SaaS Sales and Customer Success with LinkedIn’s Julie Federman

What is customer success? Is it customer support? Glorified training? A precise definition doesn’t exist, but Julie Federman describes customer success as a resource that helps customers align with core business objectives and priorities through measurable results.

As a customer success manager at LinkedIn, she would know. Julie shares tips and tactics on combining software as a service (SaaS) sales and customer success. Her tagline on LinkedIn is: “Driving success and a love of learning through leadership consulting and education.”

Topics Include:

  • Customer Success Manager Role and Responsibilities: Consulting, change management, deployment, enablement, and training 
  • Account Manager Role and Responsibilities: Maintains commercial relationships to renew, upsell, and cross-sell current customers
  • Buying Committee: Opportunities for collaboration between sales and customer success
  • Who does what when making a decision? RAPID Decision Making Model: Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, Decide 
  • How much time and energy should you invest in upselling clients to bring in additional revenue? Pareto Principle: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers
  • Success Criteria: What does success mean to your customer?
  • LinkedIn’s customer success support varies across business-to-business (B2B) lines 
  • Reasons for Conflict: How to have meaningful and productive work relationships
  • Show Benefits of Service: Stories, surveys, measurable metrics, and other options 
  • Structured Communication: Create deliverables that succinctly resonate with certain populations and audiences
  • What metrics make a healthy account? Existing internal metrics that indicate success to motivate team and help customers
  • Change Happens: Maintain and mitigate churn, rotation, and retention
  • LinkedIn’s Levels of Merit: Leadership, leverage, and results from performance reviews
  • Potential for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to predict churn
  • Client-facing Community: Chat, connect, and comment to provide feedback on products

Links and resources:

Episode Transcript

Julie: As far as a little bit about me, I had been at LinkedIn for almost six years. […] time is […] in sales, chosen online LinkedIn’s top performing sales reps globally. I’ve got a free trip to Hawaii; it was great. I realized that I enjoyed sales but I wasn’t passionate about it in a way that I’m passionate about education empowerment. That’s a little thing but it formed my career transition into customer success, to help training people […] be […] themselves and to help do the best by […] as well. That’s been really great […] journey. Before that, I was actually in a tech startup and have had all sorts of fun experiences along the way.

I’m really, really excited to be here. Thank you to the couple of folks that are on Zoom. I’m happy to do my best to answer some of your questions and happy to be a resource both here tonight and also after the fact if you haven’t […] my way, happy to share my two cents. Before I get too deep, […] so I have to do […] today a little exercise so we can all be connected. For those of you who have never done this before, it’s a really cool trick to have up your sleeve if you happen to be at an event and you don’t want to throw business cards around per se […] connect with people.

For those of you who are virtual, I’m sorry but hopefully, you can still follow along to learn how to do this. If you click on LinkedIn’s mobile app and you click on the two people in the bottom left, you’ll see a double-people icon at the bottom. You should hopefully notice this overlay […] blue dot to the right bottom corner here. It’s a little hidden, but it’s this little blue dot here, looks like you’re the person with a little green dot.

Woman: I need to update mine.

Woman: No, but you have to turn on because yours is not on.

Julie: Exactly.

Woman: There’s a little button at the top that says Find People nearby […].

Julie: Exactly, depending on the phone you have a version of LinkedIn, you might be asked to turn on the find nearby, so thank you so much for that. Then once you turn that on, you’ll be able to see everyone who’s around you and […].

Jono: Cool.

Woman: I didn’t know about this feature and I use LinkedIn every day.

Julie: There we go. It’s very […], really cool, and highly encourage you to use it. 

Jono: That’s really cool.

Julie: Yeah.

Woman: If you don’t mind […] inviting.

Julie: Yes, please. That’s why we’re here. Awesome, so feel free.

Woman: Thank you.

Julie: My pleasure. Where do we want to start tonight? Talking a little bit about where sales touchpoints and customer success touchpoints can potentially intertwine. I think […] what you do if I automate my job. 

Woman: Not really. […] and our platform […] as well. They have a team of 10 people but just one person. Seriously, I don’t want […] job.

Julie: I’m just teasing […]. I’m happy to start talking a little bit, feel free to jump in, ask me questions […] dynamic and anyone […] the room has any expertise or any feedback that they’d like to share, let’s keep this superfluid, as casual. The best way I’d like to think about the role that I do with customer success is that I’m the hairdresser for my client, for the person that I’m working with, the person who is spending money with us. Because my core role responsibility is more about enabling people training, […] consulting as opposed to having our customers having DocuSign […] and buying more from us, that customer is usually going to be a little bit more open with what’s really on their mind than with […] sales, that person who’s solely focused on your phone and your number.

I would say, at all times and all touchpoints, there’s an opportunity for that person […] customer success person or people to potentially be probing about opportunities that could lead you to uncover upsell or make pointing to the direction that this customer is either doing very well, very happy, or maybe not so much. Maybe they are potential […]. That can help you better position your sales partner.

Real quick, just for the folks online, I’ll just repeat what I’ll be sharing. The way I view the person in the customer success role is that of almost like the hairdresser, for that customer success person is supporting. That customer is potentially more likely to share how they’re really feeling or whether it could be opportunities for upsell or indicators of potential churn because that customer success person is tasked with roles and responsibilities that are typically more about consulting, change management, training and even with plans and the like as opposed to that sales rep who is typically just fixated on their quota, their number, and who are they going to be renewing, and for how much. That was the first thing I shared. That’s how I think about customer success and sales.

There’s a lot of really great opportunities to collaborate, so depending on your business and the size and scope of who you’re doing business with, generally speaking, the statistic is that there are at least 6.8 people involved in a buying decision. We call that the buying committee and 6.8 people, especially if say you’re in sales and you’re really busy and you’re trying to maybe operate across a lot of different customers, that can be a really challenging thing to do.

Your customer success person, not only in these nice little conversations can they uncover little tidbits of, maybe, who to go after, can also partner very closely with that sales rep to help build relationships with more of these 6.8 people. Again, that might wax and wane depending on the nature of the people that you’re working with.

Lots of great opportunities for collaboration might also include strategic touchpoints through that customer life cycle. At LinkedIn, we do things like quarterly business reviews and what we call health checks and even just little status update meetings. There might be opportunities to partner closely with that person in sales or co host that meeting together, to help not only show up really nice in the eyes of that customer, make them feel like they really do have a good united team in front, but also allows both of you to hopefully forward your own agenda.

Hopefully, that starts to answer some of how we’re thinking about sales and customer success collaborating together at a high level. We actually, in my previous team, had hashtag going called essential partner so customer success is seen as the #essentialpartnertosales. Any follow-ups and stuff?

Jono: So, you’re saying average 6.8 people. Was there an average deal size you’re working with?

Julie: No, not in particular. The statistic is not ours. I don’t recall exactly where it came from, could be Harvard Business Review. It’s some reputable source that’s not us, I promise I’m not making it up, but it plays out all the time. I’ve worked with all shapes and sizes of customer and that person might not be the person signing the contract.

I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the RAPID model? I’m going to totally butcher this but maybe I can quickly Google it. The RAPID model is essentially a model that’s used for decision-making. It’s an acronym. Each of these roles have the letter that all spelled RAPID. You have the Recommender, you have the person who’s more of just an Input, you have a Designer, you have the Performer, and you have the person who executes on the Agreement. That’s something I highly recommend you take a little Google on.

Each of those people that are in the 6.8 might have different layers or different roles in making that decision. Someone might just purely be an input but they might not be super senior. That’s where it’s really helpful to have that conversation exclusively with that customer that you’re working with. That’s something that we do a lot of, hopefully, at the beginning of that partnership is almost nothing out who’s involved in what, how decisions get done, how would a program roll out, who are all the people that should be involved with, and even what they tell you might not fully encompass that full state RAPID model or the full 6.8. I don’t know if I answered your question.

Jono: Yeah. Obviously, we’re talking this like wholesale, sort of hardest thing opportunities. I mean, hopefully out of a good relationship that’s beneficial for everybody. Do you have some numbers around the percentage of sales that get upsold or examples from maybe a team that you’ve worked on? I’d be interested to know how important it is.

One thing that rolls around in my head sometimes is because when you’re like a bootstrap startup, you have to really think about where you’re going to focus your resources. It’s like, should I be growing? Should I be farming my existing customers? There’s always upsell. We think we can create and know that we can or we’ve tested it, but we’re limited with just getting procedures now and figuring out how to do it in. With a limited team, it’s like, “I just got to keep growing with initial customers.” I’m just trying to […] when is the right time to invest into it. I’m just wondering what have you seen from just in your own experience? What percentage of the customers get upsold or what really moves the needle on bringing in that additional revenue?

Julie: I think that’s a fantastic question. I didn’t have any preparation questions […] all off the cuff, as I’m doing a little bit of Googling from time to time. I promise I’m not returning texts. There’s something called the—I might be totally butchering it—the Pareto principle where 80% of your business come from 20% of your customers. Thinking about how we invest in customers, I would say is incredibly important and that I would say that is quite true from what I’ve seen on LinkedIn.

At LinkedIn, the way our teams are situated is we have an acquisition team responsible for net new business. When they sell a customer, that opportunity is then flipped over to what we call Relationship Management Team or our farmers. They are responsible for some degree of upsell. They do have a quota on their head for a specific percentage that they do have to upsell across their whole book, although many customers will just renew flat and hopefully, minimum churn. In customer success, we tend to work very closely with those people that are farming to make sure we have a good pulse on that customer. 

Jono: The relationship managers are actually closing the upsell deals?

Julie: Correct. That’s how LinkedIn is situated. I know across companies, there might be more of a hybrid bull of both the hunter-farmer hybrid, depending on what company you’re at. That’s just how LinkedIn is situated. It’s very funny, I’ve seen both. People either totally ignore their existing customers because they’re too eager to just hunt or the exact opposite. People got a little bit complacent. They purely rely on their existing customers and they forget to prospect or they don’t like prospecting, so they just don’t do it.

I would say in general, you can say customer base in incredibly, incredibly, incredibly valuable, not only for upsell but also for if and when those people move on to new organizations, they’re either going to sing your praises or be the devil for when you’re trying to grow your business.

A really great way to think about your customer base would be making sure you’re really well-aligned on their success criteria. I talked with you a little bit about this in our conversation. It’s really important for any customer is to understand what success means to them. You might have your own internal metrics and be like, “Oh, you were off the charts. This is incredible and amazing,” and that was never either agreed upon, or communicated effectively, or aligned with how that particular customer use success. It means success for you might now mean success for that customer which can result in pretty nasty disconnect because come renewal time, that customer might ultimately churn. That’s where defining that as early as possible, reinforcing, and realigning on that as often as you possibly can is incredibly important which can help you position upsell.

Across your customer base as well, hopefully, you already have some form of prioritization metrics, depending on space that you set in. So, where are your customers, where there’s a high likelihood of success to buy and a high potential size of price. You can think about it as a bit 2×2 of high likelihood of success and high likelihood to buy. Being able to portion your customers in almost that 2×2 can help you figure out what time you’re going to spend and to what degree so which customers are going to be your easy transactional ones, which ones were going to be more of your strategic ones, and which ones are perhaps not worth investing your time in.

Obviously, a customer that might have a very high-sized price might be a really big deal, but might not be as likely to buy. That might be a big bet that you might choose to invest in versus one that could be a really huge strategic play that you might want to try to put a little bit of extra oomph behind to just maximize that deal that might be more likely to buy. Hopefully, that’s relatively quicker.

Jono: Yeah, I know. That’s great.

Julie: I’m doing my best like audio-visual adjustments.

Jono: I love full […]

Woman: Is that […] easily find on Google or it sounds like you’re […].

Julie: I’m not sure if that one has a name. I can take that offline and see. I know it’s something that we talk about a lot at LinkedIn. Typically, we have books that are all filled with named accounts. We rotate these books every fiscal year, which is very challenging because as soon as you get to know your client base, you just wipe and start fresh.

Jono: Why do they do that?

Julie: It’s a really good question and highly debated.

Jono: Does it keep you on your toes?

Julie: It keeps you on your toes. I do agree that having fresh perspective and fresh blood in some of these relationships can sometimes be very helpful. Sometimes, personality is […] better work with certain customers. There’s a small percentage of customers that I think the commercial reps can hold “year over year” but long story short, it puts us in a position where we have to very quickly and truthfully figure out where we spend our time for the year. If you think about a customer that might be in that either big bet or say, strategic because it might take more time and runway to work with, you’re going to have to figure that out pretty soon so you can put in those touchpoints through the course, let’s say, that year, if it takes that customer up […].

Depending on your business and background, you might not have that little […] there which can actually be really helpful. You can really invest in those relationships. Some customers, depending on what you sell or what business you’re in, can take quite some time to buy, especially if you’re an education or […].

Jono: I think maybe it was last time we had this discussion around the difference between like account management and customer success. I don’t know if it’s here or somewhere else, but the defining factor seemed to be just customer side. It’s like enterprise versus SMB or something. That’s just what I’ve heard because I know that you guys have really large customers and a lot of small customers. Is there a threshold where you guys get involved as opposed to, let’s say, something that’s just maybe doing $200 a month on ads or something?

Julie: You mentioned a couple of really cool things. I’m going to talk about the thresholds first. The way LinkedIn thinks about customer success is actually a little bit different across business lines. I’m in the process of transitioning business lines at LinkedIn. We have four B2B business lines at LinkedIn. Now, I will have bid in three out of the four, so just trying to see it all. What’s very interesting is although I’m in a very similar function, the way they attribute the support of customer success is different.

In my former position, customers will have to spend above a certain price threshold—the total contract value—in order to qualify for customer success support. Underneath that spend value, that customer will only have self-serve resources. It’s actually a potential carrot to encourage customers to spend a bit more.

In this business line it’s all seat-driven. Because it’s defined by contract value, if that customer really wants to work with someone who’s in a customer success role, then they have the option of actually having a longer contract term so they technically spend more money.

Let’s say there’s a $50,000 minimum, if they only are spending $25,000, if they purchase for, say, two years even at the $25,000 mark, they can then get customer success support. That’s actually been very often talking about sales and customer success working together.

I have been on many a pre-sales call where it wants me to do a little bit of a pony show and masquerade around and say, “This is the potential person that you could be working with if you spend a little bit of money or if you sign on for an additional year.” That’s how that business line operates.

However, what I’m learning is in my new business line, which is also seat-driven, it’s LinkedIn Learning, an acquisition of Lynda.com, now being rebranded as Linkedin Learning. Typically speaking, those organizations are purchasing this type of licensing model for their entire company, generally speaking, at least in the corporate space. The way they attribute their resources is actually entirely based on seats. How many seats to discuss […] regardless of […]. Generally speaking, some buy a lot of seats, they’re spending a lot of money, but it’s done in a slightly different way.

Those are a couple ways to think about it because the way your specific business is, might actually fall more nicely in one versus another. Now, what’s important and interesting to think about, and this is something I’ve seen one of our orgs at LinkedIn going through a transition through, is thinking about your scalable resources.

Scalable resources are really helpful, not only for customers who don’t qualify for personalized customer success support, but it also helps your customer success team or person point that customer in the right direction. Their time is better spent with higher level activities like being more of a consultant, helping with change management.

What’s interesting that goes back to your introduction at the very beginning is customer success, we’re really trying to figure out what it is. You’re going to a bookstore, you look at books on sale. There’s thousands, at least. If you try to find books on customer success, there might be maybe tens, not a lot.

An idea that has been prevalent in one of the customer success orgs at LinkedIn is the idea of we are very much writing the book right now. All I’m speaking from is my experience of what I’m seeing and doing. However, you might find that you are creating new processes or seeing things that made more sense. You mentioned a little bit of this, the definition of account manager versus the customer success manager and you said the difference mainly being the size of customer that you’re working with.

Jono: Yeah, that’s the only reason or, I guess, decision that I ever come across. Do you have that role?

Julie: I would think of our account manager-type function as that relationship manager. Same kind of idea that, that person has a quota, they are supposed to be renewing and hopefully upselling and some cases cross selling those customers. Customer success, the team that I’m on, is a totally separate function.

The way I think about account management versus customer success is account managers are there to keep your current customers happy and flowing more from a commercial lens. They have a number on their head. They are very much responsible for redoing and upselling that customer. So, a lot of the activities that are driving what they do and how they engage with the customer, are all commercial driven. So, whether it’s uncovering more people that might be in that 6.8 buying committee, but more so having those conversations about maybe ROI and things like that; more from a strategic buyer lens.

The customer success role, at least in my humble opinion, is more of a partner role to the sales rep. There are a lot of conversations that I have about utilization, about enablement, about change management, about deployment and more, who […] be our champions. Those types of conversations, understanding what matters to that organization, how we can start to build an ROI story, that’s where some overlap happens with sales.

Those conversations might be with different people. Might have some of the same people, but it might be actually be with different people. With my previous role, I was working with a lot of heads of learning, enablement, in some cases, sales leaders as well. But I would say my sales point of contact, they would typically be also a little bit more focused on connecting with sales leaders, heads of revenue, heads of operation, and other senior leader in C-suite. That’s where I see a little bit of a difference.

If you do have two separate functions and two separate teams, you might want to also think about how each role would be measured. Generally speaking, anyone with a commercial title would typically have a monetary measure. They have a quota that they’re responsible for and hopefully they’re going to smash it […] the company to have lots of money, but customer success and thinking about how they’re measured has been a very highly debated topic. 

In fact, at LinkedIn that’s also an area where there’s discrepancy that we haven’t quite figured out. If you think of that customer success partner working very closely with sales, you might want to see if there’s some degree overlap that they can work together on. But if they have the wrong types of metrics, then they might be focused on the wrong type of behaviors. So, how do we inspire the right kind of behaviors in someone who’s acting like a consultant?

Not to get into too much of a sidebar here, but some people think customer success as customer support. I do not see it as customer support. I see customer support as typically being an IT resource, typically being maybe scalable resource. In some cases, there might be something that you might need to escalate or address if it’s a really big issue, but generally speaking, I see your customer success resource as that of that slightly higher elevated level consultant. So, they’re truly helping that customer be aligned with whatever they bought to their core business objectives and priorities, and measuring results along the way. Therefore, that customer feels really good about potentially buying more and by renewing by the end of that agreement.

Jono: You’re saying that you’re making sure that they understand how to leverage whatever it is you offer and that they know that the value they’re getting is aligned with their strategic goal.

Julie: Exactly, and their definition of success. Making sure that they have the right process and resources put behind it on their side, too. What tends to happen is the customer will buy something and they’ll say, “Okay, great. You’re doing everything for me,” and maybe that’s your business and that’s totally okay. But in some cases, that isn’t the case. They do need to bring in maybe some key people, maybe they need to build maybe a tiger team around the implementation of this or who’s going to play certain roles, or maybe they’re going to print out some collateral that announces this cool new thing that they’re rolling out of their company. Who knows?

There’s very often some disconnects that happen when we don’t set those expectations early and realign on these expectations with the customer life cycle because sometimes, things change and people move around, people leave, priorities change, companies move around, grow, shrink, et cetera. That’s why it’s really important to have a lot of these conversations. But if that customer success resource is, what I call, chasing tennis balls all the time, running after things that are not truly going to move that customer forward in a really productive, valuable way for the service or product that you offer, then that’s not a good way to spend your time.

Jono: Have you found any conflict or is there any common places where there’s tension between sales and customer success?

Julie: All the time. It’s a very fine dance. In fact—at least internally at LinkedIn—a big piece of conversation is how do we have meaningful and productive working relationships with that relationship manager partner, in our case, or that sales partner. There can be conflict for many reasons.

The customers that I see being a priority, meaning customer success, might be a customer who is maybe very unhealthy according to a specific metric or series of metrics like, “Oh, my gosh, this customer’s very unhealthy, I need to make sure since they’re the worst off that they’re getting TLC so I get them right on track.” That sales partner might perceive that same customer to be a low priority because that customer brought a three-year deal, fully penetrated, there’s no upsell potential, and they’re like, “Pssh.” As we say at LinkedIn they’re like, “By the time that customer renews, it’s mine. It will be in my book,” I don’t care about that customer. I want you customer success rep to purely focus on all the accounts that are up for renewal in the next two quarters.

That’s where it’s very important to build meaningful and strong relationships with the sales partners and be very open and honest. That’s where making some compromises along the way can be very helpful. I tried scheduling regular touchpoints, I do one-on-one with my sales partner until we’re in lock step and alignment because week over week or after every week, however often would make sense, priorities also change. I always think of it as a 50/50 partnership with a little bit of wax and wane.

There might be a quarter where yes, I need to lean in on some stuff that might be a little bit more in that sales partner’s priority area and then likewise, if I need a little bit of backup and support, maybe I need that sales partner to build up some of those executive level relationships at a lower sales priority account, but still really unhealthy account, then we have that push and pull together. I would say that as an example of a conflict that can happen, any just two people working together, sometimes people don’t get along. Sometimes, people have different communication styles, all the things that can happen with working with people, that’s another complexity.

Also just expectation setting. There are very different working styles. I’ve got a lot of sales partners that assumed that they are the only priority that I have, that they’re the only person I’m working with, so they try to demand the world from me. They also think that I work on weekends and evenings as well. No, I don’t. I try not to. That’s where being very clear about your priorities and your bandwidth can be very, very helpful.

Jono: Yeah, interesting.

Woman: When you’re saying sales partners, you’re also […] account. You’re […] . 

Julie: Exactly, depending on what you call it at your business. The question was the definition of sales partner. I would say, I have actually worked with people who do net new business acquisition as well in specific instances, too, like account executive who’s also for net and business acquisition, who’s trying to prove out, say, a pilot and renew that customer accuracy at trial period. That’s another example. Any version of sales partner but more conventionally, most customer success managers are working with existing clients. The person responsible for renewing or upselling that existing client has many different names. It can be account manager, relationship manager, there’s probably one that I can think of.

Woman: I think […] to do at trying on the business. For example, where I’m working right now, I’m customer success and account manager, marketing sales, […], everything, but the way I would define customer success is that our job was to ensure that our customers are successful by using our products. With our product doing more successful and the customer success manager’s job is to ensure that […] do the same all the key features to help them to get wherever they want to be.

Julie: Yeah. I think that was a really great point made depending on the organization. This is something that I’ve seen evolved at organizations, the roles and responsibilities that fall under, say, that sales partner account manager person versus the customer success manager can sometimes be very different.

I mentioned sometimes, customer success can be seen as customer service. Customer success can also be seen as a glorified trainer. They’re purely, if only, focused on training. In fact, when I started customer success, which was too long ago, I’d say a majority of my time was actually spent doing training sessions. Then our organization actually realized and said, “Wow, we have very talented people that should be spending their time doing other things.” We can try to scale training sessions a little bit more. We still do some training sessions but they’re limited and they’re customized and they have a purpose because training is very commonly thought of as the medicine for everything. “Okay, let’s throw a training […],” but very often training is just one little piece of the puzzle.

Jono: […] want to do training necessarily.

Julie: Yeah, exactly. That’s a whole other conversation about how people actually learn. Very often, training is not generally customized enough. It doesn’t have enough application for someone to actually use it and be successful. In fact, any more than five minutes of someone talking, unless they’re a super fancy speaker—maybe I fall under this as well, no I’m kidding—and people either stop listening or they don’t retain the information. I would say, that’s something that I wouldn’t be surprised overtime could possibly change because a customer success manager role should really be focused on some of those higher-level tasks to ensure that, that customer we talked about before is […].

Jono: […] be like an expert in the area or the application. That’s where the talent comes in. It seems to me—from what I’m hearing from you—when your trainer is somebody that can communicate and can do some training, almost anybody can be a trainer because you get a new break and you get a course and you learn how to train […] teach a course, whereas being a consultant, you really have to know your stuff, you have to have some experience, and you have to have a higher level of communication. We actually have some questions over here.

Julie: I just wanted to comment on what you just said. If you work back and understand what will make a customer rebuy, those are typically the answers that a customer success manager is hopefully going to shed light on for that customer. Whether it’s applying it appropriately, whether it’s measuring and understanding ROI correctly, yes, application and learning, how to do the thing is part of it, but I would say that should be minimal, maybe it’s implementation. So, just making sure that they’re guiding the customer depending on whatever goals and outcomes they want to achieve that they are just pointing them in the right direction and guiding them based on best practices from…

Jono: Strategic advice.

Julie: Exactly. Based on other maybe similar customers, or similar sized customers, or similar implementations. Like we talked about, if they’re just chasing tennis balls, they’re not using their time in the best possible way.

Jono: That really clarifies things for me, actually. Really remarkable.

Julie: I’m so glad.

Jono: Marc Seldin, he’s actually the Hubbli CTO. Marc, feel free to jump in and just voice your question. We can hear you if you want to talk.

Marc: Sure. You did touch on it just a little bit. I just like to hear more about your thoughts on this question. Obviously, if we see customer success as having a service role, and you also mentioned the importance of retention as being a function that they’re going to be serving, how specifically would you suggest or what ways have you seen successfully utilized to remind customers of the benefits that they’re actually getting from the service?

Julie: I would say talking about how we measure success. I think I touched on it a little bit earlier, should be one of the first conversations that you have with that customer and how your product or service aligns with their goals and priorities. That is something that you should circle back with the customer to remind them of if you have measurement ways that you’ve agreed on with the customer of doing that at least quarterly, if you can, maybe more frequently, if that makes sense, but I would say quarterly is typically a good digestible cadence to be able to do that.

It’s incredibly important to your point because out of sight, out of mind or again, like I’m talking about earlier, that customer might think that they’re not getting any value. In fact, they’re actually getting a ton because you can see all the metrics and they just might not know or those conversations aren’t involving the right people. Based on who are in what roles like we talked about in that 6.8 and maybe in that decision making RAPID model, maybe you don’t have that core senior level executive buyer that, the economic buyer as an example, in any of those conversations about value that they’re seeing and that might be an exposure that you really need to have. They might not need to be on it quarterly but maybe at least halfway through their contract, if that makes sense, or halfway through the year, say you’re working further with that customer for about a year.

I would say another really great way to show the value of what that customer is gaining is from stories. Stories are one of the most important things that you can have. We try to do surveys with our products that our customers leverage at LinkedIn, both qualitative and quantitative, but from time to time, there’s not an appropriate match like a customer says, “We don’t want you to send a survey to our end users,” but sometimes, we […] if they’d be open to us reaching out to some of their heaviest users, as an example. So, some of the people […] most engaged and […] and story has tremendous power to move people even […]. That’s not something that you’re currently doing, maybe along with […], here’s the ROI based on the metrics of success that we agreed on […], then that’s going to be a huge opportunity to be able to lead into. You see on people’s websites, […]

Another random little tidbit, just in general case, if you can, really try to get to know what’s motivating the specific key people that you’re working with. As an example, if my main point of contact to roll out this program, if they are really trying to get a promotion in their organization—hopefully, you’re building some form of relationship on a human level with them aside from just business—what’s in it for them? They’re trying to get a promotion. The conversation can very easily transition to, “Alright, what can we do to make you really good in the eyes of your manager?” That’s going […] you but also maybe do more for the sake of your program being successful versus not […]

Woman: There’s actually one that makes them think of customer success like helping the customers to become successful and you should get beyond they achieve their goals and their own professional goals. Again, they do look good in front of their managers, or their director, or their VP.

Julie: You’re totally right. Bringing this back to your question, Marc, I thought about success stories and metrics. Ideally, those are relating back directly to the core problems and objectives that you are hoping to solve with that specific customer. As core objectives, problems, goals may completely differ from customer to customer even if you have a very similar kind of solution. You might see some common ones pop up, that’s why that is one of the most important things that you can do early on along with defining what success means to solve those problems. Is that helpful?

Marc: It’s very helpful. Thank you very much for that. As a follow-up question, would you suggest providing to the contact some kind of document that they can provide to the other stakeholders that we would demonstrate these benefits? In other words, like in the quarterly report, would you suggest trying to take the problem as they have defined it for you on an individual level and then create graphs or some other deliverable that might be then passed up the chain?

Julie: I love that question. How great. It leads me to be thinking about structured communications and how important that is. By structured communications, it’s thinking about communicating to certain populations of people in a way that’s going to resonate to them.

Like I mentioned earlier, if you can invite any of those keys in your stakeholders to a live meeting, that’s always going to be better because it gives you an opportunity to get to know what makes them tick and what’s going to get them excited more. But that’s not necessarily always your reality or maybe one person can make the meeting but some of the other peers might not.

I think being able to craft something like an executive summary can be very, very effective. That can outline some of the key qualitative and quantitative gains that you are getting in a very succinct way. Keep in mind with executive summaries, there’s a lot of really great online resources on how to build executive summaries very effectively. Keep in mind that you want to keep it very simple. You’re contextualizing any of the data points, they don’t just say 47%, say, if that’s really amazing or not like you have to actually give a little bit of emotion behind that.

Make sure you keep your audience in mind. If the person who might pick this up from someone’s desk, if they don’t know about what’s happening, you might need to add a little bit more color in that executive summary. I would be hesitant to make it too verbose with too many slides and graphs and things like that, especially if something is not being presented by someone on your team, there’s a very high likelihood that it lacks all context for someone who might potentially just pick this up on […] might be something that could just get them excited enough or whet their appetite enough to encourage them to actually join, say, a next meeting where you could go a little bit deeper on visuals and graphics. Helpful? Awesome. Fantastic. I love it. Thanks, Marc. What wonderful questions.

Jono: Theresa’s actually our COO. She’s just asking the question as well.

Julie: Oh, written metrics compared. So that metrics for how they’re being measured at work or metrics for the customer?

Theresa: Hi. Yes, the metrics I’d like to know about is actually more internal because we want to be able to keep motivating our team and if there is no clarity on the direction and what the goals are, then obviously, it’s going to impact our clients at the end of the day, too. In your expertise, what would you say is an important metric that we should be aware of or maybe consider to bring into our strategies so that we can then in turn also bring the results to our clients?

Julie: I think it’s helpful to try to understand what makes a healthy account. What are some of the metrics that you might already be measuring that would be the biggest indicators that would lead you to believe that an account is, say, healthy or doing particularly well? I would say those are some of the key metrics.

In fact, in some cases, in some companies, they’ve compiled that and created their own score so they, maybe, waited some of those key metrics above a certain threshold and they’ve compiled a specific score per account to define whether that account is “healthy or not,” up to if you want to take that extra step but that’s something that I’ve seen done quite a bit including internally at LinkedIn. That would be a metric that I would say is really of importance for the person in that customer success role.

The account manager—again, those are two separate teams, I’m not speaking to if someone’s wearing all the hats—should truly be focused on upcoming renewals, biggest growth opportunities that are going to be on their plate. Then they’ll have the rest based on that prioritization that we were talking about earlier on.

Jono: Who’s churning more […] customer success […]?

Julie: That’s a really great one. I was literally just about to get to churn. Churn is, I would say, one of the biggest areas of potential overlap because churn obviously hurts the commercial side of the business. That relationship manager, account manager, whomever that manager is not going to have a great day if they hear that a customer of theirs is going to be churning because that hurts their bottom line of  how they’re measured.

I do see churn as a joint effort in #essentialpartnership because hopefully, if a customer is very engaged, aligned, seeing value, you have lots of points of contact and they love you, all this great stuff, then hopefully, they are not going to churn. Obviously, there are outliers. Stuff happens.

Jono: No way.

Julie: Yeah, I’m right there. I recently had a customer that decided to churn and totally blindsided us, who verbally said that they were going to renew flat. Sometimes things happen that are outside of our scope and control. But I feel a very equal responsibility with my sales partner to try to mitigate that churn if there’s anything that we can do, but also when that churn happens. Although as of right now it’s not built into my compensation, I do have a performance metrics of a role of try to maintain, across all the accounts that I support in customer success, a specific percentage of churn and below.

Jono: So, they don’t tie that to your compensation but it is obviously a measurement of whether you’re going to stay there or not.

Julie: Exactly, and quite frankly though, it’s interesting because we have different ways of being measured at LinkedIn but as far as exactly how are you’re getting paid, churn is not currently part of the compensation package but it is wrapped into the results portion of how we’re measured, say, in our performance reviews.

The way LinkedIn operates, the way we get paid more money is typically merit-driven. Your performance review has to go really well. We’re measured in three different ways. It’s called leadership, leverage, and results. That’s why a lot of LinkedIn people, we take on a lot of projects, we do a lot of things to help for the company. It’s very cool. Under that results component is those performance metrics.

Again, if you have a goal to stay below a certain churn number as well as any other means of being measured and that’s sort of the section we would fall under. I had spoken to other customer success orgs who do have churn built into their compensation. I see it personally as a little bit aggressive because sometimes, customers churn for the right reasons.

Jono: That’s a product issue.

Julie: Exactly, a product issue or maybe that sales partner shouldn’t have sold to that specific customer. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been in that situation. In the spirit of thinking about what motivates your employees, that’s a really great way to create a disengaged employee feeling like they can’t be set up for success or they can’t make money even if they’re doing all the right things. I would say it’s a fine balance to try to figure out and it’s something that’s still an ongoing conversation how to pay customer success managers.

Generally speaking, what we see and what I feel mainly of a salary with a small variable component like a 90/10. My previous role I was 80/20. […]. When I was in sales, it was a 50/50, net new acquisition, 50/50 a real coin toss. Is Julie going to eat dinner tonight? Who knows? Then our relationship manager business, the account manager business, just because we do have those separate segments is a 60/40. So, it depends on your org on what makes sense. What happens on LinkedIn might not fit for your business.

Jono: […] 80% salary.

Julie: Eighty percent base salary and twenty percent.

Jono: Oh, okay. I thought […], I was like, “[…]”

Julie: No, no, gosh. It depends and we’re still figuring it out as of right now. Theresa, did that help answer your question? Let me know, put me in the right direction if I missed it.

Theresa: You definitely nailed it and I think definitely gave us more than a few ideas to really consider because metrics isn’t just about one key component or under one department or category. It just really is a 360 piece to complete the loop and everything. Thank you.

Julie: Thanks, Theresa.

Jono: I’m so interested about this book switching.

Julie: Yeah, I know.

Jono: What happens is, some of the insurance right after somebody else takes over, that’s like everytime […] it’s like, “Well, I made the numbers get better. […].”

Julie: Yeah, […] but there are a certain percentage of accounts that you’re allowed to hold so if you’ve been really deeply invested with a specific customer and they trust you, you have a great relationship there, and they’re adding on and growing, then that’s a great opportunity to hold that account. There might be […]

Jono: So, you get to pick that yourself?

Julie: I don’t, personally, in customer success but anyone in sales will because everyone’s books do churn over, which is very challenging. But to your point, the churn key is very sensitive, so sometimes that does happen. It’s a case-by-case basis so if we know that there’s a potential churn risk coming, I’d like to think that we try to operate in the best interest of the customer. But sometimes we call them churn bombs.

Our relationship manager will receive their book and they’ll get in their hand off note from the previous relationship with the manager, “Hey, these guys have already told me that they’re going to churn.” That relationship manager has to either mitigate that churn which can very much happen, it’s totally possible, even if someone tells you they will, sometimes you can lessen the blow like it depends obviously in the space that you’re in, but sometimes, they just have been feeling neglected or they haven’t understood the value that you’ve been providing, for whatever reason, viewing usage in a totally different way than you’re viewing usage. Sometimes it’s just disconnect and you can remedy that.

Jono: Yeah, I can see it going either way. Maybe that’s why this makes sense because you could see for obvious reasons is why sticking with somebody would be good but obvious reasons why switching to somebody else might keep the account and save it.

Who deals with retention with these kind of accounts? Does somebody else get folded? Is it the relationship manager? When somebody is unhappy and you’re really trying to keep them, who typically does that?

Julie: Good question. It all depends on the specific customer and why they’re unhappy. Generally speaking, the people in driver seats are that relationship manager and that customer success manager and hopefully, you have a good idea of what’s going wrong, was it something […] the wrong way or is there some value that we’re missing or whatever?

But there are times where we do try to bring in a more senior point of contact, so maybe a senior person in sales or someone else. It depends though. As an example, if our core point of contact or the person who might be unhappy is someone is senior in sales ops or product. Sometimes we’ll match them with a leader from our organization in operations or product because sometimes it’s just the type of conversation to be had is just one that we are not capable of having and also it shows good faith if you are bringing in your senior leadership to their senior leadership.

Jono: It shows them their importance.

Julie: Exactly. It’s not all the time but I would say it’s in selected instances where if […] a useful tool in your tool kit to be able to use.

Woman: How often do you rotate the accounts?

Julie: Annually. At LinkedIn, it’s annually minus the segment, that’s how often we rotate. But I’ve heard from many, many companies, they think that this is hilarious. Quite frankly the downside is even within that year, movement does happen. Even myself, I’m moving into a totally different business line at LinkedIn, so I’m very conscious of my transition that’s happening right now right before our book switch because we’ve moved to a different fiscal year to align with Microsoft so we […] July start.

Woman: Even […] after Watson which is going to put a lot of the jobs […] customer retention people in jeopardy because the little system is changing. I know that LinkedIn is looking for more not having to do the guesswork but make sure that, that customer retention and churn is being already produced by machines. That’s probably going to be changing the whole dynamic of what the roles of […] as well. […]

Julie: I am not involved in those decisions so for me it’s pure speculation, but based on the types of conversations that customer success leaders have is they want to find ways to be able to help us spend time in the right places, including those higher level things.

Woman: Exactly and […] all the human errors, all the back and forth, and make sure that the customers are getting more optimized solution.

Julie: We’re talking about automated machine learning, so automated ways of predicting churn. It’s very, very interesting space. Aside from being able to help customer success spend time in more high-impact ways, also being able to service our customers who don’t qualify for official customer success support as well as our fully penetrated customers. If a customer is fully penetrated, there’s no upsell, it might not make sense to actually put additional human labor into that deployment to that degree depending on the size. They might decide to totally realign their human resources, should they choose to move a little bit more to machine learning.

Jono: It probably makes us look at both ends of the spectrum where it’s smaller customers.

Woman: That’s why […] are coming to the arena because I got to be honest with you, it’s just not based on the area that I’m in, it’s just not realistic for small- to medium-sized businesses to be able to afford the customer retention or customer success offerings that […] offering. That’s actually where the maybes is why there’s been more churn recently […] because it’s just not like you were saying as a small business […] figured out where am I going to put my […]. That’s […] huge issue which was really frightened LinkedIn and made them think, “You know what? We used to validate the way […] we’re going after these customers we’re going to be looking at. […] cheap option which is Watson,” is what they’re going after right now. Again, it’s just not serving the small businesses account for that service. Everyone […] keep going to suffer and […].

Jono: Also […] internally to support you. There’s email AI around that to tell you what to say to a different type of person and why you’re writing it for?

Woman: Or it’s just being […] that has enough manpower and […] automate this whole system and that’s why there was a team dedicated to making sure that it can optimize this […]. Yeah, it’s an interesting role, but it’s all completely changing and I think it’s time for businesses to think of plan B.

Julie: Exactly. That’s where I see those types of innovations to supplement human labor or again, redirect from the labor. To your point, there might be lots of companies who can’t afford to hire anyone in a customer success function or if they can hire a very minimal amount of customer success with maybe one or two people, maybe something that’s automated that can point them in the right direction, that can help them spend their time on those customers that are going to provide more towards your bottom line based on some of those key metrics that we’re outlining earlier. She has a wonderful business, great opportunity. I know, it sounds really great but I think it’s great. We’re writing the book in customer success […] happening and I think this is just the beginning. Thank you for that.

Woman: Yeah. I think the lemonades of the world are coming in, the disruptors are coming in to help those small businesses that are not getting service.

Jono: What are the lemonades of the world? 

Woman: You never heard of lemonade? Lemonade is […] absolute lemonade if […] chance to do a really fun, interesting case study. Lemonade is a disruptor in the insurance industry. Lemonade is freaking out all the brokerage firms because they have come in and they are taking out the brokerage firms. They’re just putting their person that’s looking for insurance together with a really good service that they’ve completely modified very cheap and accessible to anyone. I can get an insurance in five minutes on my mobile phone. That’s […].

Jono: Yeah, there’s another one […]

Woman: Lemonade isn’t one that just issue raising about $20 million just recently, and they keep getting more. They’re in the US only right now.

Jono: I mean […] AI, it’s not just like […] legal like […] contract with them […].

Woman: Oh, yeah. […]. You can write your own yell now, we got how many folks […].

Woman: Yes, it’s an app. […]

Woman: I’ve heard that.

Woman: It’s like two seconds. […] insurance industry is that, I don’t know how […] last time you went and purchased insurance, you need a lawyer to make sense of that insurance policy that you acquire. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Lemonade is like, “No, no. We’re going to take all of this out, it’s going to be very straightforward. Anyone can understand and you’ll be able to have insurance for your body, for your home, for your car within seconds, and it’s just going to make that much easier.” They’re primarily in the States right now.

Jono: Like literally you’re about to get into a car accident, then ch-ch-ch and […] insurance.

Woman: […] for real, that’s exactly how it’s done.

Woman: Your house is burning.

Woman: […].

Jono: […].

Woman: […] check it out, Lemonde AI. They’re doing phenomenal. They’re one of our competitors and also one of the companies who […] because they’ve done incredible in this very archaic, backwards industry and that’s […].

Jono: There was a lot of those opportunities. […] education, we’re not doing AI yet but Marc’s AI next month.

Woman: […] innovation.

Julie: Nicole said, “I’m moving this week and I’ve gotten about 40 Lemonade email on the last few days.” It’s funny.

Jono: […] I just do it […].

Woman: Yeah, […]

Jono: Oh, yeah, your […] like particularly brutal.

Woman: Well then there’s […] is the biggest one.

Jono: The biggest one? 

Woman: […] is bigger than Toronto because Toronto looks bigger but it’s so […] and in terms of the number of students, […].

Jono: But in the US, there’s a lot of small districts […].

Woman: US is where you want to be.

Jono: Yeah. Most of our customers are in the US. We don’t do public.

Woman: No.

Jono: We’re basically a CRM firm.

Woman: But in terms of public school, the only way to locate you and the only way we’ll talk to you is if you know someone in the district on education so […] because the ministry says thou shalt and thou shalt not. […]

Jono: Yeah, I was typically doing it way back. I don’t want to get into my history here. I love the charity […].

Woman: Yeah, absolutely. […] industry I will never touch again.

Jono: Yeah, I can understand.

Julie: One last thought as we’re talking about AI and the potential for such good, is […] acknowledgement to not think in B2B applications that it would be appropriate to completely flip. The reason why I say this is, especially, we’re talking a lot about value and talking about priorities, goals, and objectives for an organization, sometimes that organization has no idea of what they are trying to do.

Jono: No, nothing I can do.

Julie: Exactly. In some cases, there’s a lot of deep discovery, deep conversation that needs to happen, that is […] before AI can completely automate. That’s why I see it as a good pairing of being able to scale resources.

Woman: But if you’re looking at the company’s data, the way that the company […], it’s the way that they sell products, the […] way that customers have stayed with them, which customers have left. Which have stayed? Why? Who’s made referral?  Who’s purchased more than they’re supposed to? I think that’s where the […] of AI comes in.

AI is able to see all of that and within seconds, where human made an error can tell you, “You know what? Based on your data, this customer’s going to churn. This is what you need to offer them because this other personnel was offering the same service.” This is what […] and this is how you upsell them. I actually see it as a plus and this is something that […] never do. And it will take so much time and so much effort, even in the insurance industry who got the people that come up with all of these benefits and all these plans. That’s all being automated now. Manulife and Sunlife are actually hiring their own data scientists to be able to create those models for them because it’s just not possible for a human to be able to come up with those models and make sure that you are […] customers.

Julie: You’re totally right and that’s where I’d say supplement as opposed to totally slipped.

Woman: I don’t even see it as a supplement. I’m trying to figure out how to […]. I will trust the machine over the human giving me the output of the data.

Julie: That’s where it depends on the application, I would say, because as an example, if you’re trying to have a conversation about what a company is hoping to do over the next year or so, sometimes there’s a lot of […] that isn’t purely based on their historical data that they have available, depending on the service and product that you’re dealing with. I definitely see a lot of value to be added there, a lot of ways to be able to scale, potential […] and some cases have certain applications that I don’t have a background in. It could be fully automated like the insurance we’re talking about. That makes sense to me to a small degree of understanding that I have on it, but certainly there’s certain other applications as an example in SaaS where that might not be able to fully encapsulate every single type of consultative discussion. That tends to happen because very often, that customer doesn’t even know what they’re hoping to do moving forward. 

Woman: But that’s a problem. If as a business you don’t know what you need, I would say that that’s an issue. That company is not […].

Jono: Yeah, […] customers like they’re all running a business. As an example, every single one of our customers, these are businesses run by teachers.

Woman: That’s a problem.

Jono: Yes, but that’s the creativeness of the private school sector. Right now we’re focused on even a smaller niche.

Woman: But I’ll just say private schools are businesses.

Jono: They are.

Woman: So when you say teachers are running private schools, know their actual business owners that buy these private schools […].

Jono: No. Most of our customers were teachers and then they became directors or heads of schools or owners. That’s the majority of our customer base. It is shocking how much they have no idea what they’re doing. They’re lucky enough that if they just have a great school, word-of-mouth keeps them going and this is a market where 15–20 years ago, that actually kept them full, but the whole landscape is different now. They’re 60% capacity across the board and they have no idea what they’re doing marketing wise. They know how to be in the classroom and they know how to develop programming. They know how to talk to parents face-to-face but they don’t know how to market or do anything efficiently. Most of these folks actually, it’s a labor of love, they’re volunting half […].

Woman: That is a private school, you’re making good money. You’re making really good money running a private school.

Jono: Some of them. The big schools, Exeter Academy, Crestwood, these ones make quite a lot of money, but the majority of private schools are under a hundred students and they’re owner/operator, small little operations.

Julie: What you share is super parallel to a lot of customer competitions I have. Our customers think that their priority is this or this is where they need to be focusing our solution on, when in actuality, what they’re either hoping to do moving forward or based on some historical whether that’s human-generated or potentially machine-generated doesn’t align to that.

Sometimes, there are disconnects amongst people in that buying committee even to figure that out. That’s where you do need, in certain elements, in certain conversation, in certain applications and products, to have a conversation. You do need to put on a consultant hat. Obviously, information is so important and to be used for good to making more effective, very […] business depending on the sector and industry, they do need a little bit of that decoding.

Woman: I have to touch on something that you just mentioned, the consulting aspect. That’s how things in customer success is changing. When the AI rolls out finally and it is going to happen to Watson, what’s going to happen is the customer success people are now going to become consultants. They’re sent to the organizations or businesses to get those information that those people don’t know/what they don’t know, to be able to feed the right data into the AI machine, to be able to get a write out […] information.

That’s how the rules are being changed. You’re absolutely right. We can’t have the machine and just give it to someone who barely knows how to run a business and have them drive this. That’s where the majority of the profits for LinkedIn is going to come from is the consulting services. They’re staying huge on the customer success team, but now they’re sending consultants to do businesses. That’s […] were talking about and […] that I read about them making this partnership with Watson. 

Julie: That’s really cool. The way LinkedIn makes money is actually through our product. Our customer doesn’t actually have to technically pay an add-on fee for the services that we provide. It’s actually included. They purely buy the product. In our B2B business lines, we don’t actually offer consulting services. If that’s something that’s upcoming, it’s news to me. We’re doing a lot of work with Microsoft, looking to innovate. There’s a lot of conversations that happen. I’m not personally aware of anything that’s coming down the pipes so I can’t speak publicly on that. 

Woman: This is not something that’s going to happen tomorrow, it’s going to take time because […].  There’s a lot of issues with it and even Google hasn’t figured it out 100%. They’re competing with Amazon, that’s competing with Google. All three of them are going neck and neck to see who the big guy is, but Watson is the right choice for LinkedIn.

Julie: Potentially, yeah. As of right now, we don’t know what we don’t know yet. We can’t speak publicly on anything that isn’t […].

Jono: For the record.

Woman: This is all public information, this is all out there […] I mean that’s all I know, I don’t know anything about LinkedIn.

Julie: Yeah. I would take home message and say like we have tons of data. I mean, we’re LinkedIn. We use […] amount of data. We could see a lot on the back end, so we do have a lot of reports and data information that helps to point us in the right direction that is just our data, our network, usage, analytics, and things like that; trend-driven data. We have a ton of that at our disposal that we use to guide us.

Information can be used for good, but it in my humble opinion at least, there are instances where having a consultative conversation is necessary. I feel like we’ve come to an agreement on that. I do want to be respectful of time. If there’s anything else that we want to chat about […] question. Unfortunately, I do not have exposure to this specific program at LinkedIn, I’m so sorry, but is there anything customer success-related or anything we haven’t touched on yet, feel free. I think it was a really insightful dialogue. Thank you.

Woman: Yeah. I would actually want to know. LinkedIn, does the customer success team work with products team? Because you guys are constantly talking to the customer, you know their pain point. You guys could be the perfect people to work with in terms of product development.

Julie: You are spot-on with that. Very often, we’ll hear from our customers, end users in the field, they’ll say, “Oh, my gosh. I wish you had this or this data. How can we fix this?” For quite some time, we release directly with our product team. We would try to log tickets. We […] product that allows us to add an upvote product ideas and suggestions. So, some of it comes from us internally and some of it comes from what we hear.

What we have, I would say, in the past year or two in my previous business line at LinkedIn, release is an external client-facing, what we call community so they can chat and connect. If they like, there’s comment boards, but we’ve actually also built in an external-facing version of that upvoting and product suggestions phase.

Jono: Yeah, it’s a great […] to push products […].

Julie: Exactly. Because you’re typically having the closest touch points to how they’re utilizing the platform, understanding their roadblocks, and likes and dislikes, that person who’s […] be a really great resource to me as closely with product and highly recommend that if you work for a business where you don’t have that touch point. Definitely do that. But if you have an external input, awesome idea to do that, too, whether it’s in a community, whether you do and ask on a newsletter or a survey. But sometimes, unless you are having those conversations, our customers are too busy to proactively give that, to actually send in a survey. Sometimes they will. It depends.

Jono: You also probably know the customer a little bit better than on a product level that they […] themselves. Because you’re talking to many of them, then you’re seeing patterns of the trends. Your product ideas are […] everyone ask for is a faster horse. People really wanted a car. The customer success and product management are those two very fuzzy roles that people are trying to figure out. There’s so much overlap there.

Julie: You’re totally right. There’s actually been instances where with key customers, I brought in a product person into those conversations to say we’re talking about a specific integration with CRM, something like Salesforce. In my previous business line, our product interfaces with Salesforce, so they have some integrations. I brought in our product team onto a couple of calls with customers who either have objections to it and you want to dig into that to figure out whether it’s a product issue, or adoption, or whatever, or something else. Maybe it is an opportunity to get feedback from a pretty influential customer or a use-case set that we haven’t quite figured out. There’s a lot of really great opportunity for collaboration. I think it’s a fantastic […].

Jono: Cool. Thank you so much.

Julie: My pleasure. Thanks so much people who are virtual.

Woman: Oh, I learned a lot from you. You’re very insightful and you’re a very good communicator, you’re good elaborating ideas.

Julie: Thank you. I can honestly say I didn’t have […].

Jono: Yeah. My typical standard, the same way I started this was just like, “Hey, can you do this?”

Julie: Yeah, and I was like, “Right, then give me some questions […] I’m going to be in New York at some time like in between flights at the airport.

Jono: Soon, I’ll get an assistant to help you with this and I’ll be able to do things like that.

Woman: […] told me that.

Julie: There you go. Thank you all for being here and listening to me talk for a while.

Jono: This is great. Thank you very much.

Julie: I hope it’s helpful.

Woman: Very helpful. 

Jono: Good. 

Julie: Yeah, anything else you guys wanted to chat about?

Woman: […] LinkedIn […] yourself. You’ve got to know the ins and outs of the company. If I was giving any advice to anyone, being in the tech world as long as I have, you will have to know […] you’ve got to know what your company that you’re working for is doing and what that means for your role and for your job because if the company is not […] they don’t care about you unless you own your own business. That’s a different story. But you’ve got to know what you’re investing in, where you’re going at, what are they doing. Because you’re going to get these types of questions all the time. You need to be on top of it and understand and say, “Nothing is private. All of this stuff is public and they’re the ones that are announcing where you’re going and what they’re doing. They have to do that for […].”

Julie: Yeah. What we do have at LinkedIn […] is we actually have all-hands meetings every two weeks. CEO for our company, Jeff Weiner actually post these and he would  invite guests across business lines, products, et cetera, to give us very transparent view.

Woman: […] telling you.

Julie: That’s understandable. I mean, at LinkedIn, we have very clear cultures and values. I’ve been on LinkedIn for six years. I actually have pretty close connections to a lot of the people who are on the senior leadership and stuff like that by virtue of relationship building and just tenure and they are very, very clear on being open, honest, transparent and constructive.

Woman: […] Watson. I have Google Alerts set up on anything you do […] recently now that they are looking at a partnership with Watson to be able to automate all the customer success […] that they’re doing and making sure that […].

Jono: That particular focus of Watson, you mean it by…

Woman: No, no. Watson is capable of a lot of predictions, not just machinery and AI. But Watson is not utilized to the point that it can be, not yet anyway.

Jono: Are you guys doing your own engine or is it based off Watson?

Woman: It’s off […] based on Watson, not […] Google so we’re talking into all of them. That’s why we aim to keep […] price point so it’s whatever we work with, has to […].

Jono: It’s amazing how AI is like a service now, it’s like a cloud service.

Woman: It’s to save money for small businesses. It’s to make sure that you have an even playing ground because right now, the only people that have access to this AI machinery platform are the people that can afford to hire Watson or the […] of the world that have their own data scientist […]. Like Manulife right now. One of my very good friends who is a PhD data scientist, is working for Manulife building their system to be able to predict when a customer is going to churn. Exactly what we’re doing, they’re doing it in a larger scale but only for Manulife. They’re spending, from what she told me, so far, they spent over $10 million on developing this machine and they’re going to be spending even more. She was […] school even before she was even done to start working on this project for Manulife.

Jono: […]

Woman: Right now in Canada, we have a huge need for data scientists. We don’t even have enough data scientists in this country. A lot of the businesses are going to India or going to visit Europe or they’re going to South America. That’s how we build our team. Our team is basically, we have a team in India, we have a team in South America, and we also have a team in Eastern Europe because it’s 10 times cheaper than hiring someone here and you can’t find people to hire here. There’s a huge shortage right now. Anyone I talk to, any young people that are wondering what to do with their life […] data scientist and […].

Jono: But I like to pay.

Julie: That’s one of the reasons why I transitioned into LinkedIn. It actually rolls up to one of the main purposes of LinkedIn at a very high level which is something called the economic graph because LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the entire world. If […] AI, I could see it more on the member-facing site, because members, we’re getting members to be like, “Oh, what do I do […] specific question or for whatever reason is answering your Help Center, right now it’s very slow ticketing system. That’s where I could see something like that in the B2B sphere. They’re very, very brilliant and very passionate about ensuring that they do get that consultative piece correct.

But the economic graph is really cool for an opportunity to Google it, so they say, to knock out all the jobs that exist in the entire world, all the skills that exist on everyone’s profile across the world, and figure out where there are some skill shortages based on where the jobs are. The acquisition of Lynda.com was seen as that last puzzle piece, so […] people who are currently in areas where there are skill gaps to fulfill those jobs and be able to move into those jobs, which is really exciting.

Jono: I was surprised how much Lynda.com was purchased for. I was like […].

Woman: How much were they purchased for?

Jono: It’s $2 billion something, I think. 

Woman: But at that time, it was the best platform out there. They did a really good job […].

Jono: That’s how I built […]. I was a sales guy.

Woman: […] for free. […] that you can get but there’s also so many other platforms as well now out there. But at that time, I was watching the case of how they did acquire Lynda and I thought it was pretty insane how much they gave, but based on what was in the market at that time, they were the best.

Jono: There’s a lot of niche little sites. Just personally from what I was doing with things like learning design, […] development. Probably I used Lynda a lot. Lynda was telling everything, not actually everything but went much broader, but people were using Lynda for years. It’s been building a very […] value is.

Julie: Yeah, they have deeply entrenched customer base.

Jono: It’s amazing.

Julie: And a competitive experience. One of the only business lines where we truly have real competitors in the space. However, in the past few years, I just went through […] and apparently some of these like key learning development events. Some of the former bigger players don’t even have a presence right now. Now people […] conversations are having on the ground. People actually talking about Lynda/LinkedIn Learning, “Oh, my gosh, look at what they’re doing. Look at the direction they’re moving in.” So, there’s some really exciting things that are to be announced […] looking forward to. We’ll see what happens. It’s an incredible company doing incredible things so anytime you have questions, feel free to…

Jono: I actually totally forgot that Microsoft bought LinkedIn, so I was like […]

Julie: Which is wonderful. Honestly, at first I was conflicted, I was like, “Really, not Google?” Our CEO is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever heard speak. He has […]. He’s on YouTube. He has some great […] LinkedIn profile. He is absolutely incredible. The comments I’m hearing from you are totally valid like, “Be careful they don’t tell you everything,” things like that but genuinely, they did walk the walk. But they talk about in some closed boardroom meetings, they actually do distribute and talk to us in sort of a […], “These are things that we cannot discuss publicly, but this is what we’re saying and doing,” and things like that.

But Microsoft has actually been an incredible partner and that deal pivots around LinkedIn operating as its own more or less […] identity. This is the first acquisition from Microsoft, provided Microsoft where they can’t just go in […] and the deal was entirely based on that. Satya has been nothing but incredible […]. Satya is the CEO of Microsoft. Satya Nadella is incredible. He single-handedly is absolutely transforming Microsoft as an organization and growing at market share well beyond some of the other competitors that don’t have […]. Very exciting to see.

Now, what we’re seeing on the B2B side is a lot of […] opportunities. Financial […] super for LinkedIn and then we also have their infrastructure. It offers us opportunities to do a lot more than we can do by ourselves even as huge network globally. It’s actually been amazing. I have my own dealings when the acquisition happened […] literally, people were very upset. I have to say I was skeptical […] so far so good. There’s still lots to figure out, lots of opportunity. It’s such a young partnership, but I see more good than I see any potential downside.

Woman: How much did your job change since the acquisition?

Julie: None.

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