Apr 29, 2020

Issue #1: The "trusted partner" promise

Chris Hicken By Chris Hicken
CEO at Nuffsaid
Leveling up Customer Success Managers

From an interview with:

 

All customers aspire to work with the “trusted partner” CSM. This CSM deeply understands the industry, the product, and the different verticals of customers. The customer trusts them enough to incorporate the practices and use cases the CSM recommends. 

 

Customers generally don’t want to exclusively work with junior members of the Success organization.  

 

The problem is, Customer Success owns less budget than other departments in most companies, so there’s a limit to how senior of CSMs we can attract. We need to be able to hire junior CSMs with potential, and then grow them into senior CSMs that aren’t just building strong relationships but are also providing expertise and guidance—we want customers to value the opinion of their CSMs. 
Here’s some advice on how to bridge the gap: 

  1. Hire for potential. Consider hiring people with some consulting experience. This is a great recruiting ground for CS; consultants develop the ability to understand what customers are trying to solve.
  2. Get clear on the role. Get super clear on what you’re asking CSMs to do. What are the highest value activities you want them focusing on? Then, see if you can give the other activities to associate CSMs. Most organizations don’t have “associate CSMs” but I think they should: it trains the associates while freeing up time for the subject matter experts to the more impact work.
  3. Help CSMs grow the skills to manage bigger accounts. Teach them to get a thorough understanding of how customers are using the product, so they can identify patterns and be able to teach customers about how other companies of similar size or industry are using the product. Also, train CSMs on how to speak about the product to different audiences within the same company. 

  4. Train CSMs to develop their expertise. Teach them how to speak at a strategic level not just about the company’s product, but the problems in the overall space—including the processes and best practices that other companies are implementing.
  5. Move away from the “project manager CSM” mindset. As organizations, we need shift our mindsets from thinking of CSMs as “quarterbacks” where they’re the ones coordinating, getting all the right people on the field (when the CSM doesn’t know the answer, they can point the customer in the right direction). Eventually, the customer just wants to work directly with the person who’s giving them the answers. CSMs need subject-matter expertise in order to deliver on the “trusted partner” promise, and the “quarterback” analogy does not sufficiently describe the role of the CSM.

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The top articles this week: 

This week's newsletter features posts on: 

  • Navigating COVID-19
  • Building a Knowledge Sharing Loop in Customer Success
  • Why Customer Success Leaders Aren't Getting a Seat at the Table
  • How to Onboard New Hires Now

 

 

COVID-19

Navigating This Crisis: How to Bring in More Capital

First Round Review’s “field guide” for navigating the current crisis is, in a word, comprehensive. Chapter #6 offers three strategies for extending your runway, including how to bring in more revenue from customers. See how to “focus on getting paid upfront from your stickiest customers,” and “learn from your customers as much as you can.” 

Read the full post

 

PROCESS

Brew and Review: Building a Knowledge Sharing Loop for Customer Success

“Riding along on calls isn’t enough.” Nicole Rashied, Customer Success Manager at Intercom, breaks down the process her Success team uses to share knowledge about use cases, talk tracks, and more.

Read the full post

 

STRATEGY

Why Customer Success Leaders Aren't Getting a Seat at the Table

With only lagging metrics in their toolset, Success leaders can’t really drive strategy at the executive level. Here’s a list of leading indicators of renewal, and an explanation on how Success leaders can use those insights to drive strategic discussions.

Read the full post

 

ONBOARDING

How to Onboard New Hires Now

Here’s Lish Gates, Sr Manager - Global Revenue Enablement at Algolia, with a cheat sheet on how to integrate a new hire into your team and culture remotely. Some gems: “Social distancing doesn’t equal being socially distant” and “If you’re doing back-to-back Zoom training, you’re likely doing it wrong.”  

Read the full post