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Support can be a pretty thankless job.
Whenever customers are unhappy about a product, Support teams are always on the frontlines to put out fires as they come up.
It might seem like Support is just there to fix problems post-sale, but can they play a more strategic role in RevOps as well?
On today’s episode, Jordan Greaser, RevOps Therapist and CEO and founder of Greaser Consulting interviews Andrew Kealoha, Senior Technical Support Engineer at Spekit to discuss how Support can be a versatile role in any organization.
Hi all. This is Jordan, the owner and CEO of Greaser Consulting. On this podcast, we have Loha coming in to talk about support. He was one of those really unique individuals that wasn’t just, here’s the button, here’s the bug, here’s how to fix; he also really understands or tends to every place he goes a strategy behind what you’re doing. And so he gives a pretty unique perspective on just the role of support in general, how it can support different functions, and talks about a little bit of a thankless job that you have in support. So I would I would encourage everybody, whether you’re in support or not, definitely take a listen for this one, you’ll get some really good insight on, on why you might want to, you know, get to know your support folks a little bit more, and maybe appreciate them for the hard work that they do. So enjoy it, lean in. Here we go.
Say you want some clarity in sales and marketing and SEP? Well, we have just the remedy: Our podcast, RevOps Therapy. Yeah.
Crew, I’ve got Loha with me today. Can you introduce yourself for our listeners?
Yeah, my actual name is Andrew. But I go by Loha, we can go over that if we want to the whole origin story of that. But I’m, been in support my whole career, as short as that’s been, but yeah, technical support, spent five years at Outreach, went to an MDM startup after that. And now I’m at a company called Spekit, which is, best way that I can describe it is it’s like tool tip enablement, basically. So not necessarily automated, but more in the sense that somebody you know, on the enablement side can really sit down and take all of your processes. Specifically, we’re kind of targeted more at the sales side of things right now. But you know, somebody can sit down, build out the playbook, they already have it, and then pretty much insert it onto specific areas of the page. So I think in the world of sales, the easiest one example that I usually go to is closing opportunities. A lot of companies sometimes have some super complex process, or a lot of like required fields, or you know, as I’m sure you know, like values and a drop down, that may not make a ton of sense as to whether it should be x or y. So, you can use what we call a spek icon. And that’ll appear, for instance, next to like the opportunity stage, and then once that kind of pops out and it’s modal, you can have really, you know, succinct descriptions of stages. So that way reps are, you know, selecting the right thing or if they have questions about like, what does this field mean, you can create them there. So it’s really to give us some more time back to like some of the admins and stuff like that, and just kind of some more of those like day to day where you’re just answering, you know, one off questions in Slack or something, surfacing those so it’s super easy for your end users to find it.
Do you know, what I really like about your about me? Is we’re on to have the support conversation. And we’ve got a guy given very good detail on the product that it is that you’re servicing. So I feel like you’re personifying the role very well, here Loha.
That’s the job. Yeah, it’s aside from the technical piece. How good are you at metaphors? Right, making sure that like, your end user understands what you’re saying, You’re not going too deep in the weeds, but you’re still like accurately kind of conveying to them. What happened, what we did to fix it, and how we’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
So let’s talk about the weeds for one second, and then we’ll get on with it. So why Loha? What, what’s this all about?
Yeah, so way back when we were at Outreach in the early days, I think we were like maybe 120, 140 employees, something like that. And I think we were in the run, we had like 10, 10 or 11 Andrews out of that many people. Right? We had Kinzer, the founder, handful of engineers, AJ and then to make it even more difficult, support at that time was six people. When I joined I made it six there was three guys and three girls and all literally, all three guys were named Andrew. So I have a rather a bit of a mouthful of a last name and so we were trying to find something that was a bit more unique. And like hilariously, somebody said like Aloha, which is in my last name and then somebody was like no and then a good friend of mine was like what if we just take the A off and make it Loha and I was like, sweet and it stuck. And years down the road there was employees who didn’t, you know that joined later they didn’t know my name was Andrew I was just Loha, so it was pretty funny.
Well, speaking about the lore of the individual that is Loha just so people know like who we’re talking to here. Loha was kind of the, he was the support person. And I’m gonna get in trouble here Loha. So you can kind of like beat on me for a second. But usually you didn’t want to bring a support person into a conversation that involved strategy. So by and large it was like, what does the button do? How do you click it? What’s the bug? How do you fix it? But Loha was the sort of unique person in support that I worked with that, that you would actually bring to the client, like even on-site to have strategy conversations around how this tool can work and whatever else. And the reason why I bring that up is let’s talk about how support typically helps revops. And I’m starting specifically with this vein with you because you were sort of unique from support, but ultimately, why people loved going to support was the strategy piece behind it. And so just right out of the gate, nice and easy question. Should support folks that are supporting rev ops and that whole motion and being with customers, should they have a strategy mind? Or should it literally be, here’s the tool, here are the bugs here are the functions, and that’s it?
That’s a really good question. So I would say, yes, but not everybody. And why I say that is just, you know, there’s you have your kind of frontline support, we’ll call it you know, those, we’ll just call them your, your regular support requests, how does x work? How do I do y? Things like that, you need just a group of people that can turn through those requests, and like, kind of keep them in that, that mental set. So they’re not kind of like switching out and deviating a whole ton. You know, it’s oftentimes they’re a lot, a little bit of flavor, potentially something they’ve seen. But the other big piece of that, too, is, you know, you need the people to do that. So you don’t have the opportunity to really pull them off of the queue for large periods of time, which is kind of generally that’s pretty much how I got into it. As I stopped doing less and less, I still had tickets, but, you know, I went from potentially doing, you know, 50, or whatever, now, I’m down to five, but it’s five different customers, you know, and we’re doing onboarding or trying to figure out the strategy of how they’re going to rework stuff. So I think yeah, definitely, as you go up to senior, like, a bit more up the ladder a bit, just because inherently, those people have typically seen a lot more or they’ve been in those conversations. So yeah, I think it’s not everybody, for sure. But I definitely think there should be some level of strategy for sure. I think it also kind of various business to business. But just in terms of like Outreach, and specifically in I would say, in startups in general, having been at my third one. I think we very much, because there’s a lot of stuff that can get lost in translation. Or again, just the insights and experience that we have from the other customers we’ve worked with in the past, being able to offer that upfront so we’re not, you know, potentially troubleshooting something six months after go live that like could have been caught before, you know, we went live.
So you have the basic, here are the buttons, here’s what it does. And then as you roll up, you get a lot more strategic. And really the premise of this whole conversation today is how does support, support revops. So in your mind, having done this now, what third, fourth rodeo? What is support’s role in the overall revenue operations motion, specifically?
Yeah. So I guess the easy one to start with, and I’ll just use Outreach, since that’s the one that we both know the best. We had a unique situation where we used the product to sell the product, which I don’t think a lot of companies have that same benefit. So first and foremost, obviously, it was making sure that your teams had what they needed, you know, if something was not working, we could fix that. You know, they were also, they were great test dummies, right? Because you know, everything would get to our SDRs before it went to production. So that was always you know, I was actually thinking about that, before we hopped on it was my favorite way of supporting revops back then, pre-Covid when we were all in the office. SDR you know would Slack and say, hey, something’s like going on, it was the best thing in the world to be able to, be able to go and walk over to their desk and just do the troubleshooting live, get what we needed. And then, you know, either fix it before it went customer facing, or honestly just not having to go back and forth with the customer or, you know, scheduling time and stuff like that. So that would be the first one, you know, always supporting your internal people. And then in general, you know, as well, we also lived, had kind of unique situation, where obviously we, you know, like I said, we were using the product. So a lot of the times, revops was coming to us for questions that they weren’t sure of, on, you know, a new, like, when we re-did territories and stuff like that, like I remember working with some of our revops people and you know, we were on the other end to verify that everything on the Outreach side was gonna work as desired. And then, you know, it can go as, you know, all the way down to making sure that we’re on the phone with, you know, early stage calls with, you know, potentially big prospective clients, but you know, especially like any Fortune 500 where we really have to understand all of the nuances, any security concerns. You know, how, how are you going to set it up so that we’re best equipped to support you once that go live happens. So I know there’s a lot of argument around like support should really just be a post-sale function. But I really think it’s, you know, certain accounts, not all we should really be brought in at the beginning stages, because ultimately what you know, us and the CSMs will be the ones that own that relationship with the customer for the long term.
So that was, that’s really, I think a good point on your pre-sales, your post-sales. And I mean, I think this is a fair question to ask, like, is support, literally its own thing? Is support a function of success? Is it a function of sales? Is it a function of product? Like if, if you, you’ve seen the sort of, you have sales, you have marketing, you have success, you have product you have what. Like, is support its own bucket in and of itself? Is it a function of their under revops? Like, where does support actually live in this ecosystem? Because to me, it seems like support lives everywhere. I mean, at the same time, and I’m just going to be upfront with you, support seems to be the first thing that’s also thrown under the bus, because you’re working with all the clients that are already mad. Right, like?
Yeah, that’s a really interesting way of thinking about it. I think, just in my personal experience, yeah, it is kind of its own bucket. You know, we are, for lack of a better term, we are the dumping ground, like you said, for everything, doesn’t matter what it is. I, yeah, I do truly think it’s, its own bucket, just because, you know, a lot of the times it’s less frequent when we’re brought into the presale side of things, but definitely, you know, especially during onboarding, if something’s going a little wonky, definitely in post sale, obviously. But I mean, just even from the customer side, like I think, yeah, I can talk about this now that it’s all public knowledge, like I was brought in, when I was still at Outreach to kind of start figuring out how we were going to support Canopy when we were in the process of acquiring them. Right? So I mean, even if you think about that, like that’s not even customer facing, that’s us grabbing somebody and having to figure out how we’re going to do all of that. So you know, we play a hand in, in acquisitions, pre-sales, obviously, to your point, you know, we’re the first ones that get thrown under the bus when stuff goes south. And so yeah, it’s a little roundabout. But yeah, it really is its own bucket in my opinion. It’s, we, we help, where we’re needed and where we can, and doesn’t really matter where that is.
There’s a ton of press, like, if you go on LinkedIn, you’ll see everywhere about the plight of the SDR, right? About how you make all these calls. And the prospect says no, says no, says no, you know, whatever. And it’s a hard job and all this stuff. My question is, like, do you think support doesn’t get that sort of fair share, or sort of that fair recognition of like, hey, listen, we have a hard job too here. You know what I mean? Because it’s kind of like, well, you’re just supposed to know the buttons.
Yep. 100%. I think in general, yeah. I mean, I most people know that supports a pretty thankless job. Which I think I’m personally okay with that, like, I get my fulfillment out of being in support, like, seeing somebody who was not successful. And that can look, you know, it can be things can look unsuccessful in many ways, but, you know, unblocking customers and like just seeing, you know, hearing like the sigh of relief, like, “Oh my God it’s working” and like, that’s, that’s all that I need. Yeah, I mean, it’s, yeah, we have a full plate. I think it’s, same can be said about any role, right? We’re often not getting the full lens into what everybody’s doing every day. But yeah, it’s yeah, I guess I’m forgetting what the actual question was. Yeah, I would. I would agree with that.
I’m glad you agreed to a question you can’t remember.
I remember the premise of it, but not the not the specifics of what you said. But yeah, yeah.
Basically I was saying, do you think the support folks just kind of get, almost like looked over a little bit and just beat up? So like, what motivates somebody if that’s the case, like it’s kind of a thankless job, right? Like, it’s, it’s a function of the business that you absolutely have to have. And despite that, it’s the function of the business where like, you’re the frontline. That’s literally all the clients. Nobody’s going to ping support and create a ticket because they’re happy about something, right? Every once in a while, there might be somebody that does that, just to like, say, “Hey, I worked with this person, I want everyone to see it.” Like God bless all of you who do that. It’s rare, right? But what motivates somebody in the first place to come in and join the support team that like, even to your point, where do you necessarily fit? You kind of just get beat up on, we all know we need you. But do you really get the accolades? Like, what’s the, what’s the real drive to say? Yeah, like support’s a career for me?
Yeah, I think first and foremost, you definitely have to have a little bit of that customer obsession. I did customer service for a lot of my other, you know, non career jobs, I guess we’ll call them. So this just seemed like a natural fit, helping people. I think the big thing that drives or keeps people either a driving support or keeps them in support is the type of work they’re doing. So I know speaking from my own experience, you know, I was in a unique opportunity where I got to work with a lot of different teams early on engineering and all that. I love tech in general. So I got to get my hands dirty in all sorts of areas in the company, which was great. It wasn’t just support, it was understanding our infrastructure, understanding how certain components in our platform works. Obviously, you know, it’s always fun to travel on site for customers. So that was super appealing. And yeah, I think just giving the opportunity to learn more and more, is a huge thing for those kinds of individuals who want to do that. The other thing I would say as well, that would draw people in this is something that I would always tell candidates that were you know, looking for kind of like an entry level TSE job. In my opinion, there’s no better role to start at, at a company than support. And I’m sure different people would argue different things. But if you really want a full lens into how your product works, how your different teams work, how engineering works, supports it, and I landed in support by a happy mistake. And that happy mistake was I needed a job straight out of college, and God bless Ruth for choosing me. But it was something like, again, happy mistake, I got into it and just loved it. But yeah, I think, you know, somebody has an inherent hunger for kind of beefing up their technical aptitude, learning different systems, it’s a great place. And then if you have the opportunity to get exposed to the things that, that I was fortunate enough to get exposed to like, it really comes full circle, you start seeing the renewal side of things, how those conversations are had, you know, all the motions and CSMs are going through all the stuff you’re doing with engineering to make that customer happy, like you really see the full, almost like a lens that you know, like a VP or somebody would would need to look through. So you really get a lot of exposure on all that.
On that note, is there a natural progression for somebody? Like, is the natural progression for somebody in support, to like, become a leader in support or to have like a senior? Or is it a natural progression that you start in support and then you like, there’s a natural motion to move to product? Or it’s a nice segway into engineering? Or, you know, revenue operations, if the product is really tied together, that you can come and sit on one of those teams? Like, is it really it could go anyway? Or is it like, there’s a natural, you go to support and then you go do something else? Specifically.
For those who really love support like myself, they’ll stay. I don’t know if there’s too many, at least I’ve not run into anybody who’s like adamant about staying in support. But I think it’s yeah, it’s a good stepping stone to go anywhere. Like if I think about those original six that I started with, I was the only one still on support at the end of the day. But you know, one went into management, another one went into pre-sales and then later became an account executive. So like, going the complete opposite way of support. Another person went revenue operations side as the Salesforce administrator. One went into proserv, which just made too much sense, right? Because she knew how the platform works better than anybody now she just had to add this layer of how do I take what I know, and kind of package it in a nicer way and kind of, you know, help customers understand what we’re doing, how this works, and then ultimately set it up, you know, to their desired wants and needs. And then yeah, we had another guy who is a software engineer. So it can really, I think it’s a good stepping stone for any role. Oh, and sorry, we had one more person that is a PM now, a product, product manager. So those are all really support. Yeah.
So, that’s really broad. I mean, I think about an SDR. An SDR usually becomes an SDR manager an AE, they might go to success. Or they like might find their way in marketing eventually or whatever, but it’s, but it’s like the vast majority stay in sales. What’s interesting, yeah, I’ve seen people shift but the vast majority stay. And what’s interesting, what you’re telling me about support here is, that your original crew literally went everywhere. And I can’t think of any other, I can’t think of any other position that I know of, or even like story where there was a team of six or 10, or whatever. And they’re now all in drastically different places. I mean, you are the one who stayed and then everybody else like literally just went, like usually there’s a theme. So I think that’s pretty interesting to think that it was that broad. And is that like, you think that’s just because it’s the nature of support that it draws, this sort of variety of people to begin with? Or the actual process of working in support prepares you for anything?
I think it’d be both, honestly, because I don’t mean this in a bad way. But not everybody’s cut out for support. And that’s just the way it is.
I couldn’t take it, like, I want somebody to say to me, like, “Good job, thank you, that was fun.” Like, I don’t want people all day saying, “Are you kidding me? This isn’t fixed yet?”
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I mean, there’s definitely like, you know, it’s not for everybody. So the customer side helps in general, obviously, right? Like, especially if you want to transfer to another customer facing role, or one that’s even more customer facing, or like a CSM. Where pretty much your entire job is being on calls all day and making sure that your customers are happy. Sorry, can you repeat the two? Really quick? The two?
Well, I was just curious, like, does it? Does the nature of the job that is support just draw an eclectic group of people? Or does the job itself just create this diverse set of individuals?
Yeah, so it’s both. So yes, it’s definitely like you have the, you need the right kind of person first, so it’s a little bit of technical, at least in our field. It’s a little bit of technical aptitude and the ability to not tell a customer to eff off if they’re being a little chippy with you. Right? So some basics. But because like I was saying, like, because of all the exposure, you get to the different teams, and you know, different customer use cases and stuff like that, it’s just, it’s a really easy, natural way to to jump to the next thing. Right, cause, you know, like, I don’t think, you know, we have, like, if you think about the product manager, the person who trans, transferred there, or moved over there, rather, she had a super solid foundation, like, knew how the product worked better than her engineers who were building it. Right? So that just made sense. You know, and there’s, there’s a customer facing component of being a product manager, and she already had that. So that was just like a natural fit. So and I think it’s the other thing, too, is once you’re in it, and you kind of get your hands dirty, in a lot of stuff. That generally kind of at least what I’ve seen it like opens up, people see a passion or something that they actually didn’t know they wanted to pursue. Whereas me, like I’ve done some of those at like some capacity, I’m just like, nope, I’ll do it for this week. And you can have it back. Like I don’t, I don’t want to do this, I’m gonna stick to what I know. Really well.
Yeah, this is my, this is my vein. You had just mentioned a little bit earlier about revenue operations in general, like Outreach was really easy. Okay. And what I mean, I don’t want to say easy, but it was really easy to see the connection between support and our sales team and our revenue operations measure. Because to your point, we use the product that we were selling. Okay. And so there was a lot of opportunity for support to come in and educate and help that whole revenue operations motion. I don’t know how Spekit works specifically, and maybe some of the other companies that you are in, but like, what’s the role of the support function? Maybe you can speak to this, I don’t know, in an organization where your revenue operations team isn’t so like, actively involved in a thing that’s actually being sold? Like, is there still overlap in that world? Or not so much?
Yeah, it’s, I guess, the MDM company I worked for was, would probably be the better one. I think there still is, there’s, there were still questions coming up that weren’t necessarily needing to go to like, an engineering team, or anybody, you know, super high up the chain. So we would still step in for those as well and kind of help answer any kind of preliminary questions. Right, before we started, you know, throwing resources at this, you know, before we even knew if the deal was going to be legit, or anything like that we could come in and help them answer some questions that they maybe didn’t have answers to.
Whenever these things turn into bugs, what’s the involvement of support in actually helping the engineers solve for the bug and potentially even code around it?
Yeah, it really depends. So from the support aspects, it’s obviously verifying that you can reproduce the bug that’s like the first and foremost. And to being able to do it consistently. Obviously, I know I’m sure you’ve heard of the bugs that were like hit and miss that we could reproduce and they were always a pain to put a fix out for, but it’s really working closely with them. I think the big thing, and I’ve said this recently, and I don’t mean in a bad way, but engineers to their credit, they’re really good at building, they don’t necessarily understand especially the world that we lived in, in sales. That’s not a world, they typically spent a lot of time in, if any, I’m right. So you could tell them to build four walls and a roof, but they don’t necessarily know they built a house. Right? That’s, you can give them parameters that are really good at building. So support was, you know, aside from the reproing the bug, working with them is really giving that context from the customer side. Because, you know, I’ve heard multiple times, like, why is this relevant? Why are we even looking at this? Is this even used? And it’s like, I wouldn’t be bringing it to you as a bug if, if it wasn’t being used like this is coming from a customer.
Oh, I was shocked. Again, I don’t even mean this in like some bad way that how can’t you know? But I had an engineer come up to me the one day that had worked at the company for over 18 months. Had a very significant role and a very significant feature in 18 months in. Came over and like I was just talking to the person and hanging out because again, engineering and sales typically did not talk to each other. So I always tried to talk to the engineers. And so this one asked me the one day if he could come sit with me. And it was like, it was actually pretty significant thing like, like ask in his mind, I was like, absolutely come sit with me. And he sort of confided in me that it was the first time in 18 months that he actually saw somebody use what he was working on. And it was like this existential thing for him, that to like, oh, it was nice to actually know why I’m even doing this. And now I see the value that it actually brings to you. And the, and I was like, “Oh, I would think that you already know that coming.” He’s like, “Well, here’s the deal, it’s probably not going to even change the way that I build this at all. But internally, it’s good for me just to know that there is value on these lines of code. But there’s still this disconnect of like, it’s not going to change how I build it.”
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. There’s a couple opportunities where we, we took engineers on site with us with customers, and that was always really awesome. Like, and I think even for myself, it’s a little wild, you know, I guess I can go over the mosh pit and see something similar, but you know, some of these bigger customers, right, where they have, you know, 500 to 1000 licenses of Outreach. You walk into the, their version of the mosh pit, and like, you look at the engineer, and he’s like, holy shit and then you know, there’s like 200 screens front to back in the room. And everybody’s like dialing and you know, working out of the extension and all that. And it’s like, I think the lights really would go on when they would get see that kind of, like really see it, you know, in practice, and especially, you know, when they’re, when they get the opportunity, they’re sitting down and troubleshooting something, and there’s like a component. I know this, this happened a couple of times when we had an engineer with us, but like he was seeing stuff that he had built, like actually being used, he was like, oh, wow. You know, it’s again, like I said, do they, you could tell them to build four walls and a roof. And they’re like, there’s four walls and a roof, like do with it what you will. But once they see they’re like, oh, you want me to build a house like this makes sense now? Kind of makes it seem pretty cool.
It’s interesting how, how much value can occur whenever the different departments can actually overlap. Which I think is, you know, one of the big pushes for RevOps to begin with. It’s just more communication between the two and lack of silos and everything else. And as I’m rambling here Loha, I just noticed like we’re right at time. So any final thoughts on support and RevOps for folks, before we split ways today?
Just for anybody that’s not in support. You know, we weren’t the ones who sh*t in your Cheerios, so try and have a little compassion when you’re talking to us, we, we get it, we know that we’re not the culprit of the problem you’re facing. But I think that’s often lost. You know, because I get it, you’re, you’re coming to us, you’re generally at that tipping point. But I will say, you know, the difference is my experience of working with somebody who’s chippy versus somebody who’s even just you know, neutral is it’ll, it’ll make a world of difference and quite honestly will probably get to the root of the problem big quicker.
Well, I may not have ever said this to you, but you certainly helped me plenty along the way. So thanks for, thanks for that. And if I, if I ever came at you hot, I’ll apologize in front of you now publicly here.
You were, you were always good to me.
All right, man. Well, hey, thanks for tuning in today, everybody that’s listening. Loha, thanks for coming. And we’re gonna catch everybody next time. See ya.
29:21 Hot dog. That was a great episode. Thanks for listening. If you want to learn more about Greaser Consulting or any information you heard on today’s episode, visit us online at www.greaserconsulting.com. Be sure to click the Follow button and the bell icon to be notified on the latest here at RevOps Therapy. Thanks and see you real soon.