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Creating Experiences with Sales and Customer Success with Cody Gilland, VP of Sales @CloudApp

In Episode 2, Cody takes us through his unique professional background and what he’s learned along the way about what it takes to create a truly quality customer experience.

Early Entrepreneurship

Cody showed an early interest in entrepreneurship, starting and scaling his own landscaping business at the age of 14. With only a lawnmower and a few other essentials, Cody says he remembers enjoying the process of taking a rough-looking yard and transforming it into something beautiful, and the pride he felt at seeing the client’s reaction upon inspecting his work. He claims this is where his obsession with creating a great one-on-one customer experience began.

Learning Along the Way

From small family businesses to large enterprise operations, there’s a lot to be said about the connection a customer can have with your brand upon receiving an all-around great customer experience.

With SaaS brands, given the very nature of many of these products (especially those operating as freemium models), can make resonating with customers a serious challenge. For most tech companies a potential client will rarely have interacted with a human being or received any sort of customized attention from your team – thus making the companies that are creating a solid customer experience in this regard, really stand out.

A Customer-Centric Approach

Cody had a unique experience in having the opportunity to create a sales strategy at LucidChart that truly emphasized the customer. As the first member of the sales team there, he scaled the team starting with only himself to 150 sales reps, going from four million in sales to a hundred million in just five years. Seeing this success, CloudApp CEO Scott Smith invited him to the CloudApp team to help build out a similar sales program that was focused on customer success. This focus was so highly prioritized that a customer success manager was hired even before the first sales rep. This mindset has paid dividends and played a pivotal role in the success of CloudApp.

With millions of users and tens of thousands of signups each day, it’s crucial to understand your customer’s needs and build solutions that address their pain points. Cody goes on to say that this sort of qualitative data isn’t always attainable via traditional metric-tracking, so this is where your customer success team steps in, and this is how you gain customers for life.

Appealing to Other Senses

In a world where we know everyone we interact with professionally is constantly buried in emails and Slack messages, it can be beneficial for the outreach strategy to offer some diversified communication means and appeal to some other senses.

Joe mentions doing this for a colleague back at Adobe who he knew was always overwhelmed with emails, so he began breaking down those same reports via audio and video means, allowing her to listen or view the recordings while she was doing something else. This approach can be wildly refreshing when applied to customer outreach, and will likely result in them feeling genuinely valued and more likely to engage with your product.

A Little Attention Goes a Long Way

As mentioned before, with so many companies overlooking customer service and the value of feedback, it doesn’t always take much to separate yourself from the pack.

Cody tells a recent anecdote about his experience in seeking a woodworking company to put together a custom piece for the CloudApp office. He reached out to a handful of businesses and didn’t hear anything back, even after taking the time to fill out a form, and there was limited information in regards to design or pricing on any of the sites. He eventually came across a Manhattan based-firm, The Fellow, which by simply promptly responding to a few emails and offering some custom blueprints based on what Cody had described, formed a personalized-feeling customer experience that made him excited to work with them and resulted in them winning his business.

Potential customers need to sense some sort of recognizable concern from a company and that their needs will at least attempt to be addressed and cared for, even if it’s just in a single email or the one 5-minute phone call in which they choose to interact. This is attained by the following:

  1. Active Listening
  2. Digging in with Questions
  3. Hustle in Finding the Solution

Parting Words

“At the end of the day, people are still people”- even in our B2B or SaaS world of automation- but nothing is going to trump hiring the right people, and training and incentivizing them correctly to solve the customer’s problem. If a company makes that its core focus, it’ll be imminently clear to customers, and you’ll have them coming back again and again.

Listen to the episode here.

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