A couple months ago or so, I wrote a blog about why I was joining Cresta. In that blog, I talked about growth, the product, the investors, the opportunity, and more. Since then, I have been in the saddle for about six weeks now and many of those perspectives have been confirmed. And yet I am finding that there are other things I am grateful for now that I am on the inside, and because I know a lot of people who think broadly about company culture and their own careers, I wanted to share some thoughts on the top five things I have appreciated since joining Cresta.
Since joining Cresta, it has felt like we have the wind at our backs. The investors in the business clearly care about helping to make the entire team successful. The CEO cares about making everyone on the team successful. My boss clearly cares about making the sales team successful. And that manifests itself in a number of ways. It can be through introductions, it can be through taking the time to send an email on a Sunday morning to fire up the entire team based on a specific customer conversation the week prior, or it might just be some industry recognition like Forbes putting Cresta in the top 50 companies to watch in AI in 2021. Whatever it is, it feels like there is no shortage of momentum and stories to draw from to help articulate what we are doing to those who are on the outside and thinking about either joining the company or partnering with us.
As someone whose job spec includes evangelizing the good word of Cresta, this is a real blessing. I do not really have to search hard (or at all, really) for a news article, customer story, or case study that highlights the power of what we are doing and the impressive list of people who are supporting the business. If anything, it can be stressful at times: am I finding the right story to tell? When you have momentum, you have to pick your spots wisely. That is a great problem to have.
Something I really appreciate about the leadership team at Cresta is the trust they have for the people on the team. With great trust comes great autonomy – but you need to earn the right to maintain that autonomy.
Everyone on the team is responsible for something, and we often compare ourselves to franchise owners. We own a small piece of the business and it is our job to make that piece of the business successful. It is up to each of us to develop our own strategy to make that happen. And yet, we have a process that works team-wide that we are allowed to adopt for our own franchise to make it successful. So I really like that analogy because it seems to reflect the real-life franchise model of individual franchise owners being given universal tools to make their specific location successful, while still having the autonomy to form their own marketing and hiring plans and what have you. There is a great balance between forming my own plan while having the resources I need from the mothership to go make it happen. If anything, I would argue that we probably get more resources and guidance from our leadership team than a typical franchise owner. And I suppose we do not have to pay a premium to get started, so that’s a plus, too!
3. Product & Customer Conversations
Something I talk about in my book is this idea that you cannot really authentically sell anything and feel like you are helping others unless you believe in the product. Coming from 7.5 years of contact center sales, I feel like I have a decent grasp for the industry. When I first saw what Cresta was doing a couple years ago, I knew it was sorely needed in the industry. But the vision goes much deeper than contact centers: at scale, it cuts into making all conversations better, which is a very noble (and significant!) goal.
So far, almost every single customer conversation I have had has been overwhelmingly positive, and it feels like my peers say the same. The idea of leveraging artificial intelligence and natural language processing to help people instead of replacing them is a message that runs in stark contrast to what this industry has been hearing about for the last five years, which is using automation to replace people. I particularly like the idea of learning from the best and distributing expert behaviors to the rest of the team to help close the performance gap amongst teams. And our own team shares that mindset: everyone on our team who is an expert at something goes out of their way to share what they are doing with others so that we can all become expert at that thing. In that way, I feel like we practice what we preach.
I like sales because I like helping people. When you have a great product that solves pain for people – and they tell you how much they appreciate you solving that pain – there is truly no better feeling. I am pretty excited to get to the point where I have my own customers who are seeing their own great results. That is without a doubt the best part of any sales job.
A fundamental reason why I joined Cresta was to level-up my own game. I think I have done that in a couple ways.
First and foremost, even though I spent a long time before this working with customer experience professionals, that was in a more niche space. I have learned a lot about the power of AI and ML and broader contact center strategies since joining Cresta, and I have learned it all very quickly. I feel like I have a fuller understanding of all that CX leaders have to contend with, and it has actually made me even more empathetic to the kind of pain they experience. After all, their job is to make customers happy!
Second and what was more important to me personally has more to do with my own education around being a better consultant and sales professional. I think we have the best sales team and sales leader on the entire planet, and I don’t say that just to ingratiate myself amongst my peers. I truly believe it. I have learned a lot just by observing the way people carry themselves, how they run a process, how they engage with customers, and how we run a process as a team. What I particularly appreciate is that our process is motivated entirely by solving for pain. I think we have the right intentions in everything that we do, which is essential to bear authenticity in what we do, and that hinges around believing in what we sell and therefore, the outcomes that it can deliver to a buyer.
Historically, I have always been someone with a high motor with one mode: “Go.” I am learning here how to slow down, how to be more thoughtful and strategic, and how to always be thinking about how I can solve pain. For someone who is a little bit anxious (I’ll admit it), this has been really good for me. Following a process is really a way of doing right by your customer: you make sure that you are always on the same page, that you mutually understand how you are successful together, and that you are not rushing through just to sell them some widget and walk away.
- People & Culture
I spoiled this one a bit above, but I feel really fortunate to work with such a talented team. In a recent LinkedIn video post, I talked a bit about how working with talented people really motivates me to work harder. When I was a kid, I was a decent athlete, but I always came through in the clutch. And that was because I did not want to let my teammates down, so I was a lot more focused in those moments. I feel the same way here – surrounded by some really awesome, hard-working people, and people that I just do not want to let down. I want to make sure I do my part. When you are surrounded by people who do not really inspire you, it shows in your work: you feel you can get by with a mediocre effort, because you are not really letting anyone down, or you are letting people down who do not really motivate you anyway.
An example of something I really like about our culture is a “thanks” channel we have on Slack. This is just for people to thank others for helping them out. Really behind every positive action that happens, there is someone else behind that outcome who may not be the person who actively drove it. For example, if a new customer signs up for Cresta, the sales rep might get the credit, but the product team is equally responsible for building something that the customer wanted to buy. The spirit here is really about acknowledging everyone who is responsible for anything that happens. Some of my coworkers really go above and beyond to do things to help me, and it makes me do whatever I can to make sure I show them how much I value their time.
So, there you have it – five of my favorite things so far at Cresta. I’d tell you to tune in next week for my least favorite things, but there aren’t any. Looking forward to building from here and seeing where we can go.