Recently, Martha Galley joined the Calix team as AVP of customer success, bringing with her best practices from some of the tech industry’s biggest brands. I recently sat down with Martha as she shared her experience and outlook on the role Customer Success will play at Calix.
Michael - Martha, tell us a bit about your background before joining Calix.
Martha - I have been in tech for decades, working for three significant companies. In the distant past, I was at Digital Equipment Corporation, which was the last hardware and software company for me.
Then, I spent 18 years at Microsoft across a variety of roles and responsibilities and the last five years were at Salesforce as the Vice President of Customer Success. But, the bulk of my experience at those companies has been in sales and business partnerships.
When I joined Salesforce, I didn’t even know what Customer Success was. Most people defined it in terms of what it wasn’t. It wasn’t support. It wasn’t professional services. So essentially, I had to figure out what it was. And I am excited to bring that experience to Calix.
Michael - Speaking of Calix, why did you decide to make the move to join us here?
Martha - Well first, I am at a point in my career where working with great people is one of my top priorities. Quite frankly, in my discussions with you, the culture of the company was most important. My conversations with the leadership team were around the culture and those conversations made me feel really good.
On a personal note, I am a builder. A magic word for me is building, which I heard quite a bit in the interview process. I heard that we are building on great success and a strong, diverse customer base to take it to the next level. That was key for me.
Also, having a broader span of control. I think of myself as an “intrapreneur” inside of a company and like to find a place to make an impact. But, sooner or later, businesses get large and processes become cumbersome. I realized that my sweet spot is working in a place where we are still scrappy enough to make corrections quickly, we are hungry enough that people are ambitious in a positive way, and that we have got a mission.
From an industry perspective, I have had a lot of success selling to and partnering with telecommunications providers. I spent several years at Microsoft running a large P&L, about half of Microsoft’s business in telecommunications, media, and entertainment in the US. As Calix expands on their strong foundation in the mid-range of the telecommunications marketplace, I can bring my experience at the top tier as well as international experience from working with service providers like American Movil, Telefonica, and others across South America.
Ultimately, the combination of the size of the company, the quality of the people, the culture, and the opportunity to build something with a broader span of control are really the reasons I decided on Calix.
Michael - Since this is a new role at Calix, why do you think Customer Success is such an important function for us?
Martha - This is a fairly unique role. It’s all about creating customer engagement at scale, building an engine, and that includes Account Management as well as the Customer Success function. I consider the Account Management responsibility as a tuning. There has been a lot of change in that role and the strategy around it. My job is to optimize it so that we are both building a strong Demand Generation process and contributing to
For Customer Success, it’s more of a creation role. We’ve made a good start made, but my job is to help us “skate to where the puck is going”, to look at what we are doing today and to ensure we are structured to support the incredibly ambitious growth plan that we have.
In a traditional hardware company, there is no concept of Customer Success. But it is de rigueur for cloud-based services and SaaS companies. Why? Because of the SaaS usage-based business model. While you have a contract, you have a customer. If a customer cancels the contract, that’s it. You must earn the right to do business with that customer from Day 1. The key is that customers will keep what they are using, and they will use a service if they perceive that its valuable. Customer Success is about time-to-value. It’s about helping the customer land the promise that sales makes. If sales paints the vision of what the technology can do, Customer Success unlocks that vision and makes it real for them.
Customer Success also needs to integrate with and compliment the other post-contract services offers. Customer Success is an ongoing relationship. From a time perspective, it’s very much like Customer Support, in that it needs to be available to customers at all times. But, it is also value and outcome focused, like professional services, as it unlocks the value in the use cases the customer defines.
Why is it important at Calix now? We have started a revolution, helping our customers redefine their networks and their offers. Calix Cloud is integral to that strategy, and Customer Success is how we’ll help our customers capitalize on the new opportunities.
Michael – Before we leave you, can you share something personal about yourself?
Martha - Personally, I am about three things – my family, causes I care about, and experiencing the world. My family is the most important thing to me, spending quality time with them.
I also feel compelled to make a difference. I have been involved for several years with Techwomen, the Department of State sponsored program that brings women from the Mid-East, Africa and Asia to the Bay Area for professional mentoring and cultural exchange. I was also part of Salesforce’s Women’s Community and I hope to grow a healthy women’s community inside of Calix. I am passionate about developing people in general, and in particular women in technology.
Lastly, I love to travel. I love to learn about other cultures and experience new places. My husband and I recently spent a month in China, which was fabulous. We already have travel planned to Bogota, Colombia and Machu Picchu. The list of places I would love to go just keeps getting longer.
We are thrilled to have Martha on the team here and we are looking forward to the impact she will make on our organization. If you have questions for Martha, reach out to her at email@example.com or meet her at Calix ConneXions 2018 in October.