Seamless Customer Handoffs at Scale | Jess Meschino
Justin Keller: Welcome to Revenue Talks, to show where we get real about what it takes to build pipeline and drive expansion as a go- to- market team. I'm Justin Teller, the vice president of Revenue Marketing at Drift. And on this show, I'm here talking to folks across the entire go- to- market organization, which means marketing, sales, and customer success, about how these conversations, technology and cross- functional alignment to build more pipeline and drive expansion. Because revenue is everyone's business now. Hey, everyone. We're back. It's Justin. This is Revenue Talks and welcome to season two. I'm very excited to be joined by Armen Zildjian.
Armen Zildjian: Let's go. Super excited.
Justin Keller: Okay. On today's episode, we're going to take a look into the customer success side of revenue acceleration. We're joined by the one and only Jess Meschino, who is the SVP of customer services at Workable, which is one of the world's leading talent acquisition solutions.
Armen Zildjian: And Jess has been involved in customer success since the dawn of her career. So, in this episode, we're going to walk through what she learned about staying cross- functional in all of those key areas.
Justin Keller: All right, so let's get into it. Jess, thank you so much for joining us. You are the very first guest we're having on this season of Revenue Talks. And so, I want to start this season off with a juicy topic.
Armen Zildjian: That's right.
Justin Keller: You are a lobsterer, right? Or a lobster person? What is the term for-
Armen Zildjian: Yeah, we were arguing over-
Armen Zildjian: Exactly.
Jess Meschino: So, it would be a lobster fisher
Jess Meschino: or a fisherman.
Justin Keller: Lobster fisher. Lobster fisherman.
Jess Meschino: So, you're close.
Justin Keller: Okay, okay. I love this so much. And I want to know what are the parallels, what can we, as business people, learn from the lobster fisherperson experience, or vice versa? What can business tell us about lobstering?
Jess Meschino: Absolutely. I think there are a lot of parallels, actually. So, when you think about it in the lobster industry, it's a matter of going out and looking at what you've done the year before. So hitting similar spots, looking to see what the migratory patterns are, trying to assess bait, try to figure out how to get the most with, obviously, the least amount of operational costs. And so, if you're able to do it really effectively, it's so fun when the lobsters come up in the trap. It's no different when you have a customer retained or when you have a customer grow, right? So, it's really about stopping and looking at analytics and thinking about again, how you've done things before, how you can do it more effectively. And then again, what is that value mix? How do you get those lobsters into the trap? Is it red fish? Is it another mix of bait? So, for customer success, it's really thinking about, not to equate them to lobsters, but our customers, what's going to get them excited so that they keep coming back? And then, if you do it right, you can do it again at, hopefully, a reasonable price point, reasonable resources. And again, it's exciting when they stay with you.
Justin Keller: Okay. I love this. To be clear, we're not calling anyone lobsters here.
Jess Meschino: No, no, no.
Justin Keller: But let's say, I have to imagine as you're lobstering, there are environmental factors that are outside your control, that are going to influence what you're pulling up. What do you do? And does this hold true? What do you do in that situation when you have to start from scratch almost? Does that feel the same in business?
Jess Meschino: It does. I mean, you get to certain points where it doesn't make financial sense to go out and do something a certain way, you have to stop and reassess. So, how are we going about the problem? How can we do it again more effectively? And you do have to stop and be willing to make those changes. It's not something where you shift everything, but how can you work smarter, not harder, right? And how can you really think about the overall end goals and keep that in mind over the course of a lobster season or over the course of the life cycle of a customer? So, same idea.
Justin Keller: Right.
Armen Zildjian: Good got it.
Justin Keller: We're starting the season off with a bang. Every episode, Armen, we have to work out some kind of new business metaphor, and lobsters is a high bar to start with.
Armen Zildjian: I think we should stay on the food- to- software metaphor, because I'm down with that.
Jess Meschino: I can hook you guys up, that's for sure.
Armen Zildjian: Yeah, seriously, seriously. So, listen, focusing on your time at Workable, you've had, like I said, different roles, from VP of customer success, VP of account management, senior vice president of customer service, and there's all kinds of metrics, whether it's health, retention, expansion associated with that, three different teams trying to create one experience for a customer from different angles. I'd love to hear how you jumped from each role, and then maybe we can jump into how they're intertwined and aligned.
Jess Meschino: Yeah. No, absolutely. Happy to do that. So, when I started at Workable, I came into head up customer success. And at that point, and every company's customer success means something a little bit different.
Armen Zildjian: Totally, yeah.
Jess Meschino: There are different responsibilities. So, at Workable, at that time, it was more of an onboarding team and they would get the customer to a healthy place, transition them over to account management, which account management would look to see how lucrative the opportunity was, how healthy the customer is, using health scoring, and think about when to reach out. And we lost so much in translation. So, when you stop and think about it, that key moment is when you onboard. That great experience kicks off and keeps going. And so, I want to say it was about three months in, we stopped and said, wait, for the price point for the customer, for the experience we're providing, let's just merge customer success and account management. And that's really how that happened. So trying to think about how do you not lose all of that goodness from each of those customer milestones? So onboarding or as they roll out to their teams, or whatever the next step might be, all the way through our milestones. And so, that's how we managed it. So, the metrics are different. So it's CSAT and it's looking at MPS as they go through the initial onboarding, and then it's looking at adoption and usage, and the KPIs that they had coming in, are we meeting them? And then as you go on. So last year I took over all of the customer- facing teams. It's really stopping and looking at start to finish, how many touches do we have? What makes sense? And again, from the customer's perspective, does it feel like it's disjointed anywhere? And if so, how do we iron that out? And that's really been what we've been focused on.
Armen Zildjian: What governs the changes that you make? So merging customer success with account management, is that, as you said, thinking about the number of handoffs and the number of people? Is it the unit economics of what you yield out of a customer, or is it purely on the customer- facing side? Listen, we're going to have a better experience that turns into increased adoption, if we could develop a relationship that we maintained throughout the... What was that governing factor there?
Jess Meschino: Yeah, I think it's a bit of all three. So, at the time, it was a matter of we wanted, when I came in, my task was to look at the customer journey and to think about all of the places that we could provide more value, all of the places that we're leaving a customer to get lost along their journey. And so, it is thinking about, also, unit economics. How much are the contract values versus how many people we have touching them? And then again, along that stage, we're almost over- servicing them, but at a detriment. It's not actually meeting our goals or their goals. And so, when we looked at it, we had too many people, it didn't make sense, based on size of contracts, the customer knowledge was getting lost. Even having a CRM, even having, at that time, we're using Salesforce, now we use ChurnZero and Salesforce. But really thinking about how do we make the most of those engagements? They should be meaningful. And how do we also look at how customers want to be serviced? Because our smaller customers might not want a big service experience, but our customers that have a lot of different locations. And we're an ATS, so hiring managers, recruiters, how do we make sure they get the right experience, and everybody has that same goal and we're aware of it and can help them? So, we just weren't getting it done having the two disparate teams. It felt like it, but then you kept bumping into each other, right? So then, it's, " Did you handle that issue? I've got that issue. Did you renew the customer? Whose fault is it if it doesn't renew?" We also were able to put a single point of accountability, which makes a difference.
Justin Keller: And I have to imagine that helps. I think all these metrics are great, but there's one that's intangible and that's the relationship and the value of that, that I think is important. So brand market, a marketer, brand is something that's hard to measure, but lifts all the other metrics if it's done well. Do you feel like that's something, a byproduct that's been helpful by unifying that?
Jess Meschino: Absolutely. I think again, we weren't doing ourselves a service or the customer. You'd onboard, the customer would feel comfortable and confident, then they'd go to the account manager and the account management team's doing a great job, but they still don't have that knowledge or have gained that trust. And then it comes time for renewal, who handles that? Do you bring sales back in? So it really became... Again, you can't do it with every situation. We've actually, we've broken out of it a little bit at this stage, with some of our accounts and treat them a little differently. But I think it does make sense to really take a look at those touchpoints, the relationship, does a customer know where to go?
Armen Zildjian: How do you automate some of that? Because if you think about it, the one- to- one relationship that you want to replicate all the time is just not tenable in a lot of cases. And so, what are the one- to- many strategies that you use as you learn, based on the one- to-one relationships that work, how do you turn that into systems that help overall customer value and engagement?
Jess Meschino: Yeah, it's a great question. So, we've actually done a lot of searching on this. Again, we broke out of our own mold this past year. We're doing a lot more self- service sales, in addition to sales- assisted. So a lot of product- led sales, and really taking a look at does it make sense for us to look at the onboarding and have a separate health score? Do some automation where we have a product that's very easy for a customer to get up and running on their own. And there are basically flags and plays when somebody goes off schedule or when something happens we don't expect, and then we can do some proactive touch on those. For the bigger accounts we're spending much more time, it's a one- on- one experience. But you're right, you can't do it with everybody and you don't want to.
Armen Zildjian: No, no.
Jess Meschino: You really don't want to. So, that scalable tech touch helps. We have a customer enablement group that puts out great collateral. We're doing a lot with video, that helps a lot as well. So, Justin, on the marketing side, being able to put that front and center on the website and direct people to it. Or, we have in- app chat and forethought and the ability to get some quick answers to folks.
Speaker 4: Interrupting this episode of Revenue Talks to let you know that Drift has been named a leader in the Forrester New Wave Conversation Automation Solutions, Q3 2022 report. This report consists of detailed findings from Forrester and how a vendor is scored against 10 specific criteria, as well as where they stand in relation with one another. We're thrilled to be included among such a stacked group. To learn more about this recognition, click the link in the show notes.
Armen Zildjian: Jumping in a little bit more specifically on relationships is one relationship handoff that probably you don't merge and that's between sales and then the post- sale team, right?
Jess Meschino: Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: I love the smile, because I where I'm going.
Jess Meschino: It's inevitable.
Armen Zildjian: I've been on both sides of it. I've been on the receiving end and the giving end, and probably screwed it up on both places, for sure. But listen, the relationship between sales and post- sale is super important to make seamless the experience for the customer, especially around expectation setting. And so, how do you guys align with sales? How do you get that really good handoff that's kind of mandatory, you're not going to get around that handoff and customers hate handoffs, so how do you make it as seamless as possible?
Jess Meschino: Yeah. So, for the smaller accounts for self- serve, self- purchase, for them it's much easier, because they're in the product and we're sending a lot of communication, so they know where to go. For a sales- assisted, we're doing a couple things. So, we use a CRM solution, they'll enter their notes, they'll include things like challenges throughout the sale-
Armen Zildjian: They'll enter their notes, they'll enter their notes. Seriously? Your sales reps do that? Were you truthful here or not?
Jess Meschino: We do, we do.
Armen Zildjian: I want to know.
Jess Meschino: We do. Yes, yes. No-
Justin Keller: Ours do that, too?
Jess Meschino: We do.
Armen Zildjian: Yes. I'm working on it.
Jess Meschino: It's a mandatory field to be able to create the quote-
Armen Zildjian: To close it out.
Jess Meschino: ... That's the trick.That's the trick.
Armen Zildjian: Well, sometimes even when it's mandatory though, they will, and I'm being... they'll just fluff it, to just get it done so they can get their commission, right?
Jess Meschino: Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: Like I said, I've been on this side too, so I'm not... I get it. How do you make sure that it's, again, meaningful? How do you really work with the sales leaders in that area?
Jess Meschino: There's a couple things. So number one, any D- books that happen within first year count against the sales person.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Okay.
Jess Meschino: So they don't want that to... So the long- term goal is they don't want to claw back, they want to make sure it's the right deal. I think, as well, our leadership comes together really well to identify what our ideal customer profile is, who we should be selling to, how it is that we're able to retain customers, or when we're not able to, so that they know what a challenging deal might look like. And then at that front, there is a lot of communication back and forth. And for the bigger deals, we'll actually do a handoff call with the customer. It's their introduction to the actual input-
Armen Zildjian: So the rep will do a co- call with the customer and the CS, or co-sale.
Jess Meschino: They're on for five minutes. We try not to take too much time, it's just jump on for five, we'll finish the rest of the call. But for midsize companies, we're really relying on the feedback they're sharing. We also do a post- sale survey that we have access to the responses. So if the customer feels like something happened along the way, they can share that. So we do keep in touch with customers pretty regularly.
Armen Zildjian: Yeah. One thing that we've run into in the past is, we'll set the notes and the tone about the post- sale and what they want to achieve. As new folks, after the initial sale happens, new folks get involved on the customer side, they might bring up new projects that they want to apply to the software and somehow we might, they rediscover the account and maybe take it a little bit off track. And then there's a misalignment from, maybe, executives who are involved in the initial sale. Do you see that and how do you mitigate that?
Jess Meschino: We don't see it too much. Every once in a while, it'll pop up, and at that point, we get on the phone, the customer, the account executive and the account manager, or it'll be somebody from the leadership team that will get on and say, " Okay, here's the structure of what you purchased, understanding now here's what you'd like to get to. Here's how we can do an administrative D- book and rebook and make sure we've got the right things together."
Armen Zildjian: Got it.
Jess Meschino: Oftentimes though, it happens further down when they've gone through onboarding and they're like, " Wait, this isn't what I thought it should be." In that situation, we'll have a solutions consultant join a call and just see if we're able to mitigate it on our own and not pull sales back in. We don't do an us versus them. We very much try to keep them selling. We try to keep our team focused. And our product is pretty easy to navigate, so it's tough to screw up those deals too bad. Which is good, right?
Armen Zildjian: Yeah, that's good.
Justin Keller: That's good. Yeah... Jess, you talked a little bit about, first of all, thank you on behalf of Workable's marketing team and marketers everywhere. Thank you for hooking them up with customer videos and giving them customer feedback for the website. How does marketing fit in the mix here, though? Are they helping you at all? Do they plug into, support your team or is it just you guys close that loop and send it back to marketing?
Jess Meschino: Actually it's a pretty cool cycle. We interact in a couple ways. So, for sure, we send them information in terms of product feedback or what we're seeing or where we're challenged. That happens. We also have a regular call where I can hear each week how many MQLs and SQLs, how many leads they're passing forward, where they're challenged, what to expect. So, that helps me as I think about pipeline for what I'm going to need to get the team involved with for onboarding and such. And then we also have quite a bit of conversation around some of the campaigns that we run. So, we try to have the same tone across workable. That's so important for customers to hear the same language, same tone, it's us, it's our brand. We're very casual. And so, we'll try to build campaigns, we'll send it over to them. The market's tough right now, right? Not every industry is doing as well as others. So where is the sales team having good luck? Where is the marketing team having luck with their... They're in charge of our CR team, so they'll give us some guidance and direction, too, along with building out some campaigns.
Justin Keller: Got it.
Jess Meschino: Yeah.
Justin Keller: So, I actually worked at an ATS for a while as a head of marketing at an ATS. And you're exactly right, the market was so tempestuous that it was like, every day we were heading in a different direction and we had to change our industry focus, and what was our value prop to them? And that's great that you're able to help close that loop with them. Because it's really hard for a marketer to constantly be retraining their guns on a new audience.
Jess Meschino: Yeah. No, absolutely. And I think the other thing that helps is we have access to the same product feedback. So, whether it comes from a closed lost deal, whether it comes from a survey that someone's completed post- sale, or our customers that are talking to the account management or support teams, all three leaders, so marketing, sales, and myself, see that feedback and can act on it. And we meet on the regular, too.
Justin Keller: That's amazing, and I feel like that's got to drive really good alignment. And I think that's probably one of the... I mean, just simply communicating, it solves so many things.
Jess Meschino: Yep.
Justin Keller: There are always, and this is probably different in every organization, but I think there's probably a few in common. What do you think, for the people listening to this, the biggest challenges, or most common obstacles that prevent that alignment, are?
Jess Meschino: I think sometimes it's competing priorities, right? So sometimes, I mean, even in this market, I talked to the head of sales a couple days ago. We meet once a week, we go through open deals and what might close, and there are a few that you just know are not retainable, right? And so, I'm having the conversation, they're saying, " Hey, we've got a number to hit. Help us out. We'll be able to do it. Can you...?" Sometimes, there are competing priorities and that's a challenge for sure.
Armen Zildjian: How do you guys draw the line? How do you guys get agreement on, " We're we're either going to take this one on or we're not going to take this one on?"
Jess Meschino: Usually we're able to do it just through conversation. I think we have a pretty good relationship that we can get on the phone and say, " Look, here's the risk I see for this." And most of our accounts are one- year contracts. So if it looks like an implementation's going to take more than a month or two months, there's not enough value there to sustain and it puts everything at risk. So-
Armen Zildjian: Got it.
Jess Meschino: ...typically, we're able to just say, " This is the experience we're going to have. You need to know about that." And if they D- book that first year, again-
Armen Zildjian: From a-
Jess Meschino: ... we don'twant word- of- mouth, either.
Armen Zildjian: No, no. Because it'll hurt your brand.
Jess Meschino: Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: From a practical perspective, how do you get visibility to either strong or weak thing... Are you guys doing pipeline analysis? Are you looking at the pipeline and saying, " Hey, red flag here, red flag there?"
Jess Meschino: Yeah, so we do what's called a revenue pulse once a week. So, we meet with all of the executives in a room, all the commercial team, plus our C- level. So we do that once a week. What that does, it does a couple things. One, I can see their forecast, they can see my forecast for net- recurring revenue and for gross retention. And we actually do our own upgrades, so they can see that, too. For their side, I can see their close lost deals, why they lost them. So we go through globally what happened, the top 10. I can see what's in their pipe for the top 10, for the Americas and rest of world. And then I can see what recently closed, whatever they won. So, that's really the best way that I can see. There's reporting I can go into, but we're all adults. I don't spend time going through and worrying too much about that. If there's a red flag, they're pretty good about bringing it to that meeting to say, " Look, this might be contentious, this might be an issue. How do you want to handle it?" And we'll talk it out. So, I think that open line of communication and trust, that makes the difference.
Justin Keller: And the venue, I love that you've got that revenue pulse thing where it is cross- functional and you've got the C- suite to force that alignment and that downward pressure. Which, great, right? So accountability, communication, and then just, whether it's the venue or the process or the programming of it, but making sure that happens.
Jess Meschino: Yeah. And sometimes-
Justin Keller: It's also, it's obstacles.
Jess Meschino: ...It goes off sometimes, right? Sometimes somebody will sell something or do something, and you're under your breath swearing or whatever. But we solve it, it happens. We're all human, but I think we do have it good.
Armen Zildjian: Does the sales rep, who you talking about know who they are? That's what I want to know.
Jess Meschino: Yes. Yes. His ears are ringing right now. The phone'll ring. Who knows?
Justin Keller: I love it.
Armen Zildjian: So listen, we did our research, don't be scared, but we did do our research in LinkedIn, and one of the recommendations from your direct reports wrote that, " You ensure everyone understands the common goal as a team." And so, as you think about, as Justin said, there's lots of competing priorities, there's other influences and pressures in the business, rates are going up or down in different areas, whether it's revenue, retention, expansion. So those priorities are driven. How do you not whipsaw the team? How do you insulate them from the noise and make sure people stay aligned with what's the most important thing to the business?
Jess Meschino: Yeah, that's a great question. So again, we're an ATS, so we've had two years of COVID, then we had the boom of everybody hiring. Now we've got this crazy market and whatever's going on in Russia and God knows, right? So, I think for us, in the past, we've been able to do it. We've rolled out, I think one of the strongest things is a clear compensation plan. And I know it sounds silly, but it really does make a huge difference. So we used to be able to do them annually and then COVID hit and the crazy market, and whatever else. So what we do is actually get our vision and mission from our sea level. So we have an all hands meeting that happens every quarter. We have our company targets that are outlined very clearly, anyone can find them. And then our comp plan directly ties into that, and you can actually do the math to see how that's going to get there. So if we miss a number, here's what that means for our year over year growth, or Rule of 40, here's our operational stuff. And so, we meet with the team on a monthly basis to actually... We don't dumb it down, we give them the numbers. We don't spend a lot of time on it. Here's what it is, here's what we're tracking against. Managers do one- on- ones so they can see how to help them get to what they need to get to. And I think if they're able to draw that line themselves, it makes it much easier. And then in terms of the white noise stuff, I mean that's tough. I mean we do as much fun activities as we can, calling power hours and locking people in room with music and just do your stuff and have fun, or if it's an event or something. And I think we don't take ourselves too seriously. We celebrate when we win and we don't kill each other when we lose, which...
Justin Keller: That's so important. It's so easy to take yourself seriously here.
Jess Meschino: Yeah.
Justin Keller: And finding that moment, I think that helps the communication and the trust. Just not taking yourself seriously is the antidote to that.
Jess Meschino: Yeah. It's just open dialogue. So in our one- on ones, we've got a pretty good breakout of what we want to cover. But it's also a lot about what's on the employee's mind and letting them talk for the first 15, and kind of break out what... Because people are concerned about what's going on and you don't know what's going on in their personal lives. That's their time, let them have it, and then just tie to what you're trying to achieve.
Justin Keller: Yep. And that's something I heard from you multiple times in the past half an hour is, we're humans and treating people like humans that are responsible, have lives, have feelings, whether it's your clients or your teammates, is pretty critical to success.
Jess Meschino: Yeah. Yeah. And they have to see that you're willing to get in there with them. So when we've gone through challenging times, it's not like there's somebody up here screaming, " Go do these five things." I mean, I took on a client territory the first quarter of the year. You do what you have to do.
Justin Keller: Love that. Jess, this has been awesome. We've got a tradition here. We always close these things off with the signature Revenue Talks question, and that is this-
Jess Meschino: Yes.
Justin Keller: ...What is the number one thing your team is focused on to accelerate revenue in the second half of the year? Bonus points if it involves lobsters.
Armen Zildjian: Definitely, and butter.
Jess Meschino: If it's straight off the boat, you don't need butter. That's the secret. If it's right off the boat, it's sweet.
Justin Keller: Ooh, I wonder what the business analogy for that is.
Jess Meschino: Right? Right? You don't have to sweeten the deal if you can get it done quick.
Justin Keller: There it is.
Jess Meschino: There it is. No. I'd say the number one thing for us is increasing our communication and improving our communication style. And it's actually towards driving our GRR, so our gross revenue retention. That's our focus for the second half. So everything else, we've got a great team that can drive growth and can find upgrade opportunities, but we've learned through our health scoring and just doing some additional analytics, that customers that we talk to on the regular, for the most part, and not everybody, tend not to churn. So for us, our focus really is trying to have better, more meaningful conversations, EBRRs, things like that.
Justin Keller: I appreciate your time so much, Jess. Jess Meschino, everybody, from Workable. Thank you for joining us. Welcome back to Revenue Talk, season two, featuring the one and only Armen Zildjian-
Armen Zildjian: Yeah.
Justin Keller: ...I'm Justin Keller. Thank you so much for listening to Revenue Talks. If you like this episode, please consider leaving a review wherever you're listening. You can connect with me on Twitter @ justinkeller, and the entire Drift podcast network at @ DriftPodcasts. Remember, revenue, everyone's business now.
What do B2B SaaS and lobstering have in common?
More than you think.
Jess Meschino is the SVP of Customer Services at Workable, but she's also a lobsterwoman on the side. Jess uses this side hustle to inform her 9-5 work, and that's just one of the topics Justin and she explore on this season premiere of Revenue Talks.
In this episode, Justin and Jess, alongside special guest Armen Zildjian (VP of Sales at Drift), discuss how Jess's team scales the 1:1 customer experience, what the sales --> post-sales hand-off looks like at Workable, and what the biggest blockers are that prevent go-to-market alignment at many organizations today.
- (1:47) What businesspeople can learn from the lobstering experience
- (4:41) Jess’ career journey to and at Workable
- (6:56) What governs the organizational changes at Workable
- (9:54) How Jess’ team scales the 1:1 experience
- (12:24) How Workable creates a seamless sales → post-sales hand-off
- (16:23) Where Workable’s marketing team fits into the post-sales mix
- (18:47) Jess’s take on the biggest blockers for go-to-market alignment
- (20:11) Workable’s “Revenue Pulse”
- (25:55) The #1 thing Jess’s team is focused on to accelerate revenue for Workable this year
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Learn more about the Forrester New Wave™ Report: https://drift.ly/ForresterWave