SalesTech Interview Dhruv Markandey, VP Customer Success at MindTickle
Tell us about your journey into Customer Success. What attracted you to join MindTickle?
My journey in Customer Success started as a Business Analyst with HSBC, where I was responsible for designing retail and business banking applications. The internet banking wave was just taking off, and it was thrilling to be at its forefront at a global financial institution. It was a great learning experience – there was an emphasis on attention to detail and respect for processes that I came to appreciate, as banking products don’t afford a lot of room for error.
The vision, the team, and the opportunity to contribute to building a company is what attracted me to MindTickle. The freedom was refreshing, especially since I was coming from such a highly regulated work environment.
When I initially joined, I started as the first member of the Customer Success team at MindTickle. Fun fact: we actually had a customer success team at MindTickle before we even had a sales team! The early days of Customer Success at MindTickle meant wearing multiple hats: sales, solutioning, relationship management, support, billing and invoicing.
It’s incredible to think just how much we’ve grown. Today’s Customer Success team has more than 50 people across five specialized functions.
How different is Customer Success for marketing and sales technology products compared to other technologies, for instance, IT SaaS and Cloud?
The difference with Customer Success for marketing and sales technologies in particular (or even Customer Success tech!) is that impact quantification is the bedrock of these fields. Ultimately, customers want to know what the tangible topline impact is – there’s no escaping that. Therefore, tracking, adoption, and usage aren’t the only parameters on which success ends up being measured. On the contrary, high adoption without tangible impact is not a position you want to find yourself in.
I do believe, though, that if you’re an organization that genuinely believes in customer success as a priority, then the core tenets of customer success should remain the same regardless of the industry.
How has your role at MindTickle evolved since the time you first joined the space?
When I started at MindTickle as the first member of the Customer Success team, my position consisted of working with customers personally, and from there, scaling out the team along with various functions. The functions, of course, evolved in anticipation of what we needed on our end to serve the needs of our customers.
In the early days – and for quite a while – we only had Customer Success Managers and technical support. As we started to move across segments and verticals, we reached a stage where we realized we needed skill verticalization. The CSM role was then split into CSM and Professional Services, and Tech Support was split into L1 and L2 support.
At the rate of our product releases (we released 100 new capabilities in 2018), the size and number of our customers, and their global presence, we quickly realized that we needed a specific function that would help enable our customers on MindTickle. Running a scaled engine on numbers and metrics was no longer enough – we needed an operations function.
Today, we have five teams within the Customer Success Group as we call it: Customer Success Managers, Professional Services, Technical Support, Customer Enablement and Customer Success Operations.
How should businesses build a successful Customer Success team?
Foundationally, you have to answer two questions: ‘What do your customers need?’ and ‘What does customer success mean to you?’.
It’s up to you to understand how Customer Success can be tied to your revenue generation. Understanding the benefits of a Customer Success team and figuring out how to tie those in specifically with your customers will decide how you ultimately structure the team and build out your hiring profile. Make sure that your team’s KPIs and MBOs align with any expected outcomes. At the end of the day, you’ll be the one continuously measuring and analyzing that data and making decisions based on those metrics.
How do you differentiate—Customer Success vs. Customer Service? How have these changed in the past 5 years with personalization and sales readiness tools?
Both Customer Success and Customer Service are important to the health of the customer relationship. I see engagements with Customer Service departments as being more episodial. This means that these activities can be broader in nature ranging from customer support to consulting on product usage, identifying gaps in product knowledge or usage to help the customer get better value from the platform to even bringing in external consultancy to help the customer.
Those supporting Customer Success initiatives need to have a 360-degree understanding of the health of their accounts. From professional services and implementing an on-boarding program or supporting change management within the customer environment. They need to have a holistic view of customers and be supportive in their guidance a customer’s sales readiness initiatives.
Tell us how you achieve marketing-sales alignment. How does it impact your targets?
It’s important to ensure marketing-sales alignment so that all customer and prospect facing reps are equipped with the latest buyer persona, value messaging, company offerings, capabilities, lead hand-off process, and they know how to use that information to their advantage when they engage. The benefit of working for MindTickle is that we can leverage our own platform to ensure critical pieces of knowledge and content are being disseminated, consumed and implemented. This results in better target accomplishment.
What is the current state of “Channel Sales Partners” in technology? Could you elaborate with some examples?
MindTickle works with a variety of channel partners including technology, training, and channel partners. Technology and channel partners work with us to offer their customer a comprehensive tech stack for sales and marketing. MindTickle’s Sales Readiness can be combined with technology partner solutions like sales engagement, content or sales asset management — sometimes referred to ‘Sales Enablement’ — or customer relationship management offerings like Salesforce or Veeva. Training partners leverage MindTickle to deliver a modern training approach that helps develop overall sales competency and customer-facing capabilities while generating rich insights on the ability for sales to have effective interactions. All of these channel relationships help MindTickle reach a broader set of organizations and help these customers achieve the goal of growing revenue and building brand.
What is the sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?
Of course, Sales is essential, but one of MindTickle’s founding principles is to delight customers by being customer-focused and not sales focused. To achieve this, we align sellers thinking and their ‘lifecycle’ with the buyers’ journey. With clear communication across marketing, sales and customer success, we can stay attuned to the needs and wants of our prospects and customers.
How do you achieve this culture-balance at MindTickle? What percentage of this is driven by the application of technology, reporting tools and coaching?
Our customer-centric thinking begins with the on-boarding process for every employee at MindTickle. They are instilled with and measured in their understanding of the founding principles. We strive to maintain a close connection with our customers and they feel connected to the MindTickle organization. We regularly have customers come to our offices to speak about their experiences and successes using MindTickle to enable and ready their teams. They also participate in MindTickle’s advisory and executive boards so that we can collaborate on the best ways to prepare their teams to drive revenue and build brand value. Lastly, we regularly consult with customers through NPS and CSAT surveys. This feedback is important to our ongoing success as we continually build features and offerings that suite the wants and needs of our customers.
How do you leverage AI and automation at MindTickle?
We leverage AI, Machine Learning and automation across the MindTickle platform. It is a key pillar to elevate the experience and improve the value that customers get out of our platform. MindTickle uses AI to quickly and easily identify gaps in reps’ knowledge or delivery proficiency. We can leverage automation and our integrations to ensure we have the latest user information which helps with automated learning plan assignments and a more personalized readiness experience. We’ll continue to leverage these technologies across our platform to help drive better sales capabilities and measurement of business outcomes.
How do you promote sales coaching to empower your sales teams to deliver on the performance targets?
Sales coaching is a critical component of readiness that can be missing from a lot of organizations. It can help customer-facing teams measurably increase competencies for better business outcomes. And this coaching isn’t limited to one part of the customer-facing reps’ lifecycle but occurs on the job across a multitude of virtual, one-on-one and in-field interactions.
Beyond coaching for reps, we place an emphasis on coaching the managers as well to help them be more effective in their coaching programs.
Thank You, Dhruv, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
MindTickle provides a comprehensive, data-driven solution for sales readiness and enablement that fuels revenue growth and brand affinity. Its purpose-built applications, proven methodologies, and best practices are designed to drive effective sales onboarding and ongoing readiness. With MindTickle, company leaders and sellers can continually assess, diagnose and develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to effectively engage customers and drive growth. Companies across a wide range of industries use MindTickle’s innovative capabilities for on-demand, online training, bite-sized mobile updates, gamification-based learning, coaching and role-play to ensure world-class sales performance.
Dhruv Markandey is the VP of Customer Success at MindTickle. Having deep insight into opportunities and challenges across each stage of the sales process, Dhruv plays a valuable role in growing the company and MindTickle’s customer base. Prior to MindTickle, Dhruv was a business analyst at HSBC, where he designed online retail and business banking solutions. Having helped set up sales enablement at several fast growing companies, Dhruv brings unique insights into what it takes in order to make sales teams effective.