Ep. 27 | Bringing Commercial Real Estate Into The Subscription Economy with Apto's Camilla Calhoun and Kerry Hudson

In this episode, Apto's Customer Success Director Camilla Calhoun and Vice President of Sales Kerry Hudson join us to talk about how their SaaS company delivers Customer Success to the underserved commercial real estate industry.


Camilla Calhoun

Director of Customer Success


Kerry Hudson

VP of Sales

Bringing commercial real estate into the subscription economy through focusing on relationships

Apto is bringing commercial real estate into the subscription economy. To serve their customers, they focus on relationships and on solving the customer's key challenges. They focus on customer success by asking, "What are customers trying to accomplish both within and outside of our software, and how can our technology help support them in achieving their goals?" Commercial real estate brokers value relationships, which are at the core of their business tasks, which include prospecting, identifying new properties and customers and closing on deals. Threading that through sales and customer onboarding experiences and reference-ability throughout the customer ecosystem is how to bring this underserved industry into the subscription economy..

Secret to customer success: Deep understanding of your customers' businesses

For the commercial real estate industry, customer success hinges on understanding the market. Since half of broker time is spent in the field, how do you maximize their time in-office? Ask key questions and open up conversations to understand your customers and improve their bottom line. Doing this helps you focus on making their jobs easier. Features will lose your audience; focus on connecting the dots and bridging their world and your solution. In Kerry and Camilla's words: That's how you win. Having people with experience in your target market's field on your team also helps immensely.


Ep. 27 #HelpingSells Podcast | How @AptoTude Is Bringing Commercial Real Estate Into Subscription Economy. http://bit.ly/2g38QsK

Challenges to bringing commercial real estate into the subscription economy

Commercial real estate has been an underserved market due to complexities within their sales process. The approach Apto takes is helping customers migrate off excel, for instance, and teaching brokers that technology won't impede their business but will help it.

First they bring awareness and best practices through the industry and show how tools like Apto help empower them through data and technology. At times, Apto has to sell technology as a concept before talking about a specific product solution. This industry is used to CRMs managed in many disparate systems; empower brokers to tie it together so they get visibility on what the market is doing, what their clients are doing and how they can innovate.

Bridging in-office and in-field time through mobile capabilities

Focusing on the client experience helped Apto develop a mobile-focused solution. Through helping clients visualize a better way of doing things connects dots for brokers. The customer success team has industry experience so they know how to talk to people and understand their life.

The industry does get tech; they are looking for a tech solution because they know that's what they need to compete. Brokers who have been in the industry for 30+ years and younger brokers coming into it for 2-5 years. How do younger brokers compete? They are interested in tech because it's a competitive advantage but senior brokers own their firm and may not be interested in changing ways but they're looking to support their team with the tools to compete after they retire.

Not all customers need to be convinced that there's a tech solution they should move to; many acknowledge and recognize.

Mobile-first approaches make it easier for people to do their job with technology.

Mobile is a huge component to the broker experience. Breaking down their experience in the field; what are they doing in the office? Prospecting component more efficient for brokers is key. While working a deal, how do you have visibility to deal.

How to nail the sales and customer success handoff

Adopt a crawl-walk-run approach to onboarding. Continuous improvement model - onboarding continues and is in perpetuity. Customer success focuses on onboarding through the life of the customer. This is about finding different value-adds for customers. Understand customers and what they need in the crawl-walk-run model; what does success look like in first six months for a cohort? As they go through lifecycle help them continue to gain value through best practices of other customers, and show customers values from product and awareness brought through best practices library. Sales does well to open up conversation about business and day-to-day during the sales cycle, so that's translated to the customer success team prior to them becoming a customer so CS can make best recommendations for what crawl-walk-run approach is for them.

Customize customer onboarding through tailored "crawl-walk-run" plans

To make onboarding go well, focus on data. Focus on how to get data into Apto but still not let it feel like it's a heavy weight; sometimes it can be daunting. There are components for Apto platform they try to get them initial value out of the gate while they build out their Apto so there isn't a huge gap between implementation and value. Every moment they're not in the field they're losing money. Are we thinking about the components of onboarding in the right way?

How does each department and team impact these numbers driving revenue goals? Open the door to collaboration and communication. 

Don't be afraid of healthy conflict. If working towards common goal, you can disagree to make the customer successful. 

Crawl-Walk-Run: Layer customer strategy at the top. KPIs or numbers are means to set goal. Variety of customers we need to get there. CSMs have to decide how to look across the customer lifecycle and determine how to get customers to success. That comes from sales as well as initial engagement of understanding what it is brokers care about. What drove them to Apto? What was that pain. That is the motivator for that approach. 


Ep. 27 #HelpingSells Podcast | How @AptoTude Is Bringing Commercial Real Estate Into Subscription Economy. http://bit.ly/2g38QsK

Measuring customer success: Customers who book more business

The data shows customers who do various things book more business and take that as a playbook to help customers learn from that and do those things so they can book more business too. 

Tell us what you think of Helping Sells Radio

You could:

  1. Write a review on iTunes.
  2. Tweet us using the hashtag #HelpingSells.
  3. Comment below.

Thanks for listening to the show.

Sarah E. Brown and Bill Cushard

Written by Sarah E. Brown and Bill Cushard

Helping Sells Radio co-hosts, Bill Cushard and Sarah E. Brown, are Rocketeers based in Palo Alto, CA. Reach out to them by emailing marketing@servicerocket.com or on Twitter using the hashtag #HelpingSells.