Women of Qualified: Katie

Women of Qualified is a monthly blog series celebrating our female employees who make an impact to our business and team every day.

Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
May 26, 2023
min read
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Meet Katie! 

Katie was one of the first Qualified Success Architects we added to the team back in 2020, and has watched our product grow from a chatbot tool to the full Pipeline Cloud, guiding us along the way with customer feedback.

We talked with her about what initially drew her to tech in the first place, why she enjoys the fast pace of startup life, and how we can get creative with our solutions in a constantly evolving market.

Check out our conversation with Katie ⬇️

Tell us about your background and how you found yourself at Qualified

Katie: Having graduated from Santa Clara University with a major in Economics, I originally went into the cosmetic industry at Elf Cosmetics over in Oakland. It was super fun. It was a great role, but I realized that being in retail wasn't necessarily the industry that I wanted to be in.

I was in Silicon Valley already so I explored different tech options, which are right in the heart of the financial district. I actually landed a job at GetFeedback, which was the company that Kraig and Sean founded before Qualified. I was there for about a year and a half and then get Feedback was actually acquired by SurveyMonkey.

When that acquisition happened, Hung, who was formerly at GetFeedback with me, had moved over to Qualified and gave me a call to join the team.

Hung originally reached out to me and because I'd only been at GetFeedback for about a year and a half I didn’t know if I was ready. Hung said let’s just go get coffee and chat about the product. We went to coffee and immediately he just started to speak about the team, Kraig and Sean's background, the product  and got me hooked for the next informational interview.

I went to the office across from the Salesforce Tower, and I met with Kraig and Sean and I walked out of that informational interview knowing that I needed to be at Qualified. The two of them sold it so well. Their passion for the space and the direction that they had laid out for the vision of the company was super compelling.

I left coffee with Hung on a Tuesday, had the  interview with Kraig and Sean on a Thursday, and the minute I left, I texted Hung and I was like, please get me my final interview, I need to work at this company

What’s your current role and why is it so important to our org?

Katie: Currently, I’m a Director of Customer Success. I manage seven Qualified Success Architects.

Kraig was technically the first Qualified Success Architect as the CEO, since there was no one else to do the job, and then he hired Hung as the second QSA, and I was hired on as the third QSA.

For the first two years of my time here at Qualified, I was a QSA, implementing and launching some of our first customers, which was super fun. I’ve seen the product from the very beginning to what it has grown into now, which is a really awesome multi-product suite.

The role hasn't necessarily changed since when I started, what we really like about Qualified and how we position our Qualified Success Architects is that they aren’t just a typical CSM. 

They're not just someone who jumps on a monthly call with the customer and checks in. We are doing everything from kickoff all the way through implementation to go live, and then we stick with the customer through the duration of their time with us. What's really important about that is we see everything because we are the ones that are implementing them from the start, we then can continue to iterate their program and add the new innovations we launch.

We know exactly why that customer would need it, because we know their business needs. So I think it's a really important model and it’s been a huge advantage for us here at Qualified that the QSA is everything from an implementation manager to a customer success manager, to a renewals manager.

I think today is probably the time when our role hasn't necessarily changed but has more of a focus on renewals right now. I think there are always times to expand customers and give them new products and do upsells, but right now we are so focused on the renewal and locking in those customers and making sure they are seeing the value of Qualified.

What drew you to the SaaS industry, particularly to startups initially? 

Katie: I think what really excites me about startups is the fast-paced nature of it all. I think there's a common understanding that done is better than perfect. There are always going to be iterations, especially at a small startup where you're gaining new customers every week, every quarter, every year, and you're learning from those customers.

So as you continue to innovate, you're gathering insights and you're actually making informed decisions about where to take the product next. It's where we got the idea for Qualified Signals. It was on a call with our customer Answer Rocket back in June of 2020. They were loving the product but wanted to see all of the lead information and account information or contact information at the account level.

We then took that back to the product team and thought, “What if we had this product that showed how often accounts are on the site and what if they had high-intent pages?” 

Now we have Qualified Signals, which is awesome. Same thing with Meetings. Same thing with Qualified for Outbound and Advertising.

In order to thrive in a startup and a high-pressure environment, you need to be super agile. You need to be willing to shift on a daily basis, even an hourly basis. You might close your computer on Friday, and on Monday you're starting something new.

By the next Friday, you might be working on something completely different. 

When you’re innovating at such a fast pace, what do you think is key to success with new product rollouts?

Katie: Things are going to break. There are bugs constantly, which is okay. 

I think something that's really important is the different phases that you have for rollout. What we do internally is we dog food certain products to ourselves and test them for a few months. We work with our sales reps and those teams who are actually hands on the Qualified tool on a daily basis, and we get feedback from them and then we roll it out into phase one with a certain subset of customers that are considered friendlies.

They work well with us, they have great ROI and they always want to try the newest innovation. So then we let them test it, and give us feedback, so there's constantly a feedback loop of bugs, feature requests, etc. and we document the whole process within Salesforce.

We have several different Slack channels that anytime we launch a new product, we're jumping in there. The QSAs are always providing insights in terms of, “Hey, we turned this on for my customer. Here's what we saw, here's what they had requested.” With the QSA's understanding of both what they know the product to be and the objectives of why we launch that, and the customer’s needs.

It’'s super important to have an understanding of what the customer needs because if you're not serving your customers, what are you making the product for?

As someone so directly in touch with our customers, how are you getting creative in this tough market to still demonstrate the value of our product?

Katie: I think the number one strategy is really back to the fact that we have so many different products. If chat isn’t working for you, great. Let's turn on Meetings. If Meetings isn't working for you, great, let's give you Signals. I think there are so many different solutions that we can offer a customer given where they're at.

What we're seeing in the market is SDR teams are unfortunately getting laid off, and so there are not a lot of human reps that are there and available to chat. So what do we do? We offer them Meetings which allows meetings to be booked directly on their website. We can even give them Signals data so that any of the reps or AEs that are outbounding to their accounts know which accounts to prioritize and, and who's in market to buy based on that buyer intent.

When they arrive back on the website, sure, maybe there aren’t any live humans to chat with, but we can get that meeting booked really quickly, which is still around the notion of speed to lead and speed to value. How can we make sure that customers are still seeing the value even as their priorities are changing, and their orgs are restructuring? 

We can still support customers in the different ways that they need.

What’s your humble brag?

Katie: Candidly, when I interviewed, Kraig asked me how well I know Salesforce. How well do I know the database on a scale from one to 10? I gave him a five, which I should have known that would have made him question me. 

He went back to Hung and was concerned that I was a five out of ten and he didn’t think they could hire me. They needed Salesforce admin-certified admins. Hung came back to me and he was like, “You need to know Salesforce.” So I went and I learned Salesforce, I got certified, and my humble brag is that Kraig didn't wanna hire me and he has hired me, and I feel like I’ve done a great job.

So I'm pretty pumped about that.

Katie, you are such an important member of our team, from your early days as the third QSA, to an incredible leader of a full team. We're so lucky to have you! 

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