Fueling 2000% Growth Through Customer Success: An Interview With Katie Rogers, Director of Client Success at SalesLoft
SalesLoft, an Atlanta based startup, is the first complete prospecting platform; it’s quickly emerging as a leading sales intelligence SaaS company with over 2000% revenue growth in 2014. At the forefront of their momentum is their extraordinary commitment to client success, led by Director of Client Success Katie Rogers. Learndot spoke to Rogers about how SalesLoft has grown through training and customer success, best practices their team can’t live without, as well as tips for scaling.
Learndot: How did you first become interested in Customer Success?
Katie Rogers: In a former sales management role, I led a team in Miami and was asked to start traveling to locations like New York and San Francisco to boost sales. After two weeks in each market, I realized sales and overall morale were down for the team and clients alike. It was in those pivotal moments where the people component became incredibly clear and my passion was born. I quickly navigated from a sales focus to client interactions and the overall brand experience. I asked, “Are they advocating for us?”
As I traveled across U.S., I embraced the power of creating a culture and a passion for people. After research and finding like-minded professionals, I came across the “Customer Success” movement and I was hooked.
Learndot: What is the Customer Success function like at SalesLoft, and how has it grown since you’ve come aboard?
Katie Rogers: In 2014 the team grew from one to many; we currently have a team of 11 and we’re still growing! Our number one focus is ensuring clients are successful. While we want clients to be happy, happy clients will leave if value isn’t provided.
The Services department is split into three tracks: Support (reactive) and then the Customer Success proactive components of training and account management. We’re building client relationships, producing content that scales and ensuring that the SalesLoft voice is always one of value for clients.
Learndot: What role does training play in your Customer Success program?
Katie Rogers: Our training team is the voice of SalesLoft and is a key element of our Customer Success efforts. We have a process that scales, running up to six group calls a day with clients all over the world. This voice is 100% focused on clients, not SalesLoft -- instead of saying, “This is what the feature does...” we’ll say,”This feature will save you time, simplify your day, and here’s how you use it.” It’s about them, not us. Whether it’s actual calls, product updates, knowledge-based articles or in-app messaging, our client voice is on point and our training team ensures it’s a seamless experience.
“Our training team is the voice of SalesLoft”
Learndot: What's your favorite part of your job as a Customer Success leader?
Katie Rogers: It’s my people. The SalesLoft team and our clients are phenomenal. When I started in February 2014 we had 72 accounts, and now we have over 1,300. Our client base grew dramatically in 2014 (2000% growth!), and to accommodate that growth I brought on a badass team of go-getters. They are positive, supportive and self-starting people that blow my mind on a daily basis. The SalesLoft Services team rises to the occasion daily, talking to clients one-to-one and enriching relationships; it’s incredibly powerful to see the momentum of the team and client base surge together. It’s a win-win if you ask me!
Learndot: What traits do you think make a Customer Success Manager successful?
Katie Rogers:My top two are a passion for people and the ability to showcase empathy. Now, don’t let that “passion for people” be confused with the so-called “people person.” When I hear that phrase I ask, “Why are you a people person?” I look for someone who has a passion for serving and taking people to next level; it’s all about enriching others’ lives. Lastly, genuine empathy is a must; clients can and will sense if it’s forced and/or fake.
Learndot: In your role, how do you fit into the bigger picture of the goals of your organization? What departments/teams do you usually work with directly?
Katie Rogers: At SalesLoft, Customer Success sits at the leadership table. Our CEO, Kyle Porter, understands the value and encourages our growth. His support means everything and it empowers the team to drive results.
Department-wise, we have to give a shout out to our SalesLoft Account Executives and Engineers! We work closely with these two departments; for Sales it’s all about the new client hand-offs, and for Engineers, product feedback, enhancements and escalated support. Our transparency across departments breeds success and mutual respect as we operate as one unit. Not all companies have this unity; we believe it sets us apart. At the end of the day, we all have the same mission: Serving our clients and enhancing their success.
Learndot: Have you ever worked with a customer who needed more support or resources to be successful? If so, can you share what that looked like?
Katie Rogers: Absolutely, haven’t we all?! This is one of the many reasons why our training and support elements are so strong. Sometimes it’s technical training, other times we’re digging into their process and suggesting best practices for Sales Development. We run “Success Calls” -- think “mini strategy calls” -- to get the client on the right track and ensure they feel comfortable. We usually follow up with knowledge base or blog articles to ensure they have resources should they need a reference later on.
When you take that time with an upset client who is having a challenge, they appreciate it. Believe it or not, 15-20 minutes can really make a difference. We see their success and appreciation via referrals and positive reviews. Allowing them the opportunity to open up builds a foundation of trust, which is where all great relationships start.
Learndot: SalesLoft growth has been exponential over the past year! What kind of results have you helped create for the company and your clients through your Customer Success work?
Katie Rogers: The founding team did a great job of starting to build the basic structure we operate on today. My initial instincts were to further educate and empower our clients. We completed this through product updates, creating a knowledge base and scaling out a training process. Increased referrals, usage, upgrades and client advocates were just a few of the results.
One of my favorite moments is seeing small teams reach out within six months of joining, noting their growth with SalesLoft and then expressing the need for expansion. Prospector and Cadence are actively contributing to their companies’ overall efficiency and progress. We’re successfully growing sales development teams -- that’s incredibly powerful.
Learndot: What are the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working as a CSM? How do you meet those challenges?
Katie Rogers: Hiring and overall customer success knowledge are two challenges. When it comes to SalesLoft hiring, we look for the top 1%. They are big shoes to fill as we protect the client experience heavily, ensuring the passion for serving is present. How do we exceed plan for hiring? I’m not 100% sure as of yet, but we’ll continue to provide one of the best cultures and environments for growth in Atlanta, knowing that it will attract those who share the same values and passion for progress.
On the West Coast, Customer Success is commonly discussed and encouraged; in Atlanta, the movement is growing and gaining traction but there is work to be done. At times, resources and finding senior executives to dig deeper are limited. Stepping up by setting up Customer Success meetups and lunches has proved to be a great start. I’d love to see more collaboration between the coasts (wink wink for you West Coast folks!). Coming together for conferences like #PulseConf2015 is a great start. I’d love to see the momentum continue year round!