. I mean, there There, there, it’s a complete, there’s no differentiation, we had just recently launched a podcast episode with Michael Harnam. Michael Harnam, you probably heard of him, if not Education Services Group, very big player on providing well scale for customer success, customer success as a service. That’s that was a love that concept, like what do you mean by that? Well, we, we outsource it for you in in and help you amplify. But one of the things he had said on that was, you know, he was on with both Adam ever asked you and I on the call. And he was saying Dave Adam, like the the big thing that I say is there, there is no difference between the education and customer success. It is one and then and the message that I’m trying to take up market the message and by talking with you and others who are at big logos that, you know, we’re out there doing this every day, we’re doing Customer Success every day. education needs to be at parity with your customer success program. And you know, can be lower, it can be a different team, it can’t be somewhere else. We’re here to do one job and that’s inspire, show, demonstrate, get people engaged in on the product so they can do something with it because we lose them in customer service. If we don’t get them right away. That’s why I love your, your yo let’s do an app. Let’s do it right here. Show me! Show me you understand it. And when that light bulb goes on immediately and you see it and I see it, then learning is easy. Because, you know, I’ll give you a great example. And I’ll talk to and I’m being transparent with my friends at Smartsheet if they’re listening you know as far as is a great platform I had been using, and I’m not gonna discount the other platform I was using. I was using Asana. And Asana is a great platform. So I’m trying to work with to write in my team. And I had one part, my team saying, we need to use this. And our team is saying yes to this, I’m like, ah, and for me, you get this one, a friend of mine, I think, Mike (Pollack) from Intricately is  CEO of Intricately talking about this kind of neuroplasticity that we have. And this is relevant to our conversation, because the kind of neuroplasticity that I’m talking about, it’s not in the medical one. It’s a tech one. Yeah. Meaning your brain and my brain, Sam, are kind of trained after a few years of working in software as a service. Because I’ve seen so many project management platforms I’ve seen, you know, like in the space of project management, I think of Asana, and Trello, and Google Sheets, and Smartsheet. And, you know, I can go on and on and on, Airtable, whatever. I don’t want to, you know, a lot of people listen. But there’s so many and each have slightly different use cases, nature good in some way, and some, you know, are better than others. And that’s why this personal touch is really important. Like we get folks excited, like when I first saw it, when I first saw outreach, it was the most fun experience I had. A friend of mine, Jackson used to work with me at Azuqua before we got acquired, and he’s just gone off to another company. But he pulled me over one day and said, Dave, look at this, oh, my God, look at this. Maybe not that excited. But it was pretty excited in that trying to capture that. And he  sat me down. And because I had to ask, like, well, what are you using? And why are you being so successful with your selling motion, whereas we had someone before they were challenged. And he goes, I found Outreach, and this tool is a software tool that I immediately understand I get it, because it’s real like this and like this, and like this, when I looked at it, you know, I saw Gainsight. I’m like, this is kind of the same thing. It’s it’s taking and capturing from a data perspective, all the things that are happening with my customers in a way that is actionable, and that it’s not so different from other platforms that I’ve used before. So again, to wrap that, that big that up that neuroplasticity means that I could talk to you and say, Sam, we’re talking about data here. And now I want to talk about Data Studio from Google. And how cool that is right now, because it’s one of the products I’m using. I’ve used Tableau I’ve used, you know, Microsoft’s tooling, Power BI. I like this, because well, darn it, it’s free, actually not free. It’s included in my subscription for Google. And it ties in all my data. So it’s not like oh, what the hell, why are we not using this? Oh, so anyway, I kind of ripped off of that. But why don’t we continue? Like, tell me more? Tell me more about the next step?

Sam Cummings  32:56

Yeah, so a lot of good things that I’ll sprinkle in here, right? It’s that level of gain, starting with that success, inspiration that leads to cultivation. So now, think of it like a fire, right? Like literally going outside and using the sticking stone joint, a little bit of shrubbery and trying to start a fire. That same analogy here, right, once you got the initial fire sparks embers going now you got to feed the fire. And so once you and I think teachers are the best example of this great teachers that create lifelong learners are essentially great CSMs. And what I mean by that is the same way I inspire a kid, not just to know, whatever we’re teaching them in first grade, but know how to problem solve. They have a desire and a hunger for knowledge. That same thing here, I’m doing in a small realm called Sales Navigator, or small round called social selling. But again, the concepts the formula, the science of the art is the same, I’m inspiring. And then in the cultivation chapter, which I’ll break down a little bit more here, I’m taking those initial embers and giving them the gas that they need to become burning flames. And so that kind of piece has, again, I’m speaking from my experience, there are variances on what I’m describing based on the level of energy and effort required to maintain your tool, simple tests you can do for yourself, look at your tool. And if it looks like the dashboard on a car versus the dashboard on a kid’s car, then you have the difference between a complex tool and you might approach it differently. A tool that’s very simple light amount of features are more customer based versus b2b. Like if it’s an admin who uses your tool, versus just a direct seller or a person who’s customer facing the user to, this varies and how you approach this, right? So that’s for me, again, how I communicate it a key part of the science, knowing what is your product or solution fit in the complexity continuum, super complex, you’re going to do this a little bit differently. If it’s not that if it’s very simple turnkey, then you might do this a little bit, the way that I’m describing, again, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is somewhere on that spectrum, too. But every product that’s in the market is somewhere on this spectrum. And so based on where you live on that spectrum, that’s going to dictate how many different types of touch points you have, how long are those touch points, how much you rely on, on demand, versus live scenarios, how much you’re telling the story, versus you’re letting people tell the story, the big metric that you’re going to use as a true north, here is your time to value. If you have a product that has a pretty long time to value, meaning you have to do a lot to get to the endpoint, to see the insights, obviously, you’re going to treat that a little differently, right? If you can’t, in one call, go after some things that are going to give you the value that you want, then you might need to break that up into a workshop, or even break it up into smaller mock modules of success. And then anchor your cultivation in that instead of trying to cultivate you to be a just using an example here, a Salesforce in every facet, expert user, I might just cultivate you and the ability to get your account management properly done, right, you know exactly how to bring in your leads, how to handle your conversions, everything that you need in that piece, you’re strong law. So again, there’s a level of again, I’m breaking down to more and more pieces or modules based on how complex that product is. But the goal is still the same. You’re cultivating those embers of success to become roaring flames. And so that’s where again, I’ll do things like, you know, roll out a survey after that first is second initial types of training, and just ask people, how’s it going? What are you thinking? And ask some very, you know, specific questions around what features are using what are you not, where are the gaps, that allows me again, I’m from a data perspective, that’s my background, but to bring a data lens to the conversation. And this is where you really cultivate the same insights that you’re sharing with the management and leaders to say, Hey, here’s what happened from that training. Here’s the success we’re doing. I share that with the users too. And let them see the exact same data to say, hey, whether it’s good or bad, this is a part of it, that lets you be a trusted partner. Again, if you trust your doctor, and they’re telling you the truth, yeah, that’s what you want. As a CSM, I’m playing a lot of the same role where if stuff is bad, or guns are good, I want to tell you that and they tell you how it’s gonna get better. And so it’s that level of community like sharing the data and telling people exactly Hey, we met with the management since our training, when we did you have been saving tons of more leads, you’ve been viewing more profiles and making more connections. That’s an example under the LinkedIn analogy. I think almost anybody who knows social media to kind of gravitate to, but it’s that same concept, and then identify, hey, here’s some areas where we might want to improve. And I anchor whatever training or enablement I do, and clear understanding. So instead of me trying to tell you why or get you to see you and get you to believe you, you are in the same mindshare as me. And that allows me then to begin to cultivate that that initial excitement and energy by taking the stories. So one of my questions that I would ask in that survey is, tell me about a success story you’ve had using this tool. I mean, again, those stories I’ll show on the screen itself, and that allows for this success to be cultivated, because that person who shared that story, now their manager knows that story. their peers know that story. They’re tapping them on the shoulder, like, hey, Greg, I know you’re the social selling guy, I saw your story, man, can you help me out? And so that inspires them and gives them an opportunity to be a thought leader in their own company. And so I’m cultivating that, and outside, yes, and outside. And so one of the frameworks that I do is well, that I think is getting super applicable. I do a series called the role Rockstar series, where I’ll take the best people in my organizations. So whether it’s individual users, program managers, executives, they’re just doing awesome stuff, and have them get on a call like this like a virtual conference call and share their insights to so my other uses across my business, and I’ll have other csms or other teams. I’ll send it on our team chat. So everyone body can invite any customer they want. And so it becomes, again more opportunities to cultivate success. Internally, their executive see that 80 people were on this call here from one of your people, obviously, and everybody’s like in the chat giving round. how amazing it is, like, that’s what success looks like.  I’m not beating them down. And I’m not saying Hey, you got to do because your manager said, I’m not trying to like truly get them to think how this is going to Super change my life overnight. I’m bringing them into the experience of success and thought leadership that again, just gonna naturally inspire anyone to really go for it

Dave Derington  40:38

I dig it! So let me ask you this, then. It sounds to me like you’ve flipped your flip the script on the QBR, you know, the quarterly business review where we just had one with with one of our vendors, and he, it was really well done, actually, I’m just gonna say the vendor because they’re part of our network, Skilljar, and we use them for our LMS. And I was very impressed at how this and I did some of the things that you’re doing. But let me before I go into my story, let me ask you this. So you said you wouldn’t let your let you invite more people? Is this a caviar? Is this some kind of an other engagement differentiated from that?

Sam Cummings  41:18

So separate from the QBR. Okay, this is like essentially a non tie. So once a quarter, I host these roll rocks bar series. And so now again, that’s an opportunity for my best, brightest across accounts, to have some cross account pollenization. And so I’ve had accounts where I’ve hadn’t been able to get them on a call. But again, that call, they heard about the great things that that person was doing, yeah, working together to craft a program, that again, they’re going to be on the next one, sharing their story. So it’s again about that success, cultivation. And when I talked about that enablement, and general like education part that’s per customer, so every customer has an education part of their customer success plan. And in that education, again, I’m inspiring in the beginning, with that workshop data to human storytelling, anchored in action, following up with some kind of survey to gather insights, and success stories. Using that next call, what I’ll do is I’ll usually get a Champions call. So again, it’s not all the users initially, but the core champions, and then share with them the data, what we’ve seen in their survey results. And here’s what we’re planning for the next set of it, who wants to own some of these different elements, and be the thought leader or the speaker on this aspect of what we’ve identified. And so that’s where the cultivation turns into distribution. Now, I’ve created little mini fires. Now it’s time to spread those fires around! Ha – Not in Southern California. No. <Laughs> We’ve we’ve had that Inspire the love!

Dave Derington  43:01

Oh, my God. Now this is this is wonderful. And in going back to the story that I had was Skilljar, I was very, I was so excited about it. I’m like, Can I share this? Can I share these results this, the because in our case, my mission, when I joined, was to really take a look at the entire program of education that had been created so far. And you know, assess the state, it was not in a good state, it had been kind of let out to pasture by itself for a while. And but then my goal, again, being trained by gainsight, being trained by Nick and the vision that our founders at the time had had, it’s I’m scale, I’m thinking, How can I build the program up so that people have the substrate a foundation to work from that they can get to anytime, anywhere to do whatever, right? But then we offer more and we layer in on that, you know, workshops and sessions. Like I know, our CS team does a lot with programs that are not not not their education adjunct. Right. So what I mean by that there’s a there’s a discrimination that I like to make intentionally with CSM because there’s, there’s a common trap. I will say that trap is that as we grow as organizations and you saw this at Gainsight, as we grow, there’s this gap that happens a tech tech gap where oh my God, I don’t have anybody that can actually grapple with this education thing. Now we do and you’re doing it and you’re demonstrating it in your day to day and it’s one of the calls to action that I have See what I did there that I have for every CSM is that if you’re not thinking education first, you’re not thinking about how you’re going to obsolete yourself from your low end CSM job and get yourself up to that director VP level and grow your career. Because you as a CSM need to be thinking about how do I get others to make the left for me and what This story that you’re telling me is just so fun. Because you’re, you’re lighting people on fire. You’re getting in, that’s our mission. This is why I think this concept of an influencer in the concept of what we’re doing as I podcast for reason, because I consider myself and you know, trust me, I have every day doubt, uncertainty, imposter syndrome, crippling anxiety in whatever you want to call it, as I am a leader, but a leader has all those things in tow, for sure, I can only use data to show that I’m doing a good job. And the things that I say are not just hearsay, right. But it’s a hard job. And I love this space. And, and I’m trying to help this space. And I’m very thankful for the work that you’re doing. Because it really brings it up to another level, we’re saying, CS is a lot of stuff. Education is one of those things, and one of the things is that, you know, getting cultivating, and I think this is missed, because we tend to think we’re actually going to have, and this may have happened or will happen by the time this podcast goes out. Or we’re going to be talking with Donna Weber. And Donna Weber is one of the players in the in the customer success market. She’s a consultant, and she helps large companies like ours, to understand how to onboarding because it matters. In fact, that’s what her book was called. Onboarding is just a start, right? But we we tend to screw it up, right or we don’t put enough love in your own. Think about all the pieces it’s really, really hard. But table stakes is if you just had an email campaign, and you just said I’m going to drip feed out certain things. But interspersed in that go to this webinar, come hang out with us talk to your CSM, we do get enough job. But then that then going beyond there. Now the things that you’re talking about are those lifecycle motion, the fun where then you get a bunch of people in the room that are super excited, I know that gainsight did this with pulse. And when Pulse Local started, I had moved from St. Louis where I was and one of the offices in California one of the and I was here in Washington by myself. So I started hanging out with CSM. And it was so cool. But those little things we’re learning that  get people excited, you’d have leaders stand up, you had this emergent, it wasn’t the same kind of social, like we’re talking about LinkedIn, but a social and and that cultivation over the lifecycle of of a company, it’s, you know, we need to get back more at a time to value time, the first value is the time that I have the product implemented. But now time to first value is kind of that CS Customer Success play. It’s the first time that light bulb really went on. And I go, I grok this thing and now I love it. And now I’m you know when I first when I first got hooked with LinkedIn, oh my god, it must have been like the late 90s. Right? I don’t remember that the day. No, that can’t be right. It was LinkedIn around the late 90s.

Sam Cummings  47:57

I think 2000 is probably where you’re at

Dave Derington  47:59

today. Okay, yeah, ‘cuz I was thinking 99. But it was around the time of Salesforce is launch. Right? You know, they’re all in there. And some of us jumped on it. But some people didn’t get it, like, Well, why do I need to do that? You know, my partner? We go back and forth on? Like, why do you spend so much time doing this, Dave? And go well, because it really helps my career. And it is not my career. It’s okay. I’ll give an example. That’s clear with you with a use case for LinkedIn. I saw your job change. Or I saw a post you made. Ahh! My friend, Sam, hey, I haven’t hung out with you in so long. And look where we’re at today, we’re having a talk that’s really on point. work related. We’re having fun, because this is actually a kind of wraps we would have in the office and we wouldn’t record them. But that’s so important. And that that visible level of look at at LinkedIn is everything about work my entire career life, all the people I hang out with all my buddies and friends and network. And it’s important. But it’s in now I’m starting to see some really cool stuff like LinkedIn live blew my mind. It really did. When I grokked what the functionality was, I’m surprised more people aren’t using.


Yeah. And again, there’s a learning curve, you bring up some always some good gyms. think one thing just to touch on there, it goes back to that b2c-ification. As people are now seeing what happened with Facebook, what happened with all social media in general, where that became a way for you to stay in a more and again, all businesses about, again, finding that place for you to really be able to make things more efficient or more effective. Yeah, that transfer of knowledge, the exchange of information, again, whether you like using Twitter or anything like that, the rapidness of exchange is so last point that that type of opportunity was only a matter of time if they came to b2b. So what LinkedIn has really served as is that same place. Now again, there’s all other use cases that go along With that, how do you know that someone’s credible. And this is some of the thing that even when we think about what is blockchain done for finance is made a way where you have an auto referee tool, where there’s always the ability to know that this ledger is accurate. LinkedIn is doing the same exact thing, where you can see on someone’s profile, what they’ve done, you have people that are giving them kudos, you have people that have given him recommendations, and that level of proof of purchase or proof of commodity were people but in the marketplace, that is what essentially is gold here. And what’s really made, why this b2c-ification is a trend that’s going to continue. And one thing I’ll anchor on here, as we wrap up some of the last pieces here, as that that framework, I introduce, inspire, cultivate, and then distribute in that distribute category. I’m leaning outside. So I’m not as much now that I’ve gotten people inspired doing things, I’m not leading trainings as much. I’m a general now, I have the soldiers out leading meaning the individual champion sellers that have achieved success, they’re speaking on how to use this feature to their own user base. They’re telling them, hey, here’s how I use it. Here’s my story. And so I work with my program managers to plan the training, but I’m not doing the planning as much as me, the program manager, and the champions work together to create the program and they execute. I’m literally sitting back supporting, listening,

Dave Derington  51:39

Job well done, all right, my book of business is looking fat.

Sam Cummings  51:47

That becomes an opportunity for me then to introduce Role Rockstars, where I say, hey, you just rock and shine at your own company, we’d love to have you share that information with the broader LinkedIn community, join our webinar, let’s share these best practices and concepts across the ecosystem. And again, it’s that taking it to next levels, we’re again in the distribution stage, now we distributed around your company. Next, that’s distributed to the ecosystem, right? That kind of layering of this approach. Again, that’s where I’m taking that loop to its next level where again, I’ve inspired success, cultivated it, and then helped them distribute it internally. And externally, my companies and my customers crushing it from there.

Dave Derington  52:34

As that’s awesome, man, this is … You’re a natural this like is this is the easiest podcast I’ve ever done that it didn’t even plan or structure

Sam Cummings  52:42

You’re the Joe Rogan to this man, you got it on point one of the reviewers, I can’t wait to see this this podcast, if it does come out, I can’t wait to hear it and love to see you just keep building and growing this because this is like you mentioned is where it’s at being an influencer in the space, the same way there’s, you know, YouTube influencers, there’s gonna be a new realm that’s even bigger here. The niches in business are so wide. There’s like, you got Sales Automation, you got Marketing Automation, you got Customer Success, there’s so many pockets, room for stars to shine, that again, this is just the beginning.

Dave Derington  53:20

So much fun. I got I had a couple of quick lightning round questions. Do you have any more time need to jump off?

Sam Cummings  53:26

I can do a couple more

Dave Derington  53:27

Cool. Okay, let me ask you, we always do kind of a segment and this, I hadn’t planned this. And so for my audience for you, I didn’t plan to do this. I just thought, hey, let’s get on to talk. And if it sounds like we’re going in the right direction, we’ll just we’ll roll it. So we’re gonna roll this. So lightning round is usually I just have a few key questions or things that I’m curious about that might relate them might not. One of them is with LinkedIn. Some of the things that I’m really curious about is number one, I’m curious about the business package. Right. I’m premium right now. And one of the things that I see immediately is as it opens up more space, and I’m starting to see I’ve got wider reach, right. But one of the things I’m curious about is, what’s it this differentiation between that premium in the business type package? So I’m thinking, think of a smaller company, right? You might start off free. I’m an individual. Now I have a company, oh, I’m doing stuff. Now I get to premium? What is that point that that inflection point where a business plan would be worth it to me or into my business?

Sam Cummings  54:31

Yeah. And so there are so many layers to that question. I won’t be able to. LinkedIn has various different tools. And so in the experience that you’re describing, being the end user, right, I’m just a user of LinkedIn, that trip that trajectory varies based on what role you’re in. And that business acquisition. So moving from general user to premium to then a business user, think of it like a tree We’re all kind of on that base thing. Yeah, based on the roles, it branches out, if your your goal is marketing, a business user of the marketing tool platform, if your role is talent acquisition or hiring, then you’re going to go into the talent acquisition, business acquisition, if it’s sales, Sales Navigator piece, and so that variance and that inflection point changes based on everybody. But what everybody realizes, and what I’ve realized coming from being a data person, in my career hands on, is that having more context, more visibility, and more data, to arm, your decisions, and arm your efforts, is always something that people will be willing to pay for. And so that’s what you’re getting at as you go along these rugs is more access either more content, or more features, to enable you to take the actions that are most high value for you. So it’s that continuum that I think makes totally, you know, sense for anybody can relate to right. Yeah, now you out of something, and I can see better I can make better decisions, I have better insights. That’s what leads people regardless of where they split off into the business, purchase side, start with a premium and work their way up just organically.

Dave Derington  56:18

That’s cool. Yeah, one of the things that I’m really trying to do now is, so we obviously for cielab. And I’m thinking about this for work, too. But we obviously make post target around launches of our episodes. And Adam, my co host, and I, we’ve been experimenting, right? We will. And one time I for the one of the last podcast we did, I went out and I crafted a really I took one of the quotes, it was Lincoln Murphy, actually, that we interviewed. And I took one of his quotes, because I was like, This is gold. This is beautiful. And I took it and I created this little graphical image that looked really nice. I used a web tool for that. And then I dropped it in and I saw my, my view spiked, it went way up over 1000. And for me, that’s good. Because before as I’ve been doing this, I was like maybe 50 100 150. Now I’m consistently at like 1000. But sometimes I’m not. And so and sometimes Adam will make a post and he does something a little bit different. So what I want to do now is actually introspect to that from a data perspective. And that’s where I’m stuck, like, I really want to like, really, at the base brass tacks, I really want to get a report that I can pull from an API, and I can look at periodically, like, how many views, what was post name, maybe some metadata, and then be able to start from a, from a visualization perspective to understand how that maps, and I don’t quite get how to do that, I would think that API would do it. But that’s why I was asking about the business plan or those kind of tools in there, then those things that I could guess.

Sam Cummings  57:46

And so it’s short, you’re kind of giving the meat on the bones of what I described, yeah, those tools are in the platform. So right now, there’s no API’s that you can use to get some of that insight, you could just see it on the screen, you can see on that, you know, views and profile engagement screen, you can see how much people have consumed your posts in your content, as you move up from just premium? Premium, again, lets you see all of this stuff. Whereas just as a regular user, they might show you the top five, yeah, see everything else. And so you get how, again, I’m opening up your code, context, and then your vision. And then when you buy the, you know, the business version in this example, that’s where you get all that ability to do live reporting on it, you could do different types of A/B testing, cut it up by, you know, what kind of roles are engaging my content, which content is really resonating with different roles better. And so as again, as you know, you think about anyone that’s in this call that is creating products or drafting businesses, it’s that kind of structure that really works well and inspiring people to go. Okay, what if I got a premium? Why would I pay extra for the business? Trust me, when you get it, you’ll know?

Dave Derington  58:58

Okay, so that was it. This has been great on several levels. My friend, this is really cool. Because, like, frankly, I had been personally struggling with LinkedIn, why should I pay for a premium, you sold me on that, because it really comes into play when you are now wanting to do more. And now I’m getting to the next level of I want to actually make strategic decisions about the content that I create. And I put out there not on just, oh, I looked at that post and this post this post, but now I’m actually looking at it over time at a bigger perspective. So super cool, my friend. I don’t want to take up too much more your time. But this has been wonderful. I love to do more of these but I will plan on sharing this with with the community. And there’s several different ways we can we can go out there what I’m talking about now, I think I’ll probably cut but this was fun, organic conversation.

Sam Cummings  59:49

Always good stuff, Dave. I mean, we should have been getting back together. So anytime definitely reach out to me. I can again to get to tell you about DataPlant.

Dave Derington  59:57

Oh, no. That was a little close out. Yeah. Tell him Tell me Tell me about your, your personal initiatives DataPlant what you’re doing with that?

Sam Cummings  1:00:05

Let’s throw that out. So again, just if anyone hears this, if not, okay, just between us. However, the point I gotta tell you is the industry is about to change. And one of the big things is the way that we’ve just accepted our way we’ve assumed that business supposed to work is exactly that. It’s an assumption. There are so many things that are just the core way of how people just assume we’re doing business. Customer Success is just an example of that we have that in every industry, what we’re doing with data plan is turning some of the underlying assumptions for data management and assumptions for using data to make decisions in the CS space. on its head. The biggest area, if you ask anybody where the challenges are, in standing up any of these CS tools, or any of these applications, like a Salesforce is the amount of work that it puts on people in data entry, and setup. And the complexity of contextualizing data is huge for CS. Unlike any other industry or role. My data is not just in my department, I need marketing data, I need the port data, I need sales data. So by nature, being a good CS organization, you got to be cross functional, and collaborative, to get the data you need to make those decisions. So what we’re doing with DataPlant is really giving people a tool and a platform, whether you live inside of DataPlant, so it can be your core solutions and leverage, or you’re someone who just wants to bring the data in and get the insights. we’re minimizing the amount of work required to stand up these enterprise type tools by making it so you give us your data. You don’t got to map and tell us what’s in the data. Just tell us what field has the text, what field has the date, what has the ID, and then the backend, you click one button and say click train. And from there, it has an understanding of your system enough to generate all the charts and all the insights. And then as we do with social media, the b2c-fication. All you do is you scroll on social media, you tell it I like this post, get rid of this one. This is spam, keep this then you just keep scrolling. What is that world when we have that for insights, give me your data, click train and insights are generated. And instead of you having to go build out your dashboards, build out all your reports, build out all your views, the system just generates it. And you just tell it what you like and what you don’t. And so that’s what we’re doing with Data Plant. We’re bringing that social media experience and that social media b2c type of consumption approach to the SAS world. So super excited about that,

Dave Derington  1:02:52

Yeah, I need I need to go go deeper with that, because that that’s brilliant. So let’s end it right there. I’ll add in all the flavor. But Sam, thanks so much for hanging out. With me today. I’m actually toying around with the idea of calling this office hours. You know, like a more casual, less structured podcast, but this is super cool. So just enjoy the weather there and beautiful Santa Barbara checkout “Psych”. This series is all about the town. I’d love to see somebody who actually lives there. Like tell me all the sights, but my friend. Cheers. It’s been great. Talk to you soon.

Sam Cummings  1:03:31

See you soon … peace!

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