The “Customer Success” team is a recent addition to sales organizations. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies realized they could better retain and upsell customers with a dedicated customer success team. As a Customer Success and Account Manager recruiter, I am constantly asked to clarify the difference between these titles.
In their truest forms, both Account Managers (AM) and Customer Success Managers (CSM) are client-facing, post-sales roles that manage books of business. However, AMs are typically responsible for the upselling, cross-selling, and renewals. CSMs take on the technical responsibilities of training, onboarding, and implementing a product or service with clients.
Despite CSMs and New Business Reps both being sales jobs, the personality, tone, and relationship building tactics for success are very different. If you’re considering the sales industry, it’s important to know which of your natural skill sets would best serve you in either a New Business or Customer Success job.
3 Ways New Business and Customer Success Jobs Need Totally Different Types of People
Types of Sales
New Business Sales roles, such as Sales Development Representative or Account Executive, drive business through cold calling and networking. Many times, these prospects have never heard of the product or service this salesperson is selling. Compared to Customer Success, prospecting and hunting are not typical responsibilities for CSMs. Instead, they nurture strong relationships and grow accounts. CSMs will upsell and cross-sell these accounts as new products and features are released.
Customer Success and New Business reps take very different approaches to building relationships. After hunting their leads and qualifying the prospect, New Business reps typically hand off that account. Depending on the organization, they will likely not interact with that account again.
CSMs, however, must build a strong foundation of trust with their accounts. They are responsible for not only nurturing the relationship but also being a trusted advisor for any and all of the client’s product questions and issues. This function is crucial for retaining customers long-term.
Types of Hunger
In any sales role, New Business or Customer Success, it’s imperative to have both determination and hunger for success (not just food!). I’ve worked with both of these job seekers in the past; The most successful people have a specific type of hunger motivating them day after day. The challenge of finding and prospecting fresh leads pushes New Business reps to hit metrics and exceed quotas. Meanwhile, CSMs have a hunger for being a valuable product expert whose clients trust them. Building genuine client relationships allows them to renew accounts and hit their quotas.
The challenge of finding and prospecting fresh leads pushes New Business reps to hit metrics and exceed quotas. Meanwhile, CSMs have a hunger for being a valuable product expert whose clients trust them. Building genuine client relationships allows them to renew accounts and hit their quotas.