189 episodes

Helping Sells Radio is the enterprise software podcast for people who want to help customers achieve outcomes with software. We talk to technology professionals who work all over the customer journey, from marketing and sales to customer success and professional services, to unpack innovative ways people are taking a helpful approach with customers. Brought to you by ServiceRocket Media.


Helping Sells Radio Bill Cushard

    • Management
    • 5.0, 22 Ratings

Helping Sells Radio is the enterprise software podcast for people who want to help customers achieve outcomes with software. We talk to technology professionals who work all over the customer journey, from marketing and sales to customer success and professional services, to unpack innovative ways people are taking a helpful approach with customers. Brought to you by ServiceRocket Media.


    188 Megan Macaluso Product Adoption is a Fool’s Errand | Helping Sells Podstorm #1

    188 Megan Macaluso Product Adoption is a Fool’s Errand | Helping Sells Podstorm #1

    This is a special episode of Helping Sells Radio. Actually, It’s an experiment. The experiment is a series of episodes we’re going to call a Podstorm. Hat tip to Christopher Lochhead for “inventing” the term podstorm and giving us the idea to try it. 

    Our first podstorm is with Megan Macaluso, VP of customer success and operations at ESG. The name of this episode is called: “Things That Drive Us Nuts at Work, But We Still Do Anyway. Except That We Blame Others for Doing It. Because Of Course We Don’t Do These Things. Other People Do.”

    On this episode, we talk about:

    Contact hoarding

    Adoption is a fool’s errand

    Death By synergy

    Basically, Megan and I just recorded what would otherwise be a normal phone call between us. 


    Here is a link to Kerry Bondine’s Journey Mapping Workshop that Megan attended: https://kerrybodine.com/customer-journeys/bootcamp/

    Get on the email list at helpingsells.substack.com

    • 1 hr
    187 Rohit Bhargava Being Proactive is Not Being Quickly Reactive

    187 Rohit Bhargava Being Proactive is Not Being Quickly Reactive

    If customer success is about being proactive and helping customers achieve outcomes and challenging customers to do their jobs better, then Rohit Bhargava’s book, Non-obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future, is the greatest customer success book of all time. I don’t say that lightly. I say that because Rohit’s book lays out precisely how to help customers in a more proactive and valuable way than you might be used to. It goes way beyond the usual "help customers use our software better so they can do their job and achieve their goals” mentality. 

    It provides a method and a discipline for helping customers see around corners and identify trends and navigate the market? 

    Rohit’s book will help you be an actual trusted advisor.

    As much as we’d like to think we do, we [customer success] don’t really do that. In the real world, I think we still sell software and then help customers use it.

    Non-Obvious Megatrends will help you add a layer of value you can provide customers above the help you provide with your software. 

    Rohit has written the Non-obvious report book every year for the last ten years. Several years ago I read the fourth edition thinking to myself, “What if I could apply this process identify trends in my customers’ industries? How much more could I help them?" 

    I had that idea because Rohit doesn’t just write about trends that he identified in his research. He spilled the beans on his trend curating process and shows you how you can do it. 

    Notice the phrase trending curating. Not trend spotting. Not seeing trends. 

    Curating trends. 

    Rohit defines a trend as a "curated observation of the accelerating present."

    “Ah, so this is how I can become a visionary," I thought. "I don’t really have to see the future."

    All I have to do is apply Rohit's process, exercise some discipline, and practice observance. Then I can curate trends, too. And if I can do this with my customers in mind, I can really think about my customers even when I don’t have to.

    That’s being proactive: Thinking about my customers when I don’t have to.

    Rohit and I talked about this. 

    I asked “How can I really be proactive with customers when I have to think about the customer who just called me and wants to have meeting tomorrow?”

    Rohit suggests I think about being a great concierge.

    A great concierge will be continuously out there looking for new and interesting things to do

    Think about it. 

    It’s not just about googling a restaurant when a guest asks for a recommendation. It is knowing, ahead of time, that there is a great Italian place with outdoor seating by the park that has a 3 month wait for reservations…but you can get them in tonight because you built a relationships with the restaurant owner. 

    That’s being proactive and makes you prepared to be a great concierge. That’s being proactive. So that when a guest asks for a recommendation of great Italian  restaurants with outdoor seating by the park, you have an answer. 

    It's how you can say to customers in your next meeting, “That reminds me of something you said the last time we talked. You said this, and just the other day, I learned that from another customer, and I think you might like the other thing…."

    Be proactive.

    Rohit says that most of us think that being proactive means being quickly reactive. 

    But being proactive is thinking about someone when you don’t have to. 

    How can we think about customers when we don’t have to? 

    Rohit explains, “When we prep for a meeting, we think about what they might ask and prepare for that. Instead, we should ask ourselves, 'What will it take, in the first 5 minutes of this meeting, for my customer to say to themselves, ‘Wow I’m glad I took this meeting?’’"

    That’s a different kind of of question. 

    • 45 min
    186 Jason Bradshaw How to Execute and Measure the Customer Experience

    186 Jason Bradshaw How to Execute and Measure the Customer Experience

    As Jason Bradshaw describes in his book, It’s all about CEX! The Essential Guide to Customer and Employee Experience, in 1994 customer service was the differentiator. In the early 2000s it was engagement. Today is all about customer experience management. 

    Sounds good. 

    Here’s the problem. 

    Customer experience is one of those terms that sounds good, everyone knows it’s important, but no one really knows how to define it. 

    It’s too vague.

    In his book, Jason gives us an excellent framework for measuring customer experience that I understand. And that I can use to design a strategy that I could execute. 

    Maybe CX is not so vague after all. 

    A framework for measuring customer experience

    Here’s what I learned from Jason about customer experience. You can measure it with three things: 

    Success: You have to deliver on your promise. If your customer ordered something, the delivery needs to happen on time. If a customer requests to turn on the new module in your software, the new model has to be turned on. You have to deliver. Simple. Of course no company is perfect. Even Amazon deliveries get delayed on occasion. But most of us trust that when we order something on Amazon, it turns up.

    Effort/Ease: Working with you has to be easy. Navigating your website, signing up, attending QBRs, paying your invoice, etc. Whatever it is, it needs to be as easy for the customer as possible. Think of your QBRs? What much work to you give your customers to get ready for your QBRs? Do you make your customer pull data and create slides? Some people do.


    Human connection: Make a personal connection with people. Small companies might not be able to compete with the big companies on scale and technology and automation and recommendation engines, but, as Jason describes, small companies can differentiate themselves on human connection. 

    From my experience as a customer, this works. I’ve shifted much of my purchasing to small, local businesses and re-engaged with running stores and ski shops and the neighborhood cafe. 

    Jason said to me the local ski shop might not be able to compete with the massive sports retailer on price or automation, but they can call you in the fall and say, “Bill, I remember last year you saying you were developing a sore spot on your right foot…let’s get your boots adjusted before the snow falls.”

    I have received that call from the running store, “You must be running out of trail butter, Bill. I can send you some if you like.” 

    Human connection built in to your business model

    If I may make a connection to another business concept: The Business Model Canvas. Do you work for a software company that has a high touch relationship with customers or is it low touch? It might be both. It also might be intentional. 

    On the business model canvas, there is a box called “customer relationship.” This section of the canvas is about what type of relationship do you want to have with your customers? You could decide, quite deliberately, to have a “high touch” relationship with customers. This is fine. It is more costly to deliver than a low touch, “Go to our help center” if you want help approach. 

    But you can do it. Zappos chose that model.

    You can design that high touch customer relationship into your business model and, in Jason’s words, differentiate yourself on the human connection.

    More about Jason

    Jason wants to give you two free chapters of his book. It’s a great book. And I learned a lot reading it and discussing it with him. Go to his website here and get your two free chapters: jasonsbradshaw.com/thankyou

    Do you know who else likes Jason’s book? Jeanne Bliss (Ep 76). She’s been on Helping Sells Radio. She also gave Jason an excellent endorsement about his book: 

    It’s simple: customer experience matters now, more than ever, and in

    • 51 min
    185 Nicole Dwyer The Accounts Receivable Team That Asks, "What’s the Customer Story" Wins

    185 Nicole Dwyer The Accounts Receivable Team That Asks, "What’s the Customer Story" Wins

    I bet you’ve never connected the dots that accounts receivable is a business process that is so tightly connected with customer success. I don’t think I’ve every thought about that. Sure, we know that collecting money on invoices is important, and we know cash flow is what makes our companies run and what makes the payroll happen. But don’t most of us think that invoices just go about and customers mostly just pay them? 

    Be honest. 

    I promise, after you listen to this discussion with YayPay chief product officer, Nicole Dwyer, you will have a new appreciation for the  link accounts receivable has with customers and a new way of thinking about how you work with your customers in whatever business process your software addresses. 

    Let’s just talk about one example that we talked about with Nicole and one of her customers. 

    Accounts receivable is not just about looking at a receivables aging reporting and asking, “Why is this customer 3 days late on paying this invoice?” 

    That’s a transaction question. And prompts the company to reactively  send a reminder. 

    Nicole wants us to understand that this is not a transaction. There’s a story behind that late payment, and we have to find out what it is so we can help. 


    Can you imagine an accounts receivables team thinking that way? What’s the customer story and how can we help? Wow. This is how YayPay helps its customers think. This is what Nicole’s customer is telling her. That when they started thinking about why payments are late and how can they help, they discovered (for example) that a customer is opening up a new store and order more inventory, and frankly, their focus is on that, so they let some invoices slip. 

    Nicole’s customer says to Nicole (I’m paraphrasing), “If we know this, we can ask, “If we know the story of our customer's expansion, we can be proactive, and work with the customer to help them."

    Accounts receivable as customer success? 


    More about Nicole:

    On Linkedin

    One of Nicole’s blog posts that will blog you away. It’s called, How Smarter AR Can Fix Customer Churn for Your SaaS Business? See what I mean?

    Get on the email list at helpingsells.substack.com

    • 46 min
    184 John Bertino When You’re a Generalist, No One Knows How to Refer You

    184 John Bertino When You’re a Generalist, No One Knows How to Refer You

    "Why don’t they just say no,” say customer success managers of sales executives who close deals with customers who do not fit the ideal customer profile. Now the customer success manager has to deal with customers who have expectations that do not fit with what the product or service actually does well. 

    We have just gotten off on the wrong foot, and this situation is not good for anyone. That customer, during the on-boarding process, is already expressing disappointment and is evening thinking about not renewing. 

    On day one. 

    Of course our churn rates are high. The sales team is selling to the wrong customers. Even after our CEO said in the last three town hall meetings, “We have published our value proposition canvases and ideal customers profiles on the wiki, and we have designed our product and are running sales and marketing campaigns designed to get more ideal customers. 

    So, I ask again, “Why don’t they say no?”

    Think about this from the sales person’s point of view. They are on a quota, and they have a prospect who is willing to buy. How can an account executive say no to that? 

    Two reasons:

    The obvious reason: They are paid on commission and have a quota. 

    The less than obvious reason: They don’t want to be told by the VP of sales, and especially not by the CEO, “Why did you turn that prospect away?” It’s easy for the CEO/founder or a VP of sales to turn prospects away because they don’t fit a profile. They are the boss. Not so easy for an account executive who has to explain herself in weekly pipeline review meetings. 

    What to do? 

    John Bertino is the founder of The Agency Guy (TAG), a collective of marketing execs determined to help brands find the best marketing agency or consultant.

    In his experience finding successful matches between brands and service providers is a high predictor of long-term success. 

    John offers three principles to following if you want to find ideal customers and build long-term customer engagements.  

    Principle 1: Set expectations

    If we want to acquire and work with ideal customers, we need to set proper expectations up-front. This includes communicating:

    What we are good at.

    How we can help a customer.

    How we cannot help a customer.

    How (and when) a customer will know if an engagement is successful.

    Help the customer understand those expectations. 

    Sometimes this means we need to talk customers out of signing up with us.

    John shares an example. This is how you might set expectations with a prospect that wants to hiring someone to run paid media campaigns, and wants to increase brand trust. 

    You would say to the prospect, something like this, “If you are hiring us to run your paid media strategy, you can expect to generate awareness and page views on your website. But if you want to increase trust in the market, you need design an earned media strategy. Paid media will raise your awareness. We’re really good at that. And we will bring more people to your website. But if you want to increase your trust score, earned media is better for that because earned media gets other people talking about you That earned trust. We don’t specialize in that. We specialize in raising your brand awareness.”

    In this simplified example, we are educating and being consultative. 

    We are being helpful. 

    That’s one way to get ideal customers. 

    Principle 2: Offer more experience and higher rates

    Anyone who ever hired someone on Fivvr to do a logo for less than $50, knows that you get what yo pay for. 

    Service providers that recruit experienced staff and sell services at higher prices are more successful because they can do more to help customers. Experienced people are better positioned to lead customers. To challenge customers. Experienced people will say to clients, “Based on this or that, what you should

    • 46 min
    183 Neil Sahota Finally! Someone Talks About AI in a Language I Understand

    183 Neil Sahota Finally! Someone Talks About AI in a Language I Understand

    I work in technology. You might say I work on the forefront of some. But I must admit, when I hear someone lead a conversation with the statement, “We need an AI strategy,” my spidey-senses start to fire. Danger. Danger. Danger. 

    I don’t just mean AI. The statement could be any of the following…

    We need a machine learning strategy.

    We need a big data strategy. Let’s hire a data scientist.

    We need podcast strategy.

    When you hear someone in your company talking like this, you can sound like the trillion dollar coach, Bill Campbell, by asking the group, “What problem (opportunity) are we trying to solve?”

    This very exchange is why I wanted to have Neil Sahota on Helping Sells Radio. I wanted Neil to save us from the insane conversations we’re having about all the different strategies these so-called visionaries are telling us we need. 

    Neil Sahota is an IBM Master Inventor, United Nations (UN) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Advisor, Faculty at UC Irvine, and author of the book, Own the AI revolution: Unlock your artificial intelligence strategy to disrupt your competition.

    Even Neil says, in the subtitle of his book, that we need an AI strategy. 


    So I asked him about that. “Why did you put that phrase in your subtitle?"

    He answered with a story about a head of a major law firm who’s asks himself about artificial intelligence, "I know we should be doing something with AI. What is it?”

    Neil helps this person reframe the question.

    Most people think in terms of problem first, then leaping to finding a solution. 

    Neil says we need to insert “opportunity” between those two. 

    Problem > opportunity > solution. 

    He asked a simple question: “What keeps you up at night?” 

    The manager answers, “Talent. We are struggling finding the right lawyers to hire who fit us and are effective in court. We are losing too many court cases and our employee turnover is way too high. I wish we could be better at hiring.” 

    Problem 1: Ineffective hiring

    Problem 2: Low business results (losing too many court cases)

    Opportunity 1: Improve employee retention with better hiring

    Opportunity 2: Improve win rate in court. Get new clients. 

    Neil goes on to explain to the manager that he can solve both problems and take advantage of these opportunities with AI. “Did you know AI can solve this today? With AI, we can build profiles of your candidates based on 56 phsychological traits and tell us which candidates are a good match for what you are looking for?”

    “We can do that?” says the manager.

    Now we can talk about AI as a solution, but only because we started with the problem and then got specific about possible opportunities. 

    Neil helped us get there. 

    More about Neil and his book

    Neil was kind enough to create a special page on his website for you, Helping Sells Radio Listeners.  If you want to learn about AI, without the distractions of the hype, Neil’s book is for you.

    Check out his website here > https://www.neilsahota.com/helpingsells/

    Get on the email list at helpingsells.substack.com

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

DaveDuke_MetaCX ,

My Favorite Customer Success Podcast

Over the past several months the Helping Sells Radio podcast has become my favorite customer success podcast. Bill has a great talent for facilitating thought provoking conversations and asking meaningful questions of his guests. Each time I listen I walk away with new ideas and learnings. He is helping advance the customer success discipline with each episode.

J. Barshop ,

Awesome show, highly recommend!

Bill, Sarah and their guests provide some incredibly compelling and actionable content on how to effectively improve your sales efforts and get results.

Highly recommend listening and subscribing to Helping Sells Radio if you want the knowledge AND mindsets level up your overall sales psychology (and reach your business goals as a result)!

Guerrillapreneur ,

Mini MBA

Bill and Sarah bring on engaging guests who push the envelope in current business thinking. If you are serious about selling, you need to be listening to Helping Sells

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