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Episode #4: From Value to the Vineyard

As a digital marketing leader, Beth Kaiser has enabled thousands of marketers with the skills, processes, and systems they need to transform their business goals into effective and efficient digital marketing strategies. Drawing from nearly two decades of experience in marketing, sales, and business operations for companies of all shapes and sizes, industries, products and services, she is passionate about crafting solutions that are useful, relevant, scalable, show value, and drive results. With interests in travel, cooking, food and wine, she also strives to build lasting relationships and have fun along the way. She also possess a very special wine skill that we touch base on.

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Transcription:

Tim Page:

Welcome to episode four of Driving Value Your Morning Commute. Today I've got Chris Dowse with me again helping to co-host this session who's president of customer operations at Smartsheet. Chris, welcome back. Our purpose is to pull experts in from around the industry in both marketing success and sales and get your views on the current world of what we call “talking value”. We believe every conversation with a customer should be based around value. I've got a couple of the best with me here today.

I'd like to also introduce Beth Kaiser, who we have with us today. She's currently the Senior Manager of Scaled Engagement and Growth at Adobe. Before that, she was at Marketo, which was acquired by Adobe where she spent nine years and she's got a background both in marketing, business operations and also, we're going to hear about her expertise in wine. I'm sure is going to get weaved in there. So, Chris, I'll let you kick off and interested in co-hosting and listening to both of you today.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, well I'll open it up for Beth. I mean when I hear growth in someone's title obviously all companies want that. But Beth, is that sort of having that in your title change the structure of your group or what it focuses on? I'm just curious.

Beth Kaiser:

Yeah, it does. It's actually, it's a segment within the Digital Experience Business Unit that I belong to at Adobe. And what that means at Adobe is it is the segment of our business where we are looking at basically net new logos. So, we refer to that as ‘green field’. So that's acquiring brand new customers who have low or no relationship with Adobe and considering their first solution. And then that range is on up to our mandate is to grow, so acquire and grow those accounts to a point where we hand them off to the enterprise. So that's what growth means to me.

Chris Dowse:

And so, help us out there. So, there'd be, obviously you would use the word digital. So, from a digital value motion perspective, what would we be doing with those customers directly?

Beth Kaiser:

Yeah, so what's a little bit different is just what you said, Chris. It is about scale. So just to, I know just to give you context, when we were a value team at Marketo, we were engaged directly with our sales leadership. It was a high-touch white glove experience for marque customers prospects and customers. Those must win type of deals but where we sit in the growth organization it's just not possible to have… It's not cost effective to have that one-to-one experience. It's not feasible with our prospects and customers. So, we take a look at or we right size the value experience to the deal and that could look like a scaled engagement. My team is responsible for scaled engagement. So, we're doing things like account workshops that are focused on discovery value creation and really early top of funnel type of activities full range of services on up to from that very low touch or multi-touch engagement on up to maybe the top five 10 deals that really need that kind of one-to-one value advisor embedded in the sales process end to end.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, I know when you think about the ultimate scale motion I guess, which is the customer doing it themselves, so is that in your portfolio today? And I heard you used the word right sizing, right? So even right sizing maybe the value landscape they're exposed to so they can do something by themselves. Is that something in your portfolio?

Beth Kaiser:

That is something in our aspirational portfolio? Yes. We do have some customer self-service type of assets. We are working with some self-assessments to help with understanding business goals, priorities and then readiness to accomplish their business outcomes. So, we do have some tools where customers help themselves that way. We would love for the customer to be more and prospect more engaged in the sort of early conversation around value quantification. Right now, that's not where we're at. We're working toward some of that motion, but it is there not yet.

Chris Dowse:

It's a great motion once you get it going. I think actually, actually, so we took off at ServiceNow, we took a sub segment that sort of TTO principle fall back to those top common value propositions that customers were interested in. Get it on the website, get them playing with it and I think we even may have integrated to send that a lead generation into Marketo, actually, if I'm not mistaken, well look at you. So, it's a real double wham, you not just get the scale advantage, but you actually start to create pipeline as well that you route to the account teams. So that's a great way to do it.

Beth Kaiser:

Absolutely. I mean we're addressing that today with a partnership that we have with our field marketing teams and we are collaborating together on these multi-account engagements with the goal of pipeline creation but it's more of a hands-on engagement at this point and far less of self-service engagement.

Chris Dowse:

Cool. Yeah, I think one of the things that we've talked about with some of the other guests is what kind of trends are we seeing in terms of the changes in value discussions? I'm just curious, are you seeing anything different that could be driven either by macro changes or post covid hybrid workplace changes? Is it, what are you seeing changes in your value conversations?

Beth Kaiser:

So, the changes we're seeing in the value conversations are around needing to justify investments more regularly, where even companies that are a little bit smaller in size are definitely needing to present that value proposition on up to leadership before really getting signed off on that budget. So, our ROI is becoming table stakes I think in the value conversation at this point.

 

Chris Dowse:

Yep. Makes sense

Tim Page:

Chris, I had a question for both of you based on that. So I won't name the accounts, but this had a super-fast growing startups, been around for a little bit that works with or on top of Salesforce and they told me we just had to write a major justification for another really big account that's public because the CFO's now making all their vendors write a justification of what value they think they're seeing.

I haven't heard that before in mass, right? Of them pushing back to a vendor saying, you show me what you think your value is. And they said it took them almost 40 hours to put something together and it still didn't hit the mark.

Are you seeing more of that type of thing or not yet? Because we think on the upfront sales piece, we always live in have we want to justify this whatever 10 million, 40 million deal over time and what's the return and that type of thing. But are you guys seeing, or not on the backend we think of as value realization, but are you seeing on the backend customers asking you to justify your existence?

Beth Kaiser:

Yeah, absolutely. That is the biggest trend I'm seeing is this need for, I guess I'll call it value confirmation. Value realization means I'm learning does not have a common definition. It means many things to many people from product adoption to use case attainment to on up to the financial quantification of the investment and everything in between. So that's why we're kind of using the word confirmation to say yeah, there's a whole bunch of different ways that value can be measured post-sales.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, I definitely agree. And so, to your first part, Tim, there's no doubt that all investment justifications are going to a higher level than normal or usual. So that's one thing. But then second and I like how Beth say confirmation, there is this validation ask and so you can call it value, we call it value realization for our actual motions. But definitely there's this ask of especially in a SaaS world, you need to validate with us and we need to agree to it. And that's why confirmation's such a good word because it's not just my opinion, which obviously a business case at point of sale an ideal one is where the customers own the numbers and believe in them, their justification, not yours. But this is the same with in with value realization. So, we have again, as Beth was suggesting before, you've got to have a range of motions, everything from a basic telemetry-based estimate of value and then you give it to the customer and they say, Oh, I don't really accept that part, but I'll take that part.

Right? Is that enough to get to a 10 times ratio of value to investment or license? Because that tends to be where you get that break point of, ‘Hey, I'm up for upselling and I'm up for early, even early renewal’. That's your most elaborate one. So you basic telemetry and then all the way to, well, you use the same type of skill base value consultant skill base that you use in your high end motion in pre-sales to actually have that same type of individual going and interview some solution owners and come back with their position on what they think they've achieved with it.

So we're actually in the, I think from our prior conversations, our program for that front is relatively new, like a six to eight month timeline. But we already have examples of Fortune 50 companies signing early, signing bigger deals because you can actually have that realized confirmation conversation and it's also a really powerful position for the upselling as you continue to advance your relationship.

Beth Kaiser:

It

Tim Page:

Really needs to be a life cycle. Oh, go ahead Beth.

Beth Kaiser:

Oh I'm sorry Chris. That's a really interesting metric early renewal.

So I'm curious to know Tim, are there other customers who are using that measurement?

Tim Page:

So I'm just starting to see myself talking to Chris. He's helped us even as we've developed things. But that's why I'm interested in listening to you.

One, I love the word confirmation. We're probably going to steal pieces of that I think it is. Because to me it's just, it's logic, it's life cycle. You shouldn't be having a point in time conversation for a customer to do a renewal or an upsell. It should cement your relationship with your customer as an ongoing conversation.

We do the same thing, just relationships in general. We hang out with people that we feel add energy to us or do things with us or it's just any type of relationship should be that way. So I think it's that for so long the industry, at least the industry I knew was just upfront, let's get the sale and the back end. You look at success teams in tech, they flounder over the place. They use Google Docs and pieces of tools that tell them different information like a gain site or catalyst or you name it. And then they have to put together kind of a conversation. So more of it now I think with the recession kicking in, we've getting a lot of customers saying, what about the back end? Did they call it? Yeah,

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, totally.

Beth Kaiser:

I think success teams have a bit of an identity crisis in SaaA. Some success teams are really tasked with owning the relationship and they don't carry a quota let's say. And other teams are more like sales team install based sales teams with quota being what they lead with and relationship far less important. And then there's organizations where those roles are kind of split down the middle and then you sort have this weird, okay well I own a relationship and maybe some upsell but then I have to bring in my install base salesperson for cross sell. And then you start to get into maybe overlapping roles and responsibilities. So I think it's difficult to figure out as a CSM where to focus my time and effort.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, I mean I agree. And when we, we've benchmarked our customer success organization with ts i a and they definitely look at a continuum where probably two years ago 80% of CS organizations adoption would there be their primary charter, which is what you were getting at Beth. But then more and more of them are having an expansion role carrying a number as well. And that's really where you really have to be smart about how you run your CS org because it's like if I've got a customer that's got a good value realization hypothesis and they've got good momentum, well that's your expansion early renewal segment. But then on the other end, having value realization to offset the perception of losses and downgrades that's of would be at the other end of that matrix. So definitely the identity is shifting, right? That's what you're getting at. So it's very difficult in midstream if you're been structured and geared for adoption and launch and relationship for X number of years and now you're suddenly saying, okay, well how do we move into expansion?

Tim Page:

Super. We need to do a whole session around that. And I've talked to so many CEOs lately from all different size companies because I'm super curious on how people are actually thinking about doing that because the cost model behind that has to also make some level of sense. But it is amazing.

I think Dave Schneider posted from someone at Snowflake had done a whole thing on success and consumption based, consumption-based metrics almost forced the relationship to go into a continued relationship at a rep level because if they get paid on a consumption it goes down another whole path. And frankly my thought process went to that is yeah, you've got to be showing value constantly because they're only going to use your product if they think it's valuable. By the way, we're doing the same thing, I want people ripping our product out of our hand, not us to keep trying to explain why they need to use it more. So anyway whole, that could be a whole topic line is how do you looking at running success.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, I mean I saw that post from David and having worked under him before no know where he is coming from but you're right, I mean there's a cost structure that comes with the different charters and so is it better to concentrate it in one role versus across multiple? I mean that's what he was getting at that was that actually you should get him to come and talk on the show since that was such a generated so much buzz on LinkedIn. I remember that one. So

Tim Page:

Beth, I got a question for you and Chris you could jump into and I'll let you guys if you've got some more but you're triggering a whole bunch of thoughts in my head. But one thing just looking at, I think the world is changing with people working remote which is kind of cool cause you can hire great people that don't have to live in your city. And then just with Covid itself and consumers being super educated on their own and being educated through community and being educated through online sources, nobody shows up. I'll say in the old days, when it first existed and you had to bring them something they didn't know, right? So now they show up pretty educated. What's your thoughts around where you think this world of, I hate you, value sounds like an ethereal word but it's not because people only buy into value, but where do you think value should be going up through the C-suite?

Because be candid with you in this job it's been interesting. You have people like yourselves and frankly I think you and your because of the frame of thinking should be in that C-suite, right? If I were running a bigger org again and be able to hire coo, I'd hire someone who has run value. One, you're financially oriented so you have a little bit of an operation bent or you've run operations and two, you’re constantly being connecting to your consumer's value. But what's your thoughts on where things are changing and the whole C-suite conversation, I'm sure you won't talk about your own companies, but you've seen C-suites that don't talk the conversation of value, they talk the conversation of, and product groups same thing. They build product not necessarily around what people are going to buy.

So, two questions. How do you equate what you do as it should be relative to the C-suite and product? Does it currently feedback into either one of those? Do you feed back into the C-suite, and do you feed back in the product in your current roles or how you think it should be?

Beth Kaiser:

Well, I mean in terms of C-Suite really aligning to what's important to them, their business objectives, their business outcomes, their corporate mandates, whatever's keeping them up at night, you need to be able to relate or tell a narrative around how you can help enable that business outcome. And so I think that is what the C-suite is interested in and how that ties back to product is you can bring use cases back to the product organization to say, Hey, I'm hearing that this is keeping the healthcare industry up at night, let's say yeah, privacy, security, data integrity as an example. And then bringing that intelligence back into and the thought leadership back into the organization so that product can inform product strategy in that manner. So, product being kind of the enabler, but really the mandate being hey, we are going to help you accomplish your business outcomes.

Chris Dowse:

Yeah, I agree. For the CXO conversation with the customer CXO. Yeah, I mean that's the first part. You're still required to show up with something some point of view and that's where value realization actually helps because you're able to come to the table with a relative position of that one customer versus what are all your other customers done. And so, if that, you know, focus on an aggregate view of say your top 5%, 10% customers that are taking your technology further, every executive that you're selling to wants to hear about that. Especially if it's, they can still get more value from what they've already spent the money on. As that relates back, I think you're getting at it sort of like, well how does that come back internally then to your own?

I definitely think it is part of the end to end conversation again that life cycle conversation. So I think at this point in pre-sales people understand that there's a relativity between possible value and possible wallet share at the executive level. So I think that's a given at this point. And I think you, I'd be concerned if you brought a CRO on the show and that you didn't know that that would be scary. But in the back end, I think the connection to growth and upselling like we were talking about before and loss mitigation, absolutely. I think that one still there. There's that relationship and how it's discussed at the COO or CFO level, I don't think with that's a strong track record there. And then you brought up the loop and Beth was talking about taking stuff back. If you are doing you're actually, you're doing interviews with customers and especially for a Smartsheet as an example, we are no code. So customers go and do incredible things and we're not part of the deployment. Then going out and talking to them about value realization for some type of global safety culture change mean we didn't have sort of said, hey, we're going to build a solution for that. So bringing that back and distilling it into dominant solutions and for product management. Absolutely. That would be your perfect chief customer officer loop going back in there. Yeah.

Tim Page:

Great. Well we're coming up on time, we've got some good insights. Quickly. I could probably talk for two hours to both of you listening and thinking as we're chatting. But Beth, last question and I have to confess, I don’t know how to pronounce sommelier. Am I close? How did you get into that? So best's a certified sommelier, how did you get into that and when did it all start?

Beth Kaiser:

So I've always really loved to cook. So I would say it started there with just a passion for cooking and creating experiences with food. And from there it parlayed into a curiosity about wine. And a colleague I met at a startup who was a big wine collector and we used to do these wine tastings on Fridays. He would bring things in from a lot of older stuff and we had one would happy hour we would call SW or swell. So we'd open up all these old bottles of wine and hey, are you any good? Are they vinegar? Do you know, whatever. So that kind of got me thinking about bringing wine into food experiences. And so I live in California, Silicon Valley, so I started to do a little research to see if there were any classes I could take to learn a little bit more about food and wine pairing, just like for my own personal edification, just to create fun experiences for myself and my friends and family.

And I found that there was a course that was put together by a master sommelier underneath the culinary school curriculum intended to take someone basically with no experience and get them to a working professional experience in a wine business, particularly in the restaurant business. And so I had some time available and so I signed up for the program. It was full time and it was really intense. I thought it was going to be like, Oh, I'll learn a little few things about food and wine. No, this was encyclopedia knowledge crammed into my head for a three month period of time and it was super intense. I learned how to taste wine. It's a very deductive process. So if you're a data junkie, it is like right up your alley. You read about regions, their tir, the soil, the aspect, the growing conditions, the grapes that grow there particulars about growing years.

And then you do a sensory analysis and you pull all that data together and then you come up with a conclusion about what that wine is, the quality of it, how age, what it might pair with the food for various structural reasons, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, that's when I got into it. Curiosity I feel great about the education I have. I'm thinking that I'll use it later in life. I would love to retirement years, slow down years orchestrate culinary experiences for people who are wine curious, few curious and bring them to the regions, introduce them to the winemakers and just kind of create those experiences. Wow. I envision for myself. So I hope that's awesome information.

Tim Page:

That's great. No, I think it's great. I think the most interesting people in life are well rounded and have other things outside of just what they do.

But I can hear from both of you. I know Chris a little bit. You're passionate for what you do, which is great cause it makes you good at what you do. So you must be that good at wine too. I can hear it. So I'm super intrigued. Awesome. Well thank you both again, Chris. Thanks for joining. Beth, it is great to meet you a little bit more. We'll pull you back on again in a few months and maybe pick a different topic, maybe around success and value as we see the industry changing. But thanks for your time.

Beth Kaiser:

Yeah, thank you as well. Have a nice day everybody. Yep, you too.