Learning how user feedback helps with creating a better tool with Esther Friend of Five9

Episode Summary

Shopping for a new tool requires the attention of several departments within the company — marketing, sales, and customers. And the same goes for the piloting, implementation, and trial of a tool. As a rule of thumb, all departments must be aligned to create a coherent strategy, which is the key to accomplishing any goal.

But is it necessary to plan and create a thorough annual plan to achieve good alignment between teams? Or is it enough to craft a list of primary goals and observe it from various standpoints?

In the latest episode of Taking the Lead, Christina Brady welcomes Esther Friend, the VP of Sales Efficiency and Transformation at Five9. They get into the piloting phase of tool evaluation, creating alignment between teams, the role customer feedback plays in tool improvements, and other such aspects relating to tool acquisition and assessment.

Guest Profile

esther friend

Key Insights

Episode Highlights

A Very Unconventional Career

“I became interested in the cloud as a contact center when I was leading an evaluation for a previous company. In that previous role, I was responsible for enterprise solutions, and my internal customers were sales, customer service, and marketing. I was doing a lot of transformation in terms of the platforms we were using, the technology, and I hadn’t had a long history of working with contact centers, remote workforces, and things like that. So, it was very interesting as I started to look at how we can modernize our platform to meet our needs with more agility.

[ANGI Homeservices] was definitely one of the companies on the top of my list, especially because of my experience with the culture and the people that I interacted with during the sales process. That’s how I ended up at Five9, but a lot of my background has been pretty unconventional. 

I’ve been in roles where I was on the product side and the business side. Throughout my career, there’s been a big focus on B2B SaaS and how you leverage technology to make life better or more efficient for various types of end-users, whether it’s sales or external people; that’s really my passion. I guess I’m a technical business person. And I have a lot of empathy for sales and those different roles because of having been a salesperson myself and leading sales teams. […] I think what definitely helps me be better at my job is the empathy that I have and an understanding that they don’t have time to use 20 tools to get their job done. They need to have everything in one place and be able to work efficiently.”

Leveraging Experience to Help Salespeople Understand and Solve Their Challenges

“I’ve been in their [sales reps] shoes, and I understand the different challenges they’re juggling with. And one of the things that I’ve seen throughout my career is that oftentimes there may be good intentions, like, ‘Hey, we’ve got this new tool, or we’re going to do this new process.’ But oftentimes, the end-user of that process or a tool isn’t in the mix early, providing feedback and giving their perspective on what they really need. I was having a call with some of our sales reps who were piloting a new tool, and they were so appreciative to be involved in the process. What we do is get a handful of users with different backgrounds and different styles to test things out for us after we’ve gone through a few initial configurations to make sure it’s really going to provide efficiency and help them. And they give us great feedback on things that we can tune and make so that it’s really useful once we roll it out to the general end-user population. I think they recognize that I have that background, and I think it helps me speak their language.”

It’s Super Helpful Having Coherent Strategy Where We’re Aligned

“Having a coherent strategy where we’re aligned is super helpful. We have a meeting; we call it our interlock meeting. So, we do a sales and marketing interlock that’s more focused on the big picture vision like, ‘Where are we going?’ Thinking ahead, ‘What are some of the initiatives we need to be incorporating? What are we hearing out in the field?’ And it’s a very strategic meeting. And then we have more frequent tactical meetings.

But that one [interlock meeting] is really good because it does help drive that alignment and that forward-looking approach where we can get a lot of good feedback, calibrate, and work together to drive the growth. So it’s really helpful.”

The Best Way to Have Multiple Departments Online

“From a corporate standpoint, it’s good for everybody to know the target that we’re all trying to achieve. […] But once you start going through that planning process, [you need to think about], ‘What budgets am I requesting for tools? What are my key initiatives for next year, and how am I going to accomplish those?’ […] From a modeling standpoint, we need to look at whether we have the right amount of leads that we’re budgeting for because marketing is helping us drive a percentage of our business through inbound leads. So, working on those models together to say, ‘Okay, if we’re planning this headcount, these segments, and these regions, what does that mean from a marketing spend standpoint?’ And if we’re not achieving that through marketing, what does that mean from a channels perspective? And should we make more investments in that channel?

We’ve also done a lot of work talking about what we saw based on our previous wins or losses around the ideal customer profiles, mapping that into our account-based marketing process, and then aligning on the parts that marketing is going to own in the plan for next year. And also, ‘What do we need from sales to make sure that we can leverage all the good work that marketing’s doing from that standpoint? And are there new marketing tools that are helping them accomplish their goals? How does that impact sales? What is the sales user experience? How can we make it as clean as possible and streamlined by outlining information on which tools you use when, and making sure that it’s always in Salesforce so that things are not overwhelming?”