The Pavilion Podcast
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Ep 5: Scaling Customer Success Teams from Scratch feat Anna Elwood

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Ep 5: Scaling Customer Success Teams from Scratch feat Anna Elwood

To Ototaka calloeverone and welcome to the revenuecollective podcast on your launch host, Justin Welsh member of the Los AngelsChapter of Revenue. Collectives in inside of these episodes we're going tofeature ideas in conversations that are inspired by ongoing discussions withinthe revenue collective community across the globe. Inside of the R C slackchannel, there has been some talk recently around scaling customer teamsfrom scratch, and that's exactly what we're going to speak about in thisepisode with our guest BP of customer success in sales at Teachebol, Annaelwood and before we dived in with Anna a few notes, if you're out therelistening and you want to join revenue, collective visit revenue, collectivedocom and click apply now. The second note is that this podcast is coming to:U, from our sponsor gone the number one revenue intelligence platform forremote sales, we are thrilled to announce a strategic partnership inwhich we will be bringing you the best events, content, research and spaces toengage with your peers to kick it all off. They are sponsoring the revenue,collective podcast. We will bring you new stuff every month, so do not missout stay up to date on the latest collaborations at Gong Dot, io, slash,Parsey, ok, let's pick it off with Anna Elwood. Our gues today is Anna Elwood Anna iscurrently the VP of sales and customer success, teachable a platform thatenables creators to monitize their expertise and build their businessesprior to teachable Anna was the global head of customer success at Notel. Shestarted her tech career, as vice president of operations at Zakhdok, ahealthcare technology company at the beginning of a better healthcareexperience focused on empowering patience. Anna was one of Zocdok'searliest employees joining the company at employee. Seventeen in serving threemarkets, helping build it to over six hundred employees and serving usersnationwide Anna, so good to be talking with you, it's nice to cat with you,desten great, so Anna you and I have worked together in the past, but Iwould love to learn more about what you're up to Yo today tell us a littlebit about teacherble in your role there. Currently S so pacable, which you verydetinctly described. It's about a five year old company we actually wererecently acquired by hot mark, which is a Brazilian base company doing thesimlar things that we do, but about three years older and much larger thanwe are our growth coul date, or rather maybe up until about six months ago,was largely from kind of a singular marketing, apadition strategy and a lotof organic o word of mouth growth and that marcetequisition was centered alot around live digital events that...

...would attract creators and have thembegin to you with our platform. As we've grown, it's been important toobviously maintain the growth rates, which is ultimate that we've had thediverse of ierequazy strategy, and so I joined to one wichor, our customerCaratean, which is about twenty people or thirty people, as well as build outa sailed and postsale experience that will utterly support some of ourhighest value customers, but also UNM AD to diversification that we'relooking for in continuing to growl our business great night. I know you'vebuilt out these. You know you've built these really massive customer facingteams over the last decade of your career, and I know everyone sort of hasa different approach when building teams- and I know you're maturing someof the teams there at teachable. How do you think about building your teams? Isthere a particular type of employee or set of skills that you're looking forwhen you're staffing up your team's, a teachable yeah? I think that the type of personthat you hire as some of your first hires- and I know that you probablyobserve this two just en both at bacack in Yuro son, Itis, very different thanthe hires that you make later on, and I've referred it and I'm totallylifting from other people. I'v failed to remember who inacte probably saidthis first, that I was pretty to but the difference between athletes versusexperts in the early days. You need really kind of true operations:individuals who can do a various set of things when I first tarted at Dacdok,my role included SELLBOT's work and marketing and office management work,and when I think about a a very new team, I think along those dimensionsvery much. So it's not only an individual who's going to be kind ofben,an individual contributor, but alto will be contributing to the buildingout of of that team or that profess. The other thing that I think isimportant. This is true for me, and not just the individual, that I bring on tohelp me build something: Is I've got Ta Roll Up, my sleeves and and be in it,and I have to j frequently be actually doing the work to understand what it isand how it operates and what works and what doesn't work and then quickly asmuch as I can pull myself out of the weeds and observe how it's workingthink kind of longer term, and so you know the propessof kind of doing the DUand observing doing the de and observing, I think, is a reallycritical part h, bringing something from from Zor to something. The otherthing is in scaling something the early days are all about. You know the MBP orthe Minimam biable product when you think about even oolings of processorsystems, but at a certain point in time that minimum will no longer do andbeing able to know en that happened en very quickly pivoting and focusing onbuilding something that can last long term yeah. You said something reallyinteresting in there that that kind of piqued, my interest, which is like thisathletes versus experts o or how you...

...hire people, I've, always KINDOF,called it builders versus optimizers ther. There are folks that come in andthey can be both an individual contributor but feel like they're, alsodriving company and product direction, but feel like they're, also wearingmultiple hats. You know that that's generally, where I feel morecomfortable versus pulling levers to get one and two percent better. Thoseare those are omdemizers who come later in the business and as you're scalingor building a business from scratch. It's so important to get those buildersto get those people that can do so many multiple things and do it with theright attitude, the right positivity, the right skills, their learners. Wheredo you find people like that like? How do you find people early on who areready to go on a really long and challenging journey with you whenyou're building something from scratch? Yeah? I don't know if there isnecessarily always a singular place where they're found, as you know, Jtni.I have like a real unique background. I studied the arts, many of the team thatI have built are' the kind of classic, especially you know, even thinkingabout some of my business operation. Ther, analytic groups they're, notnecessarily you know, post N, BAS or Xbaker, and I think it's because what Itry to find is not only someone that has you know the intellectual capacityand curiosity, but also individual, who can manage ambiguity really well, whoare comfortable with not having a lot of structure and direction. I think oneof the reasons why I think I have drived in many ways in some of thesepet companies is because coming from an arts background, you don't have a lotof structure and I'm very comfortable in that environment. I've found them ina lot of different places. Frankly, I find that Um now that I' met and workedat a lot of really great people, an from my pathrold, I find them from myhistory and fror. My Network Yeh th t that for me when, when it comes to togetting a team off the ground, I go to my I go to my sure things right, thethe folks on our network, the the people we know and reter NU collectiveare previous employees. Yo Know I've had a lot of success, hiring early onjust going going to the well. That always brings me water, so o K. I knowthat that's a huge opportunity when, when you're getting started and when Iworked with you, you ran customer success teams. I noticed now that youare running sales as well, which I think is great and I I've always felt-and you know I think, of people like you, I think of our friend Megand Bowen.I thin about great executive leaders, in my opinion, conflex and they conflexfrom CS to sales and potentially vice versa. I I see that less. So we wantsomething really surprising that you learned when you took over the salesand revenue teams at teachbl yeah. Well, I would say that I is took them over.I've started to build it and it has definitely been a learningprocess, but not in like necessarily massive ways, because I think buildinga team. There are more similarity than there are differences and we've Alalyspoken about many of them of desimiliarities. The things that I haveobserved in...

...the Saleh team is that, unlike some ofthe teams, wive Filtan of large prophesies, you know customer support,or in maybe T or two or technical support, or even some of these atooperation seems where work come to an individual. I've relied a lot on. Youknow developing INTENSIC motivators for them. You know it's like the y behindwhat you do. That's like the first and formost thing that I found will reallyget people going and help them understand what they should be doingand wha t should be doing yet and how much they should be doing it andperform in a consistent level, and I'm only about you know four six monthsinto this on the sailside. But it is very clear to me that that's a verydifferent profile of person who understandably, will take on a salesrole, because the work doesn't necessarily come to you. Some of it iseasy. You know I've been involved in closing deals, hat I' felt like it justfalls on my lap, but sure often you know it's a struggle and I certainlysaw this first hand in my role, an working in organization that I have alarge sale of culture, but I really understand a D, an really beginning toembrace the importance of Extravic motivators. You know around, you know,Compensation and Commission plan which has been, I think, a good learning forme. Do you find it challenging? And I'm just thinking through you know my owncareer, where I've run revenue teams right that? That's that's all! I'vedone. I've never managed a customer Success Team I've dabbled in marketing,but it must be challenging to flip back and forth between motivating or leadingcustomer success folks and then going and motivating an leadings salespeople.What are some of the challenges with having to do both of those things? Doyou rely on your management team to do that? Or do you take a sort of a roll,your sleeves approach to that as well, like you described earlier, yeah so tthe customer supports side and the service side is a relativelyestablished team and, like I mentioned, this is more about maturing it thantransforming it, and I'm so grateful to have come to teach a ball and have hada bunch of leaders there that I can really rely on my first, you know threeto six months was spent mostly focusing on that team, making sure all the rightpeople who are in the right feet that we had a strong road map in bision forwho we wanted to be and where we were going and most of my time now has beenTe'veoll got my fleeve than you know, reallybeing NEC deep in the sales world.I try to avoid jumping back and forth too frequently, because I find myselfreally under supporting everybody in circumstances like that, but thereabsolutely have been times where I've left our customer team to c of theirdevicis right now we're we have had...

...record numbers across a board in everyaspect of our business because of the CN environmental climate and I'm havingto move myself back into that world. Briefly, ELP make sure that they'rewell supported so the context miching. I don't think of anybody, a huge amountof service. I try to limit it as much as possible and I found that really th.The best work that I can do is canovoin on my sleeves and fending thatdedicated time that our sale t me and then you know starting to hire actualleadership to help leave this with me, individual that have come from deepsaled experience and management experiences before teach ball, and wejust brought somebody on a couple of weeks ago to help me with that rightnow. Congratulations thank you. Yeah, I'm very excited because she's also afemale and love to perpetuate FEMAL Tan fail awesome. I know you've been doingit four to six months. You know only, but if you were talking to a founder oror a CEO and they were contemplating putting sales leadership responsibilityon the plate of their. You know current customer successor support leader. Whatmight you tell them from your experience are some of the keyindicators that this person might be successful in taking on that additionalresponsibility? Well, I I'll have to see if I'msuccessful, in doing this myself m hat, I can relie liably anter that questionwhat I would say is we were talking a little bit about the the contexts wich.You Fir. You heard that agental reminder of my calendar. You know, while I try to minimize this,I think you need to bring somebody on who's very adaptable who can move fromone thing to another and if it's not just from Teem toteen, then you knowthey're discussing earlier it's from looking at a bird di view, verses,rowing up their sleeves and doing the WOK themselves. I think they have tohave a very little nego. I've been learning a lot as I've been going. Letthemething a'm very comfortable with I've jumped from industry to industry,and, like I mentioned, I didn't come from, you know, necessarily a corporateexperience or even started experience. My first I took on my role at Bakdockand beable to learn on the fly and quickly and comfortably. I think I isreally critical and then I think the other part is being able someone thathas a track record of tiring, strong talent and, ideally, maybe talent fromdifferent types of teams, which is an indicator of them understanding, what'sunique about one role versus another and an indicator that praptic andeasily flexd, I'm in understanding a revenue and Zeltin, that's great yeah. I think I thinkthere ar some some certain skills and I think, definitely being able to putyour get your hands in there rolling up your sleeves and and reallyunderstanding process. Ing People is just a a huge indicator of someone tobe successful, and you know, as I think about I mentioned, you've been you'r aguest on the show here. We've had Megan Boen, who started in sort of thecustomer, success or customer support...

...facing roles and then moved on to leadreally great great sales teams. I think about myself when I was younger andimmature, and you know I think boy I I lookd to my sales leader and you knowthey didn't, sell my products and I've her I've heard people say if youhaven't carried the bag. You shouldn't lead the sales teams. Now that I'm anolder and more mature and more experience, I think that's a Lodo alodO Balonei m. What would you say to that person who said if you haven't carriedthe bag? You shouldn't leave the sales team, iwould say A. I would agree withyou. I don't think that that necessarily an accurate view of theworld. I would actually adjust it and say: If you aren't willing to carry thebag, then you probably shouldn't lead a film becaus. The Willingness Is, youknow an open mind to understanding what the real situation is. I have myselfobserved situations where you know: leadership is making decisions for asales organization with like really a false understanding of what the realityis and that doesn't help anybody. Let alonete n the entire business- and youknow the future for that business. So having an open mind and being humble, Ithink, is- is the most important part. What I will say is that, personally, Ilearn very much by doing- and I had you know some great opportunities at thetaile end of my time at sackdock- to be heavily involved in some of our largercommercial fields, metal, sytems, and it was a huge learning for me. The dealthat we're talking about now are badly different. You know these aren't threemillion dollars. You know these are nine hundred or a thousand dollarcontracts, and in order for me to really understand what that fell,process is like in that purchasing process for our customers. It's beenreally important for me to do it myself. I am the worst at it in my team and Ithink my team really loved to see that, but I certainly can help support themand leave them to you now. Ultimately, what we are hopeful to achieve longerterm, with the vision of our team yeah e I've. I've worked with you longenough to know that if you put your mind to it, you're probably going to bethe best at it. So I think teachabll is in in very very good hands. So, firstof all, congratulations it's it's amazing! It's a great company, N I'veive spent a lot of time exploring teachble on my own as as a contentcreator and really excited to see that they have an incredible leader in place,and you know Werewe're nearing the the end of our time together, Hewe beforewe do just going to say that I know that you were moring teacher Boll and II know you ended up with a a different platform and have great respect forthat. But I I just want to say that I don't believe that you're done yourexploration bath were to let on you try the current lasform that you're using,but know that we will be coming back to you in some time the fianap going. Ibelieve I will be a teachable customer...

...in the next six monthsathing about ther coollisten. You got you're a guest,you're gongto jump into the quick fire five and you might have just closedclose a new deal. So, as I mentioned Y, U you're very good at the the sales thagive yourself some credit, so we love doing the quick fire five. It's it'sreally simple. It's five questions. We get top of mind real answers fromexecutive revenue, revenue leaders like yourself, so are you ready to dive intothe five awesome? What is Anna Elwood's mostcontroversial perspective on business today, O? I think it very of the moment,but Um fits with other moments as well, but I'm not a fan of you know thisprospecting UN outreachd, where we, you know apologize for coded right now. Ithink that it's just a base of time and it's not necessarily helpful inactually getting people to engage. Certainly as a a customer myself, Iknow there's not a discourse right now on that tropic, but Um. I personally ammore interested in understanding like by Fomen Caris, to read tat to me tobegin with not Um feel bad for the fact that noere no conapendenic, like that'sjust a natural and to be expected situation. Iagree: What's a song that amps you up for the workday every day? What'ssomething that you listen you to get pumped, I don't Liftento music for myworkday, but I definitely listen to music to get pumped up, especially whenI'm running and I've been listening to call fimen late in the evening onrepeat also because I am you know very committed to making this my new Karaoke,Fhon Nice D. I don't think of Paul Simon and pump up in the same sentence,but you do an Olin easn. I have not M so for for folks who are who are outthere in contemplating the revenue collective. What's been your favoriteexperience to date in the group far and away the fashion on fight that I attended back,I guess it was in the fall that focused a lot on executive compensation andequity and just a real, honest and transparent discussion and sharingabout how we all should be thinking about how we are valued as individuals,and I know that that was you know and on sight. But I also know that thosedocuments, men resources, have remained available and I've used Em andleveraged them. That had been invaluable to me same here, hugelyvaluable, absolutely levered, J that, like te reading an sone with Toma'sTonguegaes, I little over my head, but I I truly enjoyed listening to him. Gothrough that. But what's something that you consider yourself to be worldclassin, well class. I think that I can have an engaging conversation withalmost anybody. I just don't always...

...want to Um, but there are moments whereI you know just like want to meet a new person and if that jus like going to abar and picking something that's completely different than myself, andyou know Inda to hem and in in a quick conversation, I find myself able to dothat pretty consistently and they seem to have an enjoyable time too great. Lastly, G give the audience yourlife motto or or guiding principle that they can take home with them. Today.I've been told that I make decisions very much on like moral and values, andI think that's probably true- and I've observed that there are instances whereI think people have probably taken advantage of that and I'm not reallybothered by it, because I very much think that my career and my life is a marathon andnot a sprint. I care more about being a really good person with high integritythan you know, winning every single day based off of how men might defineMonnin, then I guess the other. I guess somk of it Wa within that is you knowjust the idea that you should be treating everybody with respect and, asyou wish, to betreay the Wol, but there have been much more people than than than I. That Mhave M, held bad of Ha principle and certainly that ha've actually claimthat but yeah. No, I love it respect integrity inplaying the long game. I I think ies are great, so I I appreciate yousharing that with t e the audience it's been great chatting with Theanna, it'sbeen a while, since we've we've chatted, so it's great to catch up with you ttell e on how they can get in contact with you. Should they want to reach outto you sure, I'm on Integraaman, twitter and claimed at Annal Wood Yocan bewee there, and obviously I'm linkon O, probably ask me about myslack, handle forevenue collective and I'm just anaellet and my seat and I'mvery open to talking with anybody about any of these topics and more so cstefree along the lines of you know my kind of giting principles. If I can beof help, I you know really want to, because I also think that that will bepaid for in sometime in my future, and it was so excellent having you on theshow, I'm glad that we got to connect again and I'm sure we'll be connectingin the next six months, maybe three months, maybe even sooner because I am not super satisfied withmy disolution Isyer. This is actally my ultimitpurpose of coming on a PO amazing and Sero great to talk to youand we'll catch ou a little bit. Thank so muchithink.

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